Give Bakersfield Christian football coach Darren Carr time to talk about his defense, and he can go all day.
Unlike his two NFL quarterback brothers, Carr was a defensive lineman in high school and college. He coached that position at Bakersfield High before taking over at BCHS before the 2015 season.
“It’s fun, man,” Carr said. “I’ve been coaching D-line and playing D-line for more than 20 years now.”
That enjoyment has gone through the roof this season, as the Eagles (10-1) have shut out four teams and defeated Kingsburg 48-9 in the Central Section Division III quarterfinals.
BCHS is at No. 2 Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial (8-3) on Friday in the semifinals.
The Eagles defense has been predicated by the front-seven, led by three-year starter Jason Gauthier. The unit includes Robert Gonzalez, Tate Eenigenburg and Jonah Rogers. Those three were key for BCHS last season, as the Eagles won the D-III section title en route to a berth in the CIF State D-4AA championship.
Add in sophomore Ben Yurosek, and the group up front has been paramount in keeping opposing offenses off the field and allowing the Eagles' high-flying offense to score points.
“The mindset is way different than from my sophomore year, for sure,” Gauthier said. “We are a more physical bunch. We are not scared. We are a unit and come together and smack people. That’s the difference.”
The BCHS offense gets a lot of notoriety, for good reason.
Braden Wingle set the section single-season record for passing yards last season and is averaging nearly 250 passing yards a game. He's thrown 33 touchdowns to just four interceptions this year, as the Eagles are averaging 41.6 points a game.
As explosive as the Eagles' offense is this season, the defensive unit has been just as good.
Yurosek leads the team with 13.5 sacks, and is starting to get college interest as a sophomore because of his size (6-5, 215 pounds) and ability.
“He’s a tall guy, lean and can really get off the ball,” Carr said. “He’s a natural pass rusher. A natural run stopper, too. Sets the edge really well.”
Eenigenburg has 12.5 sacks himself. For Carr, he feels Eeningenburg, who is 5-10, 190, would be a college-bound player if he was six inches taller.
“This guy doesn’t take breaks,” Carr said. “On scout team defense, he goes out. On kickoff, too. The guy just loves football. I told him, ‘If you were 6-5, Nick Saban would be here recruiting you.’ No joke.”
Gauthier is the three-year starter that Carr says “knows the defense better than I do sometimes, which is kind of weird.”
“But that’s what you want out of your (middle) linebacker,” Carr added.
Gonzalez leads the Eagles with 68 tackles in the regular season and is “having an MVP-type year for our team. He’s just really playing well,” according to Carr.
All of that will be key for the Eagles to get back to the section finals.
Panthers junior quarterback Alex Trujillo has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards and has 31 touchdown passes. Memorial has also run the ball well, averaging 217 yards on the ground.
“You have to stop the run, No. 1. You have to,” Carr said. “If a team can pound the ball on you, they’re going to do it. If we can stop the run, if we can get the ball back to our offense and give them opportunities to score points and make (Memorial) pass, which is something they do a really good job. We’ve got some good DBs and good pass rushers. So if we can get them to do that, I think it’s going to be a really good contest for us.”