Clovis News: Sports

Bullard, Tulare set sights on ultimate prize

They call it the postseason because it follows two others - the nonleague season and the league season.

And this third season, which begins Friday in the Central Section for football, asks the better players and teams to repeat what they did in the first two, if not better.

It's about beating odds, which rise with the level of competition and, often, uncontrollable intangibles such as inclement weather and illness.

Simply, going perfect is an imperfect science. But Bullard High and Tulare quarterback Trevor Jones will give it a shot. And their odds, well, aren't bad.

Bullard? The Knights just completed their first unbeaten regular season - the one that combines the first two - in the school's 55-year history while going 10-0.

In the process, they beat Clovis West for the second time in 28 years, 28-21.

Now, in a Division I quarterfinal Nov. 27, second-seeded Bullard is asked to the beat the No. 7 Golden Eagles for the second time in seven weeks.

Jones? In his first year with the Redskins, the Mt. Whitney transfer has thrown 33 touchdowns without an interception in 131 attempts.

Defending champion Tulare, top-seeded in D-II after going 13-0 in 2008, will open at home Nov. 27 against Friday's West-Sanger winner.

Bullard is seeking its first section football championship in school history.

So forgive coach Donnie Arax for not immersing himself into Friday's celebration among many alumni following the Knights' 35-13 win over Hoover that closed a County/Metro Athletic Conference championship.

"I was told I should have been more excited," he says, "and, probably, I should have been. There should be more time to pause and reflect on what a great deal - 10-0 seasons don't come along very often. But this is no time to reflect and congratulate ourselves because we've got to get moving.

"There's another massive goal out there."

Ah, the third season.

Clovis West, an eight-time section champion since 1985, has gotten in the Knights' way many times, such as last year, when the Eagles defeated Bullard 24-21 in the semifinals. A week later, Clovis West beat Clovis East 24-7 for the title.

Even in an aberration of an Eagles regular season (5-5) - their fourth nonwinning regular-season record in 28 years - this isn't how Bullard wanted to begin the playoffs.

But no surprise.

"We knew we would probably have to beat them twice before the season," Arax says of seventh-seeded Clovis West. "Then the seedings came out [Saturday] and we said, 'OK, here we go.' It's going to be a tight ball game, I'll tell you that."

Jones hasn't experienced one of those at Tulare.

The Redskins have won by an average of 46 points - the closest being a 35-13 decision over Lemoore. And Jones' wisdom, accuracy and ball-security has had the biggest impact.

The 5-foot-10, 160-pounder has completed 76% of his attempts while passing for 2,128 yards.

His success can be attributed to three primary factors:

- His ability to make good decisions.

- His ability to throw accurately in an offense that emphasizes high-percentage passes.

- And the major college skills of Edward Dillihunt (Fresno State) and Marquess Wilson (Washington State), who win all jumpballs.

"Obviously, he has some good guys to throw to," Tulare coach Darren Bennett says. "And we're lucky Trevor's so athletic and fast. If he thinks there's a chance of a mistake [passing], he takes off and runs."

Seedings review:

Division I

The 10-0 seasons by No. 1 Buchanan and No. 2 Bullard obviously trumped all. But a key consideration for the seeding selection committee was Clovis West's season-opening 31-21 win over Liberty-Bakersfield.

That, ultimately, would give the Tri-River Athletic Conference seeding clout, given the Golden Eagles' third-place finish in the league while Liberty went 6-0 in the Southeast Yosemite League. That also explains why TRAC runner-up Central (7-3), as a No. 4 seed, is given a home game against No. 5 Liberty (7-3).

Division II

This had to be the most difficult and deepest division to seed. No. 1 Tulare (10-0), which hasn't lost in two years, and No. 2 El Diamante (9-1) were rewarded for league titles and history.

What couldn't be ignored were "good" losses to D-I powers - No. 3 Frontier to Stockdale (17-15), No. 4 Memorial to Buchanan (28-21) and No. 5 Edison to Bullard (17-14, 2 OT).

Division III

While divisions I, II and IV are stuffed with talent, here's the weak sandwich. No. 1 Dinuba (8-2) placed third in the Central Sequoia League, and No. 2 Tehachapi (8-2) shared the South Sequoia crown with Taft and Wasco.

Division IV

Hard not to look forward to a Dec. 11 shootout sequel between quarterbacks Tyler Bray and Adam McCurley and No. 1 Kingsburg (10-0) and No. 2 Washington (8-2). Bray and the Vikings won 28-21 the first time.

Division V

Head-to-head result the swing here for No. 1 Corcoran (8-2), which beat No. 2 Fowler (8-2) 22-14 on Oct. 9. Both are league champs.

Division VI

Defending champion and West Sierra titlist Tranquillity (8-2), as the division's only league winner, lands the top seed. But East Sequoia runner-up Strathmore (7-3) offered a compelling argument in a loss - 12-7 to Corcoran Friday night.