PREP FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: Sanger gets No. 5 seed, home game in Division I

Central Valley Christian top-seeded in D-II; potential FUSD teachers’ strike could affect site of Redwood first round playoff

Sanger High’s offensive line of (from left) tight end Cody Coles (10), right tackle Jonathan Ybarra (78), right guard Adrian Sosa (62), center Jordan Guzman (75), left tackle Nathan Velasquez (70) and left guard Adrian Ortiz (52) walk to the line of scrimmage during a third quarter drive on Sept. 15. The Apaches ran the ball on all but one of its second-half offensive snaps during a 21-7 victory over Centennial. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published October 30, 2023  • 
11:00 am

SANGER – The County Metro Athletic Conference champion Sanger High Apaches drew the No. 5 seed, a home game and a potential rematch with the Clovis East Timberwolves in the Central Section Division I playoffs.

Postseason playoff brackets were released by the section on Oct. 28, and the Apaches (9-1) were one of five Mineral King Publishing area schools to earn top three seeds among the six divisions. Central Valley Christian (9-1) has the highest placement, earning the top seed in a tough Division II field while Exeter High (9-1) is seeded third in Division IV and has two potential home games.

Mt. Whitney (7-3), which defeated Redwood in the annual Cowhide Game to win the East Yosemite League championship, drew the No. 6 seed while West Yosemite League third place finisher Mission Oak (5-5) is seeded third in Division III.

Two other Sum-Gazette region schools were awarded first round home games; No. 4 seed Strathmore (6-4) and No. 5 Woodlake (5-4) in Division VI. Meanwhile, if Fresno Unified School District teachers strike this week, the No. 7 seed Sunnyside (9-1) vs. No. 10 Redwood (6-4) would be moved from Fresno to Visalia.

East Sequoia League co-champion Orosi High (9-1) received the No. 5 seed in Division V and a first round home game. All remaining Mid Valley Times region schools have road matchups. First round games will take place Friday, Nov. 3, with kickoff at 7 p.m.

Quarterfinal games will be played Thursday, Nov. 9, because of the Veterans Day holiday. Semifinal rounds will be Friday, Nov. 17, with section championship games on Friday, Nov. 24.

A look at the brackets by division:

Division I – Sanger will host No. 12 seed Garces Memorial (5-5) in a 7 p.m. kickoff on Chuck Shidan Field at Tom Flores Hall of Fame Stadium. The teams have one mutual opponent in Clovis; the Apaches defeated the Cougars (7-3) 33-21 on Aug. 25 while the Rams lost 41-27 on Aug. 17 in Clovis.

A win would give Sanger a chance to avenge its lone loss of the season, as the Sanger-Garces winner plays No. 4 Clovis East (8-2) on Nov. 9 at Lamonica Stadium. The Timberwolves outscored the Apaches 42-21 in an Aug. 31 shootout. Tri-River Conference champion Clovis North (10-0) is the division’s top seed.

Division II – Top seed CVC will try to go one step beyond its 2022 section finals loss to Lemoore, and begin its 2023 quest against No. 16 seed Stockdale (4-6). A win would set up a difficult quarterfinal matchup against either No. 8 Bakersfield High (6-4) or No. 9 unbeaten Tehachapi (10-0).

No. 4 Tulare Union (6-4) hosts No. 13 San Luis Obispo while No. 12 Dinuba (5-5) plays at No. 5 Kingsburg (8-2). The Vikings defeated the Emperors, 42-14, on Sept. 1. 

Division III – Mission College Prep (7-3) and Atascadero (10-0) are the top two seeds and both have byes. No. 8 seed Porterville (6-4) hosts No. 9 Pioneer Valley, with the winner advancing to play at Mission Prep.

Other first round matchups have Mt. Whitney hosting No. 11 Nipomo, Mission Oak at home against No. 14 Independence Bakersfield, and No. 12 Golden West (3-7) traveling to take on No. 5 Kerman.

