BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The 11-week prelude is over. The high school football season is now into the main chorus, building to a championship crescendo three weeks from tonight.
Many of the Central Section's top teams have the night off, their only reward for a long season of hard work, while the rest of the teams battle it out in tonight's first round across six section playoff divisions.
The party started Thursday night, though not for Stockdale: The ninth-seeded Mustangs fell behind 30-0 at No. 8 Clovis West and lost, 44-12, bowing out of the postseason before many other teams even know their first opponent.
Clovis West (6-5) will travel to No. 1 Bakersfield (8-2) next Friday for the Division I quarterfinals.
Hoping to join the Golden Eagles in the final eight will be No. 10 Centennial (5-5), which has its own road trip to Lamonica Stadium to take on No. 7 Clovis (7-3). The winner there gets No. 2 Liberty next week.
Clovis East plays at Clovis North and Clovis-Buchanan is at Fresno-Central in other Division I first-rounders.
Southeast Yosemite League rivals North and Tehachapi will get reacquainted in Division II, with the winner of that game on the mountain facing another SEYL team, No. 3 Garces, in next week's quarterfinals.
Also in Division II, No. 10 West travels to No. 7 Lemoore.
In Division III, No. 9 Independence (4-6) has finally escaped the rough life of a Southwest Yosemite League team and will now play more schools its caliber, starting with No. 8 Golden Valley (5-5) tonight.
In another all-Kern County D-III matchup, No. 11 Delano visits defending champion Ridgeview, the No. 6 seed.
Several other Kern County teams are in action tonight. No. 7 Chavez hosts No. 10 Bishop, and No. 12 Rosamond travels to No. 5 Exeter in Division IV; High Desert League rivals Frazier Mountain and Kern Valley square off in Lake Isabella in Division V, while No. 7 Shafter hosts Corcoran looking for its first playoff win since 2006; and Kennedy travels to Avenal in the Division VI quarterfinals.
In the Southern Section, Desert hosts Long Beach-St. Anthony, and Boron (at San Juan Capistrano-Capistrano Valley Christian) and Burroughs (at Hemet-Tahquitz) both hit the road for first-round games.