Clovis East Uses Big Plays, Big Defense to Defeat Sunnyside 28-6

Clovis East’s Chandler Hamilton gets low as he carries the ball during the Timberwolves 28-6 win over Sunnyside on Friday night. PHOTO BY GABE CAMARILLO/CLOVIS ROUNDUP

On the warm evening of Friday the 13th, it was Sunnyside High who looked to be in a house of horrors throughout the night.

They can thank a scary good Clovis East defense for that.

Clovis East came away with three interceptions – one of which was returned 40 yards for a score by safety Jacob Tafoya – in a 28-6 victory over Sunnyside Friday night.

Not only was the ferocious Timberwolves defense frightening for the Wildcats, they also had to deal with another nightmare in Clovis East running back A.J. Hodgerney.

Hodgerney rushed for 43 yards, including a 26-yard scamper into the endzone that put Clovis East on the scoreboard in the first quarter.

Hodgerney would also have a highlight-reel play in the second quarter, when he returned a punt and navigated through his blockers for a 70-yard touchdown.

In a rotating Clovis East backfield, Hodgerney’s big game made a case for him to get more action on the field.

And the 5-foot-7 inch senior cherishes every opportunity he has in the game.

“It means a lot when I go in and I feel I got a chip on my shoulder. I got something to prove, so I take it to the other team and just do what I do,” he said postgame.

Senior running back Chandler Hamilton also scored Friday night, lining up at wide receiver to catch a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sean Kelly in the third quarter, a play which effectively sealed the game for Clovis East.

Sunnyside’s offense was effectively sealed by Clovis East’s stout defense for much of the game. Sunnyside was able to muster 133 yards of total offense, but had only one score to show for it.

Their only touchdown of the game came after Hamilton fumbled inside the Timberwolves’ own 20-yard line. Sunnyside took advantage of the short field with a 6-yard rushing touchdown by quarterback Edward Barajas.

The inefficiency of Sunnyside’s offense can be attributed to costly interceptions by both of the Wildcats’ quarterbacks. Starting junior quarterback Nathan Gonzalez threw two interceptions, both to Clovis East defensive back Xavier Corona.

Barajas entered the game in relief of Gonzalez throughout the game and threw the 40-yard pick-six in the second quarter to Tafoya.

Head Coach Ryan Reynolds expressed happiness with not just the defense, but his team’s ability to approach this week’s game after their loss to Sanger.

“Our players have not played every game the same, so the coaches have preached to them to approach every game like a big game. Against Wood, we played loose, but against Sanger, we got too locked in and played tight. We have to find balance and play every game with the right intensity, and that was our mindset tonight” said Reynolds.

On a scary Friday the 13th, the scariest thing of all is that Clovis East football could get even better.

Next week, Clovis East (3-1) will return to Lamonica to take on defending Division III Central Section champion San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno. Sunnyside (1-3) will travel down to Bakersfield to play Stockdale High.

Gabriel Camarillo
Gabe Camarillo is a first-year sophomore at Fresno State, after graduating from Edison High School in 2019. At Edison, he was a sports writer for the Edison Illuminator newspaper, as well as editor-in-chief of the 2019 Edison High Yearbook. Now at Fresno State, he is part of the Bulldog Vision team, and helps film all Bulldog football practices and games. Gabe brings a unique, exciting voice to the Clovis Roundup.