Prep football: Apaches triumph in CMAC championship

Sanger dominates SJ Memorial to wrap up CMAC championship; Reedley stuns Exeter to gain share of TCC-Sequoia title and playoff berth, Mission Oak edges Dinuba in WYL third place battle

Sanger High showed off their special black uniforms that they wore on Oct. 27 in the 55-7 rout of San Joaquin Memorial that clinched an outright County Metro Athletic Conference championship. (Jon Earnest)
Sanger High showed off their special black uniforms that they wore on Oct. 27 in the 55-7 rout of San Joaquin Memorial that clinched an outright County Metro Athletic Conference championship. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published October 30, 2023  • 
11:00 am

SANGER – After more than a two-year absence, Sanger High once again is king of the County Metro Athletic Conference.

The Apaches (9-1) completed a perfect 5-0 run through conference, pummeling defending champion San Joaquin Memorial for more than 400 rushing yards in a 55-7 dismantling at Chuck Shidan Field in Tom Flores Hall of Fame Stadium on Oct. 27.

No. 5 seed Sanger — which opens its Division I postseason schedule on Friday, Nov. 3 at home against No. 12 Garces (see all regional playoff matchups in accompanying story)  — was led by senior running back Israel Robles with 216 yards on 16 carries (13.5 ypc) and five touchdowns. Robles has 1,428 yards and 20 rushing TDs in 10 games. His five TDs in a single game is tied for third best in school history (Brent Webber scored 7 TDs against Lemoore in 2003).

Running behind a large and physical offensive line, Robles and the Apaches controlled the game from the start. It was 28-0 after the first quarter as Robles racked up TD runs of 3 and 70 yards, Marquis Cropper had an interception followed by a 33-yard TD reception from Jaden Chanthalangsy and Conner Bohlken added a short TD run.

Sanger led 42-0 at halftime after Robles rushed for a 19-yard TD and Bryson Baker (140 yards on eight carries) scored from 14 yards out. The Apaches made it 55-0 after three quarters on TD runs of 4 and 8 yards by Robles. Carlos Young had an interception in the quarter. San Joaquin Memorial scored its lone touchdown on a short run by Jordan Colbert early in the final quarter to break up the shutout.

Six different Sanger rushers accounted for 436 rushing yards, led by Robles and Baker. Senior Marshall Pittman had 44 yards and a fumble recovery while Bohlken added 22 rushing yards and a team-high six tackles including three for loss. Tomas Barajas added five tackles including two for loss.

The Apaches wowed the Senior Night crowd clad in special black uniform tops and pants along with the traditional red helmets. 

In other Week 11 contests:

Reedley 22, Exeter 21 – At Sal Gonzalez Field, the Pirates (3-7, 3-1 Tri-County Sequoia) completed an unlikely run to a playoff berth by stunning the previously unbeaten Monarchs (9-1, 3-1). Reedley held a 22-15 lead when Exeter scored a short touchdown run in the final minute. The Monarchs went for two points and the victory, but the Pirates’ defense turned away a rollout run to preserve the victory.

Reedley had taken a 2-0 lead on a safety when Will Bacon sacked Exeter quarterback Jacob Molina in the end zone in the first half, but the Monarchs answered with a touchdown to lead 7-2 at the break. The Pirates went ahead 8-7 in the third quarter and later expanded the lead. Quarterback Bacon (73 yards rushing) had a touchdown run in the final three minutes to give Reedley the lead, and earlier threw a 4-yard TD pass to Luke Gonzalez and caught a 37-yard reverse option pass from Alan Carrillo.

Pirates running back Demetrius Vargas finished the night with 127 yards on 28 carries, and now has 1,326 yards and seven rushing TDs in 10 games.

Mission Oak 28, Dinuba 27 – At Dinuba, the Emperors (5-5, 2-3 West Yosemite League) scored the tying touchdown in the final minute of the game but failed to convert on a potential game-winning two-point play, and the visiting Hawks (5-5) earned a three-way tie for third place in league.

The lead changed hands twice in the final 12 minutes, first with Dinuba taking a 21-20 lead on Julian Ramirez’s 3-yard TD and a two-point run by Ramirez. Mission Oak went back ahead for good on a 50-yard touchdown pass Hayden Weaver to Jacob Ramirez and a two-point conversion pass to make it 28-21 with five minutes remaining.

But the Emperors made a dramatic final drive late in the game that was capped by Kristian Bobenrieth’s 1-yard TD run. Dinuba then went for two points and then the win; however, a running attempt was turned away. The Hawks then recovered the onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.

Dinuba held the early lead on a 75-yard pass from Jayce Prendez to Christian Lopez before Mission Oak scored twice for a 13-6 lead. The Emps tied the game just before halftime on Diego Tuttle’s 50-yard touchdown run. Tuttle has surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark this fall to lead the Dinuba ground game.

Central Valley Christian 33, Immanuel 13 – At County Line Stadium in Reedley, the Eagles (5-5, 3-1 Sequoia) were overpowered by the Tri-County Conference-Kings Canyon champion Cavaliers in the cross division matchup, yet still gained a piece of a three-way conference title tie.

Bryson Donelson, CVC’s star running back and a Fresno State verbal commit, had touchdown runs of 88 and 50 yards and Brent Kroeze threw three touchdown passes as the visitors built a 33-0 lead. Junior running back Shane Spomer scored Immanuel’s first touchdown on a 3-yard run late in the third quarter and quarterback Jake Horn’s 17-yard TD run in the final two minutes closed out the scoring.

Spomer rushed for 101 yards on 22 carries as the Eagles picked up 244 of their 257 total yards on the ground. Junior running back Balton King ran for 70 yards on seven carries while Horn added 28 yards rushing and 13 yards passing.

Sunnyside 48, Sanger West  13 – At Tom Flores Hall of Fame Stadium in a Thursday matchup on Oct. 26, the Hornets (3-7, 2-5 North Yosemite League) dropped their fifth straight to close out the regular season. The league champion Wildcats (9-1, 7-0) closed out a second consecutive outright title season with an air-oriented attack.

It still was a milestone regular season for Sanger West, which posted its first three varsity victories this fall after going winless in 2022.

Parlier 22, Riverdale 12 – At Parlier, the Panthers (2-8, 1-6 Northwest Yosemite League) closed out the season on a winning note by defeating the Cowboys (2-8, 1-6). The Panthers were able to pick up two victories this fall under returning coach Rick Stewart after going 0-10 in 2022.

Jon Earnest