It's been a crazy weekend of football through the college and NFL ranks, but it all started in Kern County with a night of surprises. South loses for the first time, Centennial's momentum is stopped cold by Stockdale, Bakersfield Christian comes up big, Liberty pulls off a huge fourth-quarter comeback ... read on for much more.
Bakersfield Christian 47, Wasco 20: Even in the first half, when Wasco was answering Bakersfield Christian's scores and coming up with the occasional stop, you could sense the Tigers were in trouble here. Matters got worse when Isaiah Sharp (out 2-3 weeks with a separated shoulder) was lost on the last play of the first half. Wasco just could not cover the deep ball, and Brandon Jones repeatedly took advantage, to the tune of 393 yards and six touchdowns. Meanwhile, the BCHS defense might have been even more impressive against Wasco's typically explosive running game. The Tigers only had two plays of longer than 20 yards and none longer than 30, thanks in large part to linebacker Grant Bouma and defensive end Matt Smith, who were everywhere. The Eagles are now clear favorites in the SSL — a non-league game against South is interesting, but the remaining league games should be easy wins — and are in line for a great seed in Division IV. Oh, and there's this: After an 0-2 start, the high-flying Eagles are right in the mix for a Division IV CIF regional bowl berth.
The Wolf Pack controlled the ball early with a long touchdown drive, and then sophomore QB Lawrence White answered both times South pulled within one score with a big play of his own. The result is that the Rebels have their first loss and Ridgeview, despite a terrible three-game stretch in the middle of the season, looks like it's the class of the South Yosemite League again. You could tell from post-game quotes from both White and Ridgeview coach Dennis Manning in the game story linked above that the Wolf Pack felt some disrespect. If the team can keep that chip on its shoulder the rest of the way, a run at another title in an increasingly weak-looking Division III is still very much in play.
Stockdale 32, Centennial 7: The turnover monster spares no one, and when he strikes, you're probably not going to get away. And man, did the monster get Centennial badly on Friday night. Plenty of credit for that goes to Stockdale, and the Mustangs get even more credit, because they took advantage of three early Golden Hawks turnovers, plus an 8-yard punt, to take a 25-0 lead. What's more, Stockdale's defense was outstanding even when it wasn't forcing turnovers, and Centennial never got a chance to get back in the game. Anthony Wood (153 rushing yards) and Xavier Chisholm (123) did the offensive damage. This certainly jumbles up the picture in the SWYL, but it's a huge win for the Mustangs, who must find one more victory in a brutal final three games (Liberty, Frontier, Bakersfield) to get to five wins and satisfy school policy to enter the playoffs. Same goes for Centennial, though the Golden Hawks have an opportunity against Independence before ending with Bakersfield and Liberty.
Liberty 37, Frontier 36, OT: Zach Sullivan was the hero, but only because he wasn't used earlier. That sounds strange, but it might just be the best way to describe this incredible Liberty comeback. The Patriots trailed 24-6 at halftime but scored three second-half touchdowns and converted two-point conversions on all three of them. Frontier, meanwhile, had the extra point blocked on its only second-half TD, so the final of Liberty's dramatic scores tied the game, 30-30, headed to overtime. Frontier scored but missed another PAT, so when Anthony Mariscal (122 rushing yards, 3 total TDs) went 25 yards for a touchdown on Liberty's first overtime play, Sullivan's first extra point of the game was a winner. This was a huge result for both teams. In many ways, it saves the Patriots' season, at least as far as their chances in the SWYL race and at a top-four seed in the D-I playoffs. It's devastating for Frontier, which now must beat Bakersfield or fall to 0-3 in the SWYL.
Bakersfield 49, Independence 7: Seven different players scored touchdowns as the Drillers rolled their way to 5-2. This one was over shortly after halftime, when BHS quickly extended its 28-7 advantage at the break with two TDs. BHS will have to deal with a desperate Frontier team next week, but it's tough to imagine this team losing again before the playoffs, a run that would be good enough for at least the No. 2 seed in Division I. As for the Falcons, well, that's two SWYL games and 114 points against. The defense is clearly an issue.
West 42, Golden Valley 28: A terrific — and perhaps season-saving — win for the Vikings, whose offense had hit some major roadblocks in the past several weeks before exploding behind Stanley Dubard's 216 rushing yards and interception return for a touchdown. West actually led this game 42-14 before two late Golden Valley touchdowns, so it was more lopsided than it looked. Can West make a run? Well, it would have to start next week against Ridgeview. A win there could force a three-way tie atop the SYL (the Vikings have already lost to South).
Garces 41, North 7: I'm not right about much, but I hit this one on the head. North plays hard, and it plays fundamentally sound defense, so it took Garces a little while to get going. In fact, the Stars led this one 7-6 midway through the second quarter when a Steven Twiss touchdown run gave them the lead. But once the Rams started rolling, there was no stopping them. It was 20-7 by halftime and the rout was on from there, with Sheldon Croney rushing for 205 yards and 3 TDs (including an 80-yarder in the fourth quarter) and Jake Pavletich completing 13 of 18 passes for 241 yards and three more scores. North is a great story and not a bad team, but it's pretty clear Garces and Tehachapi are again on another plane in the SEYL.
Elsewhere... East High recovered a blocked punt in the end zone early in the first quarter and routed Foothill 40-6. Keep an eye on the Blades. A serious corner might be getting turned under veteran coach Dave Thorp. ... No slow start for Tehachapi this week. Six days after the Warriors slogged their way through the first half at East, they were up 42-0 on Highland at halftime en route to a 48-20 win. Still three weeks until Tehachapi-Garces. ... Taft continued its season of heartbreak, losing a 16-0 lead to Chavez in a 27-26 Titans victory. The Wildcats fumbled a snap on a punt with 1:18 left to set up the winning touchdown pass from Michael Nava to Jose Fernandez, a sophomore who had nine catches for 159 yards and 3 touchdowns. Taft has now lost three games this year — to Golden Valley, Shafter and Chavez — by a total of six points. Ouch. ... Kern Valley kept rolling, beating Rosamond 66-7 to remain unbeaten in the High Desert League. The Broncs, whose only loss is to Morro Bay, are still in the running for a top seed in Division V, but they've got some serious competition locally for a spot in the Small Schools regional bowl game in Bakersfield Christian.
Here's a replay of Friday night's BVarsity Live (catch us at 11 p.m. every Friday night on Bakersfield.com) followed by a glance at next week's big games:
Now next week's five big ones:
Stockdale (4-3, 2-0 SWYL) at Liberty (6-1, 1-1): The BVarsity Game of the Week returns to Liberty, where the Patriots look to stay in the SWYL race against one of the two remaining unbeatens
Bakersfield (5-2, 2-0 SWYL) at Frontier (3-4, 0-2): Last year's upset will be fresh in Bakersfield's mind, and remember — the last time here, the undefeated 2011 Drillers narrowly escaped this trip
Bakersfield Christian (5-2) at South (6-1): The Eagles' preposterously good offense takes on a new challenge in an athletic South High defense. Great non-league game
West (3-4, 1-1 SYL) at Ridgeview (4-4, 2-0): If the Wolf Pack has a letdown, West is playing well enough to force a three-way tie in the league race
Taft (3-4, 1-2 SSL) at Wasco (5-2, 2-1): The Tigers are playing without Isaiah Sharp and might have a BCHS hangover ... Taft is due a close win somewhere ... this can't happen, can it?