UPDATED, 12:49 a.m.: Here's an early-season stock report after the first slew of games. My thought of the night? Don't overreact to a close win or a close loss this early in the season. Bakersfield and Stockdale both suffered heartbreakers, but they were to really good out-of-section teams, and both of those teams are going to be just fine.
Moving up: Kern Valley, Frontier, Wasco, Arvin, Liberty
Holding steady: West, Bakersfield, Ridgeview, Stockdale, Golden Valley, Taft, East
Moving down: Mira Monte, Bakersfield Christian, Centennial, Boron, Tehachapi
UPDATED, 10:22 p.m.: Lawrence White gets a 44-yard touchdown run for Ridgeview with 1:03 left, and the Wolf Pack pulls within 42-21. But that's how this one will end.
Elsewhere, Memorial beats Centennial 34-13, and Wasco polishes off Mira Monte, 63-6. Stockdale and St. Mary's are now tied, 20-20, midway through the third quarter.
UPDATED, 10:12 p.m.: Heartbreaker for Bakersfield High, which misses a 29-yard field goal with 6 seconds left and loses 51-50 at Oaks Christian. Heck of a comeback for the Drillers, but they come up just short. They'll come home with some respect but not a victory after a barnburner in Westlake Village.
Here, it's all Frontier, with the Titans ahead 42-14. The latest touchdown came on a Troy Banks 45-yard touchdown run. He showed a tremendous burst of speed.
UPDATED, 9:50 p.m.: Frontier strikes again, with Riley Salters' interception setting up Evan Moore's 3-yard sneak for a touchdown. The rout very suddenly is on, as it's 35-14 Titans.
Bakersfield scores and gets a 2-pointer down at Oaks Christian to cut the lead to 51-50, and now the Drillers have recovered an onside kick and are back inside the Lions' 30. BHS with a chance to take its first lead there with about six minutes left.
Tehachapi is still down 17-0 to Exeter. A shutout loss there would be the Warriors' first at home since 1994. Chew on that for a while.
First final of the night: Liberty 42, Delano 6.
UPDATED, 9:42 p.m.: Ridgeview gets a stop of Frontier on downs inside the 30-yard line, but the Wolf Pack turns it right back over on downs, with Dennis Manning electing to gamble on fourth-and-1 and Jessie Morua stuffed at the line of scrimmage. That could end up being a huge turning point in this game, because on the next play, Evan Moore hits Jaz Thind down to the 1-yard line, and the next play was Nick Santoro's second TD of the game. The 2-pointer, another fade from Moore to Thind, gives the Titans a two-point conversion and a 28-14 lead.
UPDATED, 9:32 p.m.: Ridgeview just cut the lead 20-14 on a candidate for Play of the Week from Jaccob Lopez, who broke three or four tackles en route to a 54-yard jaunt into the end zone. That's impressive stuff from the junior, who now has 96 yards on four carries.
The shootout continues at Oaks Christian, where the teams have traded touchdowns. It's now 51-42 Lions late in the third quarter there. Stockdale leads St. Mary's 20-13 late in the first half. Arvin leads Highland 16-13.
UPDATED, 9:08 p.m.: It's halftime here of the first BVarsity live football broadcast, with Frontier leading Ridgeview 20-7. The Titans drove inside the Ridgeview 30 in the final minute of the half but a penalty and some incomplete passes stopped them there. It's been a strong defensive effort for the Titans, led by Colton Foster, who has been a beast on the defensive line.
Offensively, Evan Moore is 9/13 passing for 133 yards and a touchdown for the Titans. Nick Santoro has 11 carries for 77 yards and a score. For Ridgeview, quarterback Lawrence White has just 9 rushing yards, thanks to a couple of losses on sacks late in the half. Jaccob Lopez, Jessie Morua and Darius Smith have combined for 90 more rushing yards, but the Wolf Pack has just 13 yards passing.
Bakersfield and Oaks Christian have traded touchdowns early in the second half, with the Lions now ahead 38-28. Taft and Golden Valley are tied 7-7 at the break. Arvin has taken a 13-6 lead on Highland, and West now leads East 12-7. Exeter 10, Tehachapi 0 at the break. Shafter and Strathmore tied, 7-7. Wasco rolling Mira Monte 56-6. Some surprises in there, some other scores very much expected. Stockdale leads St. Mary's 20-13, with Anthony Wood and David Claiborne combining for three Mustangs TDs.
UPDATED, 8:54 p.m.: Frontier tacks on another TD, an 8-yard run by Troy Banks, though the Titans' story offensively has been Nick Santoro, who has 77 yards on 11 carries, all in the last quarter or so. The PAT was missed, but Frontier leads it, 20-7.
Ridgeview was just driving, but Colton Foster twice sacked Lawrence White on the series to blow up that effort. Frontier about to get the ball back with 1:43 left in the half.
Halftime scores: Oaks Christian 31, Bakersfield 21. Liberty 35, Delano 0. East 7, West 6 in the second quarter.
UPDATED, 8:18 p.m.: Elsewhere, the Drillers are making a comeback down in Westlake Village, scoring back-to-back touchdowns to cut the Lions' lead to 21-14, but Oaks Christian just scored to extend its lead to 28-14.
Elsewhere, Memorial leads Centennial 13-0, Exeter 10-0 over Tehachapi after a quarter.
Here, Ridgeview has answered Frontier's early touchdown with a 7-play, 73-yard drive capped by Lawrence White's 5-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-2. Important answer for the Wolf Pack, which got a 40-yard run from Jaccob Lopez for the bulk of those yards.
