Prep football: Immanuel’s balanced offense edges Firebaugh

Big third quarter carries Dinuba to road win at Washington Union, Orosi improves to 4-0 while Sanger West rallies to capture North Yosemite League opener

Parlier High tacklers Christian Bravo (32), an unidentified No. 26 and Ramon Quiroz (68) wrap up Fowler High kick returner Matthew Luna (6) during the first quarter of the Panthers 60-24 loss to the Redcats on Sept. 15 at Parlier High Stadium. (Jon Earnest)
Parlier High tacklers Christian Bravo (32), an unidentified No. 26 and Ramon Quiroz (68) wrap up Fowler High kick returner Matthew Luna (6) during the first quarter of the Panthers 60-24 loss to the Redcats on Sept. 15 at Parlier High Stadium. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published September 18, 2023  • 
10:00 am

REEDLEY — The Immanuel High Eagles regained some much-needed momentum going into next week’s final non-league football game at the Mendota High Aztecs. 

On Sept. 15 at County Line Stadium, the Eagles (2-2) shook off the effects of a lopsided road loss at McLane High on Sept. 7 by hanging on for a 26-22 victory over the visiting Firebaugh Eagles. Senior quarterback Jake Horn passed for two touchdowns – to seniors Trey Romo and Talen Case – while sophomores Seth Hutchinson and Jackson Leibee rushed for touchdowns. 

Horn completed 15 of 23 passes for 181 yards, two weeks after throwing for more than 400 yards in a win over Fowler. He has 863 yards passing and seven touchdowns on the season, with Romo collecting 19 receptions for 376 yards and three scores. Leibee finished with 96 of Immanuel’s 125 rushing yards against Firebaugh.

The visiting Eagles (2-3) finished with 397 total yards, 255 on the ground led by senior Anthony Fernandez with 113 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. Quarterback Isaac Ceja threw for 142 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice. Firebaugh also lost a fumble.

Immanuel will travel north to take on the Aztecs in a 7 p.m. start Friday, Sept. 22. The Eagles then will open Tri-County Conference-Sequoia Division play with a big rivalry matchup, heading to Sal Gonzalez Field for a Thursday, Sept. 28 battle against Reedley High.

In other Week 5 games:

Dinuba 42, Washington Union 26  

At Easton, the Emperors (3-2) broke a halftime tie with two third quarter touchdowns, then maintained the lead the rest of the night to creep above the .500 mark for the season heading into West Yosemite League play.

The victory was a measure of revenge for Dinuba, which lost 15-13 at Washington Union in the opening round of the 2022 Central Section Division II playoffs.

Tied at 14 entering the final 24 minutes, Dinuba grabbed the lead on Christian Lopez’s 5-yard run midway through the third. After the Panthers (1-3) turned the ball over on downs at their own 41, the Emps capitalized as Lopez threw a 32-yard halfback option scoring pass to Nicholas Olivera. Quarterback  Jayce Prendez and Lopez hooked up on a two-point conversion pass to make up for a missed extra point following Lopez’s TD.

Dinuba High’s Christian Lopez sprints past a pair of Washington Union defenders for a big gain during the Emperors’ 42-26 victory over the Panthers on Sept. 15. The senior ran for a touchdown, threw for another and caught a two-point conversion pass. (Jorge Lozoya)

Dinuba then put the game on ice on Julian Ramirez’s 4-yard TD run and a touchdown run by Diego Tuttle. Washington Union scored in the game’s final minute to make the score more respectable.

The Emperors’ first-half touchdowns were a run by Tuttle and a touchdown pass by Prendez. Dinuba also had a first quarter interception to stop a potential Washington Union scoring drive. Tuttle finished with 65 yards rushing while Prendez passed for 99 yards.

Dinuba now has a bye week, and will open WYL play on Friday, Sept. 29, against Hanford High in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at DHS. The Emperors then have league road games at Tulare Western (Thursday, Oct. 5) and Lemoore (Oct. 13).

Orosi 54, Farmersville 8 

At Farmersville, the Cardinals improved to 4-0 as they controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage and ran just 42 plays from scrimmage to roll in their East Sequoia League opener. Senior running back Andrew Camarillo rushed for 204 yards and five touchdowns on 19 carries while senior quarterback Lance Lopez passed for 134 yards and a pair of scores.

Leading the defense were linebackers Valiente Nieto and Esteban Quevedo, who each finished eight eight tackles. Quevedo also had an interception.

Camarillo now has 894 rushing yards for the season (223 per game), and increased his career rushing totals to 4,872 yards (7.5 yards per carry) and 71 touchdowns in 32 career games.

The Cardinals’ next two ESL games are 7:15 p.m. Friday home contests, starting with Lindsay on Sept. 22 and then Strathmore on Sept. 29.

