Practicing on Thanksgiving is certainly not uncommon for high school football teams.
At least one area team has played in the Central Section Championship since the section moved from the Sequoia, Yosemite and Sierra championships to the five-part format in 1998. This date is usually the day after a holiday. A sixth division was added in 2008.
This year, local football fans have been spoiled a bit.
For the first time since 2007, five area teams will be active on Black Friday. This is far from the last postseason tournament two years ago, when Bakersfield Christians were the only Kern County team still playing in late November. The Eagles took full advantage of it, winning the Section Division III title and two weeks later the CIF State D-3A Championship.
South Yosemite League champion BCHS is hunting for repeated D-III titles this year as well. Friday night, No. 7 Begins when the Eagles travel to play in the top-seeded Visalia-Central Valley Christian.
The two teams met in the opening round of the year and CVC won 30-24. Two years ago, Bakersfield Christian defeated Cavalier in the Section Finals.
Two Southwest Yosemite league teams will also play a road game on Friday. No. 4 Liberty is No. He just won a bad victory over 1Clovis-Buchanan and will face No. 3 Fresno-Central in the Koligian Field of the Division I final. Grizzlies is a three-time defending DI champion.
No. 2 Bakersfield High will face No. 1 Fresno-Bullard in the Division II final at the nearby McLane High School.
Both Independence and Taft play at home.
The No. 6 Falcons, who opened seasons 0-6, advanced to the first section championship game with seven consecutive victories. Independence will host the 13th Mendota in the D-IV final. For Aztecs, it will be their third consecutive match at Bakersfield after eliminating No. 5 Foothill and No. 8 Highland in the last two weeks.
Topseed Wildcats will play in Second Morro Bay with the aim of winning the first section title since 2007. Pirates will need to defeat the East 36-33 to begin the D-VI playoffs and move to Kern County for the finals.
Here’s an overview of the finalist team in the Central Section this year:
Freedom in the center of Fresno
State Ranking: 36th place by Maxpreps. 39th place by CalHi Sports.
Record vs. general opponents: 4-0. Patriots defeat Ridgeview (51-0 in week 2), Bakersfield (37-23 in week 10), Clovis (45-35 in section quarterfinals), Clovis-Bucanan (28-21 in section semifinals) rice field.
Last section title: 2015. He defeated Clovis 56-21 and won the Division I Championship.
First-class passers-by: Carson Woods, Senior, 1,741 yards, 17 TD, 4 Int.
First-class rusher: Jalen Hankins, Junior, 910 yards, 16 TD
Major receivers: Jason Oliver 29 Catch, 700 yards, 7TD.
Tackle leader: Includes Kanabarov, Senior, 73, 6 for Loss.
Sack leader: Grant Bucky (junior), Riley Hernandez (senior), Beckham Nilsson (junior), three each.
Intercept reader: Kresean Kizzy, Junior, Luke Wattenbarger, Senior and Hankins.
Special team: Senior Dylan Lynch and Junior Grant Meador scored additional points in six field goals this season, for a total of 50-53. Both kickers have started a 41-yard field goal this year.
Note: The Patriots have won the Southwest Yosemite League for the fourth time in a row.
State Ranking: 20th place by Maxpreps. 24th place by CalHi Sports
Record vs. general opponents: 3-1. Grizzlies lost to Clovis-Bucanan 24-17 in the 7th week, making the team the only defeat of the season, Bakersfield High (59-20 in the 3rd week), Ridgeview (54-0 in the 5th week) , Grizzlies (-20 in the 27th-6th week).
Last section title: 2019. Won three consecutive Division I titles, most recently defeating Buchanan 28-21 two years ago.
First-class passers-by: Dayton Tafoya, Junior, 1,864 yards, 22 TD, 10 Int.
First-class rusher: Jesiah Lindsey, Senior, 1,186 yards, 13TD.
Major receivers: Radian En Street, Junior, 551 yards, 40 catches, 9TD.
Tackle leader: Marcus Ramirez, senior, 85 years old.
Saxophone leader: Jeremiah Shelton, Senior, 6.5.
Intercept reader: Imari Conley, Junior, 5.
Special team: Senior Darwin Melger achieved 51 additional points and 46 of eight field goals, including a 39-yard long. The Grizzlies returned two kickoffs and one punt for the touchdown.
Note: Defending the CIF Division 1-AA Champion. The Grizzlies have been 64-7 in the last 6 years.
Bakersfield vs Fresno Brad at McLean High School
Bakersfield Driller (6-5)
State Ranking: 86th place by Maxpreps
Record vs. general opponents: 0-2. Driller lost to Clovis (34-14 in the second week) and Fresno-Central (59-20 in the third week).
Last section title: 2016. He defeated Central 21-14 to win the Division I Championship.
First-class passers-by: Tye Monteiro, Junior, 1,584, 14 TD, 11 Int.
First-class rusher: Tybo Rogers, Junior, 1,064 yards, 9TD.
Major receivers: Dalon Reach, Senior, 39 Catch, 596 yards, 5TD.
Tackle leader: Alex Rocha, Senior, 62.
Saxophone leader: Jayden Dock, Senior, 8.5.
Intercept reader: Christopher Qualls, Senior, Rogers, 3 each.
Special team: Senior Bradyn Ornelaz scored 26 out of 30 additional points and achieved four field goals.
Note: The Drillers won the final three appearances in the Section Finals and defeated Bullard in the 2011 DI title game to complete the 13-0 season.
Quote from interim head coach Rashaan Shehee: “This season’s motto is’Just Us’. This championship game depends on how well we fight each other. We win the fight and win the game in every play.”
