High School Football

NorCal prep football playoffs are set: rematch for Central, Valley matchup of unbeatens

Central High topples Liberty-Bakersfield 58-34 for D-I championship

Central High defeated Liberty-Bakersfield 58-34 to win the Central Section D-I championship Friday night, Nov. 23, 2018 in Fresno.
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Central High defeated Liberty-Bakersfield 58-34 to win the Central Section D-I championship Friday night, Nov. 23, 2018 in Fresno.

This time, the Central High football team will get Folsom at home, while unbeaten Central Section powers Tulare Union and San Joaquin Memorial will meet in the Northern California Regional playoffs.

The California Interscholastic Federation announced regional parings on Sunday and put the Central Section Division I back-to-back champions from Central against Folsom in a Division I-AA bowl game Friday at Deran Koligian Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

The Memorial-Tulare Union game is Saturday at 6 p.m. in Tulare.

Central-Folsom rematch

Folsom beat Central 54-35 last December at home in the NorCal Regional. The Bulldogs went on to win the state D-1-AA title.

This time, Folsom will travel to Fresno.

“Excited to play at home in front of our fans.” Central coach Kyle Biggs said. “We have a huge test on our hands. Folsom is a very talented team bot on offense and defense and on top of that, they are fundamentally sound and well-coached.”

The Bulldogs (12-1) defeated Monterey Trail 63-25 in a Sac-Joaquin Section final on Saturday. Their only loss came 14-0 at De La Salle-Concord in the season-opener.

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Central (13-0) had a bye week after steamrolling the Central Section D-I playoffs capped by a 58-34 win over Liberty-Bakersfield on Nov. 23.

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Intrasection matchup

Tulare Union and San Joaquin Memorial will face off in a Division 2-A bowl game at 6 p.m. Saturday at Bob Mathias Stadium in Tulare. Both teams are 13-0 and had byes last week after winning Central Section championships Nov. 23.

Memorial coach Anthony Goston said he expected his Panthers to host a regional game based on a stronger rating.

“CIF picked a bigger stadium,” he said. “Obviously, playing a team in your section is strange for a state playoff game, but it seems our community is excited about the matchup.

“I think that’s good for our community to get to watch two of the best teams go at it on the field. That’s exciting.”

Tulare Union coach Darren Bennett echoed Goston about the marquee matchup: “Two local teams playing against each other, and there is fan interest and all that stuff. The majority of the kids know each other from all over. It’ll be fun.

“I would rather play a team that is familiar with you because you don’t have to worry so much about motivation. It has a lot of positives, and I know our kids will be excited.”

Tulare Union is coming off a 45-30 victory over Righetti for the section D-II final, while the Panthers rolled past Bakersfield Christian 48-7 in D-II.

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The game will feature two of the top quarterbacks in the section in Nathan Lamb of Tulare Union and Alec Trujillo of Memorial who both topped 10,000 career yards this season.

Central, Memorial and Tulare Union were off a week because complications from the Camp Fire and its smoke caused many sections to delay playoffs.

CVC on road, Strathmore waits

Also set is a state title game involving Central Valley Christian. The Cavaliers will visit Pleasant Valley-Chico in a Division 4-AA state title game at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.

The Cavaliers are coming off a 30-14 Southern California Regional victory over Morse-San Diego on Nov. 30. Pleasant Valley drew a NorCal bye.

And Strathmore, the SoCal 6-AA champion, knows the pairing that will determine its state championship opponent: East Nicolaus will play Hilmar at Atwater High on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the NorCal 6-AA final.

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