By STEVE LYNCH Special to The Californian
For a team that has made a habit this season of putting together all-around great performances, this one was the best so far.
The Garces High football team demonstrated its immense capabilites in a near-flawless 73-14 Central Section Division II quarterfinal victory over Kingsburg at Sam Tobias Field.
The top-seeded Rams scored touchdowns on their first four possessions en route to 38-0 halftime lead and never looked back as they steamrolled the No. 8 Vikings.
The win extended Garces' winning streak to eight games.
“I think this was our best performance as a team overall — offense, defense, special teams,” Garces coach Jim Maples said. “I think we just played our best game of the year. It was impressive.”
Cruise Adams led an offensive attack that was unstoppable as Garces moved the ball nearly at will on the ground and through the air.
The record-setting senior quarterback picked apart the Kingsburg secondary for 300 yards and four touchdowns on 14-of-19 passing.
“We were clicking on all cylinders tonight,” Adams said. “We came out and played at a really high level. We kind of knew we were going to because of the practices we had all week.”
Jake Sweaney was on the receiving end on two of Adams’ scoring passes and also had two interceptions.
Sweaney, who signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Oregon on Wednesday, caught second-quarter touchdown passes of 66 and 90 yards.
He finished with four receptions for a season-high 162 yards.
“It's been a great week,” said Sweaney, whose birthday is today. “Signing (with Oregon), that was a huge thing. It was awesome. I’m just happy I got to come out here and make the week even better.”
Garces will next face No. 5 Fresno-Sunnyside, a 37-29 upset winner over No. 4 Visalia-El Diamante on Friday night.
The Rams offense, which had 527 net yards, got plenty of help from the team’s other two units.
The Garces defense held Kingsburg to 253 yards, while scoring a third-quarter touchdown on Patrick Sakowski’s 20-yard interception return.
That came after Dominic Frasch began the quarter with a 92-yard kickoff return that upped Garces’ lead to 45-0.
The Rams’ 28 third-quarter points came after a 24 point explosion during the second quarter.
Leading 14-0 after a pair of early scoring runs, Garces pulled away as Adams fired three second-quarter touchdown passes.
“We're pretty explosive,” Maples said. “We have a lot of guys that can make big plays at any time and we have a quarterback that can get them the ball. So it makes it very difficult for defenses with the amount of guys and the amount of weapons we have.”
Kingsburg came into the night with a section-high 11-game playoff winning streak. The Vikings, a three-time defending section champion (in Divisions IV and III), hadn't lost a playoff game since dropping the 2008 D-IV title game to Chowchilla, 20-0.
But against Garces, the Vikings looked hapless,
committing four turnovers, and only mustering a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs after the game was well out of hand.
The 73 points scored by Garces was the most allowed by Kingsburg in a game this season. The previous high was 55.