And down the stretch they come in Central Section football.
Take the Tri-River Athletic Conference, which has Central, Clovis North and Clovis West tied for first with 3-1 records entering next week. That was set up first with Clovis West's 38-28 upset of third-ranked Central on Thursday night at Buchanan's Veterans Memorial Stadium.
And it was followed Friday night at the same site with Clovis North and Bolu Olorunfunmi playing with obvious resolve in a 26-13 win over No. 4 Clovis.
Olorunfunmi, embarrassed a bit while rushing for only 60 yards and losing two fumbles in a 30-14 loss at Central last week, displayed power, speed and vision while rebounding with a 228-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Cougars.
But it's not all joy in the Broncos stable.
Junior quarterback Austin Autry was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter. He remained motionless on the ground for a couple of minutes before staggering to the sideline on his own power. His status for a TRAC finale at Buchanan next Friday is uncertain.
Other TRAC games on the same night will have Central as a prohibitive favorite at home against Clovis East, and Clovis West going to Clovis in a biggie for the Division I seedings, which will follow at section commissioner Jim Crichlow's office in Porterville next Saturday.
Top-ranked Edison (9-0) and No. 9 Bullard (8-1) routed Memorial and Madera, respectively, setting the stage for a County/Metro Athletic Conference showdown of 4-0 teams anticipated for three months — or is it 12? — at Sunnyside.
Bakersfield (7-2, 4-0), which at this point is locked in a duel with Edison for the D-I top seed, clinched at least a tie for the Southwest Yosemite League title with a 54-7 drubbing of Centennial. The Drillers will close at home against Stockdale (5-4, 3-1), which defeated Frontier 42-28 in a game the Mustangs likely needed to win to advance to the D-I playoffs. Their school policy demands a .500 or better record to advance.
Elsewhere, Sunnyside and Mission Oak built yet more momentum nearing the postseason by clinching at least ties for league championships.
Sunnyside (6-3, 4-0) took the difficult route, rallying from a 14-0 deficit early in the second quarter to deny McLane 35-21 as Drew Jung got the edge against Brandon Moua in a duel of top North Yosemite League quarterbacks.
The Wildcats will close at home Thursday against Reedley (2-7, 2-2) and first-year Pirates coach Mike Vogt. McLane (5-4, 3-1), still in contention for a piece of its first league crown in 17 years, also will play that night at home against Hoover (0-9, 0-4).
Mission Oak (9-0, 4-0) pulled away from Tulare 27-7 in an intracity game in the East Yosemite League, meaning the No. 7 Hawks are one league win and three D-IV playoff victories away from a sure CIF State Bowl berth. They will go to Delano (3-6, 0-4) next Friday.
CW win rescues Parsons?
When I approached Clovis West's Mike Parsons at midfield a little after 10 p.m. Thursday, I saw relief in the eyes of a coach like I haven't seen in a long, long time.
Stacy Parsons saw something refreshing in her husband, also.
"She said, 'I haven't seen you smile like that for awhile,' " the coach says.
Clearly, there was no disguise in emotions for Parsons following a 38-28 Tri-River Athletic Conference upset of third-ranked Central at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
So the obvious question: Did that win save the job of a coach who was 3-5 entering the game and 8-22 in the past three seasons at the USC of section sports?
"I can honestly say nobody has brought me into their office and said this is a cutthroat game you have to win or this is a year to have to turn it around," he says. "The administration has been supportive from the top."
"It's not like everybody has been super happy."
I don't need to address this with the Clovis West suits. I know the drill.
Here are the facts:
Clovis West has won 180 section championships in all sports, and doesn't begin to draw a parallel from Chowchilla to Bakersfield during the Eagles' 33-year existence (and, yes, Buchanan has been comparable in the past 10 years). Meaning, the athletic bar is set higher than any other in the section.
Most relevant here: No section coach — in any sport, in any gender — has been thrust under the microscope more critically than football coaches at Clovis West.
From 1981 to 2008, the Golden Eagles went 251-75-6 (.765 winning percentage) with 17 league titles, eight section championships and seven section runners-up.
Yet, the boiler resulted in five coaches in five years from 2006-10 in Jim Hartigan, Marty Martin, Gary Kinne, Coby Lindsey and Parsons — despite two section titles (2008, '10) and two runners-up (2006-07) during that span.
And it was here that Parsons debuted marvelously with a 12-1 D-I championship in 2010 after going 15-0 with a State Small Schools bowl title at Modesto Christian the previous season.
Then the plunge unseen with the Eagles since they went 6-24 in their first three seasons from 1978-80.
And Parsons began to question himself: "Natural human nature. I'm not an idiot. I knew deep in my heart I had to get this thing turned around. Hopefully, we'll take care of business at Clovis (next week), go into the playoffs running and make a run."
Perhaps, but this is reality: Never again will Clovis West make a three-decade run like it did before.
The dynamics of Clovis Unified have changed, particularly north of Herndon, where the district talent pie is split in thirds with the Eagles, Buchanan and Clovis North.
But don't so much as whisper this in the Eagles' district.
"That," Parsons says, "is not a popular conversation to have."
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @beepreps on Twitter.