Tri-River Athletic Conference Season Preview in alphabetical order. Be sure to vote for your choice for the 2010 TRAC Preseason Player of the Year in the poll to the right.
2009 Record: 10-1 (5-0)
2009 Scoring: 38.1 PFpg, 18.8 PApg
The Bears are coming off one of their most successful seasons ever, but after going 10-0 in the regular season, they were narrowly ousted in the Valley playoffs by Centennial in a 26-24 thriller.
The Buchanan defense will be solid with eight starters returning. The linebacker core will be especially strong, with its top pass rusher, Christian Parra (11 sacks), and top tackler, Todd Nagamine (101 tackles), and another excellent linebacker in Kenny Castle, returning this year. The defense should also force some turnovers, with ballhawks Jordan Luplow and Tanner Barnes patrolling the secondary.
The high-powered Buchanan spread offense will have some shifting around this year. The Bears will move two-time All-TRAC wide receiver Seth Moranda to quarterback. Although it’s a new position for Moranda, he’s already proficient throwing the ball and will attend CS Fullerton on a baseball scholarship.
Having a playmaker like Austin Kemp will help make Moranda’s transition easier. Kemp is one of the fastest players in the Valley and last season, as the No. 3 receiver, he pulled in 25 catches for 522 yards and four touchdowns.
With all the changes, new faces will need to step to forefront for the Bears to succeed and head coach Mike Vogt believes he has a team for it.
“Depth will be a key for us,” Vogt explains. “We have some outstanding senior football players, who will have to contribute on both sides of the ball.”
Having one of the best kickers in the Valley with range up to 50-yards, like Luplow, is always a nice luxury.
2009 Record: 7-4 (4-1)
2009 Scoring: 38.7 PFpg, 23.9 PApg
After being the TRAC doormat for so many years, the Grizzlies powered their way to the forefront of one of the toughest leagues in the Central section. With a core of mostly juniors, they finished second in the TRAC with a 4-1 league record. After being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the section playoffs last year, the Grizzlies will be much hungrier in 2010, with a strong senior crew.
“Everybody wants to win and everybody wants to fight to the end and win the (Valley) championship game,” senior running back/linebacker Robert Johnson said.
It’s not exactly a secret a lot of Central’s success will ride on their superstar running back Brendon Bigelow and quarterback Michael Baker.
Bigelow, who was named one of the MaxPrep Top 100 senior players and verballed to Washington, brings an explosiveness to the backfield that’s capable of breaking a huge gain at any moment. In 2009, he gained exactly 1,000 rushing yards on a 11.5-yard average. Serving as the team’s powerback, Johnson gives Central the extra-punch to pick up short yardage. The Grizzlies also have an up-and-coming running back in Michael Grimes.
“What Brendon has done is challege those other two kids to push him hard for playing time and those kids are working so hard, they’re pushing Brendon,” Central coach Casey Quinn said.
Baker was phenomenal as a sophomore and some people argued he was the best quarterback in the Valley last year. He compled 71 percent of his passes for 2,136 yards, 18 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
He’ll have his top two target coming back in 6-foot-2 receiver BJ Kelley and speedy receiver Ernest Carter.
“I’m really excited, we have all of our offense coming back,” Baker said. “I have a lot of weapons to throw to. I’m really excited and we’re shooting for that Valley Championship.”
Some people are questioning the Grizzly offensive line and it will be the key to the offense succeeding. The unit is returning is led by right guard Edward Zuniga, left tackle Brandon Feagamallii and center Aaron Highsmith and should be much improved.
For the majority of 2009, the Grizzlies were stingy on defense. But with Paso Robles and Buchanan each putting up 55+ on them, the defense will need be more consistent to reach those high aspirations.
Central’s secondary will be led by arguably the best set of corners in the Valley in junior-transfer Tee Shepard and Carter. Behind them will be Matt Lea at the strong safety position.
The challenge for Quinn since he took over the Central head coaching responsibility was to getting his players to believe in their abilities and put it out on the field.
