CLOVIS WEST TRACS UP CLOVIS

Friday night offered few suprises in playoff games, but state No. 6 Clovis falls in regular season finale to arch-rival Clovis West and creates three-way tie in final league standings.

A few weeks back, before the Clovis West High football team dropped a game to Central of Fresno, it looked like coach Ed Lombardi had his wing-T offfense clicking along at a strong pace. The Eagles got back to that form on Friday night and threw a monkey wrench into the CIF Central Section playoffs by knocking off Clovis, 34-20.

The Clovis West-Clovis rivalry has seen the highest ranked team lose many times before and it happened again. Coming into the game, Clovis was on a eight-game winning streak after losing its opener, 41-20, to nationally-ranked Tulsa Union of Oklahoma. The Cougars had climbed to No. 6 in last week's CalHiSports.com overall state top 20.

But the Eagles churned out 352 rushing yards and kept Clovis quarterback Jordan Christensen from hurting them too badly. Fresno Bee writer Andy Boogaard had Quentin Brock with 140 rushing yards to lead Clovis West, including a 28-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that capped a textbook 15-play, 95-yard drive and made the score 34-14. Also running well for Clovis West was Navan Fowlkes with 1001 yards and Brandon Hancock with 74.

Hancock, the 6-1, 230-pound muscle man who has wowed onlookers the last two years at the Stanford Nike Camp, also helped put a lot of pressure on Christensen, the state touchdown pass leader. The 6-3, 190-pounder did throw for 263 yards and two scores, but it took 40 attempts (22 were caught) to do it.

The result pushed Clovis, Clovis West and Central into a three-way tie for the Tri River Athletic Conference title. The dreaded coin flip was held an hour afterward, which was won by Central and Clovis. Those two therefore went into Saturday's section playoff seeding meeting as the league's No. 1 and No. 2 seeds. Despite winning, Clovis West had to enter as a third seed.

The first round of section playoffs took place elsewhere in the state and upsets, as expected, were nonexistent. There were a few close calls, the most surprising was state No. 8 Elk Grove only winning by 22-15 over Bethel of Vallejo, but just about all were victorious.

According to seedings, you could say that Eisenhower of Rialto losing 28-14 to Loyola of Angeles was an upset. But anyone who's followed CIF Southern Section Div. I football for any length of time knows that one rule of thumb is that Loyola almost always lifts the level of its play to a higher plane.

Eisenhower came into the game ranked No. 14 in last week's top 20. The loss also marked the end of the career of Eisenhower coach Tom Houk. Loyola now will get to play state No. 2 and national No. 4 Long Beach Poly, which crushed Fountain Valley, 61-17, in its first playoff game.

One unbeaten team to lose its playoff opener was Northwood of Irvine in Southern Section Div. IX. Northwood lost 17-13 to Valencia, which entered at only 4-6. That one, too, really isn't that big of an upset, though, as Valencia is in the same league as unbeaten Brea-Olinda and Northwood is a new school that was making its playoff debut.


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