SELMA – Once upon a time the Kingsburg High football team defeated rival Selma 15 consecutive times. In the process, the Vikings kept possession of the rivalry game’s coveted brass fire extinguisher for all those years.
Friday, Selma defeated the Vikings 27-0, turning back Kingsburg for the third consecutive year. Again, the brass will stay in the Bears’ den.
In the process, Selma posted its first shutout in 20 years in the 85th meeting between the schools from neighboring cities. The Vikings still lead the all-time series, 47-36-2.
Selma improves to 8-2 overall, while finishing Central Sequoia League play at 3-2. Kingsburg ends the regular season 6-4 overall and 2-3 in the CSL.
Both teams not only wanted a coveted rivalry victory, but the momentum of a victory heading into the Central Section playoffs.
Selma, the defending Div. IV champion, earned the No. 3 seed in the Div. IV playoff bracket and has a first round bye. The Bears will host the winner of the Nov. 9 game between No. 6 North (Bakersfield) and No. 11 East Bakersfield Nov. 17, in the quarterfinals.
In Div. III, the Vikings were given the No. 6 seed and will host No. 11 Chowchilla on Nov. 9.
Selma quarterback Junior Ramirez said the Bears put a heavy focus on stopping Kingsburg junior running back Bo Jackson, who had rushed for 1,337 yards and 18 touchdowns going into the game. The previous week, Jackson rushed for 253 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-21 win over Immanuel.
“We knew he was a really good back,” Ramirez said. “We game-planned to stop him. After him, we knew they had nothing.”
The Bears' defense was able to limit Jackson to just 53 yards rushing on 13 carries. The Vikings were able to gain just 161 yards of total offense. Kingsburg also had five turnovers.
The Bears took an early lead after a blocked punt gave Selma possession at the Kingsburg 2-yard-line.
Ramirez scored on a keeper, giving the Bears a 7-0 lead with 8:01 left in the first quarter.
Selma scored twice more late in the second quarter after forcing a 3-and-out and an interception, filched by Adam Rodriguez.
Ramirez found Brian Ching down the right side for a 34-yard touchdown pass with Ching bobbling the ball before securing it in stride for the score.
After the Rodriguez interception on Kingsburg's next possession, Ramirez took back-to-back keepers 36 and 26 yards for another score to push the Bears' lead to 20-0 at the half.
Chris Romero scored on a 7-yard touchdown run with 6:59 left in the third quarter. The TD run followed a long Ramirez scramble to put the Bears on the cusp of the end zone.
Ramirez finished with three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) with 20 carries for 145 yards rushing. He was also 3-for-7 for 61 passing yards.
Kingsburg quarterback Caleb Buendia finished 8-for-25 for 86 yards passing with three interceptions. Nathan Gamble had five catches for 58 yards.
Ramirez said the win was just the right tonic after the Bears lost twice in CSL play.
“It's a good way to build some momentum,” he said. “We just have to keep our foot on the gas pedal.”
It was a tough outcome to stomach for the Vikings, who had hopes of knocking off their rivals after two consecutive losses to the Bears.
“It didn’t go like we thought,” Vikings coach David Wilson said. “I take my hat off to Selma. They go like Junior Ramirez goes and he set the tone early with some runs. And their defense played well and put us in some bad spots, beginning with the blocked punt. We had five turnovers and it’s tough to beat any team, let alone Selma, doing that.”
Despite the disappointment of losing to its rival, Kingsburg looks eagerly ahead.
“It’s an opportunity to hit the re-set button against a formidable opponent,” Wilson said of Chowchilla.