Grizzlies host lone Thursday night game

Two weeks away from the start of East Yosemite League play, the East Sequoia League kicks their season off tonight with a 7 p.m. matchup between Corcoran and Granite Hills High School at Jacob Rankin Stadium. 

The ESL crown is anyone’s for the taking with Lindsay (3-1) and Strathmore (3-0) looking like two of the league’s top teams. Both teams host their ESL openers Friday with Woodlake (3-1) at Lindsay and Farmersville (0-4) at Strathmore. 

At Rankin Stadium Friday, Monache hosts East Bakersfield while Porterville is on the road against Golden West.

Corcoran (2-2) at Granite Hills (1-3), 7 p.m. Thursday

With two Div. IV teams on their schedule, Granite Hills had one of the toughest preseasons in the Orange Belt. The Grizzlies just lost 27-10 to Div. IV Roosevelt and now face a Corcoran team that beat Div. VI Orange Cove (2-2) 10-9 with a punt returned for a touchdown last week.

The Grizzlies seem to be the underdog in every game they play but as ESL begins they’re not a team to overlook, like they proved in their 31-24 season-opening win against Orange Cove.

Granite runs the ball well with Manny Aguilar but the David Ramirez to Max Jimenez for six has been a good connection all season. Jimenez accounts for four of the team’s receiving touchdowns and has a team-high 372 receiving yards.

Corcoran prefers the pass to the run with Cesar Acosta’s 282 yards and four touchdowns, as well as Dalton Armbruster’s 199 yards and three touchdowns, leading the team’s receiving charts. Granite has yet to record an interception but the Grizzlies do have a defense that does a good job of getting to the quarterback with 11 total sacks. Granite has also caused five fumbles and blocked two punts this season.

East Bakersfield (3-1) vs. Monache (1-3) at Jacob Rankin Stadium, 7 p.m. 

Finding their stride last week with a 40-14 win over Div. IV Hoover (1-2) was Div. IV Monache (1-3). MHS head coach Shane Focke downplayed the excitement around the team’s first win but attributed the win to the team finally clicking and understanding things.

It was a big offensive night for the Marauders with quarterback Sullivan Focke throwing two touchdowns passes to TrayVon Bradford and running for one while running back Aidan Galvan rushed for 260 yards and a couple touchdowns, including one for 78 yards.

East is coming off a 24-20 win over Cesar Chavez (3-1), a Div. IV team that needed a second-half comeback to beat Monache 23-14 earlier this season. East had some trouble with the run so it might be another big night on the ground for Galvan.

Porterville (2-1) at Golden West (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

It wasn’t Porterville’s night last week in the team’s 35-14 loss to Div. II Hanford but the Div. IV Panthers should be ready to bounce back on the road against Div. III Golden West.

On a four-game win streak, the Trailblazers provide another challenge to the Panthers. Golden West made easy work of Madera South in a 42-14 win last week with running back Lonnie Wessel scoring four touchdowns and his twin, Michael, accounting for one.

Porterville did OK against the pass with Hanford but still allowed 233 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The defense struggled with quarterback Juaron Watts-Brown, who rushed for 96 yards and one touchdown while throwing for 139 yards and one touchdown on 17 of 24 completions. However they did sack him three times. 

Against Hanford, Porterville’s run game was stifled but quarterback Hector Nava Jr. was able to connect with six different receivers, going 23 of 36 for 305 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw his first interception of the season. 

The Panthers’s line, on both sides, will need to be better if they’re hoping for a positive outcome.

Farmersville (0-4) at Strathmore (3-0), 7:15 p.m.

Div. V Strathmore is once again in good position to win their third ESL title in four years, starting with their game against Div. VI Farmersville.

Strathmore started the season well and outscored opponents 108-26 with last week’s 21-14 win at Div. VI Orosi (2-1) being their closest game so far. It was a win that once again showed the Spartans are not just a running team as Strathmore threw for more yards than they rushed, 142 to 109, for the second time this season.

Farmersville is struggling again and on a 14-game losing streak after failing to win a game last season. The Aztecs last loss, a 20-7 loss to Parlier (2-2) last week, was their closest loss this season.

Strathmore beat Farmersville 67-6 last season and shouldn’t have a problem handling the Aztecs this season. The Spartans will likely run the ball more with Carlos Moreno leading the charge and racking up his second 100-yard game of the season.

Woodlake (3-1) at Lindsay (3-1), 7:15 p.m.

After the way things ended last season, it’s safe to say this meeting between the Woodlake Tigers and Lindsay was one circled on the Div. VI Cardinals’ calendar. 

Last season the Tigers’ scored the go-ahead touchdown and intercepted the Cardinals all in the final two minutes of a Div. V quarterfinal game to win 30-22. 

The Cardinals return enough players who remember that loss and will be sure to bring the fight to the Tigers. One of those players is Daniel Trujillo, who rushed for 263 yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries in last Friday’s 41-20 win over Div. V Fowler. Trujillo’s career-high night puts his total at 713 yards, meaning he should be a 1,000 yard rusher in the next couple of games.

Woodlake is coming off a 28-12 win over Div. VI Sierra and the Tigers have relied more on their passing game since graduating their top two rushers. 

Through their first three games, nearly 60% of their total yards came from quarterback Damian Hernandez’s 702 yards and four touchdowns on 56 of 92 completions. Hernandez only has one interception through those three first three games but Lindsay had at least one in three of their four games. 

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