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By Felix Adamo / The Californian
BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer email@example.com
Nothing Centennial coach Kevin Sneed saw on Clovis' game film struck him as extravagant.
Perhaps that's why he is so impressed with the Cougars.
"They're just, to me, a normal football team, and that's good," Sneed said. "They're well-coached, they're disciplined in all areas, they have great tradition.
"That's kind of what we want to be. That's what Centennial's always been. We want to block and tackle well. Clovis is what we aspire to become."
The Golden Hawks (1-1) can take a big step towards that goal tonight when they play host to the Cougars in a 7:30 p.m. game. Centennial opened the season with a 34-13 loss at Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial before rebounding to win at Visalia-Redwood 31-13 last week.
"The kids really responded well to the loss," Sneed said.
Centennial changed up its offense for Redwood, staying with an option-heavy attack but switching to a pistol formation from the veer it started the season with. The difference in the passing game was stark: After Hawks' quarterbacks combined for 0-of-13 passing against Memorial, Andrew Hansen was 13 of 20 for 182 yards.
"We improved greatly," Sneed said. "It gave the quarterback the opportunity to read (the defense) a little more."
Now, the challenge increases with Clovis, a program that has won 20 of its last 25 games and won back-to-back titles in the Tri-River Athletic Conference. To make matters more difficult, Centennial will be wihout nose guard Mason Grantz (concussion), and running back Brandon Robinson (hamstring) and linebacker/tight end Gabe Arteaga (hip) are both questionable.
"To me, I look at it as an opportunity," Sneed said. "Some other guys will get the chance to play. If we stick to our process, we'll get better and better and better."
That's the hope for Garces (1-1), which faded in the second half of an opening loss to San Luis Obispo before shredding Golden Valley 49-14 last week. Junior running back Sheldon Croney set the school record by rushing for 380 yards in that game.
"We're definitely getting better," Rams coach Jim Maples said. "It was humongous improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. We all know we're young and need to play our tails off. You don't win a Valley championship in September, so we'll just try to continue every week to get better.
Tonight Garces plays host to Bakersfield (1-1), ranked No. 21 in the state by Cal Hi Sports. The Drillers beat Wasco 35-13 last week behind five touchdowns of 20 yards or more.
"I've seen a lot of BHS teams, and this squad is right up with any of the good ones they've had," Maples said. "Their athleticism and speed are off the charts."
The Drillers, meanwhile, have state No. 18 Long Beach-Poly coming to town next week. But BHS coach Paul Golla knows his team won't overlook Garces, not after the Rams put a scare into a state-ranked Drillers team last September.
"We watched last year's film and told the kids, 'This is what we're going to get again,'" Golla said. "It was high emotion. The kids finally realized, this is a RIVAL. We took some time off from (playing) each other, but there's great tradition and pride. It's a big rivalry."
Of course, Bakersfield will have to deal with Croney, too -- plus speedy do-everything back Dominic Frasch.
"They've got two kids who are absolutely legit," Golla said. "Frasch, the wideout, comes in and is so dangerous at running back. He doesn't get a lot of press, but he's fantastic. And then Croney, the big, strong kid. We have to assume they're going to come out after us with the run game."
Elsewhere, Frontier (2-0) will shoot for its second victory over a playoff-bound Southern Section team, this time on the road at Moorpark. The Titans handed Lompoc its second loss in 35 games last week. ... Stockdale (0-1) plays host to Inglewood (2-0) in another intersection battle. ... Tehachapi (1-1) travels to Liberty (2-0), where the Patriots try to build off of a 43-41, triple-overtime victory last week at Fresno-Central. ... South (1-0) meets Arvin (2-0) in the county's only battle of unbeatens.