“When I first got here they were afraid to take risks, I don’t think they’re afraid anymore,” Quinn said. “I think successful people and successful football teams take risk sometimes.”
The Grizzlies have also established the support system to maintain the success.
“I think our community is really starting to buy into what we’re trying to do football-wise,” Quinn said. “We have great parent support and our administration is supportive.”
2009 Record: 3-7 (1-4)
2009 Scoring: 16.1 PFpg, 29.8 PApg
Once one of the most proud programs in the Valley, Clovis High has won five games in the last three seasons. Three wins last season was the highest total for the Cougars since 2006.
The defense will have starters returning, such as 2009 all-league selections safety Donnell Vercher and defensive end Taylor Ferguson.
The linebacker unit will be comprised of Ryan Davies, Nate Palomino, Dakota Golden and Boo Massey.
Joining Ferguson on the D-line will be Joe Vargas and Jeff Caton. And in the Cougar secondary will be Vercher, Jason Black, Roderick Arms and Jonny Vietty.
2009 Record: 4-7 (2-3)
2009 Scoring: 21.9 PFpg, 20.8 PApg
It’s hard to say what happened in 2009 to Clovis East, which is one of the most storied programs in the Valley this decade, but the Timberwolves went 4-7 last year. But 2010 is a chance to turn over a new leaf and leave that in the past.
The Clovis East defense features an elite safety in Jerry Haymon, who also is one of the strongest and hardest hitting players in the Valley. Eastern Michigan is the only school to offer him a scholarship at this point, but look for that list to grow throughout the season.
DB Stefon Watson joins Haymon in the secondary and Bryan Fane will lead the linebackers.
Offensively the Timberwolves have an excellent leader behind center in Danny Corona and an up-and-coming running back with all the jukes and shakes and speed to spare in Khary Coleman.
George Macias and Xavier Hite are two guys the Clovis East staff will depend on making major contributions on both sides of the ball.
The T-Wolves’ faithful will get an early indication what to expect by opening with the defending Valley Division II champion Edison and the following week against Redlands East Valley, which went 11-1 in 2009.
2009 Record: 5-7 (0-5)
2009 Scoring: 26.9 PFpg, 24.3 PApg
The Broncos will finally have some senior leadership … literally. Clovis North enters its third year of existence and 2011 will be its first graduating class.
Clovis North was feeling pretty confident, as it started out the season 4-1, including a pair of wins of 50+ points over Mission Oak and Independence. But as a member of the CMAC a year ago, the Broncos lost all five league games by at least two touchdowns.
The offense is led by running back Alek Mechikoff. And Linebacker Zach Boman will lead the defense.
2009 Record: 5-6 (3-2)
2009 Scoring: 21.7 PFpg, 25.0 PApg
The revolving door of the coaching carousel finally caught up with Clovis West in 2009. And it’s not likely to get any easier for the Golden Eagles in 2010, with their fifth coach in five years.
But make no mistake about it, Clovis West is a very dangerous team.
The Eagles have a lot of talent, most notably, senior Kendall Brock, who is considered by many the best running back in the Valley. Last year he rushed for 1,608 yards and 14 touchdowns, with an 8.7-yard average, as he was named to the All-Fresno Bee First Team and the TRAC Offensive Player of the Year.
The defense is lead by a strong linebacking core of Donavon Lewis, John Winston and Josh Lang.
If first-year coach Mike Parsons can forge some chemistry, the Eagles have enough talent to make some noise in 2010.
Filed under: Buchanan, Central, Clovis, Clovis East, Clovis North, Clovis West, High School Football · Tags: baker, BJ Kelley, Brendon Bigelow, Buchanan, Casey Quinn, Cental Valley, Central, Chinook Anderson, Christian Parra, CIF, Clovis, East, football, high school, HS, Jerry Haymon, Kendall Brock, Mike, North, Section, Seth Moranda, TRAC, Tri-River Athletic Conference, Valley, West