It’s an intracity rivalry that began in 1979 when Visalia opened its third high school.
But never have the Golden West and Redwood football teams both been undefeated heading into their annual meeting.
Until now, when the unranked Trailblazers (4-0, 0-0) host The Bee’s Central Section No. 12-ranked Rangers (5-0, 1-0) on Friday in a West Yosemite League game set for 7:30 p.m. at Visalia Community Stadium.
Golden West, which has never won a section football title, is off to its best start since opening 4-0 in 2001, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
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Redwood, which last won a section title in 1996, is undefeated this late into the season for the first time since 2003.
The Trailblazers-Rangers matchup has traditionally done little to raise the pulse in Visalia the way the Rangers’ annual Cowhide Game against oldest rival Mt. Whitney does.
But the successful starts by both programs has spiked interest enough to prompt advance ticket sales – $6 for adults and $4 for students – through the Golden West finance office for a game that is the Trailblazers’ homecoming.
Johnson invited to prestigious bowl – Central senior cornerback Jaylon Johnson has been selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, generally considered the premier high school all-star game in the nation.
The game, featuring 90 players, will be played at 10 a.m. PST Jan. 7 at San Antonio’s Alamodome. It will be broadcast live on NBC and across the world to U.S. Army soldiers deployed overseas.
Johnson, a three-year varsity starter, is ranked sixth nationally among cornerbacks and 57th among all players by Rivals.com.
Offered 18 Division I scholarships, he says he has narrowed his top five to USC, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Georgia and Utah.
Central will honor Johnson at12:15 p.m. Monday in its East Campus gymnasium. Included will be U.S. Army All-American Bowl representatives, who will speak and present Johnson his game jersey.
The Grizzlies have a bye this week, as do five other teams among The Bee’s top 10.
Other games to watch (all Friday night):
Porterville (1-3) at No. 4 Buchanan (3-1): The matchup isn’t as compelling as the arrival of Buchanan running back Kendall Milton from the freshman team. His breakaway speed has created quite the buzz at Bears Nation. Buchanan, which will open Tri-River Athletic Conference play at No. 2 Central next week, also expects a return soon from junior running back Trevor Ervin, a season-opening starter, who hasn’t played since injuring a knee in a second-week 28-17 win over now-No. 7 Bullard. He was averaging 6.3 yards per carry. The Bears are averaging 5.4 per carry and 257.7 per game as a team, led by seniors Zack Presno (5.3, 185 yards total) and Jake Levantino (5.9, 158).
No. 10 Bakersfield (2-2) at No. 11 Ridgeview (1-3): These records weren’t expected a month ago, but the duel nonetheless matches Kern County heavyweights. Bakersfield is playing its first in-section game of the season, and without starting quarterback Josh Maran, likely out for the year after breaking a collarbone in last week’s 48-9 loss to Valencia.
No. 19 Fresno (3-1) vs. Tulare Western (2-2), at Mathias Stadium: Possible D-III playoff preview. Hanford is top-ranked by The Bee in the division, which it has won two straight years. Fresno, behind one of the section’s elite running backs in Lee Major, is No. 2 in the division. Tulare Western had been ranked before absorbing a 42-25 beating at South last week.
Central Section Week 6 football schedule
WEST YOSEMITE LEAGUE
El Diamante at Hanford, 7:30 p.m.
Hanford West at Lemoore, 7:30 p.m.
Redwood at Golden West, 7:30 p.m.
SOUTH SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Chavez at Taft, 7:30 p.m.
Kennedy at Bakersfield Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Shafter at Arvin, 7:30 p.m.
California City at Laton, 6:30 p.m.
Porterville at Buchanan, 7 p.m.
Reedley at Sanger, 7 p.m.
Corcoran at Kern Valley-Lake Isabella, 7 p.m.
Bishop at Yosemite, 7 p.m.
McLane at Washington, 7 p.m.
Strathmore at Avenal, 7 p.m.
Sierra at Woodlake, 7:15 p.m.
Sierra Pacific at Orosi, 7:15 p.m.
Caruthers at Farmersville, 7:15 p.m.
Granite Hills at McFarland, 7:15 p.m.
Delano at Wasco, 7:30 p.m.
East Bakersfield at Foothill, 7:30 p.m.
Garces vs. Edison (Sunnyside), 7:30 p.m.
Firebaugh at Parlier, 7:30 p.m.
Bakersfield at Ridgeview, 7:30 p.m.
Fresno vs. Tulare Western (Mathias Stadium), 7:30 p.m.
Hoover at Highland, 7:30 p.m.
Kerman at Dos Palos, 7:30 p.m.
Kingsburg at Coalinga, 7:30 p.m.
Mendota at Minarets, 7:30 p.m.
North at Tehachapi, 7:30 p.m.
Rosamond at Mira Monte, 7:30 p.m.
Tranquillity at Riverdale, 7:30 p.m.
Tulare at Dinuba, 7:30 p.m.
West at South, 7:30 p.m.
Liberty-Madera Ranchos at Patterson, 7 p.m.
Los Banos at Chowchilla, 7 p.m.
INTERSECTIONAL (8 MAN)
Frazier Mountain-Lebec at California Lutheran-Wildomar, Noon
Fresno Christian at Trinity Christian-Monterey, 1 p.m.