Oh, how the fourth-ranked Stockdale High Mustangs missed D.J. Martin at Lamonica Stadium on Friday night.
But considering No. 1 Clovis staged a clinic in a 42-0 victory – a drubbing so thorough a state-mandated running clock was imposed in the fourth quarter – how much did it really matter?
"We stoned them up front and eliminated their running game," Cougars coach Rich Hammond said.
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Last year, Clovis won 6-0 at Stockdale when Martin was limited to 63 rushing yards and three fumbles in a season he would finish with 1,900 yards and 23 touchdowns.
After outgaining the Mustangs 360-128 in that one, the Cougars (4-0) held a 407-150 advantage in totals yards this time.
So common sense says Stockdale (2-1) – opposing the Central Section's elite defense and catching the Cougars on arguably their most thorough performance since a Division I championship season of 2002 – had virtually no chance without the running back suddenly declared academically ineligible earlier in the day.
"I found out about noon," Stockdale coach Mike Snow said.
"On the field," Snow said, "he gives us a guy who has to get attention. Off the field, apparently the burden of the loss of him was a little too much."
That removed a 2010 All-State Underclass back averaging 21.2 yard per carry and 254.5 yards per game.
But that was in now-forfeited wins against East Bakersfield and West.
And the defenses of those Kern County lightweights are not to be confused with Clovis' star-studded cast, featuring linemen Jeffrey Caton and Dakota Gordon, linebackers Ryan Davies and Nate Palomino, and free safety Jason Black.
Caton, who closed the scoring with a 20-yard fumble return in the third quarter, offered the simplest of expressions: "It was very fun."
Then, pointing to defensive coordinator Kevin Johns, he added: "We just listen to him every week; he knows what he's doing."
Jaryd Weakley seems to know a little more now, also.
Clovis' senior left-handed quarterback completed 9 of 13 passes for 193 yards, including maybe the play of the game – a 43-yarder to Logan Poisall on fourth-and-2 early in the second quarter that set up the second of three touchdowns by Gordon.
The emergence of Weakley, who had completed only 47% of his attempts coming in, helped create further opportunity for a ground game that arrived with a 211-yards-per-game average.
And the Cougars, continually gashing the Mustangs behind senior tackle Wylie Brand, rushed for 214 yards behind Yoon Conner (15 carries for 128 yards) and Gordon (4-46).
"I think we'll run consistently," Hammond said, "so add a play-action passing game and that's an important piece of what we're trying to do."
Regarding the absence of Stockdale's Martin, he added: "He's a special player who can hit a home run and all the things that go with it."
Both coaches hinted of a rematch in the D-I playoffs.
Hammond said: "I'm sure [Stockdale] will be ripping and ready."
And Snow: "Clovis was real physical and got after us pretty good. I hope to see them again."