A perfect 10 rare for Clovis: For all its history – eight Central Section titles since 1970, legendary former coach Tim Simons, two current players in the NFL (Tyler Clutts, Stephen Spach), and on and on – Clovis High has a chance Friday night to achieve what has been accomplished only twice in school annals. That's a 10-0 regular season.
And there's more.
"So many things on the line for us," Cougars coach Rich Hammond says entering a Tri-River Athletic Conference finale with Clovis West at Lamonica Stadium.
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- A program that kicked off with a 3-2 season in 1922, Clovis (9-0, 4-0) has only gone 10-0 in 1988 and 1991. The Cougars finished 10-1 and 13-0 those seasons under Simons.
- They've lost nine straight to Clovis West (2-7, 2-2) while sliding behind 17-23 in the series.
- A win would clinch their first outright league title since 1996. They last shared a league crown in 2002, when they also delivered their last section championship.
- A win will likely lock no worse than a No. 2 seed for the Central Section Division I playoffs, which will begin next week. Southwest Yosemite League-leading Bakersfield (9-0, 4-0) appears to have an edge in the seeding, which will be determined Saturday morning in the Porterville office of section commissioner Jim Crichlow.
And standing in the way is Clovis West, which has lost seven or more games only four times previously in its 31-year history, and three of those occurred in its first three seasons. But the Golden Eagles' shotgun wing-T has hardly been slowed all season, including near-victories against third-ranked Bullard (35-32) and No. 6 Clovis North (42-35).
"They're really scary," Hammond says of defending D-I champion Clovis West. "They've played in spurts as well as anybody in the section.
Clovis, ranked No. 2 in the section and No. 17 in the state, is looking for improved health from its top offensive threat, running back Yoon Conner. Slowed by a leg injury, he rushed for only 6 yards on three carries in a 27-21 overtime win over Clovis North last week.
Clovis West will be without its best defensive lineman, Justin Flores, who injured his neck in a 44-28 loss to Central last week.
It's been that kind of year – rocked by defections and injuries – for the Eagles following a 12-1 campaign in 2010.
"But we haven't had one bad week of practice," coach Mike Parsons says. "The players have been loyal, excited and done everything I've asked them to do."
He'll also ask them to participate in the playoffs, although there was discussion to the contrary.
"The seniors have gone through a lot," Parsons says. "They deserve another shot."
PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Brayden Sanchez, Hanford: The senior receiver/running back has teamed with a different quarterback in each of his three varsity seasons.
"He's been able to make connections with all of them," Bullpups coach Josh Young says of one of the most prolific players in program history.
Sanchez will enter a West Yosemite League finale tonight at home against Lemoore (7-2, 4-1) having accounted for a combined total of 3,778 career yards rushing and receiving while scoring 46 touchdowns.
"He's a throwback type of player who just plays football smart and the way it's supposed to be played," Young says of the WYL's slam-dunk Offensive Player of the Year.
Hanford (7-2, 5-0) has already clinched at least a tie for its first league championship in 18 years.
OTHER GAMES IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Edison (8-1, 4-0) at Memorial (7-2, 2-2): A No. 3 D-I seed – and maybe better – and the outright County/Metro Athletic Conference title are on the line for the Tigers.
Bakersfield (9-0, 4-0) at Liberty-Bakersfield (8-1, 4-0): This Southwest Yosemite League showdown presents a scoreboard-watcher for all D-I contenders to the section's north.
Redwood (5-4, 3-2) at Mt. Whitney (6-3, 4-1): Cowhide Game has the Pioneers holding onto hope for a piece of the WYL title. But Lemoore needs to cooperate.
Fowler (7-2, 3-0) at Caruthers (6-3, 3-0): Here they go again, battling for the West Sequoia League crown at the wire after Fowler snagged it last year with a 29-13 win over the Blue Raiders.
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