When the Clovis West offense is clicking, fireworks can spark from anyone at anytime and from anywhere.
And on a cold Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Ricardo Arias, Rodney Wright and Dante Chachere were scorching hot on the field, igniting the No. 2 seeded Golden Eagles in a 42-17 win over No. 7 Clovis to advance to the semifinals of the D-I Central Section playoffs.
Arias, a 6-foot-3, 215 pound receiver collected 12 catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns and Wright exploded for three scores, juking and jiving and sprinting for 65 and 83 yards in addition to a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
“I am pleased with the game,” Clovis West coach George Petrissans said. “There’s some little things to clean up but then there’s a guy like Rodney Wright, who is so special.”
Wright scored on Clovis West’s (9-2) opening possession, capping a six play drive that took just one minute and 30 seconds and bookended it with 55 seconds left in the half, taking a short pass from Chachere and eluded defenders down the left sideline before finally cutting up for a 65-yard touchdown for a 28-10 lead.
Wright would put the game completely out of reach with an 83-yard touchdown run with 6:06 left in the game to make it 42-10.
“He’s a great player,” Chachere said, who took over the reigns after national level recruit and Tennessee verbal commit Adrian Martinez had shoulder surgery before the season began. “He takes a 3-yard pass and turns it into an a huge run. There’s nothing like it.”
Arias caught a 10-yard touchdown just before the first quarter and another on a 2-yard inside slant for a 35-10 lead with 6:53 left in the third.
“That’s what we do, and when we spread it out it’s harder on the defense,” Petrissans said, adding that senior Nick Coleman forms a mighty receiving trio. “It’s a team game and it’s not about one player. That sets things up for everything else.”
Chachere finished 24-of-36 for 307 yards passing and no interceptions to go along with three touchdowns.
And you had a feeling it was the Golden Eagles night in the middle of the first quarter when a fortunate bounce turned into six points after Jayden Helms returned a punt and had the ball punched out by a Cougar, take one bounce and land directly into the hands of Dusty Schramm in stride who sprinted 30 yards for the score.
For Clovis (7-5) the season ends in disappointment as the team was ravaged with injuries throughout and struggled to find consistency. Senior quarterback Payton Mayer, who tied a school record the previous week with six touchdown passes against Ridgeview, missed a good chunk of the season with an injury as did running back Cole Roberts. Roberts briefly played in the game but was forced to leave with what looked like an ankle injury. And tight end Bubba Byrd missed the game with a back injury.
In fact, Mayer had to leave the game with an injury after diving for the end zone pylon in the third quarter after throwing an 8-yard touchdown to Matthew Sanchez in the first quarter. Jake Sanders relieved Mayer and threw a touchdown pass to Reef Dove in the fourth quarter.
But, this night definitely belonged to Clovis West and Arias, a transfer from McLane who was all smiles after the game: “It’s a great feeling, I’ve never had this feeling before. My teammates were so comforting and welcoming when I got here, they showed me how it is here at Clovis West and I’m just carrying on with them.”
Clovis West will face No. 3 Buchanan (9-2), a 25-6 winner over Edison in the D-I semifinals, on Nov. 24. The Golden Eagles beat the Bears 36-17 on Oct. 13, a game they outscored Buchanan 33-3 in the second half.