Tonight the Giant Killers will officially be playing among the giants.
On the strength of wins against bigger schools Roosevelt, Monache and Sunnyside, the Strathmore High football team has effectively moved up two divisions in the Central Section playoffs based on the new system that bases seedings on MaxPreps rankings.
The Spartans finished the regular season 10-0 and will open the Division III playoffs at Spartan Stadium tonight as the No. 2 seed, hosting No. 15 seed Reedley.
In other first round playoff action tonight in Division IV, No. 9 seed Porterville will travel to No. 8 seed Highland and No. 14 seed Monache will travel to No. 3 seed Exeter. Lindsay also received a home first round game in Division VI as the No. 8 seed and will host No. 9 seed Kern Valley at Frank Skadan Stadium. All the games are set for a 7 p.m. kickoff
REEDLEY (8-1) AT STRATHMORE (10-0), 7 P.M. TODAY
The Spartans actually received a relatively tough draw as even though Reedley is seeded No. 15, it finished the season 8-1. Reedley was knocked down in the seedings after losing its first game of the season last week, 42-35, to Sunnyside. The Spartans also gave Sunnyside its only loss of the year, winning 46-34.
The game will featured two of the Valley's top running backs in Reedley's Ryan Warkentin and Starthmore's Carlos Moreno. Warkentin is averaging 10.4 yards a carry as he has rushed for 1,714 yards and 24 touchdowns this season.
Despite missing nearly three games, Moreno has rushed for 1,107 yards and 22 TDs. And Moreno has plenty of help from his friends as Adrian Sierra has rushed for 538 yards on 81 carries, quarterback Jaylen Oats has rushed for 228 yards on 27 carries and blocking back Bernie Navarro has rushed for 186 yards on 21 carries.
Oats has also completed 62 of 98 passes for 1,233 yards and 12 TDs, averaging 20 yards a completion. His top targets have been Manuel Andrade (27-623-7 TDs), who's averaging 23.1 yards a reception, and Cael Alkire, who's averaging 20.4 yards a reception, (14-284).
PORTERVILLE (4-5) AT HIGHLAND (7-3), 7 P.M. TODAY
Highland is led by a dual threat at quarterback in JoJo Mata, who has passed for 946 yards (81-for-140) , seven touchdowns and seven interceptions and has rushed for 804 yards and 12 TDs on 138 rushes.
PHS moved up in the seedings after its 14-12 win over Monache last week. In that win, Jaret Garcia scored on touchdown runs of 3 and 5 yards and James Atkinson provided the difference in the game when he kicked both extra points.
Erik Odsather also had a key interception that turned out to be the turning point of the game as it set up Garcia's first score after PHS was down 6-0. Quarterback Kayden Boosalis has had a solid year passing for the Panthers and among his top targets is tight end Jacob Espinoza.
MONACHE (4-6) AT EXETER (6-4), 7 P.M. TODAY
Monache was knocked down in the seedings after its loss to PHS. Meanwhile Exeter moved up in the seedings based on its 20-14 win over Central Valley Christian last week. CVC is Division III's No. 1 seed.
Exeter also had an impressive effort this year in a 20-14 double overtime loss to Mission Oak. Of course Monache almost pulled off a miracle comeback against Mission Oak, losing 27-26 after being down 27-0 in the third quarter.
Monache has a number of running backs it has counted on all season, including David Leyva, Tyler Ishida, Jacob Vasquez and Damien Espinoza. Quarterback Brysn Hornsby is also a double threat who can run and pass and among his top targets is tight end Andrew Martinez.
KERN VALLEY (4-2) AT LINDSAY (3-7), 7 P.M. TODAY
Kern Valley has played an abbreviated scheduled as it was dealing with COVID issues early in the season. Kern Valley also has a dual threat in sophomore quarterback Hunter Watts, who has rushed for 500 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 9.4 yards a carry. He has also passed for six scores.
Lindsay quarterback Sam Reyes has relied on two main targets all season in Diego Salas (44-538) and Richard Diaz (32-509).