Clovis News: Sports

Clovis West is top seed in D-I football playoffs

Mike Parsons and his wife, Stacy, posed for a picture at Lamonica Stadium on Friday night, the bright red digital numbers on the scoreboard behind them reflecting the moment: Home 56, Visitor 14.

"Home," in this case, was Clovis West High, which had throttled Clovis to capture outright the Tri-River Athletic Conference title and improve to 9-1 in the Golden Eagles' first season under Parsons. And this has come one year after he led Modesto Christian to a 15-0 record and a CIF State Small Schools Bowl championship.

"I don't know why I've been so blessed," he said. "I just don't know."

Saturday, yet another blessing -- this one expected -- arrived in the form of the No. 1 seed for the Central Section Division I football playoffs. There were no major surprises in the six-division seedings determined by section commissioner Jim Crichlow and three assistants.

Also awarded No. 1 seeds were D-II Frontier (6-4), D-III Porterville (10-0), D-IV Dos Palos (9-1), D-V Fowler (9-1) and D-VI Farmersville (5-5).

Here are the Round 1 playoff matchups

All are league champions except for Frontier, which placed fourth in the Southwest Yosemite League with a 2-3 record.

But the Titans' losses are to D-I ranked teams in El Diamante, Liberty, Bakersfield and Centennial. And they've beaten ranked teams in Clovis North, Ridgeview and Stockdale.

First-round games begin Friday. All the top seeds have byes.

Parsons finds that comforting because lineman Donovan Lewis, one of the section's premier defensive players, didn't play the second half against Clovis with a pectoral/shoulder problem that has bothered him for two weeks.

"I think he'll be OK," Parsons said.

Parsons became Clovis West's fifth coach in five years when he was hired in January.

But this marriage appears promising, given his local roots as a 1989 Chowchilla graduate, to say nothing of a wing-T that fires out of shotgun formation and has been an ideal fit for the Eagles' personnel.

A year after Modesto Christian, behind All-State selection and current Fresno State player Isaiah Burse, averaged 49 points per game, Clovis West is averaging 43. The Eagles' only loss was a 34-33 decision Sept. 17 at Crespi-Encino, which is 7-3 and ranked 21st in the state by Cal-Hi Sports.

Clovis West, ranked 16th in the state, will host a Nov. 26 quarterfinal against Friday's winner matching No. 9 Buchanan (6-4) at No. 8 Stockdale (5-5). Parsons didn't expect to be standing in the position he is today: "No way. Coming in from a small school and looking at our schedule, a daunting schedule, I didn't expect to do what we have.

"I left a great group at Modesto Christian and came into a senior group here with a great deal of character and passion for the game. It's been a great relationship so far."

Seedings quick slants

  • One questionable D-I seed had West Yosemite League champion El Diamante (9-1), at No. 4, above No. 6 Tulare (9-1), which beat the Miners 21-20 in a nonleague game Oct. 15.

"I kind of thought we got the shaft," said coach Darren Bennett of Tulare, a 2008 D-II titlist promoted to D-I this year. "I understand our strength of schedule [in the East Yosemite League] is going to bite us in the rear, but head-to-head is [a seeding] criteria. And that's what really bothers me."

The Redskins will host No. 11 Clovis East (3-7) in the first football game played between the schools.

  • A D-I first-round rematch has No. 10 Liberty-Bakersfield (6-4) playing at No. 7 Central (7-3), which lost 27-21 in overtime at home to the Patriots last season.
  • Arguably the most dangerous low seed is No. 7 Clovis North (4-6) in D-II. The Broncos, with their first senior class, have been hardened by competition in the TRAC, which they closed at 2-3 with a 27-21 last-second win over Buchanan. They open at home against No. 10 Reedley (5-5), with the winner advancing to a quarterfinal at No. 2 Garces (9-1), the Southeast Yosemite League champion.
  • Porterville, which has never won a section football title, will play a Nov. 26 quarterfinal at home against the No. 8 Delano-No. 9 Highland winner. D-III now includes No. 2 Kingsburg (9-1), the 2009 D-IV champion.
  • Dos Palos will try to send out 23-year coach Mike Sparks with a seventh section title. The 208-game winner has announced his resignation, effective the end of the season. But looming large in the bottom of the D-IV bracket is No. 2 Washington (8-2), the North Sequoia League champion, which was expected to move up to D-III but won an appeal to stand pat.
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