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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
It's only Tuesday, but it's been a terrible week for news in the rest of the Central Section: Hanford coach Josh Young was suspended Monday after his arrest over the weekend on suspicison of DUI, and last night after practice, Edison senior Marquis Sutton was reportedly shot to death at a friend's apartment. What a horrible, horrible tragedy that is. Thoughts and prayers with the Sutton family and the Edison family. Never forget what's important.
What follows is certainly not something that's important in those terms, but we'll go on with routine and the weekly section rankings. There's several big shake-ups this week, mostly surrounding three Week 4 results: Ridgeview over Liberty, El Diamante over Mt. Whitney and Clovis West over Bullard. Those affected several other teams who had played those four as well. Here we go (full rankings are below video):
1. Bakersfield (5-0, Division I, last week: 1) — Scary thought of the week for the rest of the section: The Drillers appear to be improving every week, both on defense and with the passing game. Easy evidence for the second point: Junior QB Asauni Rufus was 7-of-10 for 199 yards last week, by far his best passing performance. A week off now, then five weeks of giving SWYL rivals a look at that big bull's-eye.
LAST WEEK: won at No. 9 Clovis-Buchanan, 59-18. THIS WEEK: BYE
2. Clovis North (5-0, Division I, last week: 2) — I tweeted something about computer rankings Friday night and quickly found out how little stock most put in them. But if you at least use Calpreps for its strength of schedule numbers, Clovis North has played a tougher schedule than either Bakersfield or Central. The Broncos also haven't won by fewer than 14 points. That's something no other team in Divisions I, II or III can say.
LAST WEEK: won at Merced, 48-26. THIS WEEK: BYE
3. Garces (4-1, Division II, last week: 5) — After seeing Clovis and Garces play Stockdale in back-to-back weeks — and combined with Central's schedule taking a hit from Liberty's loss and Clovis losing quarterback R.J. Hartmann for the season (concussion) — I'm moving Garces up to No. 3. And really, look at the full picture. There's no reason to think this team isn't that good.
LAST WEEK: won vs. No. 16 Stockdale, 41-6. THIS WEEK: BYE
4. Fresno-Central (5-0, Division I, last week: 3) — The Grizzlies slogged through their meeting with Tulare Union last week before turning on the jets (starting with a second-half kickoff return TD) after halftime. That's not a problem in and of itself, but it's becoming a bit of a trend for Central, which also needed to hold off Liberty and Palos Verdes. Both are tough opponents, sure, but close games will bite you if you play too many.
LAST WEEK: won at Tulare Union, 40-21. THIS WEEK: BYE
5. Clovis (4-1, Division I, last week: 4) — R.J. Hartmann has become the Cougars' youngest coach after suffering one too many concussions, the latest two weeks ago in a win against Stockdale. Having him under center would be more valuable, as evidenced by Clovis' 7-6 defensive-minded victory at Atwater last week. The Cougars' defense is good enough to keep them in any game, but the offense will need to score to win against league opponents like Clovis North and Central.
LAST WEEK: won at Atwater, 7-6. THIS WEEK: BYE
6. Fresno-Edison (2-2, Division I, last week: 7) — Check out Fresno Bee reporter Andy Boogaard's blog post for some tear-jerking comments Edison coaches and teammates made about Marquis Sutton after his death Monday night. The Tigers play Clovis West this week in a game that will be a pretty emotional experience for the rest of the team. Godspeed, guys.
LAST WEEK: BYE. THIS WEEK: at No. 15 Clovis West
7. Frontier (2-3, Division I, last week: 11) — Here is the biggest beneficiary of Ridgeview's victory over Liberty. The Titans, remember, beat Ridgeview 17-6 in Week 0 before embarking on a brutal three-game stretch at Lompoc, vs. Moorpark and at Clovis North, all mostly competitive losses. But make no mistake: The Titans have what it takes to compete in Division I. Sooner or later, though, that will have to manifest itself against a D-I team.
LAST WEEK: won vs. West, 49-24. THIS WEEK: BYE
8. Ridgeview (3-2, Division III, last week: 13) — So, all of those questions about how the Wolf Pack would re-load up front after losing the bulk of their offensive and defensive lines a year ago? Consider them assauged if not completely answered. That was a better win than the Wolf Pack had all season in going 12-1 last year. Ridgeview still has a few depth and size issues, but the running game and defense are still plenty good enough to make it a big favorite in Division III.
