Central section football teams look ahead to new matchups after major league realignments
TULARE COUNTY – After major changes to leagues, Central section teams in Tulare County prepare for new matchups and old rivalries in the 2022 season.
Central Section teams were shaken up as leagues shifted around during the offseason. All of the Visalia teams moved to the East Yosemite League, joining Porterville and Monache. The Tri-County leagues, Kings Canyon and Sequoia, are new for the 2022 season and split up the old Central Sequoia league. Orange Cove and Orosi join the East Sequoia league from the West Sequoia league while the rest of the West Sequoia league will now be a part of the new Northwest Sequoia league.
Central section teams in Tulare County have prepared for old rivalries and new matchups in their new leagues ahead of the 2022 season, beginning Aug. 18 with non-league play.
West Yosemite League
Tulare Union High School was second overall in the East Yosemite league with a 4-1 league record. The only league team they lost to was Mission Oak High School. Their overall record was 5-5. In the playoffs, they lost in the first game to Paso Robles. Tulare Union has been moved to the West Yosemite league for 2022. Head coach Darren Bennett did not respond for comment at the time of press.
Tulare Western High School finished the 2021 season third in the East Yosemite league with a league record of 3-2. They lost to Mission Oak High School and their rivalry game to Tulare Union High school. Overall their record was 6-5 and they were eliminated in their first playoff game against Bakersfield.
Tulare Western will play in the West Yosemite league in 2022. Starting quarterback Carmine Ficher will be returning to lead the offense. Offensively, Tulare Western has worked on balancing the offense to support Ficher. Defensively they have worked on creating turnovers and limiting the amount of missed tackles. Jose Soto who plays both offensive tackle and defensive tackle is fielding division one offers from Sacramento State and Nevada and will be a key leader for the team this year.
The Lemoore High School Tigers were first in the West Yosemite league in 2021. Their league record was 4-1, losing only to Hanford High School during league play. Overall they were 8-3 and they were eliminated in the first round of playoffs by Mission Prep. Head coach Rich Tuman did not respond for comment at the time of press.
Hanford High School finished second in the West Yosemite league in 2021 with a league record of 3-1. They won all of their non-league games and only lost to Redwood in league play, giving them an overall record of 7-2. They lost in the first round of playoffs to Central High School.
Hanford lost three of their four starting wide receivers to graduation as well as their leading tackler. Only five defensive starters will return for the 2022 season. However, Cayden Muir, league offensive player of the year, returns as quarterback for his senior season. Jayden Sudds is the only starting wide receiver returning, but all of the starting offensive linemen will return. Their JV team finished with a 6-3 record and fans can expect some of those players to move up to round out the varsity team for the 2022 season.
Dinuba High School finished the 2021 season second in the Central Sequoia league with a league record of 3-2. League losses were to Kingsburg and Central Valley Christian. Overall they finished with a record of 8-5 and were eliminated in the third round of the playoffs by Bakersfield Christian.
Dinuba moves to the West Yosemite league for 2022. None of their starting skills players will return but five other offensive starters, including their top offensive lineman Adrian Garcia, will return to play in 2022. Hector Gonzalez, a senior, is expected to take over the top running back position. On defense, middle linebacker Isaac Sandoval returns along with six other defensive starters from 2021. Despite the top three skills players leaving, this team will bring a lot of experience into the 2022 season and is expected to do well in the West Yosemite league.
Mission Oak High School led the East Yosemite league in 2021 with an undefeated record in league play. Their only loss was to Kingsburg in the second round of the playoffs. Mission Oak dominated offensively with over 20 points in every single game they played.
Mission Oak will play in the West Yosemite league in 2022. Joey Harris and Noah Harris are players to watch on both the offensive and defensive lines. The team expects to run a no-huddle offense and a 3-4 defense. According the head coach Marty Martin, the team had a great summer in the weight room and is expecting to do well in 2022.