November 28, 2014
Sunnyside stadium was jam packed for this highly anticipated contest between two historic teams. The top seed Edison Tigers played host to the fifth seed Clovis Cougars in a semi-final match up for the valley title. The winner of this game will play Liberty-Bakersfield for the Division 1 Valley title.
Edison has had a dominant season despite a one point loss to Sanger. The Tigers are stacked with talent on both sides of the ball. They have big line backers to clog up the line of scrimmage led by Vance Sams, and Xavier Hamilton. The offense is dangerous; Khai Williams and DeAndre Lockhart are nearly identical with their talents at running back. Hunter Swearingen has such great composure, and isn’t afraid to thrown the ball down field or take off and scramble. AJ Greeley is multi-talented; he can play wide receiver, running back, and even sometimes quarterback. Kamron Lewis is a big wide receiver with sure hands. You can just throw the ball in his direction and he will go up and get it. This Tigers team can possibly beat any team in the country, and should always be taken seriously.
Nobody thought Clovis was going to have a breakout season, especially after starting 0-2. Clovis began to bounce back, and then suffered two more losses to Central and Clovis North. The Cougars did not give up, and got hot at the right time; came back to beat the power house Clovis North last week in the second round of the playoffs. The win was a shocker to everyone, but not to them. This team plays with confidence and intelligence. Everyone steps up and plays their part on this team and it shows. Not one person dominates the game, but they win. Evan Geiger is a senior quarterback who shows balance. He avoids turning the ball over, and knows how to manage the game. Senior running back Adam Prentice is a big physical back who can wear out a defensive line with his size; and sophomore running back Samir Allen is the speed back that can hit those small creases and burst for a first down. Junior wide receiver JJ Wills is the Cougars number one wide receiver and will make receptions at the most opportune moments. This squad should give Edison a run for their money.
Fans were still trying to make their way into the game when Edison started with the ball. Many looked on from the entrance; seeing if Edison or Clovis would score, but no one did. The first quarter went by quickly as both teams looked strong. Clovis got the ball on a tip drill interception from Hunter Swearingen, but was unable to score as the first quarter was a defensive duel with no score.
Things warmed up in the second quarter when Evan Geiger tosses a beauty to big Colton Velasquez who outran his defender down the sideline. The play resulted in a 48 yard touchdown. The ball was an accurately thrown floater that landed perfectly into Velasquez’s sure hands (7-0). After that, it was a defensive battle once again for both teams. The cougars had the lead at halftime, 7-0.
The temperature dropped as the third quarter began, but it didn’t stop thing from heating up on the football field. The Cougars must take tip drill practice seriously, because it happened again. Swearingen’s pass was tipped and intercepted by Hank Wiggins at the 40 yard line. Wiggins then remained focused and followed his blocks for the 40 yard interception return for a touchdown (14-0). This ignited the Clovis sideline as the underdog Cougars took a 14 point lead.
Clovis kept that momentum going in the fourth quarter. Their tip drill came through once again as Clovis comes away with an interception from a tipped Hunter Swearingen pass. This one didn’t lead to a touchdown, but it was devastating to Edison as it happened with ten minutes. Clovis also maintained their 14 point lead. This again ignited the Clovis sideline, but it didn’t silence Edison. The tigers would come clawing back when a long and elaborate drive with a good balance of runs and passes led to a Khai Williams six yard touchdown run. The blocks were set up, and Khai was able to run in to the end zone untouched (14-6). This put concern into The Cougars sideline.
The next drive for Clovis was a heart breaker when the ball was fumbled by Adam Prentice and recovered by Edison’s Chris Allison. This pumped new life into the Tigers and gave them ball back in good field position with a chance to tie the game. Edison would capitalize when Hunter Swearingen called his own number and ran it in by jumping over diving Cougars for the five yard quarterback sneak touchdown. The drama wasn’t over as Edison had to go for the 2-point conversion. The Tigers lined up and snapped the ball; Swearingen rolled out to his right, and found a wide open AJ Greeley in the end zone. The game was tied and now wide open for the taking. The Clovis crowd was silenced and stunned (14-14).
The next drive for Clovis was important, they had to score. Instead they were stopped in three plays, and were forced to punt the ball away with two minutes left in the game. Edison then showed why they are the number one team in the tournament. Hunter Swearingen led a textbook drive on the Cougars defense. The drive had good long runs and tiring short passes. The great drive ended when Khai Williams dove into a sea of bodies for a two yard touchdown run (21-14). The Tigers just took the lead with 26 seconds left. The Valley title game was now in sight. Clovis had one final chance, but failed to do anything with it as time expired. The Tiger won the game in dramatic fashion (21-14).
Edison advances to the Central Section Division 1 championship game. They will host the Liberty Patriots on December 5th. Edison’s defense played very well, they only gave up one touchdown through both of their playoff games so far. They have earned the right to play in this game, and will represent Fresno very well. Their players always show up to win, and give 110% effort on each play. They never gave up, and always pushed themselves harder. The Liberty Patriots will be their toughest opponent thus far, as they have already beaten last year’s state champions twice this season.
The Clovis Cougars have nothing to hang their heads about. They beat some good teams, and emerged from almost nowhere. They showed that knowledge is more powerful than skill. This team is young, and will have many star players return for next year. Evan Geiger may have played his last game as a Cougar, but I’m sure this will not be the last you hear of him on a football field. The team will be back next year, and should be a contender once again.
Rushing- Adam Prentice: 8 car, 39 yds
Receiving- Colton Velasquez: 2 rec, 54 yds, 1 TD
Passing- Evan Geiger: 9-17, 104 yds, 1 TD
Rushing- Khai Williams: 21 car, 75 yds, 2 TD’s
Receiving- Khai Williams: 6 rec, 39 yds
Passing- Hunter Swearingen: 22-35, 168 yds, 3 int’s
Round 3 Results:
|Edison- AJ Greeley: 4 rec, 30 yds|
|Liberty- A. Mariscal: 19 car, 173 yds. 2 TD’s|
|Ridgeview- S. Croney: 17 car, 148 yds, 2 TD’s|
|Dinuba- M. Wright: 33 car, 139 yds, 1 TD|
|Hanford- J. McDaniel: 25 car, 122 yds, 2 TD’s|
|Madera- J. Jimenez: 26 car, 105 yds, 2 TD’s|
|Liberty- R. Brandt: 13 car, 101 yds, 2 TD’s|
|CVC- J. Vander Dussen: 3 passing TD’s|
|Corcoran- Will play Immanuel in Finals|
|Immanuel- R. Grier: 31 car, 143 yds|
|Kennedy- R. Arrona: 18 car, 235 yds, 4 TD’s|
Featured game of Round 4 (Finals): Liberty Patriots vs. Edison Tigers
(Scores, stats, and rankings courtesy of Maxpreps.com, and The Fresno Bee.)