Regardless of records, it figures that one way or another, top-ranked Edison High will have to go through nine-time Central Section champion Clovis West — maybe twice — to ultimately capture a Division I title for the first time in 38 years.
But this way?
A gripping 24-17 nonleague win over the No. 8 Golden Eagles that was sealed by Tyrone Smith's 32-yard run out of a fake-punt formation on fourth-and-11 in the final minute Friday night at Sunnyside Stadium?
On A.J. Greeley's blur of a go-ahead 52-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter?
On Yasmon Haynes' no-gain stuff of Clovis West running back Tristan Edwards on third-and-goal on the Tigers' 1 just before Greeley's score?
On Tyler Horton's late leaping interception — an apology after getting beat on two acrobatic catches by the Eagles' Andre Chachere?
And, finally, on Leevel Tatum's stunning one-handed block of a Clovis West punt early in the fourth quarter after he blew up a three-man blocking wall?
For the state's No. 23 Edison, yes, this is how you get to 5-0 entering County/Metro Athletic Conference play.
This is how you take yet another step toward that elusive goal, if not how you remain in state bowl consideration.
And to heck with the fact Clovis West was 1-3 coming in, though coming off a 27-14 conquest of then-No. 6 Bullard.
"Clovis West has found their game — that's official," Edison coach Matt Johnson said. "Clearly, give Clovis West all the credit. But, damn it, it was sweet to win the game."'
Has to be sweet to coach the likes of Greeley, who rushed for 166 yards and also threw a 66-yard TD pass.
"He's the greatest thing to happen to us this year," Haynes said. "I don't know what we would do without him."
Whoa, whoa, whoa.
And what would the Tigers do without Haynes, a 6-foot-1, 300-pound senior lineman?
"He's the heart-and-soul of our defense," Johnson said, "an absolutely devastating force — devastating."
Blake Wright rushed for 105 yards and Smith worked himself free on a play that broke down and scored on the 66-yard pass from Greeley on third-and-13 in the third quarter.
Edison outgained the Eagles 402-187 for the game.
"Shouldn't have been that close," Greeley said. "But they played their hearts out and we played our hearts out, and we came out with the win."
Clovis West scored on the first play of the game on Walt Seagal's 32-yard fumble return, had interceptions by Tyce Rigby (in the end zone) and Tristan Edwards, and an impact defensive performance from lineman Austin Cox.
While eight teams ranked in The Bee's Top 20 had the week off, including six of the top seven, it was not a Friday night without intrigue, notably:
What a sudden boost for Washington, following a 48-0 thrashing of Hoover with a 26-0 beating of Ridgeview. And that against a Wolf Pack program that went 32-6 the past three years, including a first and a second in D-III the past two.
But what a plunge from glory for Ridgeview (2-4), which was crushed 55-7 by Liberty-Bakersfield and 56-7 by the state's No. 15 Hart-Newhall the previous weeks.
Powerful competition, yes, but humbling nonetheless for the two-time defending South Yosemite League champion.
Washington, conversely, has that mojo back behind senior Javin Harrison, who torched the Wolf Pack for 201 yards rushing and three TDs.
In the year of the running back in the section (Doctor, Segura, Olorunfunmi, Croney, Jones, Torres and on and on), the 5-9, 205-pound Harrison is playing in the same neighborhood.
** Dos Palos 0-5? The program prominent in state history? Wow.
** Bakersfield Christian not so Christian-like in merciless 83-0 drubbing of Kennedy behind Brandon Jones' nine TD passes. Please don't miss Sunday service.
** For all the talk of Porterville and Dinuba in D-III, don't ignore South (5-0). A 10-0 regular season well within reach for the Rebels.
Vogt playing mental game
Reedley has had 15 losing seasons in its previous 20, according to section historian Bob Barnett. And the Pirates are headed for another after dropping to 0-5 with a 42-7 homefield loss to Sanger in the 100th game of a series that began in 1915.
Mike Vogt, in his first year at Reedley after coaching Buchanan for 19, isn't concerned with talent in-house or incoming: "We have good football players."
But the issue: "What I have to work on is what's going on above their shoulders, how not to lose."
Pirates roster numbers are 50 on varsity, 40 on JV and 45 on the freshman team.
"In that sense, we have great potential," Vogt says. "And we have a strong youth program, which I need to capitalize on."
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