Two-minute offense in a sprint from Chowchilla to Bakersfield entering Week 6 of the Central Section football season:
-- Friday night's tribute to slain Edison football player Marquis Sutton, combining emotion with class before the Tigers' 54-35 win over Clovis West, was as impressive as I've seen.
-- Then they kicked off and oh for the passion of new Edison coach Ricky Manning. Leading by three touchdowns with 7 minutes remaining, he could be seen imploring his charges to pay attention to detail EVERY play. And he usually did so while stomping well onto the playing field. Count on the Tigers to still be playing Thanksgiving week (D-I semifinals).
-- The light has turned on early as a coach for Manning. As opposed to the team's season opener, when quarterback Khari McGee threw four interceptions in a 27-10 loss at Clovis, Edison now leads with the run instead of the pass. And the fresh, fast, powerful legs of rotating running backs Blake Wright and Kevin Nutt will maul you -- over and over and over again.
-- Nine-time section champion Clovis West has given up an average of 38.3 points, including eight games of 40 or more, in the past two seasons while going 4-12. And next? Merely third-ranked Clovis North, which has rolled a 41-35-37-38-48 scoring series this season. The Tri-River Athletic Conference opener will be played Friday at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
-- Clovis West will receive no pity from Buchanan, which has been torched for 94 first-half points the past two weeks in losses to Bakersfield (59-18) and Stockdale (69-26). The Bears will now stagger into Koligian Stadium to play Central, idle last week when it seriously needed to be with a ton of injuries -- particularly on defense.
-- Not to feel too sorry for the Grizzlies. Two Notre Dame defensive coaches observed their practice last week. Central has five major college prospects on defense.
-- Television analyst Vince Wesson, the former Clovis West and Fresno State player, on Dinuba quarterback Marcus McMaryion, who's being courted by Boise State: "He would start for any team in the TRAC or CMAC. And for those who argue he plays in D-III is like saying Grant Verhoeven couldn't have been successful in D-I."
-- Notice the North Yosemite League's winningest team entering conference play? None other than McLane (3-2), whose first-year coach, Pete Joseph, has breathed life into a D-IV program that had gone 7-52 in the previous six years, including a 30-game losing streak. Granted, the Highlanders' wins this season have come against D-VI schools Avenal (30-25), Farmersville (26-19) and Orange Cove (20-0), but this is about newfound belief going into Friday's NYL opener at Reedley. And they're also rallying behind a sophomore quarterback, Herb Johnson, who has passed for 807 yards and five TDs and rushed for 375 yards and another four scores.
-- Flying under the radar in Week 5 was Memorial's 23-0 blanking of Sunnyside and arguably the area's premier running back in Errian Wingfield. Two of the Panthers' five starting sophomores, lineman Jasad Haynes and linebacker Ryan Beecher, were outstanding, along with Fresno State-bound lineman Jaylen Ruiz and cornerback Brennen Martinez.
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