Clovis North High coach Tim Simons – who’s seen the best and worst of prep football in a 28-year career – put it in the simplest of terms regarding Clovis after the Broncos lost 41-28 to the Cougars on Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“They’re an awfully potent offensive team,” he said, “and not only are they talented, they execute. So, I mean, talent and execution – that’s a pretty deadly combination.”
The Central Section’s fifth-ranked Broncos (5-3, 3-1) chased and chased until they ran out of time as No. 4 Clovis (8-1, 3-1) received 269 passing yards and six touchdown passes on 13-of-17 accuracy from Sean Kuenzinger.
The six TD passes tied a school standard first set by Jordan Christensen in 2001, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
J.J. Wills caught five passes for 119 yards and three scores as the Cougars prevailed in a game heavy on Tri-River Athletic Conference title and Division-I seeding implications.
Clovis, Clovis North and Buchanan (6-3, 3-1) enter the final week of the regular season tied atop the standings.
TRAC finales next Friday will send Clovis West (5-3, 2-2) to Clovis while matching Clovis North and Buchanan at The Vet.
Seedings will follow the next day and, should the Cougars beat Clovis West, they’ll be on solid footing for the D-I top seed.
Second-ranked Liberty-Bakersfield (5-3, 3-0), which crushed No. 8 Centennial 49-0 Friday to take sole possession of first place in the Southwest Yosemite League, has several impressive wins. But the Patriots’ number of losses, including a 29-14 decision to D-II and unbeaten Ridgeview, could sting in seeding.
And top-ranked Bullard lost 21-14 to D-II Sanger in a County/Metro Athletic Conference game Thursday night.
Clovis, meanwhile, is thinking about Clovis.
“This is our peaking point,” Wills said, “and now we’ve got to keep it going.”
Cougars coach Rich Hammond added: “You can talk about different (nonleague) schedules and philosophies, this or that, but you really just want to play your best at the end of the year, and I think we’re starting to do that.
“In our league, there’s just not any easy games. Everyone has something to bring to the table, and that gives you a chance to sharpen your teeth by the end of the year.”
Kuenzinger entered the game with 2,031 passing yards, a .598 completion percentage and 20 touchdowns against three interceptions.
Unfazed and extraordinarily accurate – and no matter he was often attacking a six-man Broncos secondary – he also threw two scoring passes to Coltin Velasquez and another to Tyson Fraser.
And the Cougars kept Clovis North honest on the ground behind Josh Hokit (nine carries, 75 yards).
Clovis’ defense was led by lineman A.J. Nevills, linebackers Trevor Hartmann and and Tanner Rice, and safety Hokit. Rice made a diving interception of a deflected pass on the Clovis 3-yard line in the final minutes.
Jeremy Miller, a left-handed junior, passed for 185 yards, rushed for 46 and accounted for two touchdowns for Clovis North.