Sanger West 33, Hoover 16 

At Fresno, the Hornets (2-2) ran off 20 unanswered points in a dominant fourth quarter to come from behind and win their North Yosemite League opener against the Patriots (1-3).

Sanger West threw for four touchdowns, three from quarterback Arion Ciano and one by Eddie Moreau. Elpidio Gamez had two scoring receptions while Darius Berkley and Vayshawn Turner also had TD catches. Gamez’s second score put the Hornets ahead to stay at 20-16.

Moreau and Turner then connected on a touchdown to make it 26-16, and Gamez sealed the victory with a late rushing touchdown. Hoover ran for two touchdowns in the first half, and also had a two-point conversion run and a third quarter safety.

Sanger West returns home to play winless Madera South (0-4, 0-1) in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Tom Flores Hall of Fame Stadium on Friday, Sept. 22.

Selma 27, Reedley 21

At Selma, the Pirates (0-4) nearly battled back from a 20-point deficit in the second half, but came up short in the Tri-County Conference cross division matchup to remain winless for the season.

The Bears (1-4) jumped to a 21-0 lead and still led 27-7 midway through the third quarter before Reedley stormed back with two touchdowns from running back Demetrius Vargas (25 carries for 160 yards) and a running score from quarterback Will Bacon. Late in the game, the Pirates moved to the Selma 6-yard-line with a chance to win the game when a fumbled snap ended the threat.

Reedley returns home to Sal Gonzalez Field to take on the Mt. Whitney Pioneers (1-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22. It’s Homecoming Night for the Pirates, and their final non-league contest before opening TCC-Sequoia Division play on Thursday, Sept. 28 at home against city rival Immanuel High.

Reedley High receiver Isaac Ramirez shakes free from Selma High defender Kayden Berry (5) to pick up yardage during the Pirates’ 27-21 loss to the Bears in Selma on Sept. 15. (Danny Jimenez)

Strathmore 23, Orange Cove 20 

On Saturday, Sept. 16 in Strathmore, a 23-point second quarter outburst by the host Spartans was just enough, as a late rally by the Titans (2-2, 1-1 East Sequoia) fell just short.

Strathmore overcame an early 85-yard run by Orange Cove’s Isaac Angulo in the first quarter, taking a 7-6 lead on Jacob Poole’s 4-yard run early in the second. After the Titans briefly went back in front on Alejandro Lopez’s 8-yard TD run, the Spartans took the lead for good when Ramon Hernandez returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to paydirt, The lead grew to 23-13 by halftime with a safety on an errant OC punt snap, followed by an 80-yard touchdown return by Poole following the free kick.

Midway through the third quarter, Orange Cove drew within 23-20 on a short touchdown run on a quarterback keeper and then made a long drive after a defensive stop. But the Titans turned the ball over on downs at the Strathmore 18, and both teams then exchanged possessions before OC got the ball for one final possession starting at its own 37.

The Titans moved into scoring possession on a long pass to Lopez, and Julian Magdaleno found Matthew Covarrubias on a pass play to the Strathmore 11. But a sack led to a potential game-tying field goal attempt that missed, and the hosts ran out the clock.

Angulo finished with 133 yards on 12 carries, Magdaleno and Oscar Alvarez (118 passing, 29 rushing yards) split the quarterback duties while Covarrubias had three catches for 70 yards.

Orange Cove has another ESL road game this week, traveling to Porterville to take on winless Granite Hills in a 7:15 p.m. kickoff Friday, Sept. 22. The Grizzlies (0-4, 0-1) lost by a 65-14 score at Corcoran High on Sept. 15.

Fowler 60, Parlier 24 

At Parlier, the Panthers (1-4, 0-1 Northwest Sequoia) were blitzed for 601 yards passing and eight touchdowns by Redcats quarterback Jerod Bubba Smith. The junior completed 30 of 39 passes, riddling the Parlier secondary for four completions of 40 yards or longer including a 90-yard strike to sophomore receiver Matthew Luna (seven catches for 209 yards and three touchdowns).

Fowler High receiver Diego Diaz (3) hauls in a first quarter touchdown reception against Parlier defender Jamin Pena (14) on Sept. 15. Diaz had 13 receptions for 209 yards and two touchdowns in the Redcats’ 60-24 victory. (Jon Earnest)

Fowler senior receiver Diego Diaz had 13 receptions for 209 yards and two TDs while Chistopher Hooks had two scoring receptions. The Panthers fell behind 14 after one quarter and never were able to get closer.

Parlier has a bye this week, returning to league play on Friday, Sept. 29 with a 7:30 p.m. home game against Yosemite (1-4, 0-2).

Jon Earnest
Reporter