The rivalry game between Clovis West and Clovis is always circled on the calendar, a grudge match where legends are born and the agony of defeat can bring tears.
This year – going into the final regular season game – it’s certainly been a season to forget for Clovis West, with only one win against eight losses where four of those losses have been by seven points or less.
The Cougars came in at 6-3 and looking for a high playoff seed.
Yet, on this night, Clovis West played for pride and team, driving an improbable 96 yards in one minute and 47 seconds in the fourth quarter down 35-30 with a backup sophomore quarterback and no timeouts to stun Clovis at Lamonica Stadium to retain the Range Rider Trophy in an emotional 38-35 win.
It was sophomore David Pierro to the rescue, thrust into the starting quarterback job two weeks ago when Dante Chachere broke his wrist, tossing a 36-yard touchdown to Cam Hicks with 17 seconds left, then running in a two-point conversion.
“One word that keeps popping in my head is joy,” Clovis West coach George Petrissans said. “Joy for those players for all the work they put in. What a wonderful moment they’ll have for the rest of their lives.”
The emotional win was compounded by the fact Petrissans, after five years as head coach, announced on Oct. 24 he will step down when the season ends.
“That’s your rival game in a season that’s been real hard,” Petrissans added. “To fight through like they did especially with the game last week with Central is a testament to them. The resignation didn’t time out like the way I wanted it to, but I’m just happy because those kids could have very easily quit.”
Central (10-0, 5-0) beat Clovis West 75-7 the week before.
The Golden Eagles had to overcome an outstanding performance from Clovis senior Reef Dove and his 12-catch, 273-yard, five-touchdown night.
In addition to the five touchdown throws, Jake Sanders completed 20-of-35 for 398 yards in his first start of the season after Isaiah Robles sat out with an arm injury.
Pierro, standing 5-foot-10 and weighing 165 pounds, ran for 186 yards on 36 carries and two touchdowns. He engineered the game-winning drive with precision and heart, converting a 4th-and-three at the Eagles’ 32 yard line before Hick’s twisting catch on the front left half of the end zone, setting off a wild celebration on the sideline.
“I just felt a rush throughout my whole body,” Hicks said about his game-winning catch. “Before the play, he [Pierro] gave me the ‘win’ sign, he said we need to win because the ball’s coming to you.”
Clovis (6-4, 2-3) seemingly took control early in the fourth quarter after Dove’s 63-yard touchdown catch from Sanders to make the score 35-30.
Clovis West’s Brandon Wafer ran for 141 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown.
Before the game a tailgate party for the 2018 Clovis Unified Hall of Fame inductees was held in the east part of the stadium. The party included the 14-0 1993 Clovis West football team that featured Cal-Hi Sports Athlete of the Year McKay Christensen, the No. 6 pick in the Major League Baseball Ametuer Draft.
The playoff bracket is now set with Clovis, the No. 6 seed hosting No. 11 Centennial at Lamonica Stadium while Clovis West, the No. 15 seed, will take on No. 2 Buchanan at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Friday, Nov. 2.