Central High, averaging 49 points in its previous four games against – at the very least – respectable opposition, punted on its first three possessions Friday night against Buchanan in a showdown of a Tri-River Athletic Conference opener at Koligian Stadium.
Then Grizzlies quarterback Trent Tompkins did what sophomores aren’t supposed to do – surely not at this level of competition – and away they roared to a fifth consecutive dominant decision, 37-21.
Tompkins rolled right and out of the grasp of a defender behind the line of scrimmage, went left and out of the grasp of another, then went back right, surveyed the field and completed a pass on the right sideline to Kev’vion Schrubb, who took it for a 70-yard touchdown.
The final 35 yard were allowed by Jaylon Johnson’s downfield block for the 13-7 lead with 10 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the first half.
Tompkins, benefiting from the Central Section’s deepest cast of receivers, passed for 323 yards and four TDs while completing throws to eight players as second-ranked Central (5-1, 1-0) established yet further momentum for a long-awaited duel with No. 1 Clovis (6-0, 1-0) next Friday at the same site.
Malik White caught four passes for 80 yards and two scores in his first appearance since injuring a knee in a season-opening 24-3 loss to Bullard.
Since then, the Grizzlies had leveled No. 17 Sunnyside 56-15, No. 3 Liberty-Bakersfield 38-0, Frontier 59-17 and No. 11 Ridgeview 42-7 before defeating No. 4 Buchanan (4-2, 0-1).
With such depth, Central coach Kyle Biggs had the freedom to play White for only about 20 snaps against the Bears.
“He’s by far our best receiver,” Biggs said. “Getting him back just adds to the arsenal.”
White, in many other places, could probably average 10 receptions a game.
He accepts it probably won’t happen here and for all the right reasons.
“It’s always a good thing to share the ball,” he said. “I just take my turn.”
White praised the play of Tompkins.
“He’s very mature,” White said of Tompkins, “and it’s great to have him.”
Tompkins, after a 2 for 7 start, finished with 19 completions in 30 attempts.
An established quarterback since fifth grade in the Central district, he has completed 98 of 157 attempts (.624) for 1,571 yards and 19 TDs against four interceptions this season.
Linebacker Mathew Mendoza and lineman Samuel Satele led the Grizzlies’ defense.
It was a Mendoza strip that led to Carl Holmes’ 47-yard return of a fumble for a touchdown for a 6-0 Central lead with 25 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Nolan LeForge passed for 212 yards and Blake Wellsscored three TDs on 66- and 64-yard receptions and a 5-yard, tackle-escaping run for Buchanan.