Wasco's chances at a CIF Southern California Division III regional bowl berth have boiled down to a two-step process.
(1) The Tigers must beat Bakersfield Christian on Friday night in the Central Section Division IV championship game.
(2) Wasco must hope the CIF's selection committee, which will meet Sunday morning, ignores a weak strength of schedule and chooses the Tigers over the winner of San Diego-St. Augustine and San Diego-Madison in the San Diego Section's Division IV final or the winner of Lancaster-Paraclete and Monrovia in the Southern Section Mid-Valley Division final.
Considering that Wasco beat Bakersfield Christian 49-0 in the teams' first meeting, winning the school's first section title since 1953 actually seems like the easy step.
A victory would make Wasco the only unbeaten team eligible for the Southern California D-III regional bowl, which would be played Dec. 8. But Cal Hi Sports, which publishes rankings discussed by the CIF commissioners, has the Tigers ranked only No. 4 in the division, behind Paraclete, St. Augustine and Monrovia. All three schools have one or two losses but have played schedules rated much tougher than Wasco's on Calpreps.
Central Section commissioner Jim Crichlow, who will hold a vote in Sunday's selection meeting, said he was optimistic about Wasco's chances.
"It appears one of the teams will be from San Diego, because they have two highly ranked teams playing each other," Crichlow said. "That would put it between Wasco and Paraclete, and being undefated usually gets you in. Almost every year an undefeated team gets selected over others. I don't care who they played; nobody beat them."
No one has come particularly close, in fact; Wasco's "closest" victory was a 56-28 win at Arvin. But the same argument didn't work for 13-0 Bakersfield last year, when the Drillers were passed over in favor of 12-2 Santa Margarita in Division I.
As for where a possible regional bowl would be played, Wasco athletic director Raul Rangel submitted an application to host the game on campus.
The CIF's regional football handbook says schools are allowed to host a game but are encouraged to instead choose a nearby neutral site. For instance: Stan Greene, the Kern High School District's director of school support services, said any KHSD team that reached a regional bowl game might have submitted a bid for Memorial Stadium at Bakersfield College.
But Rangel believes Wasco would be a suitable host.
"I said we'd absolutely be interested," Rangel said. "The application asks all kinds of questions, from capacity to security, everything, and we told them yes, we can host it here."
The Tigers are already gearing up for this weekend: A community-wide pep rally is scheduled for 6 tonight in front of the high school's administration buildings.
Painton signs with Fullerton
Centennial volleyball star McKenna Painton signed a letter of intent earlier this month to play for Cal State Fullerton.
She chose the Titans over UC Davis and Sacramento State, among others.
"It was really exciting," Painton said. "This makes it even more real, knowing that I'm so close to playing college volleyball."
Painton, who averaged 4.6 kills a game as a 5-foot-7 outside hitter for the Golden Hawks this year, will play defensive specialist for the Titans.
"Even though I'm a hitter in high school and club, I'm comfortable with left back defense," Painton said. "Fullerton runs that style defense."
Two locals ranked No. 1
Senior wrestlers from Bakersfield High and Wasco are No. 1 in their weight class in The California Wrestler's preseason state rankings.
Bakersfield senior Kyle Pope is top-ranked at 182 pounds after finishing as state runner-up there last year, and Wasco's Sean Medley is No. 1 at 220 pounds. He was fourth there last year.
The Drillers, who also have Coleman Hammond ranked No. 2 at 145 pounds and Andrew Fierro ranked No. 6 at 138, are ranked No. 5 in the state as a team. BHS won state in 2010 and was runner-up to Clovis each of the past two years.
Clovis is again state No. 1, with Wasco at No. 10. The Tigers also boast Isaiah Hokit, a sophomore ranked No. 2 at 113 pounds.
Other locals ranked in the top 10: Frontier's Vincent Gomez, No. 5 at 126; and Foothill's Oscar Corona, No. 10 at 152.
Advance football tickets
Advance tickets are on sale for section championship football games at Garces and Wasco during school hours today and Friday until noon.
Tickets are available in the finance office of each school.