Around the TRAC: The rundown of the calm before the TRAC football season storm and the goings-on in the Tri-River Athletic Conference

By Paul Meadors Sports Editor

Clovis 28 Bakersfield-Centennial 27

With sincerest regards to Aerosmith, the Clovis High Cougars are livin’ on the edge after their latest thrilling victory, this time against Bakersfield-Centennial.

After the Knights were in position to tie the game late in the third quarter, senior Josh Hokit’s blocked an extra point attempt that would have tied the game at 28, as the teams played a scoreless fourth quarter to help the Cougars to a 5-0 record heading into a bye week then into TRAC play. The game was played in Bakersfield on September 25.

On a night when senior quarterback Sean Kuenzinger didn’t have his best statistical game, only completing six of 18 passes for 107 yards, Cougars head coach Rich Hammond adjusted his play calling to the run. And Nash Vidmar and Christian Copeland answered the call, rushing for 93 and 77 yards respectively with Vidmar adding a 44-yard run in the first quarter.

Kuenzinger made the most of his six completions, hooking up with standout wide-receivers J.J. Wills and Coltin Velasquez for touchdowns of 26 and 40 yards. Running back Fabian Cerna added an important 15-yard touchdown on the ground in the third quarter.

Bullard 42 Clovis West 23 

Photo by Nick Baker  In their homecoming loss to Bullard 42-25 Caleb Kelly rushes down the field with a sea of light blue in his wake.
Photo by Nick Baker
In their homecoming loss to Bullard 42-25 Caleb Kelly rushes down the field with a sea of light blue in his wake.

The stage was set for the Clovis West football program to prove to the Valley, and to themselves, that they belong in the upper echelon of teams this 2015 season. The problem – Bullard High, and namely running back Charles Williams, didn’t cooperate.

In front of a vivacious and optimistic homecoming crowd, the Golden Eagles fell behind early 14-0, and couldn’t get over the hump before losing 42-23 on September 25, dropping their record to 2-1 on the season.

The Knights (4-1) rushed for 365 total yards with Williams, a Division 1 caliber talent, running for 249 of them to go along with three touchdowns.

Clovis West head coach George Petrissans was disappointed in his team’s overall performance.

“We didn’t execute on offense,” said the second year coach. “It’s as simple as that. They (Bullard) do a good job on defense and we didn’t do the things we need to do to overcome it.”

Not lost in the game was the excellent play of sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez, who ended the evening with 223 passing yards and 128 rushing yards. His 26-yard run on a keeper play pulled the Eagles to within five points to 23-28 in the fourth quarter but Bullard answered with two 30-yard Sidney Washington touchdowns, one rushing a one passing, to seal the deal.

Senior Caleb Kelly, who was crowned homecoming king at halftime, caught five passes for 92 yards on the night and also doubled as an outside linebacker on defense, which made for a busy night. He had a touchdown catch and run called back in the second quarter due to a holding call that would have put the Eagles in position to tie the game 14-14, pending a two-point conversion.

Kelly would have gladly traded a win for all the accolades.

“I feel disappointment more than anything,” said Kelly, a major college recruit with offers from such heavy hitters as Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Michigan. “We played so well on defense in the first half and then good on offense in the second half. We just need to finish the game altogether.”

Clovis North 38 Merced 35

Clovis North finally put together the complete game they’ve been looking for all season, scoring 31 first half points en route to a 38-35 home victory over Merced (1-3) to improve their record to 2-2 on the season.

The point total was helped by some unsung heroes in Jay Vidinoff’s 75-yard interception return for a touchdown and Andrew Tockey’s 45-yard punt return in addition to running back Jayson Lee’s 165 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Chris Henell caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jeremy Miller in the second quarter to make it a 24-14 game.

Buchanan 45 Porterville 12

This one was over early as the Bears jumped all over the Panthers 35-0 before halftime and cruised to a 45-12 victory over the D-III school in Porterville in a final tune-up before TRAC play.

Buchanan took advantage of Porterville stacking the line and threw the ball successfully, with backup quarterback Nolan LaForge getting some quality time and taking full advantage with three touchdown passes to Mitch Souza for 38, 18, and 13 yards.

