Prep football: Reedley, Immanuel battle in TCC opener

Reedley High defenders Richie Camacho (11) and Omar Montemayor (5) bring down Mt. Whitney receiver Israel Briggs (14) during the Pirates’ 21-7 loss to the Pioneers on Sept. 22. Briggs had two touchdown receptions for the visitors.(Danny Jimenez)

Pirates still seek first 2023 victory while Eagles come off road loss to Mendota, Sanger West and Orange Cove move above .500 mark for season

REEDLEY – This week’s annual prep battle for football supremacy in Reedley takes on added importance for Reedley and Immanuel High schools, as it’s the opening contest for both schools in the Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division season.

The Pirates (0-5) host the Eagles (2-3) in a 7 p.m. start on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Sal Gonzalez Field, and both teams are coming off losses on Sept. 22. Reedley dropped a 21-7 home decision to Mt. Whitney High of Visalia while Immanuel was defeated 35-19 at Mendota.

For the first time all season, Reedley was able to grab the lead on an opponent as Demetrius Vargas’ 4-yard TD run early in the second quarter gave the Pirates a 7-0 halftime edge. Vargas rushed for 113 yards on 25 carries, accounting for a majority of the team’s 192 total yards.

Mt. Whitney (2-3) tied the game early in the third quarter on a 14-yard touchdown reception by Israel Briggs, then pulled away the final 12 minutes behind TD catches from Briggs and Carter Myers. The Pioneers finished with 302 yards, 132 coming in the third quarter and recovered a fumble to end a Reedley scoring threat.

Immanuel never was able to recover from a 21-point scoring blitz in the opening quarter by Mendota, although the Eagles did strike first on a 66-yard scoring pass from Jake Horn to Seth Hutchinson. But the Aztecs (2-3) sandwiched a passing and rushing touchdown around a 25-yard interception return for a TD by Jayden Silva. Another rush TD in the second gave the hosts a 28-6 lead at the break.

The Eagles did rally, getting a 40-yard scoring hookup from Horn to Trey Romo and a 7-yard touchdown run by Jackson Leibee to creep to within 28-19. But Mendota pulled away again with a rushing touchdown early in the fourth.

Horn completed 3 of 10 for 135 yards while Leibee ran for 51 yards on 16 carries. Hutchinson and Tyler Romo paced the Immanuel defense with 11 tackles apiece while Wyatt Rasmussen and Nic Coleman each had 10 tackles.

In other Week 6 games:

Sanger West 22, Madera South 14

At Tom Flores Hall of Fame Stadium, the Hornets (3-2, 2-0 North Yosemite League) won their second consecutive league contest on the strength of a 15-point outburst in the third quarter to break a halftime tie.

A fumble recovery inside the Stallions 10-yard-line led to quarterback Aaron Ciano’s 6-yard rushing touchdown. Vayshawn Turner then ran in for a two-point conversion and 15-7 lead, and after another recovered fumble the Hornets cashed in with a 4-yard TD run by Elpidio Gamez. Madera South also scored in the third quarter on a short TD run.

Sanger West protected the lead the final 12 minutes, registering a goal-line stand inside its own 10 in the closing moments of the game to preserve the win. The Hornets grabbed the early lead on a short scoring run before Madera South (1-4, 0-2) tied the game on a touchdown pass late in the second quarter.

Sanger West hits the road Friday, Sept. 29, for a 7:30 p.m. NYL showdown at Matilda Torres High in Madera. The Toros (4-1, 2-0) cruised to a 39-14 victory at McLane on Sept. 21.

Orange Cove 52, Granite Hills 7

At Porterville, the Titans (3-2, 2-1) got back on the winning track in East Sequoia League play with a dominating performance against the winless Grizzlies (0-5, 0-2).

Orange Cove led 14-7 after a quarter, then added a pair of touchdowns in the second and third periods to make it a rout. The Titans racked up 372 total yards, 190 rushing including 77 from Isaac Angullo who had a rushing and receiving score. Quarterback Oscar Alvarez passed for 182 yards and four TDs.

Defensively, the Titan forced four turnovers and generally shut down Granite Hills.

Orange Cove is back home at Titan Stadium for a 7:15 p.m. league contest against Woodlake High on Friday, Sept. 29. The school will honor its young football players on Future Titan Night.

Sanger, Dinuba open league seasons this week

Sanger High and Dinuba High come off bye weeks as they open their respective league seasons on Friday, Sept. 29. The Apaches (4-1) host Justin Garza High (2-3) at 7:30 p.m. at Chuck Shidan Field in Tom Flores Hall of Fame Stadium to kick off County Metro Athletic Conference play, while the Emperors (3-2) entertain Hanford High at 7:30 at DHS stadium.

It’s the second-ever meeting between new CMAC rivals Sanger and Garza, with the Apaches defeating the second-year Guardians’ program by a 24-13 score in Fresno last season. Sanger won four of its five games in a rugged non-conference slate, and has used the bye week to help get dinged-up players healthy; including receiver-DB Marquis Cropper who sat out a 21-7 victory over Centennial on Sept. 15.

Dinuba also had the chance to rest injured players in its 42-26 win at Washington Union on Sept. 15, and should be relatively healthy for its WYL opener. Visiting Hanford (4-1) also had a bye in Week 6, having last won 47-28 at Redwood High on Sept. 15.

Also on Sept. 29, Parlier (1-4, 0-2 Northwest Sequoia League) comes off its bye week with a home game against Yosemite High in Oakhurst in a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Panthers will try to snap a three-game losing streak when they take on the Badgers (1-4, 0-2), who also had a bye last week and were trounced 53-6 at home against Chowchilla on Sept. 15.

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