|Caleb Kelly runs a route during a summer 7-on-7 game between Clovis West and Bullard in 2013. Kelly gets one more crack at Bullard, as he and the Golden Eagles take on the highly-ranked Knights on Friday, Sept. 25 (photo by Lorenzo Reyna).|
Bullard and Clovis West have long been bitter rivals, but the Friday, Sept. 25 contest might be the most anticipated in a long time in this series, since both are looking like serious contenders for Central Section Division I supremacy.
Clovis West is entering the rivalry contest undefeated for the first time since 2007, when the Golden Eagles entered that game against the Knights at 2-0-1. Clovis West (2-0) also took a rare two weeks off, due to a Sept. 11 contest getting rescheduled because of poor air quality.
On the other side, Bullard is off and running at 3-1 and came within eight points of knocking off state powerhouse Grant of Sacramento on Sept. 12. The Knights took last year’s meeting against CW 28-25 behind a 280-yard evening from Charles Williams.
Here’s a breakdown of this Friday’s contest:
ABOUT THE GOLDEN EAGLES: Second-year head coach George Petrissans has reestablished a hard-nosed culture at CW. He and the Golden Eagles are searching for their first season above the .500 mark since 2010, when a Kendall Brock-led Clovis West team won the section D-I title.
Petrissans has two monster talents who are among the most highly-recruited players in the nation. Outside linebacker/tight end Caleb Kelly is closing fast on his college decision and has Michigan, LSU, Oklahoma, USC and Alabama after him. Wide receiver Darian Owens holds over 20 offers and is currently verbally committed to UCLA.
A rising star on offense is sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez, who has continued CW’s lineage of dual-threat signal-callers. Fellow sophomore running back Rodney Wright helps provide some juice in the backfield.
While Kelly helps energize the CW defense, middle linebacker Bryan Wilcots adds to the Golden Eagles’ rough house presence. The 6-foot, 220-pound senior doubles as run stuffer and cover linebacker.
ABOUT THE KNIGHTS: Bullard has continued its pound-the-ball philosophy, except this time legendary section head coach Don Arax has implemented his brand of football: the Double Wing-T.
The Knights continue to flourish in the running game with the senior Williams back at the controls. Helping clear the road for him is Air Force commit Connor Vikupitz at center, who is one of the grittiest run blockers in the section.
Junior quarterback Jack Taylor hasn’t been asked to throw the football much, but he’s been efficient with five touchdown passes, one interception and a QB rating of 101.9. Senior Markelle Raymond is Taylor’s top target at wide receiver, with team-highs in receptions (nine), yardage (148) and touchdowns (three).
The defense has athleticism up front in defensive end/linebacker Cvaughn Stewart, who currently holds a Utah offer, and defensive end Bevan Brandt, the Knights’ leader in sacks with three. Juniors Cameron Lamanuzzi and Ben Baker provide a viscous 1-2 punch at linebacker.
Senior Nick Cole helps patrol the Knights’ secondary and has had mid-major schools sending him football letters.
BEST MATCHUP: CHARLES WILLIAMS VERSUS CALEB KELLY. These two will likely cross paths like they did last year. Williams got the better end of the 2014-15 meeting, but Kelly is one of the best at snuffing the run.
DON’T SLEEP ON: CONNOR VIKUPITZ. Look for the Knights to try to establish an inside identity right away, with Vikupitz leading the trench blocking.
GAME INFORMATION: 7:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium (Buchanan High).