Prep football: Immanuel hands Sierra Pacific first loss

Immanuel rallies in fourth against Sierra Pacific to defeat Golden Bears; Sanger dominates second half to blank Edison, Orosi improves to 7-0 as Camarillo runs for 230 yards and scores 5 TDs

Immanuel High’s Talen Case (2) and an unidentified teammate put a twin hit on Sierra Pacific High receiver Shauntai Kimble during the Eagles’ 28-27 comeback victory over Sierra Pacific High on Oct. 6 at County Line Stadium. Immanuel couldn’t hold an early 21-6 lead, falling behind in the fourth quarter before regaining the lead and holding on for the critical Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division victory. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published October 9, 2023  • 
11:00 am

REEDLEY – The Immanuel High Eagles passed the first of two pivotal tests against undefeated Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division football competition while taking a huge step toward a possible conference championship.

Before a large and spirited Homecoming Night crowd at County Line Stadium on Oct. 6, the Eagles (4-3, 2-0) couldn’t hold a 21-6 first half lead before rallying from behind and holding off two late scoring threats to edge Sierra Pacific, 28-27. It was the first loss of the season for the visiting Golden Bears (6-1, 0-1) from Hanford.

Immanuel now can seize control of the TCC Sequoia race this week, but faces a second huge showdown against an unbeaten opponent – Exeter High. The Monarchs (7-0, 1-0) thumped Washington Union 37-15 on Oct. 6 and will host the 7:30 p.m. showdown on Friday, Oct. 13.

Junior two-way standout Shane Spomer provided the bulk of Immanuel’s offense against Sierra Pacific, scoring all four Eagles touchdowns while rushing for 109 yards on 14 carries. His final score on a 2-yard run with 10 minutes remaining, coupled with the extra point kick, put the Eagles back on top after the visitors wiped out a 15-point deficit with three unanswered TDs.

Immanuel then needed to get an interception and fumble on the two ensuing SP possessions, with the victory finally being secured on a missed field goal in the closing seconds. The Eagles finished with 283 total yards, 217 rushing and 66 passing from senior quarterback and Homecoming King Jake Horn.

The Immanuel defense were a key to the win by collecting three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Landon McKeen passed for two touchdowns and Zack Lee Young rushed for two scores for Sierra Pacific.

In other Week 8 games:

Sanger 31, Edison 0 – At Tom Flores Hall of Fame Stadium in Sanger, the Apaches broke a scoreless halftime tie with 10 third-quarter points and then a three-touchdown outburst in the fourth to blank the Tigers (1-6, 0-2) in a Country Metro Athletic Conference matchup.

Sanger High running back Isreal Robles scores standing for one of his three touchdowns in the Apaches’ 31-0 shutout of the Tigers on Oct. 6 in Sanger. The senior finished the game with 173 yards on 18 carries. (George Armenta)

A big-play defensive performance led to the shutout, as Sanger (6-1, 2-0) collected three interceptions, three quarterback sacks and a fumble recovery. A fumble recovery by Marshall Pittman and a defensive stop in its own territory late in the second kept the game scoreless, and more defense set the stage for the Apaches’ offense to come alive in the third quarter.

A tackle for loss by Nathan Velasquez and a sack by Adolfo Hurtado and Pittman stopped the first Edison possession, and after starting at its own 17 Sanger drove the length of the field for the game’s first score. Senior running back Israel Robles (who rushed for 173 yards on 18 carries) capped the drive off with a 14-yard touchdown run.

On the ensuing Tigers possession, senior Marquis Cropper intercepted a Phoenix Lawrence pass and returned it 32 yards to the Edison 10. Three plays later, Santana Mercado booted a 20-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead. Pittman then closed out the third quarter with another quarterback sack.

Early in the fourth, Sanger got another sack from Hurtado to force a punt, and the offense responded with a 57-yard scoring drive. Robles scored from 18 yards out, with the PAT making it 17-0 with about nine minutes remaining.

Sanger High’s Marshall PIttman (16) and Adolfo Hurtado (7) wrap up Edison High quarterback Phoenix Lawrence (16) for a sack during the Apaches’ 31-0 shutout of the Tigers on Oct. 6 in Sanger. Pittman had a forced fumble and fumble recovery while Hurtado was in on two sacks. (George Armenta)

Sanger’s ground game and big physical front line then continued the domination after yet another defensive stop. Robles broke free on a long run, and finished the drive by scoring on a 9-yard run with six minutes left. Kayden McGrew’s interception moments later set the Apaches up at the Edison 11, and Conner Bohlken rang up the final touchdown on a 10-yard run with four-plus minutes left.

