Cen­tral High ready for re­match with Fol­som for NorCal ti­tle

The Fresno Bee - - Front Page - BY AN­THONY GALAVIZ [email protected]­nobee.com

Cen­tral High foot­ball play­ers say they learned plenty of les­sons fac­ing Fol­som last sea­son in the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia Di­vi­sion 1-AA cham­pi­onship.

The Bull­dogs rolled to a 54-35 vic­tory over the vis­it­ing Grizzlies be­hind quar­ter­back Kaiden Ben­nett who will play at Boise State next sea­son.. He tossed four touch­downs and ran for a score.

A year later, the teams meet again in the NorCal fi­nal, but this time it’s at Deran Koli­gian Sta­dium. Kick­off is set for 7:30 p.m. Fri­day. The win­ner moves on to the state cham­pi­onship at Cer­ri­tos Col­lege against Cathe­dral Catholic-San Diego on Dec. 14.

Three other Cen­tral Sec­tion schools are in ac­tion Satur­day, in­clud­ing a clash of un­beaten teams when San Joaquin Memo­rial vis­its Tu­lare Union in the NorCal Divsi­ion 2-A fi­nal. Also, Cen­tral Val­ley Chris­tian plays at Pleasant Val­ley-Chico for the state 4-AA cham­pi­onship. Strath­more has a bye be­fore play­ing Dec. 15 in the state 6-AA fi­nal.

‘PLAY BOTH HALVES’

Cen­tral has been known to be a sec­ond-half team, in­clud­ing late ral­lies against Bak­ers­field (semi­fi­nals) and Lib­erty-Bak­ers­field (fi­nal) in the sec­tion play­offs, but the Grizzlies say they can’t af­ford to be in an early hole Fri­day.

“We knew we were go­ing to

play Fol­som one way or an­other,” Cen­tral se­nior wide re­ceiver/de­fen­sive back Tyrell Grayson said. “We can’t win it with one half. We have to play both halves.”

Grizzlies se­nior de­fen­sive back Noah Gon­za­les added, “We all know that this is a very fast and ex­plo­sive team. Our goal is to start out fired-up, ready to play and make sure we are com­mu­ni­cat­ing ev­ery play so we can limit the mis­takes and also stay pos­i­tive if we do make a mis­take.”

Cen­tral hasn’t lost a home game since the 2016 Cen­tral Sec­tion cham­pi­onship against Bak­ers­field, a 16-game home win­ning streak that in­cludes two sec­tion ti­tles.

This year, Cen­tral added two NorCal op­po­nents to its non­league sched­ule, giv­ing the Grizzlies and Fol­som com­mon op­po­nents in Grant-Sacra­mento and Whit­ney-Rock­lin.

The Grizzlies de­feated

Grant 54-12 and Whit­ney 49-10.

The Bull­dogs beat

Whit­ney 63-7 and Grant 53-7.

Cen­tral comes in 13-0; Fol­som is 12-1 with its only loss 14-0 to De La Salle-Con­cord, which plays Satur­day night in the state Open Di­vi­sion fi­nal.

“They’re a great team,” Cen­tral se­nior quar­ter­back Trent Tompkins said. “Very tal­ented. We have to play a per­fect game and play Grizzlies foot­ball. They have freak ath­letes.”

Tompkins said the fact that it’s the se­nior class’ last home game “hasn’t re­ally hit me yet. This is a big game, es­pe­cially for the se­niors. Ev­ery­thing is on the line and we’re go­ing to give it our all and put it out for our com­mu­nity.”

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA [email protected]­nobee.com

Cen­tral High quar­ter­back Trent Tompkins, right, hands off to Quali Con­ley on Nov. 23 in the game against Lib­erty-Bak­ers­field for the Cen­tral Sec­tion D-I ti­tle in Fresno.

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