VISALIA – Following its fifth straight loss, the Hanford West football team will have to play its best game of the year during its regular season finale if it wants to advance to the Central Section playoffs.
After losing to Golden West 56-24 Friday night at Community Stadium, the Huskies fell to 3-6 overall and 0-5 in the West Yosemite League.
But while the Huskies have struggled against mostly Div. II and III competition in the WYL, the Huskies have been moved down to Div. V for the playoffs, where head coach Cannon Sanchez thinks Hanford West could make some noise.
But that is if the Huskies finish strong.
“We're trying to get the guys to realize that,” Sanchez said of teams chances for postseason success after regular season struggles against competition in higher divisions. “Some times its hard to keep your confidence when you're giving up so many points.”
Friday, Golden West (7-1 overall, 3-1 WYL) finished its sweep of Kings County opponents after previously defeating Lemoore and Hanford. In all three games, the Blazers had no problem getting its rush attack going on their way to victories.
Against the Huskies, Golden West scored on just the second play from scrimmage of the game with Ian Kelly breaking off a 40-yard touchdown run.
It was the first of eight touchdowns for the Blazers, who are just a half-game behind WYL leader El Diamante.
Golden West would lead 21-0 in the second quarter before the Huskies found the end zone.
Starting at its own 38-yard-line, Hanford West went 62 yards over 10 plays, including a successful conversion on fourth down.
Shaun Koelewyn finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown reception from sophomore quarterback Ethan Natera.
Golden West quickly responded with two touchdowns in the next three minutes, including a 40-yard touchdown reception on a play-action pass that made it 35-6 to go into the half.
The Huskies offense would match the Blazers from there on.
While Golden West scored the first two touchdowns of the second half, the Huskies got a kickoff return for a touchdown from Jayron Jenkins then scored twice more in the fourth quarter.
Gabriel Parada broke off a 58-yard touchdown run and Natera had his second touchdown pass of the game at the buzzer sounded on a 30-yard touchdown pass to Lavazyon Handsbur.
For Hanford West, Jenkins finished with a team-high 70 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Natera was 12-of-28 for 101 yards passing and Antonio Perez had five catches for 42 yards receiving.
For Golden West, Gonzalo Rodriguez finished with a game-high 204 yards rushing on 27 carries with three touchdowns. Kelly added 113 yards on five carries with two touchdowns.
While most teams have two weeks in the regular season, Hanford West ends its regular season this week against Redwood before having a Week 10 bye.
“We want to start off fast,” Sanchez said. “If we do that, hopefully success can follow.”