Risley Runs To History in Range Rider Win

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tristan Risley surveyed the Lamonica Stadium field after the game Friday night, his legs likely tired from the historic effort they just produced, his mind unable to comprehend the enormity of his performance.

Risley ran and ran, bursting through open holes created by his offensive line and diving for the end zone time and time again. When the dust settled from Risley’s rumbling, the Clovis High Cougars won the Range Rider Trophy for the third season in a row, defeating the rival Clovis West Golden Eagles, 60-43.

The historic 100-pound trophy, awaiting the winners who would hoist it, was kept safe until the postgame celebration.

The Clovis High football record book, however, was not safe.

Risley rushed for 440 yards and six touchdowns, breaking the school’s single-game record for most touchdowns scored, most rushing yards, and most yards gained by an offensive player including quarterback, according to Clovis High football recordkeeper and statistician Dave Menendian.

The numbers are mind-boggling, especially for the man who put them up.

“My mind is blown,” Risley said. “I didn’t think any of this was going to happen. I honestly didn’t feel the best at the start of the game.

“It was insane, and everyone was hyping me up and keeping me going. It’s awesome.”

Risley knocked out 64 yards on his first three runs alone, including an 11-yard touchdown. He scored another 11-yard touchdown later in the first quarter, followed by scores of 16, 50, 13, and 40 yards out.

Risley did not exit the game until his final touchdown run with 3:46 remaining. Clovis (7-3, 3-2 TRAC) needed its senior running back in a high-scoring game in which Clovis West (3-7, 0-4 TRAC) seemingly had an answer all night.

After Risley’s first touchdown, Golden Eagles quarterback Tyler Patrick connected with wide receiver Jordan Pierro for a score.

Risley scored again, and Clovis West responded again — special teams maven Trey Carr returned a punt for a touchdown.

The Golden Eagles never went away, scoring points and showing resilience in a rivalry game between Clovis Unified’s original two schools. But Risley kept running, etching his own mark in the storied history of the Range Rider Trophy game in the process.

Breaking the record amazed Risley, but defeating the school’s oldest rival excited him too.

“[The rivalry] made everything better,” Risley said. “Clovis has been playing Clovis West for the whole time that Clovis High has been built. It’s a big deal and it was really fun to beat them.”

Clovis head coach Rich Hammond said the games between Clovis and Clovis West are always competitive with the Range Rider on the line.

“The rivalry is a big deal, and I’ve been a part of 14 of them now, I believe,” Hammond said. “Every game, the unexpected happens.”

The unexpected happened Friday night when the slender 6-foot, 180-pound Risley shattered multiple records at a program celebrating its 100th year of football. There are still more records to break; Risley is 23 yards away from setting the single-season rushing yards record, held by Michael Torres in the 1997 season.

The main goal remains the same for the Cougars, however. Clovis earned the No. 5 seed Saturday and will begin the 2021 Central Section Division-I playoffs on the road against No. 4 Liberty.

Senior quarterback Nate Johnson, who passed for 131 yards and rushed for 115 more along with three total touchdowns Friday, said a “new season” starts Monday.

“Everyone is 0-0,” Johnson said. “We just have to focus at practice and try to win a championship.”

Gabriel Camarillo has written for the Clovis Roundup since August 2019 and follows high school athletics, Fresno State football and former Clovis Unified student-athletes. Gabe also writes for The Collegian as a staff sports writer and works at One Putt Broadcasting as a board op for 940 ESPN radio.