No Chow? Wow: Conspicuously absent from the Central Section football playoffs is Chowchilla, the defending Division IV champion and a program that had gone 52-19, with two section titles, in the past five seasons before this one.
Section playoff policy allows all schools to play, regardless of record. But Redskins coach John Henson says his team's 4-6 mark isn't worthy: "Playoffs are, in my estimation, a privilege and not an automatic right. We should have earned a .500 record if we as a program wanted to go to playoffs that badly. Since we were 4-6, I decided that we did not earn the right to enter the playoffs so we did not. This is just my philosophy -- we have to respect the playoffs and earn our way."
Broncos back: While Chowchilla will not be representing the North Sequoia League in D-IV, Dos Palos will. And, while the Broncos, at 5-5, aren't riding as high as their history -- 17 section titles -- they return to the postseason after missing it last year (2-8) following 29 consecutive appearances. Seeded sixth, they'll host No. 11 Central Valley Christian behind the section's fourth-leading rusher in junior Kevin Schofield (1,677 yards, 16 touchdowns).
Unprecedented role for CE: The section's forgotten team is Clovis East, 4-6 and seeded ninth entering a road game against No. 8 Centennial (6-4). With two section titles and 77-22 in eight years under coach Tim Murphy, the Timberwolves had been the section's most dominant program of the decade before this season. Murphy stepped down for one year, handing the reins to assistant Ryan Reynolds. And Reynolds will take a scary team into Kern County, one with a double-wing offense, a heavy-hitting defense led by cornerback Stefan Watson and the confidence knowing they lost only 20-17 to top-seeded and unbeaten Buchanan two weeks ago.
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PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Tanner Mendonca, Mt. Whitney: The section's leading passer (3,016 yards, 27 TDs) will lead the No. 13 Pioneers (6-4) at No. 4 Memorial (9-1), the North Yosemite League 5-0 champion whose strength is an experienced defense, featuring linemen Grant Stanley and Eric Pietrowski, linebacker David Garcia and safety Wesley Miller. Mt. Whitney placed fourth in the West Yosemite League at 3-3.
OTHER GAMES IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Redwood (5-5) at Hoover (6-4): Hoover running back Eric Kendricks (concussion) remains questionable. His value? The No. 7 Patriots are 6-2 with him, 0-2 without him. The No. 10 Rangers placed second in the WYL.
Reedley (7-3) at Garces (6-4): If any team was dealt a sorry seed, it was No. 11 Reedley, which beat Hoover and pressed No. 2 and unbeaten Bullard in the County/Metro Athletic Conference.
Clovis North (4-6) at Chavez (5-6): This is a matchup East Yosemite fourth-place finisher and No. 8 Chavez didn't ask for, not given the competition (Central, Bullard, Edison, etc.) the No. 9 Broncos faced to harden their game for the postseason.
Fresno Christian (5-5) at Lindsay (7-4): If anything, it says something that No. 11 Fresno Christian is even present following a depressing 2008 season cut short by a roster too small to compete.