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FRIDAY NIGHT: Rivalry matchup has title implications

Every year for the past 90 years, the Shafter Generals and Wasco Tigers have faced off on the gridiron, battling for bragging rights for the next year, with a victory over their oldest rival. This year, there is even more on the line than bragging rights and a great story to tell children and grandchildren. This year, Shafter comes into the game undefeated and ranked #1 in the Central Section in Division IV. The Wasco Tigers, after a couple of hiccups early in the season, are on a winning streak and would like nothing more than ruin the Generals' perfect season.

Under the leadership of Coach Chad Martinez, the Tigers have won their last three games and are looking to head into the playoffs with a win over Shafter.

The Generals, led by Head Coach Jerald Pierucci, have dominated the majority of their opponents this year, winning their games by an average of 37 points.

With their sophomore quarterback Ezekiel Osborn, and a host of receivers at his disposal, the Generals have scored a lot and quickly in most of their games. They have also scored two or more touchdowns in the last three minutes of their two narrow wins, against Bakersfield Christian and last week's thriller at Kennedy High School.

Pierucci said that he can't say enough about his kids and their resiliency, even when facing defeat late in a game. "I don't know what it is, but this team just doesn't give up. They come back from anything that is thrown at them."

This will be a battle of Wasco's wing-T offense and Shafter's defensive line, who have made major contributions to the Generals' victories, making crucial stops at the right time, or giving the offense great field position after a stop or an interception.

It will also be a challenge for the Tiger defense to stop Osborn and company, which also includes, in addition to his receivers, a powerful running game with Christopher Espinoza punishing the defense with his straight up running, and the speedy Cash Gutierrez, who can get to the corner quicker than most defenders.

As the teams prepare for this matchup, the communities for both teams are celebrating the week with rallies, and other events that show the pride and spirit that makes this rivalry one of the oldest, and fiercest in the state. The junior varsity game will kick off at 5 p.m., with the varsity taking the field at 7 p.m.

 

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