By Paul Meadors | Sports Editor
That’s it. It’s over. No mas. The summer break has officially ended (not the heat though) and it’s full steam ahead for fall sports in the Central Valley.
And you know who’s ready for all of this? We are. Us. The collective sports fans, parents, coaches, teachers, administrators. The sum of us.
I include myself in this group because I’m a man in need of structure. I wear many hats during the year – teacher, athletic director, coach, sports writer, dad, husband, lover of sweet and savory crepes – but after a few weeks of summer break I get the willies and need to set my alarm in the morning and stick to it. Plus, my level of procrastinating house projects has reached Category 5 – I failed miserably in that respect.
But I digress, it’s time for to get back in the swing of things (school starts for CUSD on Aug. 21 but for me and my family we gotta report Aug. 14) and get back to that literal and internal calendar. You know, that clock inside of us that says “school is back.”
So, the next issue of the sports section of the Clovis Roundup will be go for launch with high school sports. Can’t. Wait. See you at the games.
Football locals loom large for the Bulldogs
One of the great things about following high school sports so closely is watching those selected few take their talents to college. We love to follow our favorite athletes whether we coached them, had them as students, are sons or daughters of friends, or perhaps even our own kids. What a blessing it truly is.
Well, at Fresno State there’s a new football sheriff in town armed with a new attitude and a posse full of optimism. And there’s also some familiar faces suiting up and taking the field for the Bulldogs football team this season.
Coming off a miserable 2016 season that saw the Bulldogs go 1-11, new coach Jeff Tedford has been tagged to right the Bulldog ship and has eight former Clovis Unified athletes on the roster, four of them listed as No. 1 on the depth chart at their respective position.
Most notably, a trio of former Clovis North stars are also listed as No. 1 on the depth chart; tight end Kyle Riddering (Jr.) defensive tackle Jasad Haynes (So.) and “Will” linebacker George Helmuth (Jr.).
And not to be outdone, there are two, yes TWO, former Clovis North quarterbacks on the roster in senior Christian Rossi and freshman invited walk-on Brent Bailey.
Josh Hokit, the 2016 Clovis High graduate and a walk-on last season, is slated to start at running back. Hokit, a 6-foot-1, 190 pounder played special teams, linebacker, fullback and running back last season.
Defensive back Ka’Lonn Milton from Buchanan by way of Fresno City College is a junior and redshirt freshman Tanner Rice from Clovis will look for playing time as a linebacker.
Clovis High linebacker Trevor Hartman and tight end Clayton Alexander are attempting to walk-on as well.
And more could very well be on the way – Tedford has made recruiting the Central Valley a priority and has made scholarship offers to quite a few Clovis Unified football players including Buchanan sophomore running back Kendall Milton and Clovis West senior receiver Ricardo Arias.
Fresno State begins the season at home on Sept. 2 against Incarnate Word, a night when Derek Carr’s No. 4 jersey will be retired at halftime.
New baseball coaches named: Jeff Prieto at CN and Ryan Smith at CE
From top to bottom, the quality of baseball in the TRAC has been compared to the best in the entire country. For example, Buchanan was the No. 1 team in the nation in 2016 and a Clovis Unified school has been in the Valley championship game the last 10 years.
Yes, the competition is fierce in the TRAC and two new coaches are ready to take the helm as Clovis North has named Jeff Prieto and Clovis East has pegged Ryan Smith to be their new Directors of Sport.
Prieto was most recently the head coach at Central the past four years and has a plethora of coaching experience since playing for his grandfather, legendary coach Bob Bennett, at Fresno State from 1997-2001 where he was a four-year starter.
“I am extremely excited and honored to be the new head coach at Clovis North,” said Prieto, who inherited a program that went 17-12 overall and 9-6 in league. “I look forward to meeting my new players and getting to know them as quickly as possible.”
