CENTRAL SECTION FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: Sanger gets rematch with Clovis East in Division I quarterfinal

Apaches roll past Garces, Reedley and Orange Cove post road triumphs, Camarillo runs for 314 as Orosi survives challenge from Hoover in Division V

Reedley High quarterback Will Bacon is listed by teammate Salvador Mendoza (74) after one of his two touchdown runs during the Pirates’ 43-36 Division V playoff victory over Delano High on Nov. 3. The sophomore also passed for a pair of scores. (Danny Jimenez)
Reedley High quarterback Will Bacon is listed by teammate Salvador Mendoza (74) after one of his two touchdown runs during the Pirates’ 43-36 Division V playoff victory over Delano High on Nov. 3. The sophomore also passed for a pair of scores. (Danny Jimenez)
Jon Earnest
Published November 6, 2023  • 
11:00 am

SANGER — The Sanger High Apaches return to the scene of their only 2023 football loss as Central Section playoff action heads into quarter final rounds this week.

The County Metro Athletic Conference champions (10-1) had no problem in their Division I playoff opener on Nov. 3, scoring a pair of defensive touchdowns and racking up another 200 yards-plus rushing night to blank the Garces High Rams, 35-0, at Tom Flores Hall of Fame Stadium. The No. 5 seed Apaches will travel back to Lamonica Stadium in Clovis at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9 to take on fourth-seeded Clovis East (8-2).

It was at Lamonica Stadium where the Timberwolves prevailed in a 42-21 shootout win over the Apaches on Aug. 31. In that meeting, CE junior quarterback Tyus Miller threw for three touchdowns, two to junior Harold Duvall, while versatile two-way standout Duvall added a 62-yard interception return. The Apaches then rolled off eight straight victories including a perfect 5-0 run through the CMAC schedule.

The latest win was a dominating shutout of Garces (5-6), which put up an early fight but never recovered from a one-two defensive punch of an interception return and fumble return for touchdowns in the first half. The pick six was a 34-yard play by Marquis Cropper, his second of the quarter and ninth of the season, and came in the final two minutes of the first off a tipped pass.

In the second quarter, Conner Bohlken scooped up a loose football after a defensive hit and raced in for the Apaches’ second touchdown and a 14-0 lead. After Sanger got the ball near midfield in the final two minutes, quarterback Jade Chanthalangsy found Carlos Young II on a 40-yard pass and ran in the final minute to make it 21-0 at the break.

Garces’ lone chance to get back in the game ended midway through the third, when a drive into Apaches territory ended when Luke Boust recovered a fumble at the SHS 21. Sanger then turned to its big offensive line and strong ground game to finish off the victory.

Senior running back Izzy Robles tore off a 53-yard touchdown run in the first minute of the fourth quarter, then added another TD on a 12-yard run after Sanger stopped Garces on downs in Rams territory. Robles finished with 173 rush yards on 24 carries, and now has 1,601 yards and 22 rushing touchdowns for the season.

All quarterfinal games this week will be played a day earlier than usual on Thursday, Nov. 9 in observance of the Veterans Day holiday.

In other first round contests:

Reedley 43, Delano 36 – At Delano, the Pirates (4-7) made a late goal-line stand for the second consecutive week; the latest heroics preserving a Division V first round triumph over the host Tigers (6–5).

The fourth down stop in the final minute helped Reedley, which led 43-14 late in the third quarter before Delano mounted a frenzied late rally. Senior quarterback Eduardo Silva (23 of 38, 321 yards and four TDs), threw for scores of 23 and 19 yards to sophomore receiver Raul Quezada before running for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Pirates quarterback Will Bacon rushed for 130 yards with touchdown runs of 73 and 42 yards, and also threw a 66-yard scoring strike to Richie Camacho during a 29-0 scoring blitz in the second and third quarters. The other Reedley touchdowns came on a 4-yard run in the first by Demetrius Vargas (57 yards on 13 carries), a Bacon to Jose Magallon pass covering 44 yards and an 81-yard kickoff return by Adrian Morales.

Reedley, which has won four of its last five games following a 0-6 start, advances to play No. 2 seed Wasco High (5-5), which had a first round bye. The Tigers finished third in the South Sequoia League.

Orosi 42, Hoover 26 – At George Millhorn Stadium in Orosi, the Cardinals  (10-1) prevailed against the Patriots of Fresno powered by a 314 yards, four touchdown performance from running back Andrew Camarillo. The senior now has 2,311 yards and 32 TDs this season and 6,289 yards and 89 TDs for his prep career.

Orosi jumped out to a 14-0 in the first quarter, but No. 12 seed Hoover (3-8) cut the deficit to 14-13 and later 29-26 before the Cardinals pulled away down the stretch. Camarillo had a long TD run of 46 yards and averaged 8.6 yards on his 38 carries.

Jason De La Cruz (45 yards on eight carries) and Daniel Carnarillo also added rushing touchdowns as Orosi finished with 385 ground yards and 432 total yards.

The No. 5 seed Cardinals now travel to the Central Coast to play No. 4 Morro Bay (6-5) on Nov. 9. The Pirates edged No. 13 seed East Bakersfield, 27-26, in their first round matchup. The other side of the bracket has top seed Bishoo Union (9-1) hosting No. 9 North Bakersfield.

Orange Cove 14, Avenal 12 – At Avenal, the Titans (6-5) jumped to a 14-0 lead despite its worst offensive performance of the season and held off a comeback by the Buccaneers (5-6) to advance to the Division VI quarterfinals Orange Cove will play at top seed Arvin (6-4). The Bears had a first round bye.

Orange Cove’s scoring came on a 30-yard interception return from Alan Chavez and a 90-yard kickoff return by Matthew Covarrubias. That was just enough to hold off an Avenal squad that came in shorthanded after having four players suspended for fighting in the team’s final regular season game against Mendota.

“We definitely have to clean up our offense this week if we plan on taking down the number one seed,” OCHS coach Horacio Bravo said of his squad.

Matilda Torres 43, Immanuel 14 – At Madera, the No. 12 seed Eagles (5-6) ended the season with a loss in the Division IV playoffs to the fifth-seeded Toros (8-3). Immanuel was outscored 28-7 in the first quarter and added its other touchdown in the final period.

The Eagles managed to secure a three-way tie with Exeter and Reedley for the Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division championship, with all three schools finishing at 3-1. For the second time in as many seasons, Immanuel topped Reedley in the annual city meeting of the schools.

Chavez 56, Sanger West  28 – At Delano, the Hornets (3-8) were overpowered by the host Titans (6-5) who jumped to a 21-0 lead after one quarter in their Division IV first roundup matchup with an interception return for a touchdown and a pair of rushing scores.

Sanger West got three passing touchdowns in its first ever playoff appearance to cap off its second varsity season under head coach Rob Thompson. The Hornets posted their first three varsity victories, including wins over Hoover and Madera South in the North Yosemite League.

Jon Earnest