Sophomore Trevor Ervin had a 36-yard touchdown run as the Bear head into TRAC play on Thursday, October 8 against Central.

Clovis West football star receives special invite

Photo by Jennifer Armstrong Clovis West football senior Caleb Kelly speaks after receiving an official invitation to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl by representatives of the bowl game to be played on January 9 in San Antonio, Texas. He was surrounded by classmates, family, and school administration at a ceremony held at the Clovis West gym on October 1.
Photo by Jennifer Armstrong
Clovis West football senior Caleb Kelly speaks after receiving an official invitation to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl by representatives of the bowl game to be played on January 9 in San Antonio, Texas. He was surrounded by classmates, family, and school administration at a ceremony held at the Clovis West gym on October 1.

The football world will have to wait until February 3 to find out where Caleb Kelly will be playing college football, but we do know this – he’ll be playing in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl on January 9 in San Antonio, Texas, a showcase game for the best of the best in high school football.

At a lunchtime ceremony held at the Clovis West gym on October 1, Kelly was presented a yellow Army jersey by representatives of the game in front of classmates, coaches, administration and family. He was one of 90 players across the country chosen to play in the game in front of over 40,000 attendees and a national television audience.

“It was special to be up on stage with the sergeants and the representatives of the Army Bowl,” said Kelly. “It is such an honor and a big event to be a part of.”

“My family is everything to me and they all took the time to get off work and come support me. It was also special to have my mom honored because she deserves every bit of it. To see big smile made it extra special.”

NLF stars Andrew Luck, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jamaal Charles made their national debuts as U.S. Army All-Americans, and a total of five U.S. Army All-American Bowl alumni were drafted in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Buchanan vs. Clovis boys’ polo round one

Clovis and Buchanan came into their first round TRAC polo match sitting at 2-0, an early test to see who will take control of the league standings. And if round two is as good as round one then we are in for quite a treat the rest of the way as Thomas Vandiver scored three goals and freshman Kaleb Archer chipped in with two as the Bears held off a late charge by the Cougars for a 7-6 victory at Clovis High on September 30.

Photo by Ron Sundquist Clovis High school continued their strong play in girls' water polo with a 13-5 win over Buchanan to improve to 16-2 on the season. Buchanan's No. 14 Audrey Ang and goalkeeper Daniele Jenkins defend on the play.
Photo by Ron Sundquist
Clovis High school continued their strong play in girls’ water polo with a 13-5 win over Buchanan to improve to 16-2 on the season. Buchanan’s No. 14 Audrey Ang and goalkeeper Daniele Jenkins defend on the play.

And the same can be said for the Clovis girls polo team as they continued on their impressive run to start the year with a 13-5 victory over Buchanan. The Bears are now 16-2 overall and 3-0 in the TRAC with a huge date with Clovis West, and superstar Sarah Snyder, waiting for them on October 13.

Buchanan girls’ tennis keeps on keeping on

It’s pretty clear – the Buchanan girls’ tennis team is pretty good, as they continue to dominate the TRAC including a recent demolishing of Central 9-0 on September 29 followed by holding off a determined Clovis East 6-3.

The Jonathan Slater coached team ran their season record to a perfect 13-0, led by sisters Sravya (senior) and Lasya Gudipudi (sophomore).

Sravya beat Clovis East junior Mia Castillo 6-2, 6-1 and teamed up with Sienna Swain in their No. 2 doubles match while Lasya bested freshman Natty Villarreal 6-0, 6-0 in singles and doubled up with Lauren Lee in doubles to secure the victory.

Volleyball play heats up

Clovis High continued its tune-up for the rugged TRAC schedule by beating Central Valley Christian on September 29 by scores of 25-27, 25-21, 25-21, 25-18. Ally Cooper had 54 assists and BYU signed Taylen Ballard tallied 22 kills and 10 digs with Shelby Welton chipping in with 16 digs.

And the Clovis West girls marched into Central’s home turf on October 1 for their opening round of TRAC play against an excellent Grizzlies team with a 25-5 record. Well, the match didn’t last long as the upstart Central squad overwhelmed the Eagles with a 25-17, 25-17, 26-24 victory.

Central’s Makayla Riddlesprigger led her team in kills with 13 while freshman Makayla Lewis chipped in with 10 kills and 20 digs.