McGee the key: The Central Section's No. 1 football game of the year to date focuses on No. 19 tonight at McLane Stadium.
"It obviously starts with him," Bullard coach Donnie Arax says of preparing for Edison and the quarterback wearing that jersey number – Khari McGee – in a whopper of a County/Metro Athletic Conference opener between the No. 3 Knights (4-1) and No. 6 Tigers (4-1).
It was last year, as a sophomore, that McGee was just warming up while completing 19 of 26 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns, and also rushing for 54 yards on only six carries, in a 27-23 win over Bullard.
The Tigers would finish second to Sunnyside in the league while going 4-7 overall a year after a 10-4, Division II-winning season. And the Knights would go 3-7 a year after going 13-0 with their first D-I title.
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And now back to serious business.
Edison will match McGee against Bullard running back Demetrius Warren (984 yards, 15 TDs) and kicker Shawn Kuehter, who blasted field goals of 42, 54 and 42 yards against the Tigers last year.
Aztecs itching for Broncos: Mendota, an 18-year school that's 0-12 all-time against Dos Palos – one of the winningest football programs in state history – digs in at home like never before against the Broncos.
"A win would continue to lift the morale of the community, the school and the kids as well," says first-year coach Beto Mejia, the architect of Mendota's unprecedented 5-0 start.
The Aztecs, ranked No. 1 in D-VI, are outscoring D-V opposition 248-13. They haven't given up a defensive TD (only two kickoff returns).
This continues an extraordinary run by Mejia, who went 29-1 with 21 shutouts in the past three years with Mendota's junior varsity.
Coming off 42-0 and 48-0 losses to Dos Palos, the Aztecs arrive in their biggest game in school history with a blend of talent and experience, ranging from seniors Alfredo Muratalla and Omar Cisneros to super sophomore Edgar Segura.
Mid-season Oscars: Halfway through the regular season and the winners are:
Team of the Year: Mendota – See above.
Surprise Team of the Year (good): Edison – Coming off a 4-7 season and actually not getting coach Tim McDonald back for his second term until well into August following a three-week coaching internship with the Seattle Seahawks, the Tigers could have been excused for a slow start. Didn't happen.
Surprise Team of the Year (bad): tie, Clovis West, Stockdale and El Diamante – Bee preseason Nos. 2, 3 and 16 teams are a combined 0-15. To repeat – 0-15!
Player of the Year: Brian Alvarado, senior running back, Coalinga – Everyone knows he's coming, but what does it matter? The 2010 Central Sequoia League Offensive Player of the Year has rushed for 1,130 yards, averaging 11.4 yards a carry, scored 15 TDs and is averaging 7.0 tackles for a 6-0 team top-ranked in D-IV.
Rookie of the Year: Sam Metcalf, freshman quarterback, Farmersville – He's passed for 1,396 yards and 12 TDs for a 4-1 team ranked No. 2 in D-VI.
Coach of the Year: Beto Mejia, Mendota – See above.
Game of the Year: Washington 20, Kingsburg 16 – Showdown of 2010 D-IV and D-III champions had Kingsburg take a 16-14 lead with 4:21 left; Panthers answered with a 65-yard TD pass from Dashown Fletcher to Deontay Greenberry on 4th-and-18 a minute later; and, in an officials' call that will long be debated, the Vikings were stopped inches short of the goal line (or were they?) on a 15-yard, fourth-down pass from Austin Bray to Kyler Christopher with 16.2 seconds showing.
OTHER GAMES IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Dinuba (5-0, 2-0) at Coalinga (6-0, 2-0): Like the prisons nearby, this will be captivating. It will match the Central Sequoia League's marquee players and three-year stars in Emperors QB David Rico and Horned Toads RB Brian Alvarado.
Sunnyside (4-1) at Madera (4-1): Yes, the CMAC spotlight will be focused on McLane Stadium (Edison vs. Bullard) but, hey, this does match the league's defending champion (Sunnyside) and a fellow D-II factor that can't be ignored (Madera).
Frontier (3-1) at Liberty-Bakersfield (4-1): Correction, by the way, before this Southwest Yosemite League opener: Frontier, failing on a two-point conversion attempt in overtime, lost 21-20 to Ridgeview last week. The Bee had the score reversed.
Mission Oak clinched the first playoff berth in school history, as Corbin Quinonez passed for three touchdowns in a 48-13 East Yosemite League win over Chavez.