The most moving year, quite likely, of football coach Chuch Shidan’s career at Sanger High will find a critical junction Friday night at Tom Flores Stadium.
This is a season that will probably be his last among 27 with the Apaches. He is on pace to deliver a 200th win for a milestone reached as a Central Section coach by seven others, and surely has potential to close with a fourth section title.
Next up is Bullard in a County/Metro Athletic Conference opener matching teams who have accounted for nine of the league’s titles since it was launched in 2004, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
The Knights had won seven straight in the series before Sanger won 21-14 last year.
Never miss a local story.
But Bullard’s heretofore dominance is a bit deceptive.
“I think our last four or five games with them came down to the last possession,” Shidan says. “It’s just how it is. They’ve had the upper hand on us, but it’s usually been close.”
9 Combined seasons Bullard and Sanger have won football titles in the 12-year history of the County/Metro Athletic Conference
That’s a concern for Shidan for this reason: The 5-0 and eighth-ranked Apaches haven’t been involved in a game in doubt in the fourth quarter since a season-opening 28-21 win over Fresno on Aug. 25.
Since, they beat Hanford 31-14 a week after the Bullpups lost star quarterback Ryan Johnson for the season with an ACL tear and then defeated Clovis East 55-13, Lemoore 55-14 and Reedley 48-0.
Those past three opponents are a combined 1-15.
“We haven’t had a four-quarter game in more than a month,” Shidan says, “and that’s a major concern for us.”
Seventh-ranked Bullard is 2-3, but take a better look: The Knights’ losses have been to No. 4 Buchanan (28-17), No. 1 Clovis (35-28) and No. 5 Clovis West (31-27).
Sanger has a talented, senior-based team – an ideal one for Shidan to go out with.
He admits that’s likely, but he stops just short of announcing it: “I’m getting close, but I want this to be more about this team.”
Yet he adds: “We’re going to have a big party after (the season).”
Shidan is 195-110, according to Barnett. Neither Barnett nor Cal-Hi Sports editor Mark Tennis credit in Shidan’s win total a 31-0 forfeit over Hoover in 1990, his first season.
The Apaches return virtually the same impact cast that beat Bullard last year.
That includes the right side of guard Nick Steele and tackle R.J. Banegas clearing the wing-T way for running backs Christian Graney, Andrew Asua, Miguel Garcia and Chris Soria.
The defensive base is formed by nose guard Mathew Davila, linebackers Garcia, Josiah Arreola, Adrian Valencia and Jose Garza, and cornerbacks Soria and Aaron Mosby.
Other top games (all Friday night):
No. 4 Buchanan (4-1) vs. No. 2 Central (4-1), at Koligian Stadium: Can the Bears do in the Tri-River Athletic Conference opener what Central’s past four opponents haven’t – be competitive? The Grizzlies’ mauling has struck No. 17 Sunnyside (56-15), No. 3 Liberty-Bakersfield (38-0), Frontier (59-17) and No. 11 Ridgeview (42-7). Central sophomore Trent Tompkins has completed 62 percent of his passes while throwing for 1,248 yards and 15 touchdowns against three interceptions.
No. 5 Clovis West (3-2) vs. No. 13 Clovis North (3-2), at Veterans Memorial Stadium: If Clovis West and junior quarterback Adrian Martinez are legitimate TRAC and section D-I contenders, they’ll make a statement here.
No. 10 Bakersfield (3-2) at No. 9 Garces (4-1): Season-ending injuries to quarterbacks Josh Maran (collarbone) of the Drillers and Conor Bruce (leg) of the Rams hang a cloud over this one in the Southwest Yosemite League.
No. 12 Redwood (6-0, 2-0) vs. No. 15 Hanford (4-2, 2-0): West Yosemite League title bout, it seems, and forget that it’s early October.
Week 7 schedule
NORTH YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Roosevelt at Sunnyside, 7 p.m.
EAST SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Lindsay vs. Sierra Pacific (Neighbor Bowl), 7 p.m.
TRI-RIVER ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Buchanan vs. Central (Koligian Stadium), 7 p.m.
Clovis East at Clovis, 7 p.m.
Clovis West vs. Clovis North (Veterans Memorial Stadium), 7 p.m.
COUNTY/METRO ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Bullard at Sanger, 7:30 p.m.
Edison at Madera, 7:30 p.m.
Madera South at Memorial, 7:30 p.m.
NORTH YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Fresno at McLane, 7:30 p.m.
Reedley vs. Hoover (Sunnyside), 7:30 p.m.
EAST YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Porterville vs. Mission Oak (Mathias Stadium), 7 p.m.
Tulare vs. Monache (Granite Hills), 7 p.m.
Tulare Western at Delano, 7 p.m.
WEST YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Golden West at Lemoore, 7:30 p.m.
Hanford West vs. Mt. Whitney (Mineral King Bowl), 7:30 p.m.
Redwood at Hanford, 7:30 p.m.
SOUTH YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Independence at Tehachapi, 7:30 p.m.
Ridgeview at Golden Valley, 7:30 p.m.
West at East Bakersfield, 7:30 p.m.
SOUTHEAST YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Highland at Foothill, 7:30 p.m.
North at South, 7:30 p.m.
SOUTHWEST YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Bakersfield at Garces, 7:30 p.m.
Liberty-Bakersfield at Frontier, 7:30 p.m.
Stockdale at Centennial, 7:30 p.m.
NORTH SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Kerman at Chowchilla, 7 p.m.
Washington at Sierra, 7 p.m.
CENTRAL SEQUOIA LEAGUE
C. Valley Christian at Selma, 7:15 p.m.
Exeter at Kingsburg, 7 p.m.
Immanuel vs. Dinuba, 7:30 p.m.
EAST SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Granite Hills at Corcoran, 7:15 p.m.
Orosi at Farmersville, 7:15 p.m.
SOUTH SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Bakersfield Christian at Chavez, 7:30 p.m.
Shafter at Taft, 7:30 p.m.
Wasco at Kennedy, 7:30 p.m.
WEST SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Minarets at Caruthers, 7:30 p.m.
Parlier at Fowler, 7:30 p.m.
WEST SIERRA LEAGUE
Avenal at Coalinga, 7:30 p.m.
Mendota at Dos Palos, 7:30 p.m.
Tranquillity at Firebaugh, 7:30 p.m.
HIGH DESERT LEAGUE
Bishop at Kern Valley-Lake Isabella, 7 p.m.
Desert-Edwards AFB at Calif. City, 7 p.m.
McFarland at Riverdale, 7 p.m.
Silver Valley-Yermo at Rosamond, 7 p.m.
Yosemite at Mammoth-M. Lakes, 7 p.m.
CENTRAL SIERRA LEAGUE (8 MAN)
Kings Christian at Fresno Christian, 7 p.m.
NONLEAGUE (8 MAN)
F. Mountain-Lebec at Alpaugh, 11 a.m.
INTERSECTIONAL (8 MAN)
Riverdale Christian at Crystal Springs Upland-Hillsborough, 11 a.m.