Five schools between the corridor of Chowchilla and Bakersfield all got a chance to put the San Joaquin Valley on its back and make a run at the state title: Chowchilla, Reedley (Calif.) Immanuel, Hanford, Bakersfield (Calif.) Ridgeview and Bakersfield (Calif.) Liberty.
Only one came back with the title of state champs: Hanford.
Can the Bullpups repeat the same success? And can the 559/661 send more teams to the state playoffs come December? Here’s our picks of which teams are capable of making a state title run this fall.
Last year: 14-1, defeated Chula Vista-Bonita Vista 33-21 in the CIF Division-IVAA state championship.
The target may be officially growing for the Bullpups with back-to-back section titles and the state championship from 2015-16, but with San Jose State commit Ryan Johnson back at quarterback, rising sophomore Leonard Glass manning the wide receiver and cornerback spot plus Lemoore transfer Jordan Perryman coming on board, Hanford could still emerge as one of the Valley’s best hope to bring a state title back to the 559.
Last year: 10-4, lost 28-24 to Loomis-De Oro in the Division-IIAA Northern California regional.
Last season’s CIF Central Section Division-I champs were five points away from knocking off eventual state champion Loomis-Del Oro. While the Patriots will be without ultra-talented linebacker Krys Barnes (UCLA) and quarterback Jordan Love (Utah State), Liberty still brings back Arizona defensive tackle commit Kurtis Brown and 6-foot-2 wide receiver/cornerback Johnny Balderas. Another key to Liberty’s success could be the play of Frontier High transfer Cameron Meek, a 1,000-yard rusher last year.
Last year: 13-1, lost 35-20 to Harbor City-Narbonne in the Division I-A Southern California regional.
The Wolf Pack have actually had a relatively quiet dynasty going in the shadow of state powerhouses Bakersfield High and Liberty. Leading this year’s team will be running back Jamar Moya (14 rushing touchdowns last season), wide receiver Jaylen Prevost (led the team with 34 catches, 719 yards and nine touchdowns last year), big 6-foot-5 tight end Anthony Alcaide and 6-foot-2, 240-pound trench destroyer Ricky Leung-Wai, who not only had 16 tackles for a loss and six sacks last year, but holds a San Diego State offer.