Madera Tribune File Photo
Liberty’s Luke Cullins makes a big hit on Madera South’s Christian Guillen to force a third quarter fumble. Liberty’s Trevor Stephens picked up the ball and ran it into the end zone to start a 31-0 run.
At halftime, both the Madera South Stallions and Liberty Hawks football teams realized they were in a dogfight and whoever could grab the momentum in the second half would come out with a victory.
The Hawks, winners of the past two Div. V Valley Championship games who have gone 24-2 in that span, realized they could take advantage of the game if they could just clean things up and not turn the ball over four times, like they did in the first half.
The Stallions, winners of just two games in the past two years, had to break a mindset that if a negative thing happens, they have to put it behind them and keep pushing on.
Instead, it was the Hawks who seized momentum and didn’t let go thanks to two defensive plays from outside linebacker Luke Cullins for a 38-7 non-league victory in Memorial Stadium
Cullins put a lick on running back Christian Guillen on Madera South’s first play of the second half to force a fumble and Trevor Stephens picked it up and ran 21 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
“That was huge,” Nolte said. “We practiced against that play all week. We were ready for it. Luke made a big hit and it was a turning point in the game.”
Two possessions later, Stephens caused the fumble and Cullins scooped it up for a 15-yard fumble return and a 28-7 lead to put the game away.
Coyotes win rough battle with Reedley Pirates
REEDLEY — The Madera High Coyotes are off to a perfect 3-0 start for the first time in three years, but not before a sloppy 42-29 road victory over Reedley High School replete with dropped passes, several huge Pirate runs, and an incredible 16 penalties for 194 lost yards.
It wasn’t just Madera behind the sea of yellow that flew onto the field in Reedley’s Sal Gonzalez Stadium either, as the Pirates were also flagged for 14 penalties with questionable calls going against both teams.
Despite the negation of several key defensive stops and long scoring plays — including a 24-yard reception by star senior Alec Gamboa who ran through at least six tackles into the end zone — Cunnings said he was proud of his players for remaining focused.
Runners overcome odds in Earlybird Invite
When it came to preparing for the Earlybird Invitational, the Madera and Madera South cross country teams were in a tough predicament.
Due to the Central’s Valley bad air quality, runners on both teams had their training time significantly reduced before making the trip to Salinas to face some of the state’s top teams.
Despite limited practices, runners on both the Stallions and Coyotes didn’t let it affect their performance at Toro Park.
“It was nice to breath fresh clean air and have cool temperatures,” said Coyote head coach Ernest Velarde.
While the Stallions couldn’t run outdoors for three days, it didn’t hurt Stallion senior Eduardo “Lalo” Herrera.
Herrera easily won the senior boys race with a time of 15:15 — 25 seconds ahead of St. Francis’ Xander Olivero. Herrera’s finish was 13 seconds of the course record to put him fifth all-time.
No. 2 runner Miguel Villar (15:56) took second in the junior race.
Former Maderans earn medals at masters diving
Dennis Rowe and Don McAlister, as they both did from 1962 to 1966 as Madera Coyotes, dominated the competition at the FINA 2017 Masters World Diving Championships in Budapest this August.
Combining for five gold medals and two silvers in four events, the duo grew up in Madera and trained at McAlister Pool under Madera Athletic Hall of Fame coach Bill McAlister (Don’s father, long-time Madera swimming, diving and gymnastic coach and teacher).