EDISON COACH: SUBS ALL IN 'THE PLAN'
Impact performances off the bench last week by Edison running back Khai Williams and quarterback Hunter Swearingen in a 42-6 County/Metro Athletic Conference win over Madera were not about promotions or demotions for a Tigers team ranked No. 1 in the Central Section and No. 15 in the state.
"It's been the plan," said coach Matt Johnson, whose Tigers (8-0, 3-0) will play at No. 16 Memorial (6-2, 2-1) Friday night in a County/Metro Athletic Conference game.
It's a bold plan, given the credentials of the players Williams and Swearingen replaced.
Williams, a junior, took control in the second half in relief of Nevada commits Blake Wright and Kevin Nutt, the section's best 1-2 running back combination.
And all Williams did was carry seven times for 161 yards and three touchdowns to separate Edison from prohibitive underdog Madera.
Johnson makes this clear: "We don't view Khai as our third-string guy; no, he's one of our co-co-co-starters. Khai Williams is thunder; he goes north and south very hard and he doesn't waste motion."
Swearingen, a transfer from Memorial who became eligible midseason, entered late in the third quarter in place of fellow junior A.J. Greeley.
And Greeley's merely the section's quickest quarterback who carried the Tigers in a transitional first half of the season under new head coach Johnson.
But, even with Swearingen in the game, Greeley usually remains as a running back or receiver because of his home-run ability: "He's the ultimate Swiss Army Knife," Johnson says. "And I'd be a damn fool to abandon A.J. taking a direct snap."
However: "I'd also be a fool not to recognize Hunter's set of skills. He has a way of getting other guys involved, honestly, better than A.J. It's been a slow, methodical plan to have both quarterbacks play pivotal roles in the offense."
Bottom line, Johnson says: "I want to give our opponents something to think about."
MENDOTA'S SEGURA 5 SHORT OF CAREER TD RECORD
Mendota's Edgar Segura is within range of becoming the section's career leader in touchdowns.
The senior has 113 in three seasons, trailing only Tulare's Dominique Dorsey (118, 1998-2000) and Dos Palos' Kenny James (118, 1999-2001), according to section historian Bob Barnett.
Segura also is No. 3 in career rushing yards (6,580), trailing Bakersfield's Steve Wofford (7,100, 1992-94) and Dorsey (7,761).
Mendota will close West Sierra League play against Tranquillity on Friday night and at Firebaugh on Nov. 8.
Should the Aztecs play two D-V playoff games and get eliminated in the semifinals, Segura would have to average 296 yards to pass Dorsey. Should they play three playoff games and make the championship, he'd have to average 237.
For the second straight season, Corcoran appears to be hitting stride at an opportune time.
The Panthers opened 1-4 last year but won six of their next seven en route to reaching a section final for the fourth time in six seasons, losing 35-12 to Liberty-Madera Ranchos for the D-V title.
This year, Corcoran started 0-5 against a slate of pre-league opponents with a collective 26-14 record, including three D-IV teams. But the Panthers have won three straight heading into Friday night's homefield showdown against D-V No. 3-ranked Lindsay (7-1, 3-0) for first place in the East Sequoia League.
"We played some really stiff competition where we couldn't make mistakes, and it cost us games," Corcoran coach Rich Lane says. "We've learned from that. We're trying not to make the same mistakes, and so far, we haven't."
The teams offer a contrast in styles, with the Cardinals passing for 254 yards a game behind quarterback Alex Jara (1,979 yards and 22 TDs) and receiver Gaven Mann (952 yards, 12 TDs), while the Panthers counter with four-year player Kaleb Toone (888 yards, 11 TDs) running behind the offensive line of Anthony Anaya, Francisco Chavez, Dustin McBride, Adrian Cisneros and Christopher Navarro.
Lane said Corcoran is a better team for the struggles it went through early in the season, including losses to a pair of teams in Kern Valley (28-19) and Liberty-Madera Ranchos (35-13) that it could see again in the D-V playoffs.
PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Brandon Moua, McLane: McLane's miracle 46-40 overtime win over Fresno last week was delivered by this 5-6, 175-pound senior who played slot receiver last season.
"Brandon came out of nowhere," Highlanders coach Pete Joseph says. "He's been a godsend to the football team."
McLane appeared to be set at quarterback with Herb Johnson, who led the North Yosemite League last year in total offense as a sophomore. But he dropped out of the program while addressing "personal" issues, Joseph says.
Enter Moua, who calmly called his own play on a last-second TD pass against Fresno that advanced the game into overtime before then directing the winning drive on a night he passed for 248 yards and three scores and rushed for another 75 and a TD.
The degree of difficulty rises a notch tonight for the Highlanders (5-3, 3-0), who will play at home against Sunnyside (5-3, 3-0) for no less than a piece of the NYL title. And it's been 17 years since McLane had one, according to Barnett.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
-- No. 4 Clovis (6-2, 2-1) at No. 5 Clovis North (6-2, 2-1): Second place in Tri-River Athletic Conference and No. 5 seed in D-I playoffs likely on the line.
-- Tulare (3-5, 2-1) at No. 7 Mission Oak (8-0, 3-0): Hawks must run table -- that means five more wins -- to land state bowl invitation.
-- No. 10 El Diamante (7-1, 4-0) at No. 15 Lemoore (6-2, 3-1): Rushing delight, with the Miners' DeAngello Torres going head-to-head against the Tigers' Richard Doctor.
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