WASCO -- As if its punishing running game wasn't enough, Wasco made quite an announcement Friday night against Bakersfield Christian: These Tigers bite on defense, too.
Wasco made three first-half interceptions and held the high-powered Eagles attack to 149 yards of offense in a 49-0 rout in front of an adoring home crowd.
"We were all over their quarterback," said Garrett Johnson, a senior lineman who specializes on the defensive side. "We have blitz combinations from the coaches, we make holes for the linebackers, they put pressure on the quarterback and he throws bad balls. That's what we do."
Wasco (7-0, 3-0 South Sequoia League) had won its first six games by an average of 45.2 points, but none of the six opponents had a winning record. This was supposed to be different: BCHS came in at 5-1 and rolling after a 52-42 comeback victory at undefeated Shafter last week.
"We've been looking forward to playing a competitive team," Johnson said. "I think we handled it pretty good. We got our minds right this week and played good football."
The Eagles (5-2, 3-1) had three consecutive first-half drives end in interceptions -- one returned by Kris Aguilar 48 yards for a touchdown -- and lost another possession in-between when Wasco recovered a pooched kickoff.
Combine that effort defensively with Wasco's typical rushing output -- 398 yards and six touchdowns on the ground -- and you have another blowout.
"We want to play our style on offense and defense," Wasco coach Russell Prado said. "We want to punish you on offense and punish you on defense. We might give up a big play here or there, but that's OK. We want to come after you."
As Wasco's program has risen from section also-ran to section power, Prado always has been quick to credit defensive coordinator Edward Moreno and the Tigers' weight-room program. And both shone this week.
"For me, it's the difference between having one good year in the weight room and them having four," first-year BCHS coach Jerald Pierucci said. "We're not where they are physically. That's what it comes down to."
Terrance Grinner led the Tigers with 183 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 carries.
He opened the scoring with a 38-yard touchdown run four minutes in, followed on the next drive by a 24-yard scoring run from Isaiah Sharp, who finished with 149 yards and two scores on 20 carries.
Casper Lopez added 61 yards and a score on nine totes. All of them enjoyed holes blown open by Wasco's massive offensive line, on which four of five players tip the scales at more than 250 pounds.
By the time Grinner scored from 10 yards out just three minutes into the second quarter, it was already 35-0. Wasco coasted from there.
“Our boys were ready to play,” Prado said. “It's hard to keep the boys hungry sometimes, but we have great senior leadership. ... There were no pleasant surprises. We just ran the ball and played tough defense.”
It's that last bit that might really scare teams in the SSL and in the Central Section's Division IV, where the Tigers were runners up last year but will be looking to finish the deal in a few weeks.
“We want to win Valley, and that's always in our minds,” Johnson said. “We've just got to take it week by week, prepare and stay composed.”