Division IV – Tri-County Sequoia Division tri-champion Exeter will try to bounce back from its first loss of the season when it hosts No. 14 Highland (3-7) on Nov. 3, and would be slated for a second home game against the winner of No. 6 Chowchilla and No. 11 Roosevelt on Nov. 9.

No. 12 Immanuel (5-5), which shared the TCC-Sequoia title with Exeter and Reedley, will play at No. 5 Matilda Torres (7-3). Top seeds Shafter (10-0) and Dos Palos (9-1) both have first round byes.

Division V – Orosi will host No. 12 Hoover High from Fresno in its first round matchup, but may have just one home game if No. 4 Morro Bay (5-5) defeats East Bakersfield in its opener. The Cardinals are on the same side of the bracket as top seed Bishop Union (9-1).

No. 10 seed Reedley (3-7) earned a postseason with an upset of Exeter and will play at No. 7 seed Delano (6-4). No. 11 seed Sanger West (3-7) participates in the playoffs for the first time ever, and also travels to Delano to take on No. 6 seed Chavez (5-5).

Division VI – Strathmore hosts No. 13 Kern Valley while Woodlake is home against No. 12 Minarets, and with wins the two Tulare County schools would play in a quarterfinal round matchup in Strathmore on Nov. 9. No. 10 Lindsay High (4-6) travels to Fowler to take on the No. 7 Redcats (4-6).

The Orange Cove Titans (5-5) are seeded No. 9, and will travel to western remote Kings County to play No. 8 seed Avenal High (5-5). The winner will travel to take on top seed Arvin High (6-4) in eastern Kern County on Nov. 9.


Twelve boys teams and 11 girls teams from the Mineral Kings Publishing region will compete in Central Section water polo action this week. First round matchups take place Tuesday, Oct. 31 for boys and Wednesday, Nov. 1 for girls. Here are the pertinent matchups:

BOYS – In Division II, No. 4 seed Sanger (17-10) will host No. 13 Cabrillo (15-14) in a 6 p.m. start. The Apaches edged Bullard 13-12 in double overtime on Oct. 10 to earn a share of the County Metro Athletic Conference championship. Tri-County conference champ and No. 5 Reedley (25-4) hosts No. 12 Sierra (23-5) in a 4 p.m. start.

Other D-II matchups on Oct. 31 have No. 9 Strathmore (18-10) at No. 8 Morro Bay, No. 11 Redwood (15-13) at No. 6 Kingsburg and No. 15 Exeter (17-8) at No. 2 Bullard.

In Division III, El Diamante (10-16) is top seed and hosts No. 16 Justin Garza, No. 5 Golden West (14-14) hosts No. 12 Sierra Pacific, No. 4 Tulare Western (16-12) plays No. 13 Monache (9-16), No. 3 Tulare Union (17-11) hosts No. 14 Mt. Whitney (9-14) while No. 15 seed Porterville (10-16) is at No. 2 San Joaquin Memorial.

GIRLS – County Metro Athletic Conference champ Sanger (17-9) is seeded eighth in Division I, and will play at top seeded Arroyo Grande (24-6) at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 4. Tri-County champ Reedley (24-4) is the No. 3 seed in DIvision II and hosts No. 14 Frontier (20-8) at 6 p.m. Nov. 1. Division II fourth seed Tulare Union (24-7) hosts No. 13 Hanford West (20-8) on Nov. 1.

Division II qualifiers Redwood (No. 9), Porterville (No. 11) and Golden West (No. 15) all have road contests. In Division III on Nov. 1, Exeter (17-12) is the No. 3 seed and hosts No. 14 Lemoore. Dinuba (18-8) is No. 4 seed and hosts No. 13 El Diamante (11-17) at 6 p.m., while No. 7 Strathmore (13-14) is home against No. 10 Madera.

Section finals matches are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 11 at locations to be determined.

Jon Earnest