On Dec. 27, 1927, a perfect 70-degree Southern California winter afternoon, the Drillers of Bakersfield High School took to the gridiron of the Los Angeles Coliseum in front of a crowd of 6,000. The team was prepped to battle for the California state football championship title.
Their opponents, the Fullerton High School Indians, had only one advantage over the hometown team that day – crowd size. In every other aspect, the Drillers were untouchable. Christmas may have ended two days earlier, but the young men were determined to give themselves and their fans one more gift.
Championship games were not uncharted territory for the Drillers. Since the start of the California state football championship game in 1919, the team had taken to the field seven times out of nine.
They amassed an impressive record of 5-1-1, establishing what became known as the “Driller Dynasty.”
The 1927 state championship game brought a sense of urgency to the team. This game was the last chance to clinch one more title and make the town proud. The directors of CIF decided that the 1927 state championship game would be the last. They based the decision on the fact that the season ran too long, championship play was too strenuous and the extended season was detrimental to the health of the players.
The team knew the game was do or die.
The day before the big game, the team traveled through the snowy peaks of Ridge Route to Los Angeles. The Kern County Athletic Association arranged a special train to take fans to the game the next day. Due to the snowy conditions, the number of passengers was limited, but some 2,000 Bakersfield fans managed their own way through the icy Ridge Route to fill the Coliseum’s stands.
For the fans unable to make the trip, The Californian made sure they did not miss any of the action. The paper set up a big grid-o-graph over the building’s balcony to broadcast a play-by-play of the game from a leased wire to the Coliseum.
The team was unstoppable.
Led by coach Dwight M. “Goldie” Griffith, the Dec. 23, 1927, Californian described the team as “one of the greatest coach Griffith has ever developed.” The Drillers were the favored team going into the match.
The season was one of the Blue Blazes’ most successful. They easily routed their opponents and outscored them 349 to 19.
The all-star squad of Uhalt, Stockton, Cross, Ware, Weils, Clark, Boehm, Mutz, Tyack, Zaul, Miles, Cerda, Muller, Ferris, Bonham, Custard, Percel, Nolan, Schultz, Payne and Freear were ready for their Fullerton opponents.
The game started slow, the score 0-0 at the end of the first quarter, but at the end of the half, the Drillers led 20-0. By the time the clock ticked down to the final second of the game, Bakersfield claimed a final victory 38-0.
For 79 years, the Bakersfield Drillers retained their state championship title until CIF reinstated state championship games in 2006. The 1927 football season will forever remain as the year the Blue Blazes ended the season in flame of gridiron glory.