Clovis News: Sports

Central takes down Clovis West

About the time they announced which class won Clovis West High's homecoming skit Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Central's Brendon Bigelow sped 62 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and all that fun and pageantry didn't seem to matter at all.

The No. 11 Grizzlies, in a statement that leaves no doubt as to their arrival as a Tri-River Athletic Conference and Central Section force, throttled No. 4 Clovis West 24-3. And it wasn't that close.

"It's a steppingstone," Central defensive end Dustin Jackson said.

Steppingstone? The statement was the only time Jackson fell short on a night he dominated the league opener at 5-feet-11 and 175 pounds.

"It's a major moment in our young program," said Grizzlies second-year coach Casey Quinn, who left Clovis West to inherit a west-side program loaded with students (4,000) and athletes, but short on football history (the Grizzlies hadn't beaten the Eagles since 2002).

Much has been said about Central's speed a year after it went 1-9 and lost 38-7 to the Eagles, the section's defending Division I champions.

And, yes, it was a huge factor, evident in Bigelow's dash and a final 41-yard scoring pass from sophomore Michael Baker to B.J. Kelly.

But the Grizzlies (4-2) were also superior in defense, special teams and, perhaps most important of all, toughness.

All this against a Clovis West program that has won eight section titles since 1985. But, perhaps, never have the Eagles (2-4) been so embarrassed by a section foe.

And they contributed to their own humility with premature snaps from center, a high snap in punt formation, a blocked punt and most futile of all -- two pass completions in 12 attempts for 11 yards.

So inept was the aerial game that Clovis West was running up the middle, down by 14 with 7 minutes to go.

No surprise, then, that Central wasn't overwhelmed by the Eagles on film.

"I did come in to win," said Bigelow, who rushed for 116 yards on 10 attempts. "That's all I was thinking about. But, oh my gosh, I'm speechless."

Baker, generally poised in the biggest pressure game of his young career, completed 11 of 16 passes for 168 yards as Central outgained the Eagles 311-134.

The Grizzlies offensive line, a key to their season, made it happen behind tackles Caleb Harrington (junior) and Brandon Feagamaallii (sophomore), well representing the youth on a 45-man roster that has only 19 seniors.

Clovis West had beaten No. 6 Edison 28-14 and lost in the final minutes to No. 2 Bullard 28-21. So what does that say about Central?