Medium/Small School Teams of Week

In this salute to teams we have categorized as medium or small schools based on competitive equity, enrollment and other factors, it’s a new feature this season pointing the spotlight on two of them each week who just recorded big wins on the football field. Congrats to Hanford (medium) and St. Pius X-St. Matthias (small).

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Slide from Hanford football team after it notched win last week vs Bullard. Photo: @FootballHanford.

Medium Schools – Hanford

Although it’s now more of a probability that the Bullpups will be in the same CIF Central Section playoff division as large school heavyweights Liberty of Bakersfield, Central of Fresno and Buchanan of Clovis, they are traditionally considered “medium school” and deserve attention for getting a big win last Friday over Bullard of Fresno.

Bullard came into the game after winning the 2021 Central Section D2 title and losing in a competitive NorCal D2-AA regional final to Central Catholic of Modesto. Hanford was in the section D1 playoffs last year as well and lost in the first round 62-12 to Central. This year, that bracket has been expanded to 12 teams from eight so the odds of the Bullpups being back in D1 instead of D2 where they more naturally belong are quite high, especially after beating Bullard.

A main reason for Hanford’s success last season (7-2) and in the win over the Knights is the play of QB Cayden Muir. The senior who passed for 2,259 yards and 26 TDs started strong by hitting on 23 of 33 passes for 371 yards and three TDs. Two sophomores also stepped up on offense as Albert Richardson rushed for 70 yards on 10 carries and scored twice while Kourdey Glass caught three passes for 125 yards and one score.

Defensively, Hanford’s leaders were senior DB D’Artangian Martin with 11 tackles and one sack and senior LB Brak Hill with 10 tackles and one sack. Head coach Cannon Sanchez’s squad will play this week at 1-0 Buhach Colony of Atwater (CIF Sac-Joaquin Section).

Devah Thomas talks to St. Pius X-St. Matthias players after CIFSS D7 quarterfinal playoff win last season. Photo:

Small Schools – St. Pius X-St. Matthias (Downey)

In the current world of competitive equity, just 10 years ago the thought of a small school like St. Pius X-St. Matthias even being competitive with a traditional CIF L.A. City large school like Banning of Wilmington would have seemed impossible.

St. Pius X-St. Matthias, in fact, only started fielding teams as a small private school in 2017. Head coach Todd Butler had the program at 12-1 by 2019 and now head coach Devah Thomas has them aiming for a high CIF Southern Section playoff placement in Division 6 or even higher.

The Warriors, who still qualify as a small school for state ranking purposes, opened their season against Banning last Friday and throttled the Pilots 41-3.

The team’s ability to strike quickly was on full display vs Banning. In the first quarter, St. Pius X-St. Matthias scored on a 60-yard pass play from Dieter Barr to Jordan Shaw. Banning responded with a field goal, but on the ensuing kickoff it was Deshun Powell who took it back 85 yards for a touchdown. Banning then went three-and-out and on the ensuing punt Shaw grabbed the ball at the 50-yard line and ran it in for another score. Shaw also had a 53-yard TD reception from Barr in the second quarter.

The Warriors will look to improve to 2-0 later this week against Muir of Pasadena. The Mustangs have a lot of talent as usual, but will be trying to bounce back from a 10-0 loss to Northview of Covina.

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