Kings County’s marquee high school football attraction, the 72nd annual Milk Can game, is set for a second straight for-all-the-marbles performance.
But two star performers are not certain to answer the call for the second act.
Hanford senior receiver/defensive back/kick returner Juwuane Hughes and junior quarterback Ryan Johnson are expected to be game-time decisions as The Bee’s Central Section No. 11-ranked Bullpups (9-0, 5-0 West Yosemite League) collide with No. 8 Lemoore (7-2, 5-0) in a second straight showdown for the outright West Yosemite League title. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Hanford’s Neighbor Bowl, where a capacity crowd is expected.
I’m not trying to play Bill Belichick games, but it’s a day-to-day thing with those guys.
Hanford football coach Josh Young on the availability of star players Juwuane Hughes (broken forearm) and Ryan Johnson (concussion).
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Hughes has been out since Sept. 18, when he suffered a broken left forearm in a 27-21 win over Porterville. Johnson went down with a concussion Oct. 23 during a 35-21 victory against Mt. Whitney.
Hughes, a Bee All-Star last year in football and basketball, was given a timetable of six to eight weeks when he was injured. It’s been seven weeks, but Hanford coach Josh Young said a decision on Hughes’ availability will come Friday before the game.
Hughes did a little bit of everything last season while leading the Bullpups to their first section football championship, catching 40 passes for 773 yards and nine touchdowns, rushing for 398 yards and six touchdowns, making 52 tackles, and intercepting seven passes.
Johnson is following concussion protocol and also will be evaluated before the game.
“I’m not trying to play Bill Belichick games, but it’s a day-to-day thing with those guys,” Young said. “Obviously, we hope to have them for the game, but we’ll see if it happens. It will be a game-time decision on both those guys.”
If Johnson, who has passed for 1,664 yards with 19 touchdowns while rushing for 569 yards and six scores, can’t go, the Bullpups will use Brandon Sanchez or Theron Dutra at quarterback.
Sanchez, a senior, has been one of Hanford’s leading receivers with 30 catches for 381 yards and seven touchdowns. Dutra is a sophomore who has seen most of his action at linebacker.
Lemoore, on the other hand, is as healthy as it has been all season and on quite a roll. The Tigers have outscored WYL rivals Redwood, Hanford West, Golden West, Mt. Whitney and El Diamante by a combined 216-19. Hanford has outscored the same five opponents 188-109.
216-19Combined score that Lemoore has outscored its five West Yosemite League opponents.
“We’re preparing for them to be full strength,” Lemoore coach Shannon Pulliam said. “This is one of those games where the kids have known each other so long and played with and against each other so many times, anything can happen. We’re going to do everything we can to put our best product on the field.”
Both teams entered the Milk Can game undefeated last season, with Lemoore winning 24-13.
The Tigers went on to earn the second seed for the Division II playoffs, where they were beaten 30-22 by Dinuba in the semifinals. Hanford was top-seeded in D-III and went on to win the title with a 35-14 victory over Madera. Johnson and Hughes then led the Bullpups to a section D-II title in basketball.
Games of the week (all Friday)
No. 13 Bakersfield (5-4, 3-1) at No. 1 Liberty-Bakersfield (5-3, 4-0): Liberty is the prohibitive favorite to close out the Southwest Yosemite League title and land a possible top seed in D-I. But looming large are the ever-present Drillers and the winningest program in state history.
No. 9 Clovis West (5-3, 2-2) at No. 3 Clovis (8-1, 3-1): A win and a co-Tri-River Athletic Conference title tie with either Buchanan or Clovis North would seem to be enough to favor the Cougars for the No. 1 D-I seed. But, not to forget, it was only four years ago on a similar stage at Lamonica Stadium that a 2-7 Clovis West stunned a 9-0 Clovis 29-27. And the Golden Eagles are considerably better than they were then.
No. 4 Clovis North (5-3, 3-1) at No. 7 Buchanan (6-3, 3-1): The winner earns no worse than a co-championship in the TRAC and a top-four seed in D-I.
