Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Central Valley on CIF bowl game collision course

Contributed photo
Yesterday centered upon how the Central Coast was finally getting recognized on the Golden State football map. Today, we examine an area gaining more and more respect that has an eye-popping 10 potential suitors for a state CIF title game.

Who are these valley teams? And which valley boys are the ones to watch? Here's a closer look at where things currently stand on the CIF So Cal Bowl game front for the 559 and 661:



Current ranking: No. 5

Best win: 29-6 over Long Beach Poly on Sept. 14

PROSPECT WATCH: Seems everywhere you look, the Drillers have ridiculous talent everywhere. Quarterback Asauni Rufus could emerge as one of the more highly-recruited quarterbacks to ever come out of Bakersfield High, since he's only a junior and can do damage through the arm and legs. He's one of the better all-around athletes on the Drillers. The backfield of Derrick Vickers and Jeremiah Reddick bring a bolt of electricity to the fast-pace Driller run game. Kevin Hayes has size (6-foot-3, 170-pounds) and versatility that most college teams would love. Shaq Garrett at the nose guard spot helps set the tone for a rugged and speedy Driller defense. Even despite Long Beach Poly's stunning 1-3 start, the Drillers' victory over them last Friday was monumental, in the sense that a Central Valley squad took down a traditional Los Angeles area and state powerhouse.


Current ranking: Bubble team

Best win: 25-22 over Palos Verdes on Sept. 8

PROSPECT WATCH: Division-I talent is everywhere on the west side of Fresno. However, outside of the usual names like defensive backs L.J Moore, Johnny Johnson, Oklahoma commit Hatari Byrd, or wide receiver Michiah Quick, a new defensive back star emerged in James Dicks on Friday versus El Diamante-Visalia. The senior strong safety had two interceptions, including a 95-yarder that went for the touchdown in the 42-7 rout. Junior quarterback Eric Jiminez is adjusting nicely to the Grizzlies' pistol offense, with his 13-of-15 passing night for 207 yards and three touchdowns versus the Miners. Nick Wilson has been a threat to run for 100-yards every game. Left tackle Darian Smith also brings athleticism and college football-like size at 6-foot-7, 300-pounds. The Grizzlies are on a collision course for the Tri-River Athletic Conference title and perhaps even state title bid with this next team...


Current ranking: Bubble team

Best win: 37-19 over Buhach Colony-Atwater on Sept. 7

PROSPECT WATCH: Former NFL safety Cory Hall has turned the Broncos into the best team in the city of Clovis in just a two-year span as varsity head coach. His players are also starting to get recognized more and more. Quarterback Christian Rossi is one of the better play-action signal-callers in the Central Section and has a very nice deep ball. Backup quarterback and top tight end David Wells is San Diego State bound. Fellow tight end Josh Lovingood is a hard-nosed red zone option and blocker with excellent size (6-foot-5, 255-pounds). Senior Carson Guzman (5-foot-8, 175-pounds) has emerged as the Broncos' top workhorse back. Two-way lineman Isaiah Duran is a nasty competitor who's motor only stops when the game is over. Wide receiver Marcus Rose is one of the more dangerous return men in the Valley. The win over the massive and talented Buhach Colony has to rank as one of the biggest victories ever at Clovis North, which includes winning the D-II Central Section title last season. The 18-point drubbing ended a 23-game regular season winning streak for the Thunder.


Current ranking: Bubble team

Best win: 42-21 over Buchanan-Clovis on Sept. 14.

PROSPECT WATCH: Corbin Jountii continues to punish defenders for the Patriots. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Jountii is yet to fall under 100-yards rushing in 2012 for Liberty. He even had 120 yards and one score despite the loss to the loaded Central-Fresno. Sophomore Anthony Mariscal (6-feet, 185-pounds) is showing flashes of potential as the Patriots' second running back option. He had 88 yards off of seven carries and a season-best two touchdowns in the win over an improved Buchanan squad. Wide receiver Kenny Davis is a deadly deep threat with 24 catches, 300 yards and an average of over 12 yards a catch.



Current ranking: No. 10

Best win: 41-7 over San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno on Sept. 15.

PROSPECT WATCH: The Rams have been very passer friendly with Cruise Adams at the controls. The senior has a 103 quarterback rating, 11 touchdown passes and a five-touchdown evening versus Golden Valley-Bakersfield earlier this year. Sophomore Sheldon Croney (6-feet, 190-pounds) gives Garces a bright future with two games with three rushing touchdowns, including three in their bounce-back win over San Joaquin Memorial.


Current ranking: Bubble team

Best win: 27-19 over Washington Union-Fresno on Sept. 6

PROSPECT WATCH: Quarterback Brandon Steele is hurting teams with his arm, legs, and even his upper body strength. He's thrown six touchdown passes, but has also powered his way past defenses with his 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame. The 2014 prospect had 20 carries for 100-yards against CIF state bowl Division-III champion Washington Union on Sept. 6. Sophomore Austen Hammerstorm is an emerging wide receiver prospect for the three-time Central Section champion Vikings. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound weapon is averaging over 21 yards a catch. On both the offensive and defensive line is monstrous 6-foot-2, 285-pound Ryan Steele, who's armed with nearly 10 offers and devours running backs. He's also an energetic pass rusher. He's looking like a future nose tackle for a 3-4 scheme, but can also play the 3-technique on a four man front.


Current ranking: Bubble team

Best win: 49-17 over Sanger on Sept. 7

PROSPECT WATCH: The quarterback-wide receiver duo of Tucker Mendonca and Darius Armstead has given defenses fits when going against the no-huddle spread attack of Mount Whitney. Armstead is averaging over 24 yards a catch. Mendonca has seven touchdown throws and just one interception. Their biggest game and test comes on Sept. 28 against these guys from Division-III...



Current ranking: No. 2

Best win: 67-0 over Golden West-Visalia

PROSPECT WATCH: Quarterback Corbin Quinnonez (photo) is showing even more production than ever, with a couple of games where he had three touchdown passes and a six touchdown night in the season opener. His size (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) and deep ball has caught the attention of just San Jose State. But improved numbers, plus a state bowl bid, could land him some late offers. Tight end/outside linebacker Kevin Palma is a freak of nature who'll create match up problems on offense and defense. His 4.5 40-yard dash time as a near 250-pounder has given him an edge. His closing speed is what's generating the buzz for the PAC-12 and Mountain West schools that are after him. Class of 2014 prospect Elijah Porchia is a dangerous threat to go the distance. He had an evening of 396 all-purpose yards in the rout over Golden West.

WASCO (3-0)

Current ranking: No. 8

Best win: 62-18 over Golden Valley-Bakersfield on Sept. 14.

PROSPECT WATCH: The Tigers have one of the best backfields in the valley as they continue to achieve success with their Wing-T offense. Sophomore Isaiah Sharp had a 338-yard night versus Golden Valley on Sept. 14. Junior Terrance Grinner (5-foot-11, 175-pounds) has back-to-back 100-yard games in the last two weeks for Wasco. Another junior Casper Lopez has 318 yards and an average of over eight yards per carry.



Current ranking: Bubble team

Best win: 21-0 over Central Valley Christian-Visalia on Aug. 31.

PROSPECT WATCH: Sophomore running back Matt Smith is on his way to a bright future at Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr's alma mater. The powerhouse 6-foot-1, 210 pound Smith has an ability to break tackles but also juke defenders out with his imposing size. He has 685 rushing yards and back-to-back 200-yard games for the Eagles so far this season.

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