By Paul Meadors Sports Editor
In a season where Adrian Martinez has been magical, Clovis West needed the quarterback extraordinaire more than ever to continue their march towards a Valley title.
Calm, cool, collected and most of all – composed – Martinez put on a show in leading a 42-28 comeback win over Clovis at Veterans Memorial Stadium. His final act: a 9-yard touchdown run with 9:51 left in the fourth quarter with his Golden Eagles trailing 27-28 to advance to the D-I Central Section semifinals.
“Adrian’s been our leader all year – he’s the most humble guy I’ve ever been around,” said Clovis West coach George Petrissans. “With him it’s always about the team and the wins – it’s never about individual stats or about him.”
True – it’s all about the win but just in case you were wondering Martinez passed for 274 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 222 and another two scores. Two weeks earlier, Martinez put up 415 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in beating Clovis 41-27 in the final TRAC game.
And to sweeten the thrill of victory, Martinez verbally committed to play at Cal-Berkeley on Nov. 20, an early decision for the 2018 graduate.
“We were going to leave it all out there on the field tonight,” said Martinez, who also had offers from such heavyweights as Oregon State, Utah, Colorado and Miami. “We came out on top because we are a family.”
The win sets up a rematch for the No. 4-seeded Clovis West (8-3) at No. 1 Central (10-1) on Nov. 25 for a place in the Valley title game. No. 3 Liberty will be playing No. 2 Bakersfield in the other semifinal.
And here’s a fun fact: it was the 45th meeting between the two schools, with each school winning 22 games coming in.
But, playoffs are always a different story and it was tough sledding for the Golden Eagles as they fought back after being down 14-13 at halftime and withstood an amazing effort from Clovis running back Samir Allen. The 5-foot-8, 160 pound senior dazzled, amazed, and elicited oohs and ahhs all night to the tune of 320 yards on the ground and four touchdowns, his fourth (a 39-yard run) putting the Cougars up 28-21 with with two seconds left in the third quarter.
Petrissans was impressed with Allen’s big night: “He was so difficult behind that big, physical offensive line. He has a great mixture of speed and vision and gets hidden a lot. Hats off to him for a great game.”
Clovis West’s opening drive ended with a Martinez to Hayden Leach 21-yard TD pass for a 7-0 lead and two Eli Riofrio field goals accounted for 13 first half points.
The game was essentially sealed on some trickeration as Nick Coleman took a backwards pass from Martinez and threw a 20-yard pass to a waiting Donovan Gonzalez with 6:46 left in the game – a play where Coleman said he had to tell himself to “catch the pass first then throw it.”
After such a promising 6-0 start for Clovis, the Cougars (7-4) ended the season losing four of their last five games. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles are attempting to win their 10th Valley title and their first since 2010.
The Cougars played without standout wide receiver Tyson Fraser who was ruled out with a concussion.
“We pulled together in the second half,” said Petrissans. “It’s big for our program to be able to move forward. We’re excited.”