Joseph Garcia scored five touchdowns to power Strathmore High past Sierra Pacific-Hanford 46-20 Friday night to win its first Central Section football championship since 2009.
The 13-0 Spartans, who have never had an undefeated season in the program’s 97-year history, advance to the state bowl semifinals against an opponent to be announced Sunday.
Friday’s section Division VI final between top-seeded Strathmore and second-seeded and visiting Sierra Pacific was all about Garcia, who had his second straight big game against the East Sequoia League rival.
He scored the first two touchdowns of the game on runs of 10 and 49 yards. He returned the second-half kickoff 85 yards to make it 27-0, had a 4-yard TD run and then capped his night with a 15-yard screen pass to make it 40-14 early in the fourth quarter.
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It could’ve been even more dominating, but Garcia lost fumbles on two first-half possessions – both at the Sierra Pacific 4-yard line.
Garcia, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior, ran for six touchdowns in Strathmore’s 42-28 win over the Golden Bears (8-5) in the regular season.
Spartans quarterback Nick Salas threw three touchdown passes, two to Andres Lara.
Miguel Wharton figured in all three Sierra Pacific scores: a 71-yard run, an 80-yard pass from Will Springer and a 39-yard option pass to Hayden Costa.
Strathmore has won four section championships (1992, 1998, 2009 and this year).
The Eagles won their fourth section title since 2007 (when Derek Carr was a junior), overwhelming the visiting Mustangs.
The D-III final was a matchup of the top two seeds and was competitive early. Josh Portillo’s second touchdown of the game, on Andre Aguilar’s second TD pass, brought Tulare Western (9-4) within 27-19 with 1:40 left in the first half.
But Bakersfield Christian (12-1) scored to make it 33-19 at halftime, then converted the opening drive of the second half for another TD and was rolling.
Quarterback Braden Wingle, tutored by offensive coordinator David Carr, threw three first-half TDs for the Eagles, who are coached by the middle Carr brother, Darren.