Is it the Little Big Game or Pig Game? Players sound off
The 90th Little Big Game between Fresno High and Roosevelt has extra meaning Friday night when the North Yosemite League football title is decided at Ratcliffe Stadium.
If Fresno wins, the Warriors will become outright champions. But if the Rough Riders win, they’ll finish as co-champions in the NYL and Roosevelt will retain the series prize, a bronze pig statue named Poncho.
Fresno coach Joe Marquez delivered a message to his team on Monday.
“I just asked them how much they want to be a champion? I know none of them want to share a championship with Roosevelt. Our motto for the year has been, ‘Take this thing one game at a time.’ We’re really focused on winning our league more than preseason. These guys are hungry for it.”
Roosevelt coach Vince Branstetter tipped his cap toward the Warriors, telling his team “Fresno High deserves” a title “for “the position that they put themselves in.” But, Branstetter said, the Rough Riders plan on joining Fresno as co-champs.
“The level of importance has increased,” he said.
Fresno (5-4, 4-0 NYL) started the season 0-4. Roosevelt (7-2, 3-1) started the season 4-0 and has won two straight since its NYL loss to Hoover.
The Little Big Game was coined after the Stanford-Cal Big Game; the pig trophy was introduced in 1946. Roosevelt won last season’s matchup 36-20. Fresno leads the series 46-41-2, according to Central Section historian Bob Barnett.
And while it’s old, the Little Big Game isn’t the oldest rivalry in the region. The Sanger-Reedley season-opener was the 105th meeting between those schools, and the Selma-Kingsburg rivalry started in 1922, according to Selma historian Will Goldbeck. And Strathmore and Lindsay are playing the 95th Battle of the Bell.
Selma and Reedley first met in 1899 but don’t play anymore.
Here’s a look at some of the other rivalry games Friday:
Bell Game – Tulare Union (9-0, 4-0), No. 6 in The Bee’s Top 10, and No. 7 Tulare Western (9-0, 4-0) are heading into the 54th renewal of this city rivalry at Bob Mathias Stadium. Tulare Union leads the series 38-15. Last year’s 62-41 Tulare Union win also came in a matchup of unbeatens. This year’s takes on the added importance of playoff seeding since both schools are now in Division II. Last year, Western earned the No. 1 seed in D-III even with the loss to the Tribe.
Range Rider Trophy – Clovis West and Clovis meet in a series that Clovis West leads 25-21, but it will be Golden Eagles coach George Petrissans’ last game. He is stepping down.
The game is at 7 p.m. at Clovis’ Lamonica Stadium.
Cowhide Game – Mt. Whitney and Redwood will meet for the 64th time at Mineral King Bowl in Visalia. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. Redwood leads the series 36-26-1.
The Pioneers won last season’s matchup 57-56.
Battle for the Saddle – El Diamante and Golden West started their own Visalia city rivalry 16 seasons ago.
El Diamante leads the series, played at Groppetti Stadium on the Golden West campus, 10-4. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
Milk Can Game – Hanford won last season’s Kings County showdown over Lemoore 29-21 to take a 39-33-2 lead in the series. The 75th meeting is in Lemoore at 7:30 p.m.
Fire Hydrant Trophy – Kingsburg leads the series with Selma 47-36-2. Selma has won the past three after the Vikings won 13 straight. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Kingsburg.
Granite Bowl – Monache has won the past three games against Porterville in the series between Porterville’s oldest schools. Monache leads 31-17-1. The teams will meet at Jacob Rankin Stadium on the campus of Porterville’s newest high school, Granite Hills, at 6:30 p.m.
Mountain Bowl – This will be the 35th meeting between Sierra and Yosemite. Yosemite won last season’s game 44-10 after Sierra won the past five. Kickoff is 7 p.m. in Oakhurst.
Stadium Road Showdown – This series between Madera and Madera South started in 2008 after the new high school opened. Madera won last season 49-20. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Madera High.
League titles on line
Here’s a look at some of the league races, which could factor into playoff seedings when brackets are determined Saturday:
Tri-River Athletic Conference – No. 1 Central (9-0, 4-0) goes for its third straight outright title and the top seed in the Division I playoffs.
County/Metro Athletic Conference – San Joaquin Memorial (9-0, 4-0) can win the title outright by beating Sanger (7-2, 3-1). But a loss to the Apaches will create co-champions with Edison (5-4, 3-1) also in the mix. The Tigers play Bullard at Sunnyside Stadium.
East Yosemite League – Tulare Union and Tulare Western will decide it.
West Yosemite League – Hanford (6-3, 4-0) can wrap up an outright title with a win over Lemoore (2-7, 0-4). Redwood (4-5, 3-1) is in second place.
North Sequoia League – Chowchilla (7-2, 3-0) and Liberty-Madera Ranchos (8-1, 3-0) meet to decide the league title at 7 p.m. in Chowchilla.
Central Sequoia League – There is a three-way tie between Central Valley Christian, Dinuba and Kingsburg. All three teams have identical records at 7-2 and 3-1. Besides the Kingsburg-Selma matchup, there’s Dinuba at Hanford West on Thursday and Exeter at CVC on Friday. Selma would vault into a four-way tie for the title if Hanford West and Exeter win.
West Sequoia League – A Caruthers (9-0, 5-0) win over Fowler would give the Blue Raiders an outright WSL title. Caruthers has already beaten both Orange Cove (8-1, 4-1) and Orosi (7-2, 4-1), which meet in another WSL finale.
East Sequoia League – Woodlake (8-1, 5-0) needs a win over visiting Granite Hills to become outright ESL champion. Strathmore (8-1, 4-1) is in second place.
West Sierra League – A Firebaugh (6-4, 4-0) victory over Coalinga (4-5, 3-1) gives the Eagles an outright title. The Horned Toads and Dos Palos (4-5, 3-1) sit in second place. The Broncos host Avenal.
Superlatives as recorded by Barnett:
▪ Three quarterbacks are nearing 10,000 passing yards: Trent Tompkins of Central, Nathan Lamb of Tulare Union and Alec Trujillo of San Joaquin Memorial.
Tompkins needs 147 yards against Clovis East, Lamb is looking for 219 yards and Trujillo is aiming for 10 yards.
Tompkins tied a section record with 44 touchdowns this season.
▪ Strathmore’s Alonza Acevedo tied a school record two weeks ago, scoring seven touchdowns.
▪ Fowler’s Gus Rocha set a school record with 312 rushing yards and tied a school record with six touchdowns.
▪ Minarets’ Tyson Ellis set two school records by rushing for 312 yards and six touchdowns in an 86-0 win over Sierra.
▪ Central’s Jeremiah Hunter set a school record two weeks ago when he grabbed his 18th touchdown this season.
Central Section Top 10 football rankings
4. San Joaquin Memorial
6. Tulare Union
7. Tulare Western
8. St. Joseph