By Andrea Camarena

Pomp and Circumstance has played, caps have been thrown and with graduation has come the finale of high school careers for local athletes.

For many, it's on to recreational leagues and intramural play. But for select athletes, a new opportunity is upon them. The world of collegiate sports is competitive and highly selective and several local athletes are taking on the challenge.

Exeter's star football duo, quarterback Drew Branch and wide receiver Cori Griffin earned high recognition from the league, county and even the state in the 2004 season. Seems they've found the right recipe for maximizing yardage with their standout passing offense. Together the two rebuilt the school's offensive records. Now they hope to keep a good thing going by playing for the same junior college.

"Because we've been playing [together] that long, we do well. It would be good to keep playing together," Griffin said.

The two were scouted by local two-year colleges in Bakersfield, Reedley and Visalia. Together the two made the decision to go with Reedley's 2002 College National Championship program. They begin their training on June 27 and the two Monarchs will share an apartment together in Reedley as they pursue a career in collegiate football and higher education.

The former Monarch football players won't be the only local athletes making their way north to Reedley. Lindsay's three-sport standout athlete, John Gonzalez was invited to join Reedley's basketball squad. Gonzalez has already been practicing with the team over the last two months. Gonzalez was Lindsay's basketball star and Reedley's coach took notice in a 2005 contest against Dinuba. Gonzalez will continue to practice with the Reedley squad through the summer and begin again in September when the team will prepare for their 2006 season.

Also from the foothills area, Exeter's Drew Hutcheson has plans to play NCAA soccer at UC Davis. Former Monarch Stephanie Ford hopes to continue playing tennis at COS in the spring. JR Calderon of Farmersville plans to play soccer at Fresno Pacific University.

From Lindsay, pitcher Amanda Serda will continue to play softball as a Giant at COS.

Serda's teammate, Nickie Salinas has plans to walk on to Sacramento State's basketball team in the coming season. Yesenia De La Cruz, also from Lindsay will continue volleyball at Citrus College in Azuza, Calif.

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