PHS, MHS, LHS and GHHS play Friday, SHS on bye
High school football is finally back this week and everyone is ready to go with a lot on the line this season.
Both Porterville and Monache began their quest back to the Central Section Division IV playoffs on the road against teams they defeated in last year’s season-openers. The Panthers take on Div. II Dinuba and the Marauders are at Div. III Golden West.
Lindsay hosts Div. VI California City and are looking like one of the strongest teams in Div. VI after being moved down during the offseason.
Also starting at home is Div. VI Granite Hills, who faces last year’s Div. VI semifinalists Orange Cove.
All teams play Friday except for the three-time CIF State Div. VI finalists, Strathmore, who start the season with a bye.
Porterville (0-0) at Dinuba (0-0), 7:30 p.m.
Porterville gave Dinuba a run for their money last season in a 33-31 last-minute win and it’s something the Emperors are surely looking to avenge when the Panthers come to visit.
Junior PHS quarterback, Hector Nava Jr. (2,756 yards, 23 touchdowns), got his varsity career off to a great start with 429 yards and five touchdowns against Dinuba but this season he’s down his top three receivers with the receiving load falling to Javier Benevidez (391 yards, three touchdowns) and Jovannie Cardenas while sophomore running back Isaiah Ellis (379 yards, two touchdowns) provides balance on the ground.
Dinuba are 13-0 at home over the last two seasons and PHS head coach Michael Machado said they’ll have several players back from last season, including all their linebackers and quarterback Josh Magana, who Porterville was able to limit to just 154 yards and one touchdown.
Monache (0-0) at Golden West (0-0), 7:30 p.m.
Monache’s new head coach, Shane Focke, gave his team a C-plus after their scrimmage last week but the team will hopefully be playing better when they go up against Golden West.
The Marauders are pretty solid everywhere on the field when it comes to the number of returners they have but what Sullivan Focke can do as the team’s new starting quarterback remains to be seen. At the junior’s disposal is all four of last season’s top receivers and star running back senior Aidan Galvan, who rushed for a total of 1,719 yards and 26 touchdowns last season.
The run is where the Trailblazers hurt the Marauders the most in their previous game and Golden West will have their own 1,000 yard rusher back in Lonnie Wessel, who totaled 1,422 yards and 20 touchdowns as the No. 2 back last season.
California City (0-0) at Lindsay (0-0), 7:15 p.m.
Lindsay lost in the final minutes of the Div. V quarterfinals and then got moved down to Div. VI after consistently making the playoffs, so there’s likely no team coming in more hungry for a big season than the Cardinals.
Right off the bat they face California City, a team that boasts speed and lost 34-14 to Lindsay in last season’s opener. Both running back Khalil Mclin and Kwamain Ross, the only two players to score in City’s loss, are back for the Ravens.
The Cardinals have made some defensive changes at the line but in the secondary they return safety Mario Diaz, who is also the team’s top receiver. Lindsay's entire offensive line is back, as well as top running back Daniel Trujillo (587 yards, 11 touchdowns), but a small question remains at quarterback, where junior Nick Dunning is now in control of the offense.
Orange Cove (0-0) at Granite Hills (0-0), 7:15 p.m.
Granite Hills looked better than expected in their four-team scrimmage last week but when it comes to a four-quarter game it’ll be interesting to see how the Grizzlies fair with their limited squad.
Having nearly the entire offensive line back, plus senior quarterback David Ramirez, junior wide receiver Max Jimenez, and running backs senior Roman Valles and sophomore Manny Aguilar, back should allow for the Grizzlies to get off to a smoother start offensively.
Orange Cove hardly lost anyone from last year’s team that toppled Granite Hills 35-6 and saw Mario Reynosa rush for three touchdowns. The senior running back is the Titans top rusher this season after hitting 1,011 yards last season. Also junior OCHS quarterback Zack Ramirez is likely to be more comfortable at his position after throwing for 1,486 yards and 19 touchdowns his sophomore year.