McLane Stadium was a long ways from Central Valley football's brightest lights in Week 2.
The headliners found Edison High's continuing highlight film, at Merced; a Bakersfield rout in Kern County; Clovis North's escape at home, Clovis' win at Centennial; and Dinuba's extended thunder.
But back to the corner of Cedar and Clinton avenues, a second-half scoring exchange between Mendota and Fresno involved a star deeply established in the lore of section football and a Texas import enjoying his coming out party.
It went like this in a game won 62-37 by Fresno, a bargain of a $6 admission ticket:
Senior wide receiver senior Daryl Edwards, the recent transfer from Houston, turns on the burners and can't be caught in a 73-yard touchdown reception from Philip Villanueva for a 36-22 Warriors lead with 8 minutes, 48 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Mendota running back Edgar Segura bolts 48 yards for a score, reducing the margin to 36-29 with 11:11 left in the game.
Edwards answers with an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at 10:56 and a 44-29 advantage.
Segura then races 58 yards for his 90th career touchdown — fifth in section history, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
That reduced the Warriors' lead to 44-37 at 8:59 before they separated for good on a questionable safety, running touchdown and a pick-six.
Oh, and by the way, Fresno coach Rick Stewart not only kept the throttle buried when he could have run out the clock but he also converted a pair of 2-point conversions in the final minute.
Hold that thought for later.
Stewart, who turned Porterville into relevance in the East Yosemite League and Division III before coming north, applauded Segura, who rushed with 303 yards: "Holy cow, that running back is good. I'm going to go out on a limb: He's like Jontell Reedom at Tulare, who ran for 2,000 yards (for the 13-0 Redskins in 2008)."
Stewart then turned to his own. And while Edwards is a star new to the section, he's hardly a star new to the sport.
Make that two sports.
"He was an all-state quarterback in Texas and he also averaged 32 points a game in basketball," Stewart says. "We're borrowing him from our basketball team. He's a D-I basketball player."
Edwards also caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Villanueva as part of a 22-0 Warriors getaway in the first quarter a year after they lost to two-year reigning D-VI champion Mendota 40-31.
Stewart remains "loyal" to Villanueva despite the presence of Edwards at the position.
"Phil's been here all along and I didn't want to kick that kid to the curb," the coach says. "He's just a phenomenal kid who does everything you ask. He's never late, kids love him and he's a great leader. The other kid (Edwards) is so talented, but I just couldn't pull Phil out."
That said, Stewart adds in regard to Edwards and the quarterback position: "I've got plans for him, but I'm not going to say what I'm going to do."
No kicker, no choice?
Stewart says he continued to go for 2-point conversions late out of default: "I do not have a kicker; I literally do not have a kicker. We've tried everybody out at the school and we do not have one to get it through the uprights."
Stewart also says he never anticipated a late runaway and, if he could do it over again, would consider a "mock" PAT kick, even though knowing it would likely get blocked.
"I wasn't expecting this," says the second-year coach of a program seeking its first winning season since 2004. The Warriors, 2-9 in his first year, are 2-1.
"Forget confidence," Stewart says. "How about kids just working hard, kids who've never had anything in their lives, where everything in their lives just goes wrong? And this is the reward. These kids deserve it."
Mendota's Beto Mejia, The Bee's 2012 Coach of the Year, was not bothered by Fresno's late scoring; rather, he was angered at himself and staff.
"Fresno High outperformed us, they outworked us, and it all starts with me as a head coach for allowing my players not to play to their full potential," he says.
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