Golden West to take on Wasco after dominant playoff win over Kerman Lions
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
VISALIA – For the third year in a row, the Golden West Trailblazers have trekked to the CIF Division IV semifinals.
In 2016, the Blazers were upset by a last-second defeat; 2017 saw them break down the door to the valley championship game where they eventually defeated CVC. Now they will have to face off against the Wasco Tigers who upset the No. 1-seeded Porterville Panthers 20-7.
Wasco will be looking for their second upset in a row as the No. 8 seed taking on the No. 4, but they might have some trouble against the Trailblazers’ potent Wing-T attack. In Friday night’s bout against the Kerman Lions, Golden West hung 51 on the score board with 478 total yards of production.
Golden West sophomore Lonnie Wessel rushed for two touchdowns, on 26 carries and 201 yards. Meanwhile, his twin brother, Michael Wessel, had two touchdowns on 12 carries and 47 yards. And senior running back Christian Ortiz broke off huge runs on his way to 2 scores and 137 yards.
“[Game balls] could go to the offensive line. Lonnie had a great night, Christian had some great runs and I’d give it to the entire offense really,” Preheim said.
However, the final score does not quite tell how close the game was in the first half. Kerman drew first blood after four plays, capped off by a Colton Smith 39-yard touch down run. Golden West turned around to score eight points when Michael Wessel scored on a 12-yard run and holder Jose Ramos saved the point-after try by capturing a botched snapped and running around the edge for two points. There were still more than nine minutes left in the first quarter.
Both teams continued to go tit-for-tat on touchdowns until Golden West assumed a 23-14 lead at the end of the quarter. While the game slowed down in the second, both teams continued to score. Kerman came within a point, 23-22 until Golden West pulled away when Ortiz broke through the goal line from a yard out to go up 30-22. They scored just a few minutes later when they recovered the ensuing onside kick at the Kerman 38 yard line.
Quarterback Tyson Sandri and wide receiver Josiah Washington hooked up for Golden West’s sole passing touchdown of the night to go up 37-22. Kerman still stole some momentum back when they threw their way down the field and scored on a long passing play at the final second of the half to cut the Trailblazers’ lead 37-30.
For all their effort in the first half, the Kerman Lions were stymied by the Blazers’ defense for the next 24 minutes.
“Defensively we obviously need to get better. We came out flat and they wanted the game more than we did in the first half. In the second half we settled down and played our game,” Preheim said.
Golden West will host Wasco this Friday, Nov. 16, starting at 7 p.m.