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FNR campus visit: SJ Memorial vs. Sunnyside

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Valley high school football is back for playoffs on the air Friday night on our sister station, The CW59!

It's all part of the Les Schwab Tires Friday Night Rivals presented by Lithia Subaru.

Our next matchup is the San Joaquin Memorial Panthers taking on the Sunnyside High Wildcats.

We visited both schools to get to know the coaches.

San Joaquin Memorial head football coach, Anthony Goston, loves Memorial; it's where his daughter, his wife and Goston himself went to high school.

In the early 90's, he was a running back and safety for the Panthers. "The atmosphere, the environment we had here... I really enjoyed high school. I really enjoyed my teammates, my coaches," said Gaston.

After graduating from Fresno State, Goston immediately felt the need to return to SJM as a teacher, and he hasn't left, starting as JV running backs coach in 1998 and now the head varsity coach since 2004. "I just love the competition. I love the kids. I have a calling to teach and coach, and that's why I do this. So being out here with the kids - the grind of it is what excites me about football. The games are fun, but it's the grind of it I enjoy," said Coach Goston.

Across town at Sunnyside High School, head football coach, Gordon Wood, is in his 3rd year with the Wildcats.

Wood played tight end at the University of Wyoming and spent a few years in the NFL, after growing up and playing high school ball near Seattle. "I loved playing for Doug Smith, who was my head coach at the time. And a lot of people know that's Alex Smith, the quarterback of the Chiefs dad, and so, he was a great coach, a great mentor, he did a lot for who I am today," said Coach Wood.

That relationship eventually led to Wood coaching Alex Smith and Reggie Bush, at Helix High in Southern California, where Wood was the head coach.

He was also an elementary school principal for nearly a decade before returning to the field to coach in Fresno. "You almost feel a sense of responsibility to give back to kids and be there for them, not just as football players but just as in life. These kids go through a lot, there's a lot of struggles, and a big part of what we're trying to focus on now is that every day we come out here and practice or we're in a game, that's their safe zone and it's a time for them to clear their minds and just focus on things that they love to do."

If you can't make it to the game, make sure you watch it at 7:30 p.m. on The CW59.

If you do make it to the game, upload your photos and videos and we might use them on the FOX26 10 o'clock News!

Upload them from your smartphone to www.Burst.com/FOX26.

You can also post to your own social media with the hashtag #FNRFresno.

Click here to see the full Friday Night Rivals schedule.


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