UPDATED, 10:28 p.m.: Josh Medina scores on a quarterback sneak to tie Central in the third OT and then hits Justin Nieto for a two-point conversion that wins it for Liberty, 43-41 over Central. What a classic game, and what a coup for the Southwest Yosemite League.
Speaking of — Frontier beats Lompoc, 28-16 and scores a big one for the Central Section and for the SWYL. Centennial also was up big at Redwood late, so a good night for the league.
Elsewhere, Sheldon Croney runs for an unconfirmed 380 yards in a 49-14 Garces victory at Golden Valley. That's ... awesome. Taft scores a big 11-0 win against D-IV contender Coalinga.
UPDATED, 10:02 p.m.: Final score: Bakersfield 35, Wasco 13.
Liberty has scored on a fourth-and-15, 30-yard touchdown pass from Josh Medina to Quincy Jountti, and now the Pats have knocked in a two-point conversion for a 35-27 lead. Central will have to match that to get the game into a third overtime. Otherwise, Liberty has a huge lead.
Now another update: Central has just scored to pull within 35-33. Grizzlies need the two-pointer to tie. They get it, using big-time talent Miciah Quick for the score. It's 35-35, going to a third overtime. Wow.
UPDATED, 9:54 p.m.: Asauni Rufus just got trucked as he was about to throw, and Wasco has reovered a fumble. Tigers now down to the BHS 10 and facing a third down. Chris Aguilar is stopped, and Bakersfield now sacks Sutton on fourth down. Second time tonight the Tigers have turned it over on downs inside the red zone. Bakersfield can run out the clock now, with under four minutes to play.
Both Central and Liberty have scored in the first overtime — and both missed the extra point, incredibly! It's 27-27 headed to second overtime.
UPDATED, 9:43 p.m.: Central and Liberty going to overtime. The Grizzlies tied it up with 19 seconds left. 21-21 there. Bakersfield Christian also in a good one.
Here, Wasco has driven 65 yards for a touchdown, with Austin Sutton hitting Terrence Grinner for an 18-yard passing score. The PAT is blocked, so it's 35-13 Bakersfield.
UPDATED, 9:34 p.m.: Derrick Vickers scores on a 54-yard run around right tackle. That's called an exclamation point. Drillers now all over Wasco, 35-7.
UPDATED, 9:31 p.m.: Terrence Grinner finally finds some daylight and runs for 30 yards before Marcus Watkins pulls him down from behind. MOst teams the Tigers play can't stop that play from being an 80-yard touchdown. Bakersfield does, and now Wasco stalls. Fourth and 8 at the Bakersfield 45 as the third quarter comes to an end.
Frontier just scored to begin the fourth quarter against Lompoc and now leads 28-14.
UPDATED, 9:26 p.m.: Wasco players cramping up left and right here. Quarterback Austin Sutton and now standout defensive player Chicho Martinez is out. Bakersfield can really take advantage on this drive. The Drillers drive inside the Wasco 40 as the third quarter crawls inside three minutes to go. Lameshio Hill now with a tremendous run inside the 25. Now a play-action fake, swing pass to Hayes, and he breaks a tackle and can walk into the end zone from there. 28-7 Drillers. Wasco in trouble now, with most of its playmakers sidelined or hampered.
Liberty trying to hold off Central, up 21-14 late in the fourth. Frontier leads Lompoc 21-14. Centennial up 24-13. Could be a big night for the Southwest Yosemite League.
UPDATED, 9:13 p.m.: Sharp picks up three for Wasco and then goes out with more cramps. But Wasco gets a huge break on a third-down penalty for a first down, and they move up their 40. But the drive stalls there, and it's fourth down. Wasco will go, and Austin Sutton with a gutty first-down run. Tigers still on the move. Third down again, and Grinner is stopped short. It's fourth down again, and why not? Wasco will try it again. Now a penalty, and Wasco will punt. Tigers do some work from their own 1, but it's still 21-7.
UPDATED, 9:04 p.m.: More impressive stuff from Wasco's defense, which continues to get pressure in Bakersfield's backfield. A third-down sack here from Chris Aguilar and Marcus Darden on third down are going to force a BHS punt. And Kevin Hayes has done it again, pinning Wasco deep as Terrence Grinner decided to field a punt on his own 1-yard line. He muffs it and manages to recover, but the Tigers will be pinned deep.
And here's the other cloud over Wasco's chances: Isaiah Sharp is cramping up after nearly every play he participates in. If he can't go, the Tigers lose almost all of their big-play potential. It's still 21-7, with Wasco trying to get away from its own end zone.
