High School Football

CIF football championships: Hanford faces San Diego-area star running back

Hanford's Juwuane Hughes (3), who scored three receiving touchdowns against Sonora on Dec. 11, will be a key defensive target for Bonita Vista-Chula Vista in Saturday night’s CIF State Division IV-AA championship at Neighbor Bowl.
Hanford's Juwuane Hughes (3), who scored three receiving touchdowns against Sonora on Dec. 11, will be a key defensive target for Bonita Vista-Chula Vista in Saturday night’s CIF State Division IV-AA championship at Neighbor Bowl. jwestberg@modbee.com

To Ryan Johnson, Juwuane Hughes and Joe McDaniel of Hanford High: meet Greg Bell.

The Bullpups playmakers have been sensational in a 13-1 season unlike any other in a program that kicked off in 1899.

Fine.

But for the Bell-ringer.

He’s a blur at 6 feet, 190 pounds, wears a blue and gold No. 22 jersey for Bonita Vista-Chula Vista, is the best prep football player in the San Diego area and could play running back – if not several other positions – for any college in the land, says his coach.

Bell and his 2,493 yards rushing and 33 touchdowns won’t march into Neighbor Bowl at 6 p.m. Saturday for the CIF State Division IV-AA championship bowl with holiday cheer.

Rather, “He’ll run with violence, with great vision and, like all the great ones, find full speed with one vertical step,” Bonita Vista coach Chris Thompson said.

2,493/33yards and touchdowns produced by running back Greg Bell, who will lead Bonita Vista-Chula Vista into the CIF State Division IV-AA final against host Hanford at 6 p.m. Saturday

Thompson, as an assistant at Mira Mesa-San Diego, once coached running back Michael Pittman, who went on to star at Fresno State.

“Greg is better than Mike at the same age,” Thompson said. “Not even close.”

Bell, who has made a non-binding oral commitment to San Diego State, will check out of the team hotel in Tulare, bus into Hanford and cap a prep career that found new life this season after he transferred from Eastlake High – not only in Chula Vista but also Bonita Vista’s Metro-Mesa League rival.

A San Diego Section investigation found the transfer above board for an athlete raised by a single mother.

His impact?

They’re all in the numbers, particularly these: Last year, the Barons went 5-6 while rushing for 969 yards, averaging 3.7 yards per carry and scoring 11 touchdowns on the ground; this year, they are 12-2 while rushing for 3,040 yards, averaging 6.8 yards per carry and scoring 46 TDs on the ground.

Bell, who attended Bonita Vista as a freshman before transferring to Eastlake, carried 32 times for 276 yards and two scores in the Barons’ South Division IV-AA Regional 24-21 win over Canyon-Anaheim last week.

Bonita Vista junior quarterback Anthony Posada also passed for 227 yards in that one, increasing his season total to 2,134.

The Barons have only lost to D-I teams Helix-La Mesa (38-7), which was state-ranked all season, and Madison-San Diego (29-28).

“They’re here for a reason and they’ve played some good teams,” Hanford coach Josh Young said. “They can run it, throw it, catch it. We’ve got our hands full. They’re one of the toughest teams we’ve played in the last couple years, to be honest.”

Offenses promise to be tested by inclement weather in a game with a forecast of low-40s temperatures and rain at kickoff.

Hanford proved weather-worthy while plowing host Sonora 42-18 in mid-30 degree weather a week ago in the North Regional.

Johnson passed for 242 yards, McDaniel rushed for 183 and Hughes made all six of his receptions for 119 yards and three TDs in the second half.

“Number 3 (Hughes) is all over the place; we’ll have to know where he’s at,” Thompson said. “Those Valley kids are tough. Hanford is very well coached and well prepared. They match up with us in all the right spots.”

Andy Boogaard: 559-441-6336, @beepreps. Nick Giannandrea: 559-441-6103, @NickG_FB

The matchups

CIF STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Friday’s games

DIVISION I–AA

Bellarmine-San Jose (13-1) vs. Mission Viejo (15-0) at Sacramento State, 8 p.m.

DIVISION II–AA

Del Oro-Loomis (9-6) vs. Camarillo (15-0) at Sacramento State, 4 p.m.

Saturday’s games

OPEN DIVISION

Large school: De La Salle-Concord (12-1) vs. Centennial-Corona (14-0) at Sacramento State, 8 p.m.

Small school: Central Catholic-Modesto (15-0) vs. San Marino (15-0) at Sacramento State, 4 p.m.

DIVISION III–AA

Campolindo-Moraga (14-1) at La Mirada (12-3), 6 p.m.

DIVISION IV–AA

Bonita Vista-Chula Vista (12-2) at Hanford (13-1), 6 p.m.

DIVISION V–AA

Immanuel (11-2) at Mater Dei Catholic-Chula Vista (13-2), 6 p.m.

DIVISION VI–AA

East Nicolaus (12-2) vs. Coronado (10-4) at Clairmont High-San Diego, 6 p.m.

DIVISION I–A

Clayton Valley Charter-Concord (13-1) vs. Narbonne-Harbor City (13-2) at Sacramento State, Noon

DIVISION II–A

St. Francis-Mountain View (12-2) at Citrus Hill-Perris (13-2), 6 p.m.

DIVISION III–A

Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton (11-3) at Rancho Bernardo-San Diego (12-2), 6 p.m.

DIVISION IV–A

Sierra-Manteca (9-5) at Chowchilla (12-2), 6 p.m.

DIVISION V–A

St. Bernard’s-Eureka (13-1) vs. Saddleback Valley Christian-San Juan Capistrano (15-0) at Laguna Hills High, 6 p.m.

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