Clovis North's rocket to success in high school football has been unconventional from the start.
It was in early 2007 when the new school's leading administrators, Carlo Prandini and Norm Anderson -- knowing they had a national pool of young, blossoming football coaching candidates at their choosing -- reached back instead into Fresno's Athletic Hall of Fame and plucked a good friend and former Clovis High colleague, 65-year-old Tim Simons, to launch their program.
Simons' résumé featured a legendary, 24-year career with the Cougars, but he had been away from the prep game for seven years as a Fresno State assistant.
"We knew he wouldn't do it forever," Prandini recalls, "but we wanted Tim to not only start the football program, but help us establish identity and culture at the school because there was nobody better than him."
Four years later, however, crisis struck.
Simons had heart surgery and resigned, and Prandini and Anderson named an interim replacement, Cory Hall -- the school's junior varsity coach with zero varsity coaching experience.
Hall would deliver a Central Section Division II championship in 2011 and be appointed permanent coach.
Not finished, the former Fresno State star and six-year NFL safety would produce yet another section title -- in D-I last Friday with a 27-10 win over Central.
And, finally -- adding to the program's swift ascent -- Clovis North (12-1) on Sunday became the youngest school in the seven-year history of CIF State bowls to land an invitation by being matched with perennial state power Long Beach Poly (11-3).
The South D-I regional will be played Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Long Beach City College's Veterans Stadium.
Six years since the seed was planted.
Only four seasons of varsity football.
And here's the Broncos' stampede.
"It worked out very well," says Prandini, now Clovis Unified's associate superintendent. "Tim laid the foundation for the first four years and then continued mentoring. From the beginning, it was Tim blending the old with the new, and he was a big advocate of Cory."
In what proved to be the keenest move by Simons -- who has recovered well -- he hired former Bulldogs teammates Hall and Vince Branstetter in 2009 to coach at the freshmen and junior varsity levels.
They would team on the JVs in 2010 and have stayed together since -- Branstetter as Hall's varsity offensive coordinator.
"The rest is history," says Simons, now Fresno City's quarterbacks coach while remaining a visible fixture in Clovis North's program. "We promoted guys from within, kept essentially the same system and have had great continuity with players and coaches. That's been the secret to having so much success this soon."
Hall -- who has to remind himself he's coaching, not still playing -- is a charismatic bundle of energy who has sold the community.
"He's got so much enthusiasm, it's contagious," Simons says. "He's a pied piper and these kids will follow him no matter what."
Playing for Hall all along on league championship freshmen and JV teams and the two varsity section titlists has been tight end/defensive end Josh Lovingood.
"He pushes us to our limits so we know we can reach above and beyond," Lovingood says. "We were in good hands with the coaching staff Coach Simons had in place for us. It was like he never left."
Yet the Broncos have to know Hall is about to go.
The aspiring college defensive coordinator has implemented concepts gleaned from coaches under whom he played professionally at Cincinnati and Atlanta, such as Dick LeBeau and his signature zone blitz.