Stallions' biggest ride: We'll know a lot more about Madera South's football team by 10 p.m. Friday. But, for now, the burning questions:
Does a 3-1 record reflect a legitimate North Yosemite League and Central Section Division III contender? Or is it more about a pretender beating teams (Yosemite, Kerman and Central Valley Christian) with a combined 0-10 record?
All that matters tonight, of course, is this: beat intracity rival Madera for the first time in school history at a Memorial Stadium that promises to be rocking.
"That would be a high for everybody at Madera South," coach Scott Donegan says. "And I mean everybody, from the attendance secretary to the guy who stripes the field to the principal and the vice principal. That would be special – special – and not more than anybody than those kids wearing the helmets."
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Madera South, with its fourth class of seniors, has lost to the Coyotes 45-28, 14-13 and 35-0 the past three years.
Further, Donegan emphasizes, the current senior class – the school's best yet in football depth and ability – has never beaten its rival since seventh grade.
"Our seniors," Donegan says, "believe they'll be NYL champs, contend for the D-III title and, with a great game, will beat Madera. So here we go; it's their last try."
Senior Stallions to watch: running backs Donald Caballero, Marcus McCoy and Ranferi Pineda, quarterback Travis Middleton, right-side offensive linemen Angel Conchas and Francisco Renteria, and middle linebacker Luis Placido.
The dandy duel: No. 51 Placido vs. No. 20 Christian Ramirez, Madera's 839-yard, 10-touchdown running back.
"He's legit, gosh darn it," Donegan says. "He's a great high school running back and, if we can't handle him, we're really going to struggle."
CW 0-3 and needy: Who could have imagined this: Clovis West, a year after winning the Tri-River Athletic Conference, finishing 12-1 with its ninth section D-I title and opening 2011 ranked No. 2 in the section and No. 14 in the state, opposing rival Bullard winless and urgent for all the wrong reasons?
"This is always a rival game," Golden Eagles coach Mike Parsons says of tonight's nonleague game matching the section's past two D-I champions at Buchanan, "but it's gotten a lot bigger with the way we've started. This game is huge; we've got to get ourselves on the right track."
Clovis West has lost to Merced (2-2), Del Oro-Loomis (4-1) and Crespi-Encino (4-0). The team has been crippled by injuries and a roster that, at best, only numbers 32. "The list has been long with guys out of position just to get athletes on the field," Parsons says. "But they're Clovis West kids, they know they have a tough schedule, they're smart and expect to win. This game is important for our whole season."
PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT
David Rico, Dinuba: The ball has always been in Rico's hands at Dinuba, and never more securely than now.
From a ball boy for the varsity as a 7-year-old to a senior quarterback starting for the third year today, it's been a natural fit.
"He's one of those kids who used marbles to draw up plays in his room," coach Kevin Scharton says of Rico, who will lead the 20th-ranked Emperors (3-0) at home tonight in a Central Sequoia League opener vs. No. 18 Kingsburg (3-1).
This comes two weeks after the best of Rico came out while calling every play in a last-minute, seven-play, 83-yard drive to beat then-No. 17 Hanford 20-16.
And this all comes two years after Rico distinguished himself by taking over for an injured John Lopez in the final five games and guiding Dinuba to the D-III championship.
The 5-10, 165-pounder has passed for 3,236 yards and 34 touchdowns, with only 10 interceptions, in his career. But his arm's only part of it.
"He's a 4.0 student, very intelligent and knows the game inside and out," says Scharton, the Emps' 9-year coach who's had Rico's father, Roland, coach the JV all along. "He's just an all-round great young man."
In a section-class quarterback duel, Rico faces Kingsburg senior Austin Bray (1,012 yards, 12 TDs).
OTHER GAMES IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Hanford West (2-1) at Hanford (2-2): Hanford has won the Dog Bowl five straight years, averaging 37.6 points per game.
Washington (3-0) at Selma (3-0): Bears and exciting shotgun wing-T offense powered by running backs Kane Cooper and Stephen Saldate have fattened up on Fresno Unified's McLane (64-18), Roosevelt (49-21) and Fresno (53-0). But run a track meet with Washington? Trouble.
Coaches: Got a score to report? Call (559) 441-6379 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.