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Week 13 Preview: Valley Playoff Semifinals

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In addition to some intriguing semifinal matchups, the first Valley football champion of 2009 will be crowned this week in Division VI.

(5) Orange Cove (7-5, 3-2) at (2) Strathmore (8-3, 2-2)
Friday at 7 p.m.
Orange Cove: 31.8 PFpg, 18.3 PApg
Strathmore: 41.3 PFpg, 15.9 PApg

Orange Cove has turned into the Cinderella story of Divison VI. The Titans came in as a five seed out of the six teams to qualify for the D6 playoffs, but have ridden senior running back Jose Ochoa to Valley championship.

Ochoa ended the regular season with a solid 1,175 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, but in two playoff games he exploded for 395 yards and six touchdowns. Ochoa now has 1,570 yards, averages 9.8 yards per carry and scored 21 touchdowns. He also lead the team in sacks with seven.

The Titans have also benefited from big performances from junior wideout Angel Aceves who received for 148 yards against Farmersville and 86 against Tranquility. The Orange Cove deep threat has 19 receptions on the season for 741 yards — a 39.0 yard average.

Strathmore has its own explosive offense also, led by the Valley’s leading rusher Jesse Soria, who has 1,984 yards and 31 touchdowns on the ground.

The 5-foot-4, 145-pound senior has not relented in the playoffs. In Strathmore’s only playoff game, Soria carried the ball 21 times for 183 yards and four touchdowns, as he led the Spartans to a 53-20 victory over third-seeded Mendota last week.

(6) Bakersfield (9-2, 5-1) at (2) Bullard (11-0, 5-0)
Friday at 7 p.m.
Bakersfield: 26.9 PFpg, 12.0 PApg
Bullard: 36.8 PFpg, 13.7 PApg

With top-seeded and then-undefeated Buchanan knocked off last week, is the table set for Bullard to complete a perfect season en route to a Valley championship? The Knights will have to get past a tough Bakersfield and one of the most diversified rushing offenses in the Valley.

The Drillers average 310.5 yards per game on the ground and have three players with at least 500 yards and four more with at least 200. Six of those seven average at least eight yards per carry.

Bakersfield’s offense is led by one of the most versatile running backs in the Valley, Alphonso Jackson. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior leads the Drillers in rushing with 855 yards and receiving with 410 yards.

Bullard senior quarterback Kerr Taubler will look to follow up his three-touchdown performance a week ago against Clovis West with another strong showing to keep the perfect season alive.

The Knight defense has been stingy and has not allowed more than 14 points in each of the past four games.

(5) Edison (8-4, 3-2) at (1) Tulare (11-0, 6-0)
Friday at 7 p.m.
Edison: 27.8 PFpg, 11.3 PApg
Tulare: 55.6 PFpg, 10.2 PApg

Not too long ago Edison was answering questions about being overrated but after two impressive playoff wins against Sunnyside and Memorial, the critics are starting to rethink their arguments.

The Tigers have now been given more than ample opportunity to prove themselves against top-seeded Tulare and an offense that averages 55.6 yards per game.

Senior running back Edward Dillihunt continues to carve apart opposing defenses both rushing and receiving, quarterback Trevor Jones still hasn’t thrown an interception and receiver Marquess Wilson approaches the 1,000-yard mark.

Meanwhile the Redskin defense has gone largely unnoticed as they hold teams to just 10.2 points per game. Senior linebacker Joey McCrae leads the team in tackles with 88 and senior Mikial Choboian leads in sacks with eight.

However if there is a team in the Valley that won’t be intimidated by Tulare’s talent level, it is Edison with multiple players who will play at the next level.

(5) Hanford (8-4, 4-2) at (1) Dinuba (9-2, 4-2)
Friday at 7 p.m.
Hanford: 30.2 PFpg, 23.3 PApg
Dinuba: 28.5 PFpg, 15.3 PApg

Last week the Hanford high-octane offense was able to carry the team to victory in a 44-39 win over Delano, but the defense will need to tighten up if its going to upset the No. 1 seed Dinuba.

Dinuba has won five straight and moved the ball fine last week even without leading rusher Demetrius Brinson. Backup running back James Pelham gained 197 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries iin a 34-14 victory over Clovis North.

Hanford’s balanced offense averages 388.0 yards per gain of total offense. Quarterback Cannon Sanchez has passed for 2,367 yards, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions, while running backs Connor West (596 rushing yards) and Dijon Foster (606 yards) lead a strong rushing attack.

(3) Taft (9-2, 4-1) at (2) Washington (9-2, 6-0)
Friday at 7 p.m.
Taft: 38.2 PFpg, 9.8 PApg
Washington: 38.6 PFpg, 16.6 PApg

The marquee matchup features Taft and its dominating running game vs. Washington and its premier passing game.

Taft is led by one of the best running backs in the Central Valley Cody Shirreffs, who has piled up 1,934 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground this year. But he’s not alone — Hunter Liljeroos, Daniel Watts and Brice Royal all have at least 300 yards rushing for the Wildcats this season.

On the other side of the field, Washington’s quarterback Adam McCurley has thrown for 2,605 yards, 31 touchdowns and six interceptions. The senior signal caller has also rushed for 454 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. McCurley’s primary targest are Josh Williams (78 rec, 1,067 yards and 11 TD) and Donald Phelps (33 rec, 901 yards, 27.3 average, 10 TD).

The difference in the game may be Taft’s top-notch defense. Defensive end Blake Emberson (114 tackles) and linebacker Jordan Vermilton (101 tackles) are the leading tacklers for a defense that has allowed just 9.8 points per game this year.

CIF Central Section Championship
Friday, Dec. 4, 2009

Division VI
(5) Orange Cove (7-5, 3-2) at (2) Strathmore (8-3, 2-2), 7 p.m.

CIF Central Section Semifinals
Friday, Dec. 4, 2009

Division I
(8) Centennial (8-4, 3-3) at (5) Liberty-Bakersfield (8-3, 6-0), 7 p.m.
(6) Bakersfield (9-2, 5-1) at (2) Bullard (11-0, 5-0), 7 p.m.
Division II
(5) Edison (8-4, 3-2) at (1) Tulare (11-0, 6-0), 7 p.m.
(10) Redwood (7-5, 5-1) at (3) Frontier (10-1, 5-1), 7 p.m.
Division III
(5) Hanford (8-4, 4-2) at (1) Dinuba (9-2, 4-2), 7 p.m.
(3) Porterville (9-3, 5-1) at (2) Tehachapi (10-2, 4-1), 7 p.m.
Division IV
(5) Exeter (7-4, 5-1) at (1) Kingsburg (11-0, 6-0), 7 p.m.
(3) Taft (9-2, 4-1) at (2) Washington (9-2, 6-0), 7 p.m.
Division V
(4) Woodlake (7-4, 2-2) at (1) Corcoran (9-2, 4-0), 7 p.m.
(3) Liberty-Madera Ranchos (7-4, 3-3) at (2) Fowler (9-2, 4-0), 7 p.m.

Central Valley Football » Bakersfield, Bullard, Dinuba, Edison, Hanford, High School Football, Hoover, Kingsburg, Orange Cove, Strathmore, Taft, Tulare, Washington Union » Week 13 Preview: Valley Playoff Semifinals

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