It's that time of year again, when stadium lights become strobe lights, sidelines become walls and the running game -- wait, what running game?
The Arena Bowl, Kern County's annual indoor high school football senior all-star game, is back for an 11th edition at 7 p.m. next Friday in Rabobank Arena.
After nine years of pitting East vs. West (with the West winning eight), Arena Bowl coaches Rick Van Horne and Eric Mahanke -- veterans of the defunct Bakersfield Blitz arena team -- drafted their teams for the second straight year.
Last April, that resulted in the most dramatic of the Arena Bowls, a 47-41 thriller with four second-half lead changes, the last a 25-yard touchdown pass from Frontier's Josh Legoretta to Centennial's Shawn Johnson to win it for the Black team.
This year, Van Horne's Gold team features a couple of prominent members of Bakersfield High's Central Section champions, quarterback Chris Hannible and defensive back Kevin Elijah, plus Fresno State-bound cornerback Shannon Edwards of Ridgeview and Tehachapi standout Cory Lange.
For his Black team, Mahanke used his first four picks on Frontier defensive back B.J. Nard (Cal Poly), Bakersfield running back Silas Nacita (Cornell), Centennial wide receiver Michael Martens and Liberty quarterback Kody Renz.
For complete rosters, check out the School House Zach blog at www.bakersfield.com/schoolhousezach.
All seating for this year's Arena Bowl will be reserved. All tickets are $10 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster or at the Rabobank Arena box office.
Teams to play for military
Centennial's baseball team will host its fourth annual Military Appreciation Game, against Independence at noon on April 21. Admission is free.
The festivities begin at 11 a.m., with free lunch for all active and retired military, veterans, reserve military and families. There also will be an information booth for veterans.
Centennial will wear camoflauge jerseys and hats, honor three local veterans in a pre-game ceremony and host a swearing-in ceremony for local enlistees.
For more information, contact Greg Hicks at (661) 706-3181.
Four days later, on April 25, West High will play Highland and honor veterans and wounded warriors.
The Vikings will serve a meal to veterans before the game, invite them on the field for a color-guard ceremony and national anthem and then invite them onto the field for baseball activities afterwards.
"It's a good day for our kids to realize there's a lot more to life than baseball," West coach Brandon Parks said. "We want to thank these veterans for the freedoms that we have."
Former Mustang honored
Former Stockdale softball standout Victoria Valos was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Rookie of the Week earlier this month.
Valos, a freshman at George Washington University, was 9-for-14 with a double and two home runs to lead the Colonials to a 3-1 record between April 2-8.
For the season, Valos leads GWU (12-24) with a .342 batting average, 20 RBIs and a .613 slugging average.
Stockdale's baseball program will hold a poker tournament to raise funds for new pitching machines, uniforms and other equipment on April 27.
The Home Run Hold-Em Poker Tournament begins at 5 p.m. on April 27 at the American Legion Hall at 2020 H St.
Tickets are $125 and include a deep-pit dinner and entry into the poker tournament, which begins at 6. Tickets are available from all players and coaches or at Stockdale home games Tuesday or April 26.