VISALIA – Christian Rossi and Trenton Barnes are in charge now, and they have the Clovis North High football team off to a fast start.
The Broncos' new quarterback and tailback helped 18th-ranked Clovis North march up and down the field during a 24-7 victory over No. 15 El Diamante on Thursday at Visalia Community Stadium.
Rossi and Barnes have stepped into the roles occupied by Chris Mariscal and Alex Mechikoff last season as Clovis North reached the quarterfinals of the Central Section Division II playoffs.
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Clovis North has its eye on bigger and better things, as it's off to a 2-0 start in its first season under ex-Fresno State standout Cory Hall, who replaced Tim Simons after the veteran coach stepped down because of health reasons.
"We are going to use the preseason to keep adjusting things," Hall said. "We have to use each week to get better. We are starting to click."
Barnes led the way with his second straight 100-plus yard rushing effort, and his two first-half touchdowns – on runs of 6 yards and 1 yard – helped stake the Broncos to a 14-7 lead against a Miners team that reached the D-I semifinals last season.
"We had good up-front blocking and great defense," said Barnes, who finished with 177 yards on 28 carries. "We've come out excited and hungry to play."
A week after limiting Rossi to seven passes in a 17-3 win over Independence, Hall turned his 6-foot-2, 185-pound, rocket-armed junior quarterback loose against El Diamante.
Rossi was 13 of 19 for 159 yards that included a 48-yard touchdown on a perfectly executed screen pass to Donte Whittle just before halftime that gave Clovis North a 21-7 lead.
"We're breaking it down in phases," Hall said of an increased reliance on the passing game this week. "We'll work on certain phases each week going into the [Tri-River Athletic Conference.] Now, we'll build on that and move on to another phase."
El Diamante kept it close early, answering Clovis North's first touchdown with an 8-yard scoring strike from Jacob Valdez to Blake Edmonson. But the Broncos defense shut the Miners out the rest of the way.
Thomas Hernandez's 22-yard field goal with 3:21 left in the third quarter provided the final margin for Clovis North.