The first Friday of high school football in the Central Section. saw excitement everywhere, lots of intriguing matchups and a couple of heartfelt moments around the central San Joaquin Valley.
Former Central High football coach Justin Garza was honored before the Grizzlies’ game against Bullard with a monument unveiled at Koligian Stadium.
It’s a tribute to Garza’s legacy and the impact he had on Central during his time as head coach from 2012-15 as well as a few years spent as a Grizzlies assistant.
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“The players said, ‘We’ve got to put some kind of monument at the stadium of Coach Garza.’” former Central coach Wayne Koligian said Friday. “I thought it was a very good idea.
“It has Justin’s favorite saying as far as kids go: ‘Stand for more.’ That means be more than just a good football player. Be a good student. Be a good child to your parents. Be a good community member. Respect people.’”
Grizzlies players touched the monument as they exited the locker room for the second half, mimicking scenes seen at places like Notre Dame and Clemson.
Mr. Garza fought cancer for six years until he died in February. He was 41.
The much-liked coach led Central to a Central Section Division I runner-up finish in 2012 and a co-Tri-River Athletic Conference title in 2013. He also had stints as head coach at Reedley and Sunnyside.
If you’d like to donate toward Mr. Garza’s memorial, visit the GoFundMe campaign, www.gofundme.com/standformore.
‘Back to the TRAC’
The Tri-River Athletic Conference might be the premier league in the Central Section.
But TRAC football hasn’t been able to deliver a section championship over the past four years, with the league’s last championship dating back to 2012 when Clovis North defeated Central for the Division I title.
Do you know how long ago 2012 was?
Tim DeRuyter was just beginning his first season at the Fresno State football coach. And the San Francisco Giants were in the process of winning their second of three World Series titles.
Now, DeRuyter is long gone and the Giants are last in the National League West and 25 games under .500.
Can the TRAC come through this year?
Central, Clovis West, Buchanan and Clovis all were included in The Bee’s Coaches’ Top 10 Poll going into the season, coming in at No. 2, No. 4, No. 5 and No. 10.
All but Clovis West won Friday, and the Golden Eagles acquitted themselves well in a 31-30 loss at No. 3 Liberty-Bakersfield.
Without the cheerleaders, it’d be just a game
Can’t have a football game without cheerleaders, right?
Cheerleaders were prominent on social media Friday night, including posts from the Roosevelt squad as the sun set in Chowchilla and the Edison squad on the long ride to Bakersfield.
Roosevelt, which finished 2-9 last season, had something to cheer about, winning 33-14 against a Chowchilla team that placed runner-up in last year’s D-IV section final.
It was quite the opening task for Edison, playing its first game without former coach Matt Johnson and taking on the section’s defending D-I champ.
Bakersfield prevailed 16-0.
Check out some of these early moments of season openers around the Valley.
Shidan in the house
Thought longtime Sanger coach Chuck Shidan was going to stay away from the football field just because he retired after last season?
Shidan was spotted at the Sanger opener with the Apaches hosting Fresno.
Shidan coached Sanger the past 27 years. He was replaced by longtime assistant Jorge Pena.
The Apaches went undefeated in Central Section play last season before falling 49-36 in the CIF North Division 2-A Regional Championship Bowl to Serra-San Mateo.
Do the Apaches have another magical run in them this year?
Sanger won 42-0. (Note: The original version of this story incorrectly reported the final score as 42-10.)
Fresno Unified Superintendent a multi-tasker
Fresno Unified School District interim Superintendent Bob Nelson isn’t one to just delegate from afar.
Not only did Nelson sing the National Anthem for McLane’s opener against Hanford West …
He also provided play-by-play announcing for the Highlanders.
In a picture that he tweeted of himself in the press box, Nelson writes, “This is where I most enjoy sitting.”
A man of the people. Or at least a man of the students.
There’s a good reason Buchanan running back Kendall Milton already has received 10 college football offers and counting.
And he’s just beginning his sophomore season.
The 6-foot-1, 198-pound Milton wasted little time finding the end zone in the Bears’ opener at Hanford, taking a screen pass 33 yards for Buchanan’s first touchdown of the season with 7 minutes, 37 seconds before halftime.
Milton finished with four touchdowns and Buchanan breezed past Hanford 48-6.
What a blowout!
Quarterback Trent Tompkins erupted for five touchdowns – four in the air and one on the ground – as No. 2 Central lit up No. 9 Bullard 44-0 to kick start the season.
The Grizzlies, who are coming off an 11-2 season, jumped out to a 37-0 lead at the half.
And it came against a Knights team that was highly thought of by area coaches entering the season.
Tompkins had touchdown passes from 44, 10, 71 and 17 yards and found the end zone on a 55-yard run.
Player to watch
Might want to remember that name. You’ll likely be hearing a lot about the Central running back.
At 6-1 and 195 pounds, Brewer already has the size many college programs want their running backs to be.
Last season, Brewer rushed for 843 yards and six touchdowns while helping the Grizzlies finish runner-up in the section Division I championship. Friday, he had an impressive 44-yard touchdown run.
Clovis North comeback kids
Clovis North got off to a rough start, or at least a rough half, during coach Benny Martinez’s debut.
But the Broncos rallied from a 19-0 halftime deficit to beat Sunnyside 20-19.
The go-ahead score came with 6:31 remaining on running back Jackson Schultz’s 8-yard touchdown run.
Clovis North went on to stop the Wildcats on two more drives. Defensive back Trenton Holloway got the final stop of the night with a big pass block on fourth-and-8 and the Wildcats threatening around midfield with 23 seconds remaining.
Defending section D-IV champion Selma got all it could handle from Kerman to kick off the season.
Running back Junior Ramirez – a key cog to Selma’s 13-1 season last year – rumbled in for a touchdown with 36 seconds remaining that brought the Bears within 21-20.
Selma lined up for an extra-point try but a bad center snap went to kicker Felipe Garcia who threw to tight end Parker Cazares for the winning two-point conversion.
Clovis defense shines
Clovis went on the road and blanked a team that averaged 37 points a game last season.
The Cougars, a 7-4 team last season, never let up while recording a 27-0 shutout at Burbank-Sacramento.
Just a year ago, Burbank scored 50-plus points six times and finished 7-5 overall.
The Cougars received a pair of touchdowns from receiver Mickey Machado.
Another Tulare star
Tulare, which has a habit of producing outstanding running backs including current Fresno State redshirt transfer Romello Harris, is showcasing another in senior Kazmier Allen.
Allen was the workhorse in the No. 7 Tribe’s 60-7 win over Mt. Whitney: 183 yards and six touchdowns on just 19 carries plus two receptions for 101 yards, including a 98-yard touchdown reception.
▪ Dos Palos beat Sierra Pacific 21-12 for its first home-opening win since 2008.
▪ Tulare Western’s David Alcantar had another of the night’s top rushing games, 169 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown in the Mustangs’ 28-0 win over El Diamante.
How The Bee’s coaches’ Top 10 fared
The preseason coaches’ poll (first-place votes in parentheses):
Week 1 result
1. Bakersfield (10)
d. Edison 16-0
d. Bullard 44-0
d. Clovis West 31-30
4. Clovis West
lost to Liberty-Bak. 31-30
d. Hanford 48-6
lost to Bakersfield 16-0
d. Mt. Whitney 60-0
d. Fresno 42-10
lost to Central 44-0
d. Burbank-Sacramento 27-0