What a great recent NFL championship weekend with so many local storylines. Congrats to the 49er's making their sixth Super Bowl appearance by beating the Atlanta Falcons 28-24. Remember, the Niners have not lost a Super Bowl game (5-0).
Prepare to see some bruising hits on Super Bowl Sunday. The Niners and the Ravins are "old school" type teams that pound the rock. Great to see the now national success of Turlock's Colin Kaepernick. How the guy never made it to Fresno State is beyond me.
I think quite a few Valley players were missed during Pat Hill's tenure. Being missed by so many college football programs keep the fire lit within Kaepernick.
For Hill, now the offensive line coach for the Falcons, it was a solid season just missing the Super Bowl. Hill's O-Line played great protecting Matt Ryan for most of the game against the Niners.
It was also bittersweet for Mariposa's Logan Mankins. Mankins, completing his 8th season with the New England Patriots, lost a tough one against the Baltimore Ravens, 28-13. Mankins though, was selected to his 5th Pro Bowl, but missed the a trip to Honolulu due to injuries.
Blunt will visit Yosemite Friday
Casey Blunt and Sierra made a statement in their 75-63 victory over Washington Union last Friday. Blunt went off for 47 points. He was warming up with Yosemite on Jan. 14 when he scored 27. Blunt looks stronger and knows it's his team. He is lights out on both ends of the floor. Blunt is the most exciting player in the NSL and a minimum second team all-valley player.
Sierra's 64-48 loss to Kerman or Yosemite's 35-31 win over Liberty says there will be no easy wins in the NSL.
It was great to see the Badgers get their first win of the season in basketball against Liberty. For many Badger players who also played football, it was their first win of 2012/2013 -- 0-10 football and 0-15 in basketball before Liberty. For seniors Luke Blate Ty Grant, Derek Jenkins and Dillon Moran, it had to be special.
Who's No. 1
The Minarets varsity boys basketball team has been ranked No.1 in D-V for three consecutive weeks by the Fresno Bee. Head coach Paul Varner has more wins (8-7) than all of last year. This team is battle tested, but there are issues. Last week, the Mustangs played two of the most physical games of the season and smack in the middle of West Sequoia League play.
Minarets went on the road and defeated Parlier in overtime (42-41). It was a playoff type atmosphere in a difficult venue. The win came with a price. 3-point specialist Albert Ellis injured his shoulder and is out for the year. "It is a big loss for us," said coach Varner. "I know the team will respond, but we will miss his shooting, ball-handling, and leadership."
Last Friday, in the WSL showdown, Caruthers (14-6, 4-0) visited Minarets and pulled out an 81-67 win. Caruthers, ranked No. 8 in D-IV, now owns the driver seat to the WSL title. It wasn't easy for the Blue Raiders. MHS suited up just six players, yet the game wasn't decided until midway through the fourth quarter.
With Austin Pimental running the point, the inside game of Millar and Biglione, plus Bo Campbell playing everywhere, the starters are solid. Ben Nelson had a strong contribution off the bench vs. Caruthers (five points) and Craig Talbot brings depth in the paint. Beyond that, the Mustang sideline has a lot of open space. Conditioning and toughness will now be the combination to carry the Minarets into the upcoming D-V playoffs. Count on Varner having them well-prepared.
Congratulations to Yosemite High's Jordan Keyser who was selected to the Bee's All Valley team in golf. The Nevada-bound senior was in select company being one of the few non-Fresno/Clovis high schoolers selected by the Fresno Bee. Also congratulations to Badger junior cross-country runner Alek Simpson who was selected as honorable mention for the Bee's Boys Cross Country All-Valley team. Simpson led all D-III runners at the Central Section meet and placed 32nd at the state meet both held at Woodward Park.