The Clovis challenge: Mike Vogt, who has coached 260 high school football games in 23 seasons at Mt. Whitney and Buchanan, has come to a conclusion after scouting top-ranked Clovis on film: The Cougars have no defining weakness.
"Their defense is one of the better I've seen in our league for awhile, and their offense hits you from all over the line of scrimmage," he said while preparing for tonight's Tri-River Athletic Conference game at Lamonica Stadium. "So they're tough to deal with."
It's quite a reversal at Clovis, which is 7-0 this season and has won 14 of its past 17 after losing 33 of its previous 42.
Architect of the turnaround for the state's 17th-ranked team is coach Rich Hammond, whose offenses and defenses are creative and efficient.
Left-hander Jaryd Weakley's 61% passing has balanced a bullish ground game featuring the best back nobody knows outside of Clovis – junior Yoon Conner (880 yards) – and one of the Central Section's premier fronts in tackles Wylie Brand and Nathan Newman, guards Joshua Savage and Nicholas Salomonson, and center Chad Allison.
Testament to the diversity, 14 players have scored touchdowns, including Garrett Olson on fly sweeps and Nate Palomino out of direct snaps in wildcat formation. Besides linebacker Palomino, the power scheme brings over linebacker Ryan Davies and defensive end Jeffrey Caton for blocking purposes.
But defense is where it all begins for the Cougars. And it's here that Palomino, Davies and Caton star, along with linebacker Jordan Harper, linemen Dakota Gordon and Nicholas Nevills, and safety Jason Black.
Adding to the team's strength have been special teams coverage and junior kicker Jacob Poindexter.
"Coach [Ryan] Reynolds is filling in for Tim while he is taking care of personal business," Clovis Unified School District spokeswoman Kelly Avants said.
She and Clovis East athletic director Pete Price both said Murphy could return this season.
They will face an International Federation of American Football-sanctioned team of top players from outside the U.S. The 50-player rosters for each team will be selected by USA Football.
Demetrius Warren's TD runs covered 44, 66 and 57 yards as No. 4 Bullard beat Sanger 28-13 in the CMAC. Sierra Pacific 31, Minarets 6
Sierra Pacific, Hanford's third high school, earned its first varsity victory as Trey Wharton scored on runs of 1 and 33 yards in a 31-6 victory over fellow first-year team Minarets.
Tim Rodriguez's four TDs – receptions of 59, 25 and 48 yards, and an 80-yard kickoff return – powered Reedley past Fresno 42-7 in the NYL.
PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Errian Wingfield, Sunnyside: The 5-7, 185-pound junior has rushed for 696 yards and nine touchdowns in the past two games. And he'll carry that momentum into the battle tonight against No. 3 Edison (6-1, 2-0) with first place on the line in the County/Metro Athletic Conference.
"Errian is extremely competitive and he enjoys carrying the team on his back," said coach Justin Garza of defending league champion and No. 10 Sunnyside (6-1, 2-0). "He knows our success depends on him."
Wingfield has averaged 10.5 yards a carry while rushing for 1,490 yards and 19 TDs.
The Wildcats' pistol offense is operated by Andy Phimmavong, who shared the CMAC's first-team quarterback honor last year with Edison's Khari McGee. And McGee arrives on a roll, having passed for 1,567 yards and 17 scores, and rushed for 470 yards and another six TDs.
OTHER GAMES IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Clovis North (5-1, 2-0) at Central (5-2, 1-1): Test of discipline for Clovis North, playing on the road against a sixth-ranked team with No. 1 Clovis looming next week.
Mt. Whitney (5-2, 3-0) at Hanford (6-2, 4-0): To the winner goes probable WYL outright title – owned by El Diamante the past four seasons.
Hoover (2-5, 2-0) at Madera South (6-1, 2-0): Defending North Yosemite League champ Hoover can retain command in victory. But the No. 19 Stallions have never ridden higher.
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