Saturday, November 22, 2014

Quarterfinal highlights: Arroyo Grande's smallest playmaker is 'Brave' enough to help end Lompoc's run

Alexander Cecchi of Arroyo Grande - all 5-foot-8, 145-pounds of him - had to find a way to step up against the undefeated behemoth known as Lompoc High with the rest of his Eagle teammates on Friday, Nov. 21.

Cecchi and AG ended up knocking the giant to its knees; and shook up the Southern Section.

The junior snatched two interceptions against Braves quarterback Joseph Osegueda, then added a late 6-yard touchdown run as the Eagles eliminated the No. 1 seed in the Northern Division 28-3 at Doug Hitchen Stadium.

Cecchi grabbed his first pick during the third quarter and returned it to the AG 43. That takeaway helped set up Jordan Harrigan's 22-yard scamper for the score, extending the Eagle lead to 21-3. Cecchi's second interception was made at the 2-yard line, where he jumped for the ball, took off running down the left sidelines and was tackled at the AG 28-yard line.

Harrigan finished with two touchdowns on the evening, with his first score on a 50-yard dash that saw him dart to the left, the cut right against a defender squared up on him and stampeded down the middle of the field for the longest touchdown of the game.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak versus the Braves and ends Lompoc's season at 11-1.

Arroyo Grande improved to 11-2 and will return home for Black Friday (Nov. 28) against PAC-5 rival Paso Robles (11-1). The Bearcats trounced Palmdale 49-16 to clinch their spot in the Northern Division.


Before the season started, Clovis High looked more like a team that would contend for a Central Section Division I championship next season, with 40 of the Cougars' 63-member varsity roster consisting of underclassmen.

But CHS, clearly, isn't waiting on next year. The Cougars proved they're young, hungry and focused on clawing for the DI crown, after stunning powerhouse Clovis North 28-17 at Veterans Memorial Stadium and putting themselves in the semifinals against top seeded Edison-Fresno on Friday, Nov. 28.

Junior wide receiver J.J. Wills streaked past Clovis North's secondary for a 55-yard touchdown bomb. Sophomore tight end Clayton Alexander added a 2-yard scoring reception. And on defense, junior linebacker Jared Hill pounced on a fumble and leading tackler and fellow junior Tanner Rice threw his 5-foot-11, 215-pound frame around to prevent the Broncos' top thoroughbred, Bolu Olurunfunmi, from wearing down the CHS defense.

The young Cougars did get an assist from two of their oldest playmakers: Adam Prentice and Evan Geiger. The senior running back Prentice scored twice and averaged 10.7 yards per carry on the ground. Geiger, a senior quarterback, threw for 109 yards and tossed the two touchdown throws to Wills and Alexander.

Clovis High is now all that's left from the Clovis Unified School District in the section  postseason.


Next Friday at Tiger Stadium will book a Central Section Division II battle between two teams strikingly similar to one another: Dinuba and Lemoore.

Consider the following:

1) Dinuba has an athletic defense spearheaded by 6-foot-4, 230-pound end Nick Villalobos, the Emperors leader in sacks with seven. Lemoore has its own fast bookend who starts the engine for the Tigers: 6-foot-3, 245-pound Zack Frazier, who has a section leading 15 sacks.

2) The Tigers' Cort Groathouse and the Emps' Isaac Leppke are dual-threats at quarterback.

3) Lastly, Dinuba's pass defense has collected 16 interceptions this season. Lemoore has the same number of takeaways.

Unless Lemoore residents plan to do a full day of Black Friday shopping, a full house is imminent at Tiger Stadium for this intriguing contest.

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