San Joaquin Memorial High beat Tulare Western 45-31 Friday night to secure the school’s seventh Central Section football championship.
The second-seeded Panthers went on the road in Division III to deny the top-seeded Mustangs their school’s first section title.
“Total team effort,” Memorial coach Anthony Goston said. “Our boys battled through adversity. Defense got big stops and offense put up points like they always do. It was a great team win on the road.”
Memorial hadn’t won a title since 2003. But the Panthers (11-2) finished the regular season with a win over Sanger then barreled through the section playoffs beating West 35-14 and Bakersfield Christian 49-7 before getting the best of Tulare Western, rolling up a 35-16 halftime lead.
Alec Trujillo threw three first-half touchdowns to help pace the Panthers. He finished 22 of 25 for 332 yards. Jalen McMillan caught nine passes for 209 yards.
David Alcantar had 177 yards rushing and receiving and scored twice for the Mustangs (11-2).
Memorial advances to the state playoffs. It’ll learn its regional pairing when the California Interscholastic Federation announces the field Sunday.
“I can’t put into words how proud I am of our program,” Panthers senior linebacker Zach Angelillo said. “We’ve been working hard since spring. We all bought in on our mission and it feels incredible that we came out on top.”