UPDATED, 8:51 p.m.: Here are some first-half stats:
Wasco (134 total yards): Austin Sutton 0-1 passing, 3-12 rushing; Isaiah Sharp, 17-117, TD; Terrance Grinner 5-4 rushing; Casper Lopez 3-6 rushing
Bakersfield (230 total yards): Asauni Rufus 4-6 passing, 97 yards, 7-52 rushing, TD; Johnathan Malone 1-62 rushing, TD, 1-46 receiving, TD; Jeremiah Reddick 3-19; Kevin Hayes 2-43 receiving.
Score updating all night below.
UPDATED, 8:36 p.m.: Bakersfield with another stop of the Wasco offense, and what a job the Drillers defense has done in this half. A 31-yard swing pass to Kevin Hayes has Bakersfield in business late in the half, but a sack and fumble that Asauni Rufus had to jump on in the backfield have snuffed that drive out. It'll be Bakersfield 21, Wasco 7 at the half.
Elsewhere: Mira Monte leads North 13-0. Garces leads Golden Valley 19-0. Frontier 14, Lompoc 7 at the half. South 7, Highland 3.
UPDATED, 8:23 p.m.: Wasco is on the board, with Isaiah Sharp punching it in from 4 yards out. What a roar from the Wasco crowd, and it's a ballgame again at 14-7.
But here's an answer so quickly for the Drillers: An 11-yard run from Jeremiah Reddick, and then a rumbling, stumbling 55-yard option keeper from Asauni Rufus. It's 21-7, just like that.
Independence leads 7-6 at the end of a quarter. Frontier up 14-7 on Lompoc, second quarter.
UPDATED, 8:15 p.m.: Wasco gets a 36-yard run up the sideline from superstar Isaiah Sharp, and the Tigers get into the red zone before turning it over on downs. The Tigers get a much-needed three-and-out on defense — and then a bad Bakersfield punt. Wasco back at the Drillers 23. The Tigers have just converted a fourth down and have first-and-10 from just outside the 10.
Halftime score: Central 14, Liberty 7.
UPDATED, 8:02 p.m.: End of the first quarter here, with Bakersfield on top 14-0. It was Johnathan Malone again, this time on a 62-yard scamper over left guard. He's touched the ball twice and gone 108 yards for two scores and barely been touched in the process. Wasco picked up a first down before the quarter ended, but the Tigers need something big to happen in a hurry.
Liberty has tied up Central, 7-7. Frontier leads 7-0 after a quarter. Centennial down 6-0 to Redwood. Ridgeview up 6-0 on Independence. Chavez and Delano scoreless after a quarter.
UPDATED, 7:53 p.m.: Frontier has taken a 7-0 lead on Lompoc, a team that has lost just once in its previous 34 games. So that could be huge for the Titans and for the Central Section. Central, meanwhile, leads Liberty 7-0 in the night's biggest Division I battle.
Here, Wasco is forced to punt again. The Tigers aren't used to being stopped three times in a row, but they have a huge crowd here that is so far undeterred. Asauni Rufus just threw an illegal forward pass, beyond the line of scrimmage, so the Drillers are backed up.
UPDATED, 7:45 p.m.: Wasco does well on its first couple of series, really hitting the Bakersfield defense in the mouth en route to two first downs, but on the third series, a third-down fumble gives the ball to the Drillers near midfield. But the Wasco defense held, getting Asauni Rufus to fumble, recover it and then go down for an 8-yard loss. The Tigers have gone three-and-out, though, giving the ball back to BHS in good field position. An expected shootout is scoreless thus far.
Hold that thought — a third-down quick slant to Johnathan Malone goes 46 yards untouched for a touchdown. Bakersfield leads 7-0 with 4:22 to play in the first quarter.
UPDATED, 7:30 p.m.: We're about to kick off at Bakersfield High, where Wasco brings its 14-game winning streak to bear. We're streaming live at bakersfield.com. Updates and scores here all night long, too.
ORIGINAL POST: Tonight is the final milestone. Most teams have already started their 2013 seasons, but for the few that haven't, the countdown ends tonight. In Kern County, that list includes Independence, North, Foothill and, perhaps most notably, South.
The Rebels host Highland tonight in their first game since losing head coach John Wren unexpectedly in July. There will be a short ceremony to honor Wren and recognize his family before the game, and a perpetual No. 67 jersey (Wren's number when he played at South) will sit on the bench with the Rebels all year long before it's given to his son, Gunner, a lineman who also wears No. 67. Then the game will kick off and a lot of emotions will release. Nowhere will football seem less important and more important at the same time.
