The fast-track turnaround of Central High's football program zoomed forward Saturday night, when the Grizzlies rode Robert Johnson's three touchdowns to win 27-12 at state 19th-ranked Chaparral-Temecula.
"It's a major, major, major benchmark of what we're trying to do in the last three years," Casey Quinn said only two years after Central went 1-9 in his first season as coach.
View the stats from this game.
The Grizzlies then went 7-4 last season, including a 4-1 mark in the Tri-River Athletic Conference that included a 24-3 road pounding of perennial Central Section power Clovis West.
That was a statement, and Central (2-0) may have trumped it Saturday in southwestern Riverside County against a Chaparral outfit coming off an 11-3 season.
"This is the product of a lot of people working hard supporting kids and putting them in the right direction," said Quinn, whose Grizzlies will host West Yosemite League power El Diamante on Friday in a nonleague showdown of section top-10 teams.
Johnson, easing the season-long loss of Brendon Bigelow (knee), scored on a 20-yard run and a 25-yard pass from Michael Baker as Central built a 14-0 halftime lead and remained in control against the Pumas.
Baker, one of the nation's top-ranked junior quarterbacks, then connected with B.J. Kelley for a 90-yard touchdown pass on the Grizzlies' first possession of the second half for a 21-0 lead.
"[Baker] did a good job of getting the ball to open people," Quinn said.
The Grizzlies were equally efficient defensively behind a line of Perch Khrikyan, Jordan Arias and Tajh Evans, linebacker Shane McCurley and cornerback Devonta Newsome.
"The defense was nails," Quinn said.
In Friday's late games:
The Broncos pulled it out at home when Ryan Yriarte hit Jack Shelly with a 26-yard scoring pass with 1:32 left, then found D.J. Quiroz in the end zone for the winning 2-point conversion after faking the kick.
The win was No. 200 in the 22-year career of Dos Palos coach Mike Sparks.
Chad Neal ran for 239 yards on only five carries and scored twice, powering the visiting Redskins.
Neal broke off scoring runs of 75 and 80 yards. Thomas Flanagan ran for a 49-yard score and completed his only pass for a 10-yard touchdown.The Redskins, ranked No. 17 in the section by The Bee, improved to 3-0 and kept Alisal winless against the North Sequoia League. The Trojans (0-3) lost to Washington 27-13 in the opener.
Seth Moranda overcame a shaky start to pass for four touchdowns for the No. 5 Bears at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Clovis.
The Rangers, coming off a loss at top-ranked Centennial, intercepted Moranda's first pass and picked off the quarterback three times total in the first half. But thanks to the Buchanan defense, Moranda kept getting additional chances and finished the first half with two touchdowns as the Bears built a 21-0 lead.
Ben Fixel's 85-yard kickoff return was about the only highlight for the visiting Eagles.
The Spartans spoiled the Eagles' debut on their new home field, as Vince and Andrew Almanza combined for 102 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Strathmore held Fresno Christian to 36 total yards -- minus-4 rushing.
Abraham Delgado rushed for 104 yards and scored two touchdowns, including one on a 30-yard interception return, to lead the host Blue Raiders.
Caruthers quarterback Josh Gilmore passed for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
Jessie Perez ran for three touchdowns to lead the Titans at home.
Alvaro Rodriguez passed for 147 yards, including scores of 35 yards to Fabian Gonzalez and 22 yards to Gabriel Torres.
Chris Mariscal completed 14 of 17 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns in leading the visiting Broncos.
Clovis North scored 49 unanswered points after Manolo Pineda-Ibarra's 3-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion put the Stallions ahead.
Carlos Ramos, Brian Cervantes and Ricky Hurt had touchdowns for the host Eagles.
Gonzales 34, Riverdale 7: The Spartans bolted to a 21-0 first-quarter lead while dominating the visiting Cowboys.