Golden West High and Tulare Union — two South Valley programs that reached the state playoffs last year — immediately proved that continuing success from one season to another isn’t easy.
For Golden West, this year’s team must follow quite the act after the 2017 Trailblazers captured the program’s first Central Section title in school history.
For Tulare Union, the Tribe must adjust to life without arguably the best running back in the state last season in Kazmeir Allen, who’s now at UCLA.
Both teams struggled in season-openers Friday.
Golden West started off slow at Monache and fell behind as much as 17 points in the first half before losing 32-21.
Quite the surprise considering how last year went for both teams: Golden West finished as a state runner-up; Monache went 4-7.
After the game, Monache declared the start of a new era of Marauders football.
Tulare Union went down to the wire with Mt. Whitney in what was the section’s most exciting game during the opening week.
The Tribe converted a field goal by Zeke Sanchez in the final seconds to escape with a 36-33 win.
The close outcome sure looked odd for Tulare.
Last season, the Tribe beat its opponents by an average score of 55-21 en route to winning the section Division II title, and Allen finished as the Cal-Hi Sports State Athlete of the Year.
Fast start propels SJM
No. 6 San Joaquin Memorial got an 88-yard kickoff return to start the game from Jalen McMillan and a Mac Dalena interception return for a touchdown to take a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and carried the advantage to a 42-28 victory at Kingsburg.
Memorial quarterback Alec Trujillo had four touchdown passes on a 12-for-18, 184-yard night.
At least two coaches got wins in their debuts Friday night.
Vince Branstetter, the former Fresno State tight end who had been an assistant at Fresno City College, led Roosevelt to a 21-6 victory over Immanuel.
Chance Sigala, the former Clovis High lineman, led Yosemite to a 28-0 win at Riverdale.
JD Burnett, who left his alma mater at Yosemite for McLane, also was an opening-night winner as the Highlanders beat Mendota 36-29.