Week 8 Prep Blitz: More theater on tap for Clovis and Central?

The Central Section football game of the year to date will send top-ranked and unbeaten Clovis to Koligian Stadium on Friday night to oppose No. 2 Central in the Tri-River Athletic Conference.

Hard to beat for theater, it would seem, in a game expected to draw a capacity crowd of more than 5,000.

Yet, in regard to drama, how to beat what happened between the same teams a year ago nearly to the day?

The 13-man defense – for five plays – remember?

How not to in a game that was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on a Thursday at Lamonica Stadium, was delayed 1 hour and 15 minutes because of lightning; was suspended at nearly 11 p.m. that night because of more lightning; resumed at 10:30 a.m. two days later and won 21-20 by Central against a Cougars team that was also unbeaten and ranked No. 1.

The kicker – right in the gut of Clovis – was a potential winning six-play Cougars drive that resulted in a 34-yard field goal miss wide right by a foot was executed against 13 Grizzlies defenders on the first five plays and 12 on the sixth.

All of which went undetected by a five-man officiating crew.

Yet Clovis rebounded with five consecutive wins before losing 56-21 at the same site to Liberty-Bakersfield for the Central Section Division I title.

“For us,” Cougars coach Rich Hammond says, “it became a positive and fired up our kids. I think we played our best football after that. And, as bizarre as that was – a game that became national news – it was the motivator, the driving force.”

For us, it became a positive and fired up our kids. I think we played our best football after that.

Clovis coach Rich Hammond, referring to his team’s response after losing 21-20 to Central a year ago

Moving forward, now Clovis – 6-0 overall and 1-0 in the TRAC – will attempt to find the answer for the seemingly impossible since the start of September: How to keep Central from striking big, over and over and over again?

The Grizzlies (5-1, 1-0), since a season-opening 24-3 loss to Bullard now shoved deep into the season’s history, has won consecutively against No. 5 Buchanan (37-21), No. 10 Ridgeview (42-7), Frontier (59-17), No. 3 Liberty-Bakersfield (38-0) and No. 17 Sunnyside (56-15). Added credibility comes with the fact the Liberty and Ridgeview demolitions were authored in Kern County.

A remarkable display of depth and home run-hitting ability for Central has seen Diotry Brewer gain 70 yards on a rush, eight receivers with gains of at least 30 yards – including a 76 (Kev’vion Schrubb) and a 71 (Jacob Torrez) – and 13 players score touchdowns.

Grizzlies sophomore quarterback Trent Tompkins has completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 1,565 yards and 19 TDs against only four interceptions while routinely escaping what appeared to be sure sacks.

“He’s Houdini, the master of the broken play,” Hammond says. “And what’s amazing to me, guys who throw off scrambling typically throw a lot of picks, and he doesn’t.”

Clovis will counter with a hot quarterback of its own in senior Trey Lake, who has completed 63.2 percent of his attempts for 1,300 yards, 16 TDs and three interceptions.

The Cougars know, at the very least, they are a national co-leader in sacks allowed – zero.

And that will present a marquee matchup against an outstanding Central defensive line, featuring end Samuel Satele.

Clovis’ offensive front is comprised of tackles Seth Nevills and Cole Acevedo, guards Eric Delk and Kenny Blowers, and center Anthony Prentice. And the Cougars’ tight end combination of Clayton Alexander and Colton Byrd is arguably the section’s finest.

Voice of Central returns – Returning to the microphone Friday night as the voice of the Grizzlies will be Robert Alexander “Ace” Landucci three weeks following surgery for a benign brain tumor.

The 2005 Central graduate also called last week’s 37-21 win over Buchanan in a game at Koligian Stadium that saw him receive a rousing ovation from the Central student body at halftime.

“Ace is the pulse of Central,” athletic director Ray Hightower says. “He’s a person of high character and a lot of energy. He’s a great person who really bleeds Orange. And you can tell, everything he does for the school.”

Week 8 schedule

THURSDAY

COUNTY/METRO ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

Memorial vs. Edison (Sunnyside), 7:30 p.m.

NORTH YOSEMITE LEAGUE

Hoover vs. Fresno (McLane), 7 p.m.

WEST YOSEMITE LEAGUE

El Diamante vs. Hanford West (Neighbor Bowl), 7:30 p.m.

EAST YOSEMITE LEAGUE

Tulare Western vs. Porterville (Granite Hills), 7 p.m.

FRIDAY

TRI-RIVER ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

Clovis vs. Central (Koligian Stadium), 7 p.m.

Clovis North vs. Clovis East (Lamonica Stadium), 7 p.m.

Clovis West at Buchanan, 7 p.m.

COUNTY/METRO ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

Madera vs. Bullard (McLane), 7:30 p.m.

Sanger vs. Madera South (Memorial Stadium), 7:30 p.m.

NORTH YOSEMITE LEAGUE

McLane at Sunnyside, 7:30 p.m.

Roosevelt at Reedley, 7:30 p.m.

WEST YOSEMITE LEAGUE

Golden West at Hanford, 7:30 p.m.

Lemoore vs. Mt. Whitney (Mineral King Bowl), 7:30 p.m.

EAST YOSEMITE LEAGUE

Monache vs. Mission Oak (Mathias Stadium), 7 p.m.

Tulare at Delano, 7 p.m.

SOUTH YOSEMITE LEAGUE

East Bakersfield at Tehachapi, 7:30 p.m.

Golden Valley at Independence, 7:30 p.m.

West at Ridgeview, 7:30 p.m.

SOUTHEAST YOSEMITE LEAGUE

Foothill at North, 7:30 p.m.

Mira Monte at South, 7:30 p.m.

NORTH SEQUOIA LEAGUE

Chowchilla at Washington, 7 p.m.

Liberty-Madera Ranchos at Sierra, 7 p.m

CENTRAL SEQUOIA LEAGUE

Immanuel at Exeter, 7 p.m.

Central Valley Christian at Kingsburg, 7:30 p.m.

Dinuba at Selma, 7:30 p.m.

EAST SEQUOIA LEAGUE

Corcoran at Woodlake, 7:15 p.m.

Lindsay at Granite Hills, 7:15 p.m.

Sierra Pacific at Strathmore, 7:15 p.m.

WEST SEQUOIA LEAGUE

Caruthers at Parlier, 7:30 p.m.

Riverdale at Minarets, 7:30 p.m.

SOUTH SEQUOIA LEAGUE

Arvin at Kennedy, 7:30 p.m.

Bakersfield Christian Shafter, 7:30 p.m.

Chavez at Wasco, 7:30 p.m.

WEST SIERRA LEAGUE

Dos Palos at Coalinga, 7:30 p.m.

Firebaugh at Mendota, 7:30 p.m.

Tranquillity at Avenal, 7:30 p.m.

EAST SIERRA LEAGUE

Farmersville at Laton, 7:15 p.m.

McFarland at Orosi, 7:15 p.m.

HIGH DESERT LEAGUE

Kern Valley-Lake Isabella at Desert-Edwards AFB, 7 p.m.

Rosamond at Bishop, 7 p.m.

NONLEAGUE

Orange Cove at Fowler, 7:30 p.m.

INTERSECTIONAL (8 MAN)

Trona at Kings Christian, 7 p.m.

SATURDAY

CENTRAL SIERRA LEAGUE (8 MAN)

Riverdale Christian at Alpaugh, 1 p.m.

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