Simons says, "Hump": Coach Tim Simons and Clovis High, arguably the Central Section's most perfect marriage of all time, had not one losing football record in 24 years, delivered 218 victories, five section titles, 11 league championships and a winning percentage of .775 from 1976-99.
If there was a barrier to clear, it was hard to identify, considering Simons went 7-3 with the Cougars in his first season (1976) and won a section title (12-1) three years later.
Now fast forward to Clovis North, which Simons has cradled since its infancy.
The Broncos are 6-10 in two seasons -- 5-7 with their first varsity in 2009 and 1-3 with their first senior class this year, losing their games by a total of seven points. And that has included 35-31 to No. 4 El Diamante and 35-34 to No. 10 Frontier.
"Our program has a good foundation," Simons says, "and our lower-level teams have had spectacular success, but we haven't gotten over the hump as a varsity team yet."
Clearly not discouraged, at 68 years old and facing a schedule that calls for a nonleague game at No. 11 Memorial tonight, then No. 2 Clovis West and the Broncos' first journey into the powerful Tri-River Athletic Conference, Simons says: "We're not over the hump, and the question is, when? I'm thinking soon."
Cal-Hi bowl rankings: In Cal-Hi Sports' for CIF State Championship Bowls purposes, Centennial is No. 6 and Buchanan No. 16 in D-I, Frontier No. 14 and Kingsburg No. 15 in D-II and Dos Palos No. 5 and Chowchilla No. 7 in D-III. The four-division state bowls format varies a bit from the six-division alignment the Central Section uses in playoffs.
Special 'Skins going to Corcoran: Chowchilla (3-1), ranked third in D-IV, will march into D-V's No. 1 Corcoran (3-1) with special-teams firepower in an attractive matchup of recent section champions. The Redskins lost 31-28 at home to rival Dos Palos last week despite second-half kickoff returns that launched Carlos Flores 82 yards for a touchdown, DeVaughn Gaines 49 yards to set up another score and Brandon Beaton 71 yards to position the Redskins for a game-winning TD that fell just short.
PLAYER IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Jose Jolly, Clovis North: The senior is a transfer from Memorial who will play his first game for the Broncos (at, yes, Memorial) after being declared eligible by the Central Section's CIF office. He'll start at cornerback and share the tailback role with a now-healthy veteran Alec Mechikoff and junior Bryan Parmer. Jolly was electric at running back in a preseason combo scrimmage against Edison, Sierra and Selma.
OTHER GAMES IN THE SPOTLIGHT
No. 3 Bakersfield (3-1) at No. 15 Golden Valley (3-0): This will be a score followed by section D-I teams all the way to Fresno County as Bakersfield plows forward, having outscored three opponents 149-17 since a season-opening 42-28 loss at perennial state power Long Beach Poly.
No. 5 Sanger (3-0) at No. 20 Clovis (2-2): The host Cougars, 5-26 in the past three seasons entering this one, elevated this nonleague game onto the marquee by winning 6-0 at then-No. 12 Stockdale last week as linemen Jeff Caton and Dakota Gordon, linebacker Nate Palomino and free safety Donell Vercher helped secure the shutout. The veteran Apaches, meanwhile, appear to have the wherewithal to win the County/Metro Athletic Conference and make a run at the section D-II title.
No. 6 Clovis East (3-1) at Buhach Colony-Atwater (4-0): After five first-half fumbles nearly cost them in a home-field 21-19 win over winless Bullard last week, the Timberwolves will be thinking ball security against the Thunder of the Sac-Joaquin Section and Aziz Shittu , a 6-4, 265-pound nose tackle capable of disrupting their double-wing offense.
Reedley (3-0) at No. 8 Central (2-1): This offers a bit of intrigue as the Pirates of first-year coach Myles Bacon are unbeaten, albeit against three teams with a combined 1-8 record, and the host Grizzlies are lathered after dropping a 28-22 home-field decision to El Diamante when they were ranked No. 2.
No. 16 Hanford (4-0) at Hanford West (3-1): Jury is still out on Hanford, despite the Bullpups scoring 40 or more points in each game entering this West Yosemite League, intracity opener of D-III teams. The Bullpups' nonleague victims this season are a combined 2-12. Regardless, a dogfight is in order against the Huskies, who have lost four straight against Hanford and trail the all-time series 6-2.
Selma (3-0) at Washington (2-1): Kane Cooper, averaging 13 yards a carry, can fly for the Bears, but they may not want to get into a track meet with a Washington cast featuring quarterback Sean Stell (716 yards passing, six TDs) and running back Yaffet Thomas (296 yards rushing, five TDs).
Follow us: Keep up with the action tonight at blitz.fresnobeehive.com and on Twitter: @scoopy sports. Coverage will be provided by Andy Boogaard (Clovis North at Memorial, follow Twitter: @beepreps) and Nick Giannandrea (Hanford at Hanford West). Coaches: Got a score to report? Call (559) 441-6379 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.