The defensive dominance was complete with another Hurtado sack and an interception by Tomas Barajas. Edison finished with just 48 rushing yards and 202 total yards. Sanger had 327 total yards, including 55 rushing yards by Bryson Baker on eight carries.

Sanger travels to Madera High for a Friday, Oct. 13 7:30 p.m. CMAC game. The Coyotes (5-2, 1-1) are coming off an impressive 56-35 win at San Joaquin Memorial on Oct. 6.

Orosi 56, Granite Hills 6 – In Porterville on Oct. 5, the Cardinals (4-0 East Sequoia League) made it seven straight victories without a loss this season by getting 230 yards and four rushing touchdowns from Andrew Camarillo. It sets the stage for a Friday’s, Oct. 13 showdown at Corcoran High against the Panthers, with the winner gaining sole possession of first place.

“The Corcoran game will be a tough one, they’re big and physical and have great speed,” said Orosi coach Ben White. “We are going to have our hands full dealing with their big running back, huge tight end and fast receivers.”

In the rout of Granite Hills, senior running back Camarillo had a long TD dash of 63 yards along with three other shorter runs and touchdown reception for five total scores, and the Cardinals dominated the final three quarters after leading just 7-6 after the first. He now has 1,472 yards rushing this fall with 23 touchdowns, and increased his career totals to 5,450 yards and 80 TDs in 35 games played.

Orosi rushed for 335 yards, with sophomore Jason De La Cruz collecting 68 and two touchdowns. Quarterback Lance Lopez threw for 38 yards and a short touchdown to Camarillo while also running for 23 yards. Defensively, Bryan Velasquez collected an interception and the Cardinals kept the Grizzlies off the scoreboard the final three quarters.

White expects top offensive threat Camarillo to receive maximum focus from Corcoran’s defensive unit.

“I’m sure they will stack the box in an effort to stop Andrew,” he said. “We’ll have to play our best game if we want to win.”.

Corcoran 45, Orange Cove 21 – At Corcoran, senior running back Enrique Rios rushed for 230 yards and five touchdowns as the host Panthers (6-1) kept pace with Orosi in the East Sequoia League. The Titans (3-4, 1-3) were within 25-14 entering the final quarter before Rios ran for three TDs, including a 45-yard run, to salt the victory away.

Orange Cove had a 34-yard touchdown run from Alexander Rosas in the opening quarter to tie the score at 7, but Corcoran scored 18 answered points – including two short TD runs by Rios – to go ahead 25-7 in the third quarter. Oscar Alvarez then threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Diego Salgado, and the Titans’ final score came on a 40-yard TD pass by Anthony Avila in the fourth.

Orange Cove begins a two-game homestand on Friday, Oct. 13 with a 7:15 p.m. ESL contest against Lindsay at Titan Stadium. That’s followed by the home regular season finale on Friday, Oct. 20 against Farmersville.

McLane 42, Sanger West 20 – At Fresno, the host Highlanders (5-2, 3-1 North Yosemite League) overcame a 6-0 first quarter deficit with 28 unanswered points in the second and third quarters to cruise past the Hornets (3-4, 2-2).

Quarterback Noah Zamora threw second quarter touchdowns to Jazmier Boyland (19 yards) and Da’Zir Newhouse (26 yards) while TJ McMillan III ran for two points to give McLane a 14-6 lead at the break. The lead doubled in the third when Zamora ran for a short touchdown and McMillan broke free on a 75-yard TD jaunt.

Sanger West’s Elipido Gamez rushed for a pair of touchdowns and two-point conversions in the final quarter while McLane got scores from Zamora and Demetrius Simon, the latter coming on a TD reception. McMillan finished with 114 rushing yards and Zamora had 174 passing yards for the Highlanders.

The Hornets close out the regular season with three consecutive home games, starting with Fresno High in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday, Oct. 13.

Caruthers 55, Parlier 16 – At Caruthers, the Panthers (1-6, 0-4 Northwest Yosemite League) were lit up defensively by state rushing leader Hunter Babb and the Blue Raiders (5-2, 4-0). The senior had touchdown runs of 45 and 65 yards in the opening quarter along with a 63-yard scoring reception in the second half.

Parlier will try to snap its five-game losing streak on Friday, Oct. 13 with a 7 p.m. NWYL home contest against Liberty-Madera Ranchos. The Hawks (5-2, 3-1) outscored Minarets High 47-21 on Oct 6.

Jon Earnest