High School Football

Defense puts Buchanan in TRAC title contention after win over Clovis West

Buchanan’s Chibuikem Dunu rips off a 12-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Buchanan’s Chibuikem Dunu rips off a 12-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. sflores@fresnobee.com

Mike Jacot said it without reservation before the season started.

The third-year Buchanan High football coach expected his team, which hasn’t had a winning season since 2010, to compete for the Tri-River Athletic Conference title.

And the Bee’s No. 8-ranked Bears haven’t disappointed through two weeks of play in arguably the Central Section’s most rugged league, holding a share of first place after a 28-14 victory over No. 6 Clovis West on Friday at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“We knew we had a good, young group,” Jacot said. “These guys have put on their shoulders that it’s our time now.”

These guys have put on their shoulders that it’s our time now.

Buchanan High football coach Mike Jacot, whose team shares the TRAC lead at 2-0

Buchanan (5-2 overall), which last won a TRAC title in 2009, sits tied with Clovis North at 2-0. Clovis is 1-1 after losing to Central 21-20 in a game that was suspended because of lightning midway through the fourth quarter Thursday and completed Saturday.

The Bears took control early against Clovis West (3-3, 0-2) behind their defense, which has been stout all year, and an offense that came off as more aggressive than normal.

Quarterback Josh Friesen hit Blake Wells on Buchanan’s first play for a gain of 57 yards that set up Chibuikem Dunu’s 12-yard touchdown run. Another big pass play from Friesen to Wells, this one covering 35 yards, put Buchanan in position for Friesen’s one-yard sneak and a 14-0 lead 6:39 into the first quarter.

“We came out aggressive,” Jacob said. “I was proud of our coaches and players for that. That will show teams that we’ll take our shots and not just pound it.”

Buchanan’s defense, which forced Clovis West to punt on its first five possessions, came up with five turnovers: fumble recoveries by Ezra Owens, Richie Merritt and Ryan Bacon and interceptions by Logan Fogg and Zach Presno. Bacon also had two sacks, while Braylen Williams forced a fumble.

“The defensive backs did good, the line caused pressure and we got turnovers,” Bacon said. “It was all-around good defense.”

The fumble recoveries by Owens, on a muffed Golden Eagles punt return, and Bacon, off a bad snap, led to scores, both seven-yard passes from Friesen to Mitchell Souza.

Merritt’s fumble recovery came after a jarring hit from Williams that spoiled 41-yard pass play deep into Buchanan territory from Clovis West’s Adrian Martinez to Ivan Gutierrez on its first play of the third quarter.

5 Turnovers recorded by Buchanan during a 28-14 victory over Clovis West

“We played together as a team and took the win,” Williams said. “We’re going to keep on going and work hard every single week. Teams better be ready for us.”

The Golden Eagles rallied in the second half, getting touchdown runs of eight and seven yards from Martinez, but the Bears’ defense held firm over the final 5 minutes.

“Defensively, we’ve been playing solid all year,” Jacot said. “That wasn’t a surprise for us. We feel we can hold teams to two scores and get some turnovers.”

Nick Giannandrea: 559-441-6103, @NickG_FB

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