After Fresno State, Prieto coached at Buchanan as an assistant, then five years as the head coach of Clovis East, two years as the infield and hitting coach at UNLV, two years as head coach at Sunnyside then at Central.
Oh yeah, and he’s been an associate scout for the Atlanta Braves for the past six years. In short, Prieto has been around baseball his whole life, has a wealth of experience and is looking forward to diving right in.
“I am excited to start putting a great staff together and then turning my attention to the kids and getting entrenched in the Clovis North community,” said Prieto. “I’m very excited for the future of Bronco baseball.”
Prieto replaces Chris Patrick.
Meanwhile, Ryan Smith was an assistant coach under Pat Waer, who recently stepped down as coach and Athletic Director of Clovis East. Smith was a standout three sport star at Buchanan and graduated in 2005. He played baseball at Fresno City and also football at UC Davis as a quarterback.
Seven TRAC football stars make Cal-Hi Sports watch list
With football right around the corner, the pundits have started their lists, predictions and evaluations of teams and players – from the pros to college to high school – and we here at the Clovis Roundup are no exception. In short – we love this time of year.
Cal-Hi Sports released its preseason who-to-watch list from the Central Section and the TRAC is well-represented among the 30 players with 10 players listed. Well, 11 really, but more on that later.
Clovis West led the way with four on the list with linebacking twin brothers Dusty and DJ Schramm and running back/slot receiver Rodney Wright III. DJ Schramm recorded over 100 tackles last season and is committed to Boise State. Also, kicker Eli Riofrio is the only kicker on the list – last year he converted 46-of-47 extra points and 14 field goals.
The lone sophomore on this list is the highly touted Kendall Milton, a running back who could also see action as a linebacker this season. Despite only brought up for the final six games of the season, the freshman ran for over 600 yards and six touchdowns. Cal-Hi Sports predicts he will be one of the top sophomores in the state.
Two Clovis offensive lineman were on the list including massive 6-foot-3, 305 pound Cole Acevedo and Seth Nevills (6-foot-4, 280). Unfortunately for the Cougars football program, Nevills has decided to not play football to focus on national wrestling events during the fall season. Nevills is a Penn State wrestling commit, undefeated in his career (127-0) and a three-time state heavyweight champ.
Buchanan’s Jack Wilkins, who was recognized as one of Cal-Hi Sports Athletes of the Week last year when he intercepted four passes against Clovis, made the list as a defensive back.
A pair of Central players made the list including standout junior quarterback Trent Tompkins and defensive back Jaden Williams.
On the second team was Central’s Marcus Washington (transfer from Clovis East) as a running back and teammate defensive back Adrian Lopez. Buchanan offensive lineman Theo Meyer was also on the second team list.
And that other player that’s missing from the list? Well, that’ll be Clovis West quarterback Adrian Martinez, who Cal-Hi Sports said “Obviously, if he hadn’t gotten hurt, Clovis West QB Adrian Martinez [Tennessee commit] would have been chosen to this team.” Don’t rule that out quite yet, as there is still hope that Martinez will return during the season after recovering from his shoulder surgery.
Local players help lead CenCal Baseball Academy to tournament title
When you think summer sports, you think baseball right? After all, one of the greatest sports books of all time is called “The Boys of Summer,” the 1972 best seller about the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s.
And there was plenty of baseball played this summer but one travel team had great success with the aid of five talented local baseball players – the CenCal Baseball Academy.
Coached by former Fresno State baseball player and Oakland Athletic’s minor leaguer Terance Frazier, the team bested 96 teams to win the Under Armour Southwest Championship in Southern California on Aug. 1. They beat the GBG Renegades 2-1 in the championship game.
The team consisted three Buchanan players – and brothers – Alex, Miguel and JD Ortiz. Miguel, who will be a junior this season, was named the MVP of the tournament and blasted 11 total home runs this summer, many with a wood bat.
Also, the Kropf brothers, Tanner and Koby from Clovis High were major parts of the team.