Fresno Central spoils Sierra Canyon title game hopes
Defense has been Chatsworth Sierra Canyon’s strength all football season. That makes the accomplishment of senior quarterback Jameson Silva from Fresno Central even more stunning.
Placing confidence in his receivers, Silva shredded the Sierra Canyon secondary for 353 yards passing and three touchdowns to lift Central (15-0) to a 34-19 victory over the Trailblazers in Friday’s CIF state championship Division 1-AA bowl game at Cerritos College.
The one defensive player who kept pushing back was sophomore linebacker Kamari Ramsey. He had one interception and made another one that was nullified by a roughing-the-passer penalty. He also blocked a conversion kick. The Grizzlies’ first bowl championship was clinched when Sierra Canyon quarterback Chayden Peery was called for intentional grounding in the end zone with 2:44 left. Je’kob Jones had two fourth-quarter touchdown runs for Central.
Sierra Canyon (14-2) got a boost at the outset of the second half when Ramsey came up with an interception at the 28. On the next play, JD Sumlin ran 72 yards for a touchdown. The conversion kick was no good, leaving Sierra Canyon behind 13-12.
Central’s standout receivers came through again and again. Quali Conley caught a 50-yard pass and Anazjae Simpson made a diving five-yard touchdown grab in the end zone for a 20-12 advantage with 5:54 left in the third quarter.
Central made Sierra Canyon pay on blitzes to take a 13-6 halftime lead. Twice Silva spotted the Trailblazers trying to pressure him, and he responded by getting the ball to receivers in one-on-one coverage for touchdowns. Xavier Worthy delivered a 34-yard touchdown catch and Jeremiah Hunter, a Cal commit, took a screen pass 65 yards for a touchdown. Hunter made seven catches for 120 yards.
The big surprise in the first half was Sierra Canyon’s failure to generate any kind of consistency on offense. The Trailblazers had to settle for field goals of 26 and 33 yards from Josh Bryan. Neither team could run the ball against strong defensive line play. Peery finished 24 of 43 passing for 237 yards.
2-AA final: Omari Taylor lost his older brother to a shooting on Halloween, but the junior running back has relied on his teammates to make it through the tragedy. He scored a touchdown and got to kiss the 2-AA state championship trophy after Concord Clayton Valley defeated San Bernardino Aquinas 10-7.
“Nothing is going to bring him back,” Taylor said. “I lost a brother, but I have 67 that has carried me through the toughest time of my life. I can’t describe the love I have. It’s unbreakable.”
Clayton Valley (10-5) held a 7-0 halftime lead, then got a 35-yard field goal from Shane Nelson with 5:15 left. Aquinas (13-3) got a 30-yard touchdown catch from Isaac Handy with 2:59 left. But Clayton Valley ran out the clock.
Ugly Eagles coach Tim Murphy refuses to punt on fourth down. “Punting is quitting,” he said.
Eight times Clayton Valley went for it on fourth down, and four times they converted a first down. They punted once, only the second time all season. It helped keep Aquinas pinned down.
“I’m kind of embarrassed,” Murphy said of the punt.
Mike Herrington retires: The Southern Section has lost to retirement another of its great football coaches. Mike Herrington, who became the 11th football coach in California history to win 300 games, announced on Friday he was stepping down after 31 years as head coach at Newhall Hart. He also will retire as a teacher and athletic director in June. Herrington guided Hart to seven Southern Section championships.
He and brothers Dean and Rick built the Indians into one of the top high school programs in the state during the 1990s and started producing one top quarterback after another, including NFL players Matt Moore and Kyle Boller.
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