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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
We're deep thinkers here at School House Zach, or at least we (I) like to think we are (I am).
With that said, these are the weekly Central Section rankings, strength-of-schedule edition. The previous week saw many of the section's top teams take on some of the better teams from the Southern and Sac-Joaquin Sections. In many cases a tough loss doesn't drop them here, and in a couple of cases, those teams actually rose in the rankings.
So don't get caught up in a team moving up or down X number of spots after it won or lost. As I say every year, these rankings don't occur in a vacuum, and strength of schedule matters. Frontier's one-score loss at Southern Section power Lompoc is more impressive to me than a 40-point win at home over a bad small-school team. That's just logical to me.
So here we go. Top team remains the same, but quite a bit of shaking beneath that. From the looks of the first couple of weeks of the regular season, we're not done rearranging furniture here, either.
1. Bakersfield (2-0, Division I, last week: 1) — I'm sure the Drillers would have preferred to beat Cactus by 40 last week and make another statement in front of a Southern Cal audience that they're for real. But in the long run, having to battle back from a deficit and face some adversity might be better for this team. Not everything comes easy, even when you score three 65-plus yard touchdowns.
LAST WEEK: won vs. Glendale (Ariz.)-Cactus, 44-32. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 5 Garces
2. Clovis North (2-0, Division I, last week: 3) — The defending Division II champion, now in D-I, moves up to No. 2, but I'm not really confident about this. The Broncos were in trouble for a while against El Diamante (no shame in that) before righting themselves. The good news is we'll get to see Clovis North play plenty of other top teams in the weeks to come.
LAST WEEK: won vs. No. 12 Visalia-El Diamante, 35-21. THIS WEEK: at Atwater-Buhach Colony
3. Fresno-Central (2-0, Division I, last week: 4) — There wasn't much pretty about Central's 10-9 victory at Liberty, but it will be a beautiful thing for the Grizzlies when the section commissioners discuss it in November in Porterville. Central now moves on to perhaps an even bigger non-league test. It'll need to score more than 10 to win, I'd venture.
LAST WEEK: won at No. 7 Liberty, 10-9. THIS WEEK: vs. Palos Verdes Estates-Palos Verdes
4. Clovis (1-1, Division I, last week: 2) — No shame in losing to a fine El Toro team that Calpreps ranks right up there with Bakersfield, but it should concern Cougars fans that their team wasn't particularly competitive. Clovis is about as tough of a team as there is in the section, but do the Cougars have the skill level necessary to run with a Bakersfield or Central?
LAST WEEK: lost at El Toro-Lake Forest, 30-10. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 22 Centennial
5. Garces (2-0, Division II, last week: 6) — The suspension of 10 players, including six starters, for last week's game with Golden Valley could have been a disaster. Instead, the Rams turned it into a statement, with Cruise Adams and Sheldon Croney's huge games leading the way to a 77-point explosion. Now comes a showdown at Griffith Field that Garces has had circled since February.
LAST WEEK: won vs. Golden Valley, 77-34. THIS WEEK: at No. 1 Bakersfield
6. Liberty (1-1, Division I, last week: 7) — Here's our first example of a team moving up after a loss. It's fair to blame the Patriots for small mistakes that cost them a huge win against Central, but not unless you also allow that Liberty probably should have beaten the Grizzlies. If the two teams played again this week, I think I'd lean towards Liberty. But they don't, and the Pats have to live with that.
LAST WEEK: lost vs. No. 4 Fresno-Central, 10-9. THIS WEEK: at No. 19 Tehachapi
7. Fresno-Edison (1-1, Division I, last week: 8) — Besides Bakersfield, the winner of the out-of-section lottery last week was Edison, which returned home from a dismal opening act against Clovis to take down a solid Carson program. There's no doubt this team is dripping with talent; if Ricky Manning, Jr., is getting synched up with his players — and the next couple of weeks will tell us a lot more — the Tigers are a Valley title contender.