Of course, football fans will turn their eyes to many places tonight. There's Bakersfield, where Division IV Wasco comes in riding a 14-game winning streak and has the chance of a lifetime to stun the section and win one for small schools everywhere. There's Frontier, where the Titans take a Lompoc team that has lost just once in its past 34 games — that's three years' worth of almost nothing but winning. There's Fresno, where Liberty takes on Central in the section's most important game from a playoff seeding perspective. There's Arvin, where Foothill coach Jason Oliver makes his debut, and Mira Monte, where North coach Chad Brown makes his.
Week 1 began last night as Tulare Union scored a big Division I win in overtime over Clovis East, Tulare Western got its first win in almost two years against Mt. Whitney — and Porterville ran all over West, 62-24.
Keep it right here for all the latest updates. BVarsity will broadcast live at 7 p.m. from Bakersfield tonight, where the Tigers and Drillers will kick off at about 7:30. The live feed will be available at the bakersfield.com home page. Afterwards, catch BVarsity Live, as always, at 11 p.m. for all your scores, highlights, analysis and call-in needs.
In between, I'll update from Wasco-BHS here and include as many scores as I can squeeze in while also keeping stats and doing play-by-play.
(All games 7:30 p.m. Friday unless noted; Central Section ranking in parentheses)
Kern County scoreboard
(2) Bakersfield 35, (9) Wasco 13
(5) Liberty 43, (4) Fresno-Central 41, 3OT
(7) Frontier 28, Lompoc 16
(12) Garces 49, Golden Valley 14
(13) Ridgeview 40, Independence 14
(14) Porterville 62, West 24 (Thursday)
Centennial 31, (19) Visalia-Redwood 13
Visalia-Central Valley Christian 34, (21) Bakersfield Christian 33
South 32, Highland 18
Tehachapi 25, Burroughs 13
Arvin 34, Foothill 13
North 20, Mira Monte 13
Delano 26, Chavez 6
Shafter 52, Porterville-Granite Hills 0
Strathmore 36, Kennedy 0
Taft 11, Coalinga 0
McFarland 8, California City 3
Kern Valley 28, Corcoran 19
Frazier Mountain 82, Santa Clarita-Einstein 22
Mammoth 40, Rosamond 8
Northwest Christian 38, Maricopa 0
Lancaster-Antelope Valley 47, Boron 7
Desert 40, Acton-Vasquez 19
Mojave 32, Lancaster Baptist 14
Trona at Immanuel Christian (Saturday)
Other Central Section scores
Bellflower-St. John Bosco 48, (1) Clovis North 0
(3) Fresno-Edison at Carson (Saturday)
(6) Fresno-Bullard 54, (15) Clovis-Buchanan 14
(8) Clovis 14, Lemoore 12
(10) Visalia-El Diamante 35, (20) Fresno-Sunnyside 14
(11) Dinuba 37, Reedley 6
(17) Sanger 49, Fresno-Hoover 6
(18) Tulare-Mission Oak 46, Hanford West 0
(24) Tulare Union 35, (22) Clovis East 28, OT (Thursday)
(23) Clovis West at Canyon Country-Canyon, (Saturday)
(25) Kingsburg 22, Visalia-Golden West 18
Tulare Western 24, Visalia-Mt. Whitney 13 (Thursday)
Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial 47, Fresno-McLane 15
Liberty-Madera Ranchos 49, Farmersville 27
Firebaugh 36, Fowler 18
Los Banos 47, Fresno-Roosevelt 27
Kerman 37, Madera South 14
Mendota 41, Caruthers 7
Exeter 34, Woodlake 22
Fresno 44, Tranquillity 0
Lindsay 45, Reedley-Immanuel 14
Selma 41, Sacramento-McClatchy 0
San Andreas-Calaveras 64, Oakhurst-Yosemite 21
Modesto Christian 50, Chowchilla 0
Laton 34, Merced-Stone Ridge Christian 13
Hilmar 28, Dos Palos 14
Riverdale 34, Orange Cove 6
Parlier 42, Orosi 12
Tollhouse-Sierra 31, O'Neals-Minarets 7
Avenal 28, Hanford-Sierra Pacific 13
Lemoore-Kings Christian 28, Avalon 25
San Jose-Harker 41, Coalinga-Faith Christian 0
Fresno-Washington Union at Atwater (Saturday)
Fresno Christian at Riverdale Christian (Saturday)
Big Pine at Alpaugh (Saturday)