No. 20 Memorial (7-2, 2-2) at No. 5 Sanger (8-1, 4-0): The Apaches, coming off a 21-14 conquest of then-No. 1 Bullard, can capture the CMAC title outright and secure a top-four D-II seed with a win. That seed, actually, has already been deposited. It’s a just a matter of where among the top four.
No. 14 Edison (4-5, 3-1) vs. No. 6 Bullard (7-2, 3-1), Chukchansi Park: Classic matchup featuring Bullard 1,700-yard running back Charles Williams against an imposing Tigers rushing defense.
No. 8 Lemoore (7-2, 5-0) at No. 11 Hanford (9-0, 5-0): Kings County classic – again. Lemoore won 24-13 at home a year ago when the rivals were also 5-0 in the West Yosemite League.
WEEK 10 SCHEDULE
NORTH YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Sunnyside 35, Reedley 12
EAST SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Woodlake 40, Granite Hills 3
TRI-RIVER ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Clovis North at Buchanan, 7 p.m.
Clovis East at Central, 7 p.m.
Clovis West at Clovis, 7 p.m.
COUNTY/METRO ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Edison vs. Bullard (Chukchansi Park), 7:30 p.m.
Madera South at Madera, 7:30 p.m.
Memorial at Sanger, 7:30 p.m.
NORTH YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Fresno vs. Roosevelt (Sunnyside), 7 p.m.
Hoover at McLane, 7 p.m.
WEST YOSEMITE LEAGUE
El Diamante at Golden West, 7 p.m.
Lemoore at Hanford, 7 p.m.
Mt. Whitney at Redwood, 7 p.m.
EAST YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Porterville vs. Monache (Granite Hills), 6:30 p.m.
Tulare Western at Tulare, 6:30 p.m.
Mission Oak at Delano, 7 p.m.
SOUTHEAST YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Foothill at Highland, 7:30 p.m.
South at North, 7:30 p.m.
SOUTHWEST YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Centennial at Frontier, 7:30 p.m.
Bakersfield at Liberty-Bakersfield, 7:30 p.m.
Stockdale at Garces, 7:30 p.m.
SOUTH YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Golden Valley at East Bakersfield, 7:30 p.m.
Independence at Ridgeview, 7:30 p.m.
Tehachapi at West, 7:30 p.m.
NORTH SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Chowchilla at Liberty-Madera Ranchos, 7 p.m.
Kerman at Washington, 7 p.m.
Yosemite at Sierra, 7 p.m.
CENTRAL SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Dinuba at Exeter, 7 p.m.
Kingsburg at Selma, 7 p.m.
EAST SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Strathmore at Lindsay, 7 p.m.
Sierra Pacific at Corcoran, 7:15 p.m.
SOUTH SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Bakersfield Christian at Taft, 7:30 p.m.
Chavez at Arvin, 7:30 p.m.
Wasco at Shafter, 7:30 p.m.
WEST SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Fowler at Caruthers, 7:30 p.m.
Parlier at Riverdale, 7:30 p.m.
EAST SIERRA LEAGUE
McFarland at Farmersville, 7:30 p.m.
Orange Cove at Orosi, 7:30 p.m.
WEST SIERRA LEAGUE
Dos Palos at Avenal, 7:30 p.m.
Mendota at Firebaugh, 7:30 p.m.
Coalinga at Tranquillity, 7:30 p.m.
HIGH DESERT LEAGUE
Kern Valley at Bishop, 7 p.m.
Rosamond at Frazier Mountain, 7 p.m.
Central Valley Christian vs. Immanuel (Reedley High), 7:30 p.m.
Laton at Minarets, 7:30 p.m.
CENTRAL SIERRA LEAGUE (8 man)
Alpaugh at Fresno Christian, 7 p.m.
CENTRAL SIERRA LEAGUE (8 man)
Kings Christian at Riverdale Christian, 1 p.m.