LAST WEEK: won vs. Carson, 26-21. THIS WEEK: vs. Merced
8. Frontier (1-1, Division I, last week: 10) — The Titans' near-comeback and eventual seven-point loss at Lompoc, which has one of the better teams in the state, said even more about them than a double-digit win over Ridgeview in the opener. Frontier's Calpreps power ranking jumped nearly 10 points after that one, leading one to believe they'll have a good shot at home against another Southern Section power this week.
LAST WEEK: lost at Lompoc, 21-14. THIS WEEK: vs. Moorpark
9. Clovis-Buchanan (1-0, Division I, last week: NR) — My biggest misses thus far in these rankings are related, and Buchanan, which punked Bullard last week, replaces Washington Union, which lost a rout at Atwater, in the top 10. The Bears certainly have been strong in the recent past, and it appears a 3-8 season last year is behind them.
LAST WEEK: won at No. 5 Fresno-Bullard, 36-14. THIS WEEK: vs. Porterville
10. Kingsburg (2-0, Division II, last week: 11) — Washington Union fell on its face, but the juggernaut that is the Vikings program keeps on trucking. Kingsburg put up a 60-spot against Golden West and after a ho-hum effort in the opener. Now things get more interesting: Three of Kingsburg's next five opponents won nine or more games a year ago.
LAST WEEK: won at Visalia-Golden West, 62-22. THIS WEEK: vs. No. 25 Fresno-Washington Union
11. Fresno-Bullard (1-1, Division I, last week: 5) — You couldn't exactly call the Knights' non-league schedule soft, because the opponents were all from good leagues, but the potential for a 5-0 start was there; the teams' combined record from 2011 was 15-38. That all went up in smoke against Buchanan; now you've got to wonder how Bullard will fare against Clovis West and Clovis East, two other teams that are tougher than their records indicate.
LAST WEEK: lost vs. Clovis-Buchanan, 36-14. THIS WEEK: BYE
12. Visalia-El Diamante (1-1, Division I, last week: 12) — The Miners led Clovis North 21-7 and looked like they were on their way to really shaking these rankings up, but the Broncos scored the game's final 28 points to put an end to that talk. Still, it's clear that El D is a D-I contender this year.
LAST WEEK: lost at No. 3 Clovis North, 35-21. THIS WEEK: vs. Porterville-Monache
13. Stockdale (0-1, Division I, last week: 13) — See why I made this a theme this week? Here's another team (and Clovis West, which lost 56-48 at Canyon Country-Canyon, is yet another) that lost but looked good doing it. The Mustangs will have a better shot down south this weekend, and they'll give the four Bakersfield schools above them in this list plenty of trouble down the road.
LAST WEEK: lost at Stockton-St. Mary's, 31-26. THIS WEEK: at Inglewood
14. Ridgeview (1-1, Division III, last week: 14) — A mediocre start could have been disasterous if the Wolf Pack hadn't played a big second half at Independence and pulled that one out. Now Kamari Moya-Cotton (188 rushing yards) and company get what should be a breather against Foothill before the schedule gets really rough again.
LAST WEEK: won at Independence, 28-14. THIS WEEK: vs. Foothill
15. Wasco (2-0, Division IV, last week: 15) — Here begins a list of a few teams (Clovis West aside) that won easily against not-so-strong competition. So not a whole lot of movement here. The Tigers, by the way, still have to be considered the class of the SSL despite hot starts from Arvin and Shafter.
LAST WEEK: won vs. Corcoran, 49-0. THIS WEEK: BYE
16. Dinuba (2-0, Division III, last week: 16)
17. Clovis West (0-2, Division I, last week: 18)
18. Tulare Union (1-1, Division I, last week: 17)
19. Tehachapi (2-0, Division II, last week: 19)
20. Tulare-Mission Oak (1-0, Division IV, last week: 20)
21. Visalia-Mt. Whitney (2-0, Division III, last week: 21)
22. Centennial (1-1, Division I, last week: 24)
23. Sanger (2-0, Division II, last week: 25)
24. Fresno-Sunnyside (1-1, Division II, last week: NR)
25. Fresno-Washington Union (0-1, Division III, last week: 9)
Dropped out: No. 22 Lemoore, No. 23 Mendota