By Paul Meadors
What a beautiful sight to behold: the glowing bright lights illuminating Lamonica and Veterans Memorial Stadium, football players proudly wearing their jerseys throughout the day, parents armed with cowbells, noisemakers and booming voices bellowing out encouraging words to players or unleashing their wrath on men in stripes and the marching bands standing at attention ready to take the field. On August 28, it officially became football season.
Because we have so much to write about let’s not waste any more space (I know, I know, you’re thinking I just wasted space writing that), so check out the next couple pages and read what’s happening around the TRAC and beyond.
Two days before opening night, the Clovis Unified School District hosted a pretty snazzy event; a press conference and luncheon for TRAC football held at Classic Catering in downtown Clovis. Every school was represented by their head coach along with two players and featured a question and answer time from yours truly and two other members of the media. It felt like a college-level banquet and event, was attended by well over 100 total guests including athletic directors and Clovis Unified administrators and of course, the faces of TRAC football.
A few take-aways from the event:
- One of the joys was seeing players and coaches from opposing teams fellowship together and eat lunch at the same tables. It was a true “let’s break bread together then beat each other up on the football field” moment and I loved it.
- Clovis North head coach Tim Simons was the most well-respected man in the room. People were lining up to talk to the man who is in his 28th year coaching high school football.
- Buchanan head coach Mike Jacot busted up the room retelling a warning he quipped to his wife before they got married: “Honey, I’m planning on being a high school football coach and a teacher so be prepared for mediocre living.” He quickly added the rewards that come from coaching are invaluable. Here, here Coach Jacot.
- Matt Collier of Clovis North, a hulking offensive lineman at 6’8” 360 pounds, when asked where he would like to go to college: “I would honestly go anywhere that wants to pay for my college.” A wise man beyond his years.
- Resistance is futile; no one is getting information regarding where Clovis West star Caleb Kelly is attending college. He’s not revealing his final choice early but has narrowed his official visits to five schools (he Tweeted out Texas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Oregon). In fact, he’s promised his younger brother, Jeremiah, he’d be the first to know. Like everyone else in the world, you’ll have to wait until after the season.
TRAC football results week 0
Clovis 27 Paso Robles 24
On August 28, the Clovis Cougars took the 41 Highway to Paso Robles, the defending Southern Section D-III champions, and came home with a victory – a hard-fought game that wasn’t decided until the Cougars pounced on a couple of turnover opportunities in the fourth quarter to close out the game.
Senior quarterback Sean Kuenzinger threw for 214 yards and four touchdowns, the final game-winning 29-yard toss going to Coltin Velasquez with 5:45 left in the fourth quarter. For the game, Velasquez had two touchdown catches 79 yards with bookend wide receiver JJ Wills also scoring two touchdowns and added 83 yards.
Jared Pereira’s interception and Josh Hokit’s fumble recovery sealed the deal for the Cougars, the No. 29 team in the state according to Cal-Hi Sports.
Clovis West 43 Merced 14
It was an impressive debut for the Golden Eagles sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez as he filed up the stat line and, more importantly, led his team to road victory.
Martinez completed 20 of 28 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 98 yards and two more scores. Major Division 1 recruits Darian Owens and Caleb Kelly, playing on offense and defense, each scored a rushing touchdown.
Clovis East 56 Golden Valley 30
The Timberwolves fantastic duo of senior quarterback Trey Semien and sophomore running back Marcus Washington strutted their stuff in the opening game of the season, leading Clovis East to a convincing 56-30 over visiting Golden Valley from Merced in a game played at Lamonica Stadium.
Simien, a dual threat quarterback, passed for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns and ran for one and Washington rushed for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
Franklin-Elk Grove 30 Clovis North 24
After leading 17-14 at halftime the Broncos couldn’t hold on and eventually lost 30-24 to Franklin-Elk Grove in a game played in the Sac-Joaquin Section in the first week of the season.
Week 1 results
Clovis West 33 Centennial 21
Down 6-21 at halftime the Golden Eagles scored 27 unanswered points in the second half, wearing down a huge Centennial team to move to 2-0 on the season in a game played in Bakersfield. Head coach George Petrissans praised the defense led by Caleb Kelly, Johnny Rojas and Tyler Dunn for helping launch the second half momentum and Darian Owens, who scored on a kick-off return and two long touchdowns during their 27 point explosion.
Sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez ran and passed like crazy in the final 24 minutes and Kelly, the No. 1 college recruit on the west coast as a linebacker, bowled over at least three players on his way to a touchdown reception in the third quarter.
Bullard 21 Buchanan 16
After the remarkable comeback in week 0 against Edison (see story to the right), the Buchanan Bears almost pulled off another one, as they fell behind 21-0 early before fighting their way back. After a Josh Friesen pass to Ezra Owens made it a 21-16 game, Buchanan had a shot taking the lead in the final minute of the game but a pass from Friesen to a wide open Isiah Tigler was overthrown on fourth down to seal the victory for Bullard.
Clovis East 41 Redwood 21
The Timberwolves keep on rolling behind the outstanding play of sophomore running back Marcus Washington’s three touchdowns and the strong quarterback play of Trey Semien.
TRAC vs SWYL Tennis Challenge
Something new and exciting occurred in the Central Valley tennis world from August 28-29: the inaugural TRAC vs SWYL Tennis challenge, which featured all five Clovis girls tennis teams against five Bakersfield schools. The event, held in Bakersfield, was played in a partial round-robin format with three rounds over two days.
With perhaps a taste of the season to come, the TRAC schools came away with an 11-4 victory total over Stockdale, Garces, Centennial, Frontier and Liberty highlighted by defending D-1 champion Buchanan defeating Stockdale 8-1, Garces 9-0 and Liberty 6-3.
Clovis volleyball begins defense of Valley title
We all know the Clovis Cougars volleyball team had a magical season last year – winning the TRAC conference and a Division 1 Central Section championship. But as any coach who’s been at it for a while knows, last season is last season. This year their goal is to defend their Valley title led by returning setter Ally Cooper, middle blocker Cloe Sharp and 6’3” junior Taylen Ballard who’s already committed to BYU.
Head coach Rich Lake says his team played a lot of beach volleyball over the summer and spent three days a week in the weight room, culminating with trips to the FTF Crossfit gym. The team get to take the court a little earlier than normal.
Trading the Valley heat for some time in Hawai’i, the Cougars played in the prestigious Ann Kang Tournament in Honolulu from August 20-22, and played to a 4-4 overall record.