PRESEASON FOOTBALL RANKINGS
(Listed with last year's record)
1. Clovis West (Fresno) 6-6-1
Lost by just one touchdown in last year's large school section final and almost the entire team is back. The Clovis Unified School District also hired a somebody (Jim Hartigan) to replace Ed Lombardi and not a nobody.
2. Sanger 10-2
Should be a hungry group of Apaches after dropping small school section semifinal in overtime to Centennial. Some think they should be No. 1 in the section overall, but we don't see that at all compared to Clovis West. Take a look at Clovis West's schedule, too.
3. Clovis 11-2
Tyler Clutts and most of the rest of last year's team is gone, but coach Larry Kellom has been running a very consistently-strong program so the Cougars won't drop off that much.
4. Bakersfield 5-6
Drillers have scored in 202 straight games and coach Jason Oliver seems to have things going in the right direction after a very taxing first few games of the 2002 season.
5. Redwood (Visalia) 6-5
Coach John Yavasile and his staff should have a slogan for the way they coach each year: Here we go again.
6. Edison (Fresno) 11-2
Defending small school section champs have a lot of talent, but will it be enough to replace those that are gone, especially all-everything Clifton Smith?
7. Centennial (Bakersfield) 10-3
We like this team's combination of returning strength in the line as well as in the backfield. The play of whoever becomes starting QB could be crucial.
8. Liberty (Bakersfield) 9-3
Line play last year was why this team only lost by four points in a game against Clovis. Line play will be terrific once again, but that speed factor (or lack of it) could keep the Patriots from once again winning a section title.
9. Central (Fresno) 9-2-1
Coach Wayne Koligian gets the best from his players and has the Grizzlies on the right track.
10. Hoover (Fresno) 7-5-1
Will QB James Altschuler still be effective with standout WR Kevin Robinson no longer streaking down the sideline?
1. San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno) 11-2
Panthers barely lost in last year's Sequoia small final to what some were saying was the best Garces team ever. A number of key players are back, led by WR-DB Jordan Bucklew and QB-LB Hunter Teafatiller.
2. Taft 8-4
Wildcats were second in league behind Garces last year and have a solid core of returning players.
3. Yosemite (Oakhurst) 12-1
Badgers may not be as fast as last year's Sequoia large champs, but they're still going to be very good.
4. Dos Palos 6-5
Broncos can break a state record by winning their 19th straight league crown this season.
5. Tehachapi 7-4
RB Tanner Hutchinson could have a huge season for the Warriors.
6. Coalinga 10-3
Horned Toads have a chance for double-digit wins once again.
7. Garces (Bakersfield) 12-0
We can't ever remember a team losing so much from one season to the next when you look at graduated starters and even the head coach.
8. Immanuel (Reedley) 11-2
QB Neal Hubman and WR Jacob Wild are gone, so rebuilding is in order for this year's team.
9. Dinuba 4-7
This is my hunch as the team in the section that can turn it around more than any other this season. Lots of returning starters.
10. Caruthers 9-4
Should be quite capable of making a strong bid to unseat Immanuel as the Sierra Division champ.
Editor's Note: Bob Barnett is the historian for the CIF Central Section and his weekly rankings appear each week in the Bakersfield Californian, Visalia Times-Delta and other newspapers in the region. He has been a correspondent for Cal-Hi Sports for 15 years.