Byes – part good, part bad: The pros and cons of a bye week offer a team a chance to recover from some injuries while risking the chance of lost momentum.
Edison High football coach Tim McDonald feels both entering his second-seeded team's Central Section Division I quarterfinal tonight at McLane Stadium against seventh-seeded Tulare.
"As a coach, I loved it because we had a chance to heal up a bit," he says. "But, also, we're itching to play. We felt we were on a pretty good little roll, then had to pause a minute. And that's tough."
The Tigers (9-1) have won eight straight since losing 33-14 to top-seeded Bakersfield (10-0) on Sept. 9 at Sunnyside Stadium. They've averaged 39.1 points in the streak behind junior quarterback Khari McGee, who has passed for 2,082 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushed for 574 yards and another eight scores.
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"He's ready to go," McDonald says. "This is his time to get out there and show what he's capable of. He's a guy who can take over a game at any point."
Never was that more evident than in a 52-50 win over Bullard, an Oct. 14 decision that ultimately decided the County/Metro Athletic Conference title.
In that one, McGee passed for 327 yards, three TDs and five conversions and rushed for 125 yards and a score while rallying Edison from a 21-0 deficit. Three weeks later, he engineered an 85-yard drive, capped by a touchdown pass with 4 seconds left, to lift the Tigers to a 35-34 victory over Madera.
In 2009, Edison, as a fifth seed, won 26-25 at top-seeded Tulare in the semifinals en route to the D-II championship. The Tigers last won a football large-schools title (Yosemite Division) in 1975, beating Bullard.
Tulare won the D-II crown in 2008 and captured its only large-schools title (Yosemite Division) in 1986, defeating Madera.
The 10-1 Redskins, behind Oscar Reyes' 359 yards passing and four touchdowns, defeated Buchanan 49-14 in last week's first round.
"It's 14-14 and you look up and they've scored 35 or 40 points – game over," says McDonald, whose team beat Buchanan 31-14 Sept. 29. "They have a speed game that can strike you quick."
Nixon wins appeal: Centennial coach Bryan Nixon will be allowed to coach the Golden Hawks' quarterfinal at Bakersfield after winning an appeal through section commissioner Jim Crichlow.
Nixon was ejected in the third quarter last Friday following two sideline unsportsmanlike penalties in a 63-49 win over Clovis West. And any player or coach ejection draws with it an additional one-game suspension. But Crichlow said a Nixon assistant was responsible for the first penalty.
State bowl hopes high: Washington remains in strong contention to play in the CIF State Bowl Championships in three weeks at the Home Depot Center in Carson.
Cal-Hi Sports rankings, which have been followed closely in the five-year history of the two-day event, have the Panthers (10-0) ranked second in the Division III South behind Lompoc (10-0) of the Southern Section.
The divisions are enrollment-based and vary slightly from the Central Section playoffs, where Washington is top-seeded in D-IV.
PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Michael Baker, Central: Not a reach to say tonight's game against fourth-seeded Clovis (9-1) at Lamonica Stadium is the biggest game ever not only for Baker, but the fifth-seeded Grizzlies (8-2).
Central, which lost 21-7 to the Cougars at the same site Oct. 20, is pursuing the school's first section football title. The Grizzlies tied Clovis this season for their second share of a Tri-River Athletic Conference championship in the league's 16-year history.
Baker, a three-year starter with 7,199 career yards passing and 71 touchdowns, is the leading passer in Central and TRAC annals.
OTHER GAMES IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Lemoore (8-3) at Clovis North (6-3), D-II: In the year of the running back in the section, particularly in the north area, much has been said about the likes of Bullard's Demetrius Warren, Memorial's Chris Brown and Mendota's Edgar Segura. But quietly marching near a 2,000-yard season has been Lemoore's Deandre Daise. And he has big help from one of the section's most imposing fronts, featuring tackles Randy Hendricks (6-4, 270) and Jacob Henry (6-6, 260).
Mt. Whitney (8-3) at Dinuba (10-0), D-III: The top half of this bracket appears to be the toughest of the division, evident in this attractive quarterback matchup with the eighth-seeded Pioneers' Tucker Mendonca and the top-seeded Emperors' David Rico.
Kingsburg (9-2) at Hanford (9-2), D-III: Here's the other quarterfinal of the D-III upper bracket, opposing Hanford's Brayden Sanchez and his 51 career touchdowns against a Vikings defense that has given up only 44 points in a six-game winning streak. And, actually, the unit was most impressive in losses to Washington (20-16) and Dinuba (17-15).
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