State Ranking: 66th place by Maxpreps
Record vs. general opponents: 1-1. The Knights lost to Central (51-32 in the first week) and defeated Clovis (35-12 in the fifth week).
Last section title: 2009. He defeated Centennial 42-31 and won the Division I title.
First-class passers-by: Sean Russo, Senior, 2,988 yards, 32 TD, 8 Int.
First-class rusher: Herman Samora, Senior, 609 yards, 11TD.
Major receivers: Jalyn Utendahl, Senior, 61 Catch, 829 yards, 4 TD; Jayden Davis, Senior, 29 Catch, 662 yards, 10 TD.
Tackle leader: Bryan Garcia, Senior, 81.
Saxophone leader: Koda Lamanuzzi, 5.5.
Intercept reader: Davis, 3.
Special team: Chase Weiner added 35 out of 36 points to win his only field goal attempt, the 27-yard player.
Note: Russo threw 398 yards and seven touchdowns in a 49-21 victory over Kingsburg last week. He needs only 46 yards to break the school’s single-season passing yard mark this week.
Bakersfield Christians in Visalia-Central Valley Christians
Bakersfield Christian Eagles (10-3)
Section D-III Seed: No.7
State Ranking: 158th according to Maxpreps
Face to face: Lost to CVC in the opening round 30-24
Record vs. general opponents: 1-0. Defeated Dineuva in the Central Section D-III Semifinals, 49-27.
Last section title: 2019. Won the Division III title by defeating CVC 28-14.
Passed leader: Braden Waterman, Senior.
Leader in a hurry: Nathan Perez, Junior; David Bonares, Junior.
Receiving reader: Bryson Waterman, Junior.
Initiatives for Leaders: Braden Heath, Senior; Evan Kroid, Senior; Bonares.
Sack leader: Voker, sophomore. Ben Vidal, Senior.
Intercept reader: Angels Niga.
Note: Eagles is a defending CIF State Division 3A champion and has won seven league titles in the last eight seasons.
Quote from 7th year head coach Darren Carr: “We have been blessed with this situation for the first time in seven years. We have all been working tirelessly to reach this point. Our young men take a bus to Visalia. I can’t wait. They’re tired. Practice and they want to play now. “
Central Valley Christian Cavaliers (9-4)
Section D-III Seed: No. 1
State Ranking: 184th according to Maxpreps.
Face to face: Defeated BCHS 30-24 in the opening round.
Record vs. general opponents: 1-0. Defeated Deneuva 24-21 in the 7th week.
Last section title: 2018. Defeated Visalia-Golden West 49-14 to win the Division IV title.
Passed leader: Max backer, junior.
Leader in a hurry: Josh Sousa, Senior; Dominique Maxfield, Senior.
Receiving reader: Jaeden Moore, Junior.
Intercept reader: Josh Noeske, Senior; Zack Zwart, Junior.
Note: Cavalier has won the section title for the fourth consecutive year, but is 1-2 in the championship game for the match on Friday.
Independence Falcons (7-6)
State Ranking: 292nd according to Maxpreps.
Record vs. general opponents: none
Last section title: I will play in the first final.
First-class passers-by: LaDon Denmark, Senior, 790 yards, 7 TD, 3 Int.
Major rushers: Evan Peaker, Senior, 1,655 yards, 15 TD; Denmark, 980 yards, 14 TD; Anthony Rico, Junior, 577 yards, 12 TD.
Major receivers: Rico, 13 catches, 275 yards, 3TD.
Tackle leader: Demian Garcia, 70 years old. Eight of them lost.
Saxophone leader: Jorge Pineda, Junior, 3.5.
Intercept reader: Jonathan Rico, sophomore, 3.
Special team: Second grade Daniel Smith added 37 out of 41 points.
Note: The Falcons started 0-6 this season and haven’t lost since.
Quote from 4th year head coach Tyler Schilhabel: “I’m excited about the opportunity to finish this season in high notes in front of home fans. Mendota intends to give us a good challenge, but we have to play the game and the rest are sorted. Increasingly ready for the chance to bring back the title of the first section. “
State Ranking: 310th according to Maxpreps.
Earn a streak: 4 straight
Record vs. general opponents: none
Last section title: 2016. He defeated Firebo 50-22 and won the Division V title.
First-class passers-by: Cejaa Ceja, Junior, 946 yards, 15 TD, 7 Int.
First-class rusher: Jacob Silva, Senior, 993 yards, 10TD.
Major receivers: Richard Seja Junior, Senior, 22 Catch, 448 yards, 7TD.
Tackle leader: Silva, 48 years old.
Saxophone leader: Alex Al Dana (junior) and Ramon Abitia (senior), 5 each.
Intercept reader: Devon Murphy, Senior, 3.
Special team: Senior Edgar Trejo and junior Amilker Pineda scored additional points 29-29.
Note: The Aztecs are aiming to play 3-0 against the Kern County team this month after eliminating Foothill and Highlands in the last two weeks.
State Ranking: 576th according to Maxpreps.
Record vs. general opponents: none
Last section title: 2007. Defeated Corcoran 28-14 to win the Division IV title.
First-class passers-by: Jackson Berry, 643 yards, 6 TD, 0 Int.
First-class rusher: Berry, 644 yards, 14TD.
Major receivers: Richard Jennings, Junior, 14 Catch, 255 yards, 2TD.
Note: Wildcats has advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Quote from first year head coach Brian Durkan: “I’m excited about the chance on Friday night. Morro Bay presents us with a big challenge. They have a great QB and some guys who can catch it. Our defense is me It will be tested in a way we haven’t seen all year long. I look forward to our response. “
State Ranking: 630th according to Maxpreps.
Record vs. general opponents: none.
Note: Six Pirates wins this season have been the most in school since 2013.
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