Showdown at Neighbor Bowl: Lemoore at Hanford battle Friday for share of West Yosemite League title

By The Leader Staff
The Tigers' defense bore down on the Pioneers. Here Elijah Jones, 
Elijah Mccalister, David Moore, and Ozzy Hernandez beat down on a Pioneer running back.
The Tigers' defense bore down on the Pioneers. Here Elijah Jones, Elijah Mccalister, David Moore, and Ozzy Hernandez beat down on a Pioneer running back.
Photo by Bill Burris

The Tigers, after an embarrassing 1-5 start that included a 26-16 victory over lowly Chowchilla and a 30-14 loss to West Yosemite League foe Redwood in the league opener, head coach Josh Kloster has his upstart Tigers on a roll, and the first-year Tiger coach’s high-flying team is on the verge of a league title and a trip to the Division 3 playoffs.

But there is at least one roadblock the Tigers must overcome. They must beat an undefeated Bullpups squad that – for the most part – has breezed through its season, its only real blemish, a surprising 17-16 victory Friday night at Golden West, an unexpected thriller that Hanford only managed by virtue of a late fourth-quarter field goal. Despite the narrow win, Hanford takes an impressive 9-0 record into Friday night’s game against Lemoore.

Friday night’s game time is 7 p.m. in Hanford High’s Neighbor Bowl

Lemoore (4-5 overall and 3-1 in the WYL), just two weeks ago, had its struggle with the Trailblazers but emerged from that shootout with a 36-29 victory, keeping the Tigers in the championship hunt.

The playoffs are already a go regardless of what happens Friday night in Hanford’s WYL season finale. Thanks to an impressive 3-1 WYL record, and even if the Tigers lose Friday night in Hanford, the Tigers’ athletic director Brady Holaday told The Leader that Lemoore has earned a spot in the playoffs by virtue of its winning league record.

To win the league title, Lemoore had to get past visiting Mt. Whitney Friday night. The Tigers did their part to set up Friday’s dramatic showdown by crushing the Pioneers 42-6, to ensure the dramatic matchup with the Bullpups at 7 p.m. in Hanford’s Neighbor Bowl, the historic site of so many Lemoore-Hanford battles.

At stake are the annual Milk Can Trophy, a league championship, and a whole bunch of unfettered pride.

The Tigers had plenty to celebrate Friday night as the student body not only celebrated Homecoming but also watch as their football team crushed visiting Mt. Whitney (0-9).

Lemoore virtually put the game away in the first quarter when it scored four times to take an early 28-0 lead. Lemoore’s first score came on a Josh Kloster 7-yard touchdown early in the first period. The talented running back scored twice in the game, scoring again in the first quarter.

Justin Holiday hooked up with Will Schalde for a 14-0 lead and followed that with a pass to Elijah Jones to up the margin to 21-0 before Kloster’s second touchdown gave the Tigers a 28-0 lead at the first quarter break.

Holiday continued the onslaught early in the second quarter with a touchdown pass to Chris Taylor for a 35-0 lead.

Lemoore’s final TD came in the final quarter when Taylor, this time, opted to run the ball into the end zone for a TD and a 42-16 Tiger win.

Upcoming Game

11/01 Lemoore at Hanford, 7 p.m.

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