UPDATED, 8:01 p.m.: A quick start for Frontier here, with Troy Banks taking the opening kick 56 yards to the Ridgeview 28. Evan Moore completed two passes from there, 15 yards to Jordan Nichols and then 10 yards to Jaz Thind for the touchdown. Just the start the Titans wanted. Ridgeview stiffened against a couple of running plays, but Moore threw a beautiful fade on third-and-7 to Thind, and the defensive back had no chance.
UPDATED, 7:41 p.m.: We're live at Ridgeview High School for the 2013 season opener between the defending Division III section champion Wolf Pack and the visiting Frontier Titans, who won the Southwest Yosemite League last year.
This is an interdivisional matchup, so it won't have too much bearing on playoff seeding or anything like that, but it still has a big-game feel. There's a good crowd on both sides of the Ridgeview bleachers here, the bands are playing non-stop and the players are getting set to go.
The junior varsity game, won 34-20 by Frontier, ran about 20 minutes late, so we're looking at a kickoff around 7:50 or so for the varsity game.
Elsewhere, action is already under way, with Oaks Christian throwing an early haymaker at Bakersfield — an opening kickoff return inside the 5-yard line and a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter. Huntington Beach is up 7-3 on Bakersfield Christian. Most games in the Central Section have either just started or, like this one, are waiting to get going. But we're almost there, folks. You can follow the live broadcast of this one on the bakersfield.com home page; I'll save more analysis and big-picture thoughts for the blog.
ORIGINAL POST: It has arrived. The 2013 high school football season is upon us in full force, with four hours between now and kickoff throughout the Central Section.
A few important things before we get started. First, inside your Friday Californian is our annual 40-page High School Football Kickoff Preview, complete with previews on all 37 Kern County teams, coaches' records, a preseason All-Area team and preseason coaches' polls. Check it out while you can still get a copy.
Cal Hi Sports released the preseason version of its all-important divisional rankings today, providing the framework for the race to the regional and state bowl games at the end of the season. Four Kern County teams garnered Southern Cal rankings:
Bakersfield, No. 14 in Division I (and playing No. 12 Oaks Christian tonight)
Garces, No. 13 in Division II
Wasco, No. 3 in Division III
Bakersfield Christian, No. 4 in Division IV
The winner of the South Sequoia League might be in pretty good shape by year's end for a bowl berth, but remember this important caveat: You must win your section to be eligible for a bowl game. Fail to do that, and the rankings are all moot.
But already you can see there are important games on the docket tonight. BCHS plays Huntington Beach, a playoff team in a much larger division, and could really make a statement with a victory. BHS, as mentioned, has a road game with No. 12 Oaks Christian in Division I before taking on Wasco, Garces and Long Beach-Poly (ranked No. 3 in D-I) over the next three weeks. Clovis and Edison, both given honorable mention in Division I, tangle tonight up north. (Central is ranked No. 9 and Clovis North No. 13 in Division I, and Tulare-Mission Oak is No. 8 in D-III.)
This post will become the live blog from Frontier at Ridgeview tonight, and I'll be updating scores and highlights from all those games as fast as I can get them.
Also, a reminder: Tonight will be the first live football broadcast in BVarsity history. Myself and Louis Amestoy will be on the call from Ridgeview. Log on to the bakersfield.com home page to watch live, and then open a new window with the blog for more updates. It'll be the best high school football coverage around.
Live updates here will begin around 7 p.m. and the scoreboard will update below throughout the night.
(All games 7:30 p.m. Friday unless noted; Central Section ranking in parentheses)
Kern County scoreboard
Westlake Village-Oaks Christian 51, (1) Bakersfield 50
(6) Liberty 42, Delano 6
(8) Frontier 42, (13) Ridgeview 21
(9) Wasco 63, Mira Monte 6
San Luis Obispo at (10) Garces, 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Stockton-St. Mary's 34, (14) Stockdale 27
Exeter 17, (16) Tehachapi 7
Huntington Beach 32, (19) Bakersfield Christian 10
Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial 34, (24) Centennial 13
Chavez 42, Fresno-Roosevelt 41 (Thursday)
Kennedy 12, Porterville-Granite Hills 6 (Thursday)
West 31, East 21
Golden Valley 21, Taft 20
Arvin 16, Highland 13
Shafter 35, Strathmore 14
Kern Valley 53, Boron 20
Frazier Mountain at L.A.-Ribet Academy
Big Bear 56, Rosamond 8
Mojave 59, Northwest Christian 12
Palmdale 42, Burroughs 7
Fillmore 44, Desert 13
California City at Lancaster-Desert Christian, 7 p.m. Saturday
Other Central Section scores
(2) Clovis North 47, Atascadero 25
(3) Fresno-Central 27, Hanford 16
(4) Fresno-Edison 43, (5) Clovis 6
Paso Robles at (7) Fresno-Bullard, 7 p.m. Saturday
(11) Visalia-El Diamante 34, (18) Tulare Union 0 (Thursday)
(12) Dinuba 35, Madera 13
(17) Porterville 80, Visalia-Mt. Whitney 54
(21) Sanger 24, (23) Fresno-Sunnyside 20
(22) Visalia-Redwood 9, Tulare Western 7
Merced 40, (25) Clovis West 39
Hanford West 48, Fresno 12 (Thursday)
Clovis East 62, Concord-Ygnacio Valley 0
Kerman 23, Corcoran 19
Lemoore 47, Porterville-Monache 0
Fresno-McLane 23, Avenal 14
Riverdale 33, Laton 20
Parlier 15, Hanford-Sierra Pacific 13
Kingsburg 56, Tranquillity 6
Woodlake 38, Reedley-Immanuel 6
La Habra-Whittier Christian 41, Bishop 20
Mendota 51, Hayward-Stellar Prep 12
Los Banos-Pacheco 16, Selma 13
Cambria-Coast Union 57, Lemoore-Kings Christian 47