VISALIA – No Cody Kessler, no problem for Centennial High.
Joe Bresson proved there's life after the USC-recruited Kessler by passing for 405 yards and three touchdowns as the 13th-ranked Golden Hawks spoiled the Redwood coaching debut of Shaun Ball with a 41-26 victory Friday at Mineral King Bowl.
Centennial, which opened the season last week with a 35-6 loss to state and nationally top 5-ranked Mission Viejo, got back on track this week behind Bresson, who threw 16 passes last season as Kessler's backup.
"I've been waiting for this chance to show what I can do," said Bresson, who completed 27 of 37 passes while connecting with eight receivers. "I don't have to be Cody Kessler. I just have to do my best."
Bresson led the Golden Hawks to scores on five of their eight first-half possessions while helping build a 34-19 lead. He threw touchdown passes of 28 yards to Andrew Daughtery, 80 yards to Zach Clayton and 1 yard to Michael Martens.
Redwood, which played poorly by Ball's admission during a scrimmage two weeks ago against Clovis, stayed close in the second half and held out hopes of an upset until late in the fourth quarter.
Raul Alvarez' 2-yard touchdown run with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter closed the Rangers' deficit to 34-26, but that's as close as they would come as Centennial scored on its next drive, capped by a 3-yard run from Brice Royal, to go ahead 41-26.
Redwood punted and threw two interceptions on its final three possessions.
Redwood scored twice in the first half – on a 3-yard run by Andrew Martinez and a 64-yard run by Tony Hannah.
"I'm extremely proud of what we were able to do," Ball said. "We went toe to toe with one of the top-10 teams in the Valley. Compared to where we were two weeks ago, the improvement is night and day."
Ball is the third coach at Redwood in more than 40 years. A Golden West grad and Visalia resident, Ball went 62-55 with six playoff appearances, one West Yosemite League title and one section Division III championship in 11 seasons at Lemoore.