LAST WEEK: won at No. 6 Liberty, 26-16. THIS WEEK: vs. Fresno-Washington Union
9. Liberty (3-2, Division I, last week: 6) — Certainly take nothing away from Ridgeview, but part of me still wonders if we'll look back on last week's game as something of an aberration. Liberty was flying high after back-to-back routs of Tehachapi and Buchanan, and the Patriots were trounced in the first half by a Ridgeview team good enough to take them by surprise. More answers are coming, and quickly, when SWYL play starts after the bye week.
LAST WEEK: lost vs. No. 13 Ridgeview, 26-16. THIS WEEK: BYE
10. Visalia-El Diamante (3-2, Division II, last week: 17) — It took a big win, but after the Miners got that against Mt. Whitney last Friday, the big picture has come into focus on what is definitely a top-10 resume. El Diamante has two losses, to No. 2 Clovis North and No. 4 Central, the latter without starting quarterback Jacob Valdez, who threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns against Mt. Whitney. Not a team left on the schedule El D shouldn't beat now.
LAST WEEK: won vs. No. 15 Visalia-Mt. Whitney, 49-31. THIS WEEK: at Hanford
11. Kingsburg (4-0, Division II, last week: 8) — With all the shake-ups, I took the chance to look at Kingsburg's complete resume and decided the Vikings are the odd team out for the top 10. The Vikings are used to being underdogs, so it probably won't bother them as they enter a stretch against three opponents with a combined 10-3 record. To compare, Kingsburg's first four opponents are a combined 4-13.
LAST WEEK: won at Kerman, 28-10. THIS WEEK: vs. Coalinga
12. Wasco (4-0, Division IV, last week: 12) — Nothing but league games left for the Tigers after they came down to Bakersfield to stomp another city opponent at East last week. The SSL features more challenges than you'd think the year after Tehachapi has left: Bakersfield Christian, Arvin and Shafter all have the capability to scare Wasco, which is a heavy, heavy favorite in the league.
LAST WEEK: won at East, 56-17. THIS WEEK: vs. Chavez
13. Clovis-Buchanan (2-2, Division I, last week: 9) — Without even mentioning what Bakersfield did to the Bears last week, both Liberty's loss to Ridgeview and Bullard's loss to Clovis West don't do Buchanan's profile any favors. This week brings a big game against Stockdale; the loser, if it enters the Division I playoffs at all, puts itself in line for a first-round road game.
LAST WEEK: lost vs. No. 1 Bakersfield, 59-18. THIS WEEK: at No. 21 Stockdale
14. Tulare-Mission Oak (4-0, Division IV, last week: 14) — The Hawks have looked mighty impressive in their first four games, but the final six opponents bring a little more to the table. Only two have a losing record, and one of those is Division I's Tulare Union. The gauntlet starts this week against Mt. Whitney. I've still got Mission Oak behind Wasco in D-IV because of last year's playoff result, but if the Hawks manage to run the table, they'd probably pass the Tigers on strength of schedule alone.
LAST WEEK: won vs. Exeter, 42-6. THIS WEEK: at No. 16 Visalia-Mt. Whitney
15. Clovis West (1-3, Division I, last week: 20) — A breakthrough against Bullard is all it took to remind folks that the Golden Eagles will make themselves a factor in Division I, year in and year out. It's tough to see more than three or four regular-season wins against this schedule, but don't be surprised if CW is a factor come playoff time anyway. There is a pedigree here that not many teams can match.
LAST WEEK: won at No. 10 Fresno-Bullard, 28-12. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 6 Fresno-Edison
16. Visalia-Mt. Whitney (3-1, Division III, last week: 15)
17. Fresno-Bullard (2-2, Division I, last week: 10)
18. Centennial (1-3, Division I, last week: 18)
19. Tehachapi (3-1, Division II, last week: 19)
20. Visalia-Redwood (3-1, Division II, last week: 21)
21. Stockdale (1-3, Division I, last week: 16)
22. Dinuba (4-1, Division III, last week: 24)
23. Mendota (5-0, Division VI, last week: 23)
24. Independence (3-1, Division III, last week: 25)
25. Tulare Union (1-3, Division I, last week: NR)
Dropped out: No. 22 Porterville