By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor
What a difference a week makes.
After a disappointing loss to Bullard a week earlier, on homecoming no less, Clovis West cranked up their defense, got big plays from their sophomore quarterback and took out their aggression on Edison in a 21-0 dominating win at McLane High School on October 2.
“We were mad, we got embarrassed last week,” said senior linebacker Caleb Kelly. “So we came out and did what we needed to do and we put up snake eyes (double zeros on the scoreboard) on the other team.”
With the Eagles defense playing like a team possessed – blitzing, playing tight coverage, flying to ball – the Tigers (1-3) struggled mightily on offense thanks in part to the play of Kelly who recorded 15 tackles and four sacks.
But Kelly had plenty of help – the Eagles received a fumble recovery from Trace Garabedian (who head coach George Petrissans says is one of the most respected leaders on the team) and second half interceptions from Diego Cruz and Ezra Cato Scott.
All part of the plan says Petrissans whose team improved to (3-1) on the season. “Our defense was tremendous tonight. Give credit to the coaches who put together a game plan and the players for executing.”
And if the Central Valley hasn’t heard about this sophomore quarterback named Adrian Martinez, they have now. The 6-foot-two, 185-pound speedster with long strides, rocket arm and room to grow (a scary thought for Valley opponents) was brilliant with the ball, scoring on the third play from scrimmage, a 56-yard option play where he was barely touched for a 7-0 lead. He added a five-yard keeper in the second quarter to increase the lead to 14-0, which was aided by Garabedian’s fumble recovery to the 7-yard line.
“It felt really good to get that first touchdown,” said Martinez after the game, still huffing and puffing from celebrating. “My linemen created those holes and there I was.”
There he was indeed, as he finished his evening with 146 yards and two touchdowns and added 140 yards through the air, including the final nail in the coffin – a perfect strike to 31-yard TD pass to wide-receiver Darian Owens with 5:51 left in the fourth quarter to make it 21-0.
But Martinez, already wise beyond his years and so in control (for example: he slid to stay in bounds to keep the clock moving with under 2:00 left in game) praised his defense. “Our defense carried us the whole night, they gave us a shutout. What more could you ask for?”
According to Clovis West defensive coach Art Francis, the last shutout by an Eagle defense was 2010, the year they last won the D-1 Valley title. (Fact checking 101: Coach Francis was spot on, a 28-0 shutout over Clovis East).
But it was that first drive (all three plays of it) that provided a sigh of relief on the Eagles sidelines and up in the stands, a breath of fresh air the team had been waiting to exhale all week.
“That first drive was something that gave us a lot of confidence,” said Petrissans. “When Adrian was able to break through and score that long run, it gave us a great boost of confidence that lasted the entire game. He’s a special player.”
An opening TRAC showdown with Clovis North is set for October 9 at Veterans Memorial Stadium.