In search of its first Central Section football title, Tulare Western High will face a team that stopped one of its earlier championship runs just short.
It will be the Mustangs and Memorial for the Central Section Division III crown after both teams romped to semifinal wins Friday. They met in a 2015 semifinal, with Memorial winning 35-26.
The top-seeded Mustangs, playing an afternoon game because fellow Mathias Stadium tenant Tulare was hosting the D-II final at night, is back in the championship game for a second straight season after defeating No. 5 Tehachapi 38-7 before a crowd of 3,100.
Last season, the Mustangs lost 53-19 at Bakersfield Christian. But this year, Tulare Western will host for the first time and won’t have to worry about facing the Eagles.
Second-seeded Memorial, chasing its first section title since 2003, took care of No. 3 Bakersfield Christian 49-7.
Five players scored touchdowns for the Mustangs (11-1). Dominick Hernandez was 5 of 5 on extra points and kicked a 34-yard field goal in the third quarter. Tehachapi finished 7-6.
Memorial, meanwhile, jumped to a 21-0 second-quarter lead and never looked back in gaining their revenge from last season’s D-III semifinal won by the Eagles 41-35.
Alec Trujillo threw for six touchdowns – two of them to Nick DiCeglie – and piled up 377 total yards passing and running as the Panthers improved to 10-2. Bakersfield Christian fell to 10-2.