Bears fall just short in Valley title game against Central

Kendall Milton had three touchdowns in the Buchanan Bears 28-21 loss to Central in the CIF Central Section championship game Friday, Nov. 29. (Michael Ford/Clovis Roundup)

It’s never easy when a season ends without reaching the ultimate goal. The Buchanan Bears football team has unfortunately experienced that feeling too often.

The Bears fell just short of a Valley championship on Friday in a narrow 28-21 loss to the Central Grizzlies. It is the Grizzlies third consecutive Central Section title.

But Bears head coach Matt Giordano doesn’t let the loss change what he thinks of his team.

“Our kids fought through a lot of adversity this year,” he said. “We stuck together when people were probably counting us out. These kids showed tremendous heart and I’m just so proud of them.”

And the Bears would have to show that mental toughness and fight once again to make it a game against the ultra-talented Grizzlies.

Central jumped out to an atypically fast start, putting the pressure on a Buchanan team already knowing it had to put up major points to compete.

Grizzlies running back Jekob Jones scored twice and Quali Conley once in the first seven minutes to give Central a commanding 21-0 lead with five minutes left in the first quarter.

Buchanan would not go quietly into that good night, though. Not if Kendall Milton had anything to do with it.

The University of Georgia-commit and four-star running back put the team on his back and carried it into contention.

Milton scored three times on the night to account for all of Buchanan’s points. Each score, Milton showcased what makes him so dangerous with runs of 30, 35 and 78 yards.

Buchanan’s defense still had to do its job to keep Buchanan within striking distance, and it did, holding the Grizzlies to just seven points for the final three and a half quarters.

“We just started doing our job,” Giordano said.

That job he speaks of gave the Bears still one last chance in the fourth quarter to take the game to overtime.

Down seven with a couple minutes left, everything that the Bears worked for was right in front of them.

Though, the Buchanan offense needed over 70 yards to get to the endzone, and the Grizzlies pass rush took advantage of knowing the Bears had to throw the ball.

The Grizzlies sacked quarterback Ian Kirby two times to force Buchanan into a 3rd down with 23 yards to go to get the first. An incomplete pass and another sack put an end to any hope of a game-winning drive, sealing another title for Central.

The Bears finish the season 10-3 while Central takes its undefeated season to the state playoffs, which begin Dec. 6 and 7. Brackets will be announced Sunday.

Michael Ford
Michael graduated from Fresno State in May 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in print journalism. During his time at the university, he served as sports and managing editor for The Collegian, Fresno State’s student-run newspaper. In addition to the Clovis Roundup, Michael has written for The Fresno Bee, the Kingsburg Recorder and Selma Enterprise. He has a passion for sports and can be found on the sidelines at local games, bringing the citizens of Clovis the athletics news they deserve.