The 12th annual Driller Football Hall of Fame dinner and induction ceremony is May 18 at the Marriott Hotel Ballroom in downtown Bakersfield. The night starts with a 5:30 p.m. social hour and continues with dinner at 7 and the induction ceremony at 8:15.
The highlight of this year's Hall of Fame class are the three consecutive undefeated Bakersfield High football seasons of 1988, 1989 and 1990, which all won Central Section championships. There are also seven individuals being inducted.
Tickets are $125 per person or $1,500 for a corporate-sponsored table of 10. For more information call Paul or Shelly Golla at 661-393-4027.
A closer look at the inductees:
1988 championship team
The 1988 Drillers are considered by many to be one of the greatest teams in BHS football history. The '88 squad possessed an amazing will to win and a star-studded cast.
The Drillers recorded a perfect 13-0 season, the first BHS team in more than 20 years (1967) to go unbeaten and win a Central Section championship.
Led by quarterback Lance Geary, five of the best running backs in the city and Valley – James Allison, Anthony McClanahan, Chad Provensal, Brady Beck and Ben Lingo – and two of the fastest receivers in the state – Jason Oliver and Brian Adams – the Drillers stomped the SYL, including powerhouse West High not once but twice. The second victory over the Vikings was to win the Valley Crown before 18,000-plus fans at Memorial Stadium.
In the section playoffs, the Drillers outscored opponents 112-35, and in 13 total games they scored 454 points – an average of 34.9 per game.
Defensively, the Drillers were led by Gino Buoni, Leo Langer, Anthony McClanahan, Chad Provensal, Brady Beck, Ben Lingo, Brian Adams and Jason Oliver. They withstood every battle, including those against the tough West High Vikings, who executed the veer offense to perfection.
Driller Hall of Fame coach Tim Hartnett recalls, “We had tremendous effort from all 11 players on D against West; 11 players had to swarm to the football because of the weapons the Vikings presented. We had a high-octane defense that was fun to watch.”
The '88 Drillers were talented on the football field, and they also executed in the classroom. Eight players made first-team All-Area and went on to play for four-year universities and colleges.
1989 championship team
The 1989 Season would be a Driller Encore. The Drillers once again recorded a perfect 13-0 season and won their second straight section championship, this time 21-0 over a tough Mt. Whitney team.
Led by a talented group of seniors like Bryan Adams, Jason Oliver, Chad Provensal and Brady Beck, the Drillers sailed through a tough preseason schedule, knocking off notable opponents Canyon Country 24-14 and Lemoore 35-7.
Offensively, the Drillers were fast and scored at will on opposing defenses. The speed of receivers Adams and Oliver and the toughness of running backs Provensal and Beck was way too much for other Bakersfield teams, and the Drillers once again dominated the SYL, outscoring opponents, 426-94.
Once again the Driller defense shut down offenses, recording five shutouts, one against Mt. Whitney in the championship game. The dominant defensive line of David Hinh, Mark Hopkins, Ron Bryant and Chad Wright; the linebacking corps of Provensal, Beck and Jason Stevens; and the speed of the defensive secondary, which included Adams, Oliver and Bobby Gridiron, wreaked havoc on opposing offenses.
For two years in a row, special teams provided a spark to open the season as Oliver, a Driller Football Hall of Famer, took the opening kickoff and dashed 90-plus yards to score to open both the 1988 and 1989 seasons with touchdowns.
Besides winning 26 games in a row, the 1989 Drillers would pass a milestone with the 500th win in school history – a 21-0 victory over rival Foothill.
Head coach and Hall of Famer Pat Preston stated, “We had an amazing mixture of talented players that played together and got the job done. We had great senior leadership in these years. The older players took care of the younger ones. (We were) truly blessed to have had such amazing talent at BHS.”
1990 championship team
The 1990 season was like icing on the cake for Driller fans. After back-to-back Valley championships, no one was expecting a blend of a few seasoned returners and some new kids on the block to "three-peat." But that’s exactly what the ’90 Drillers did, sailing through the season winning the SYL for the third straight time and recording a third straight section title with another shutout win over Mt. Whitney, 14-0.
Another 13-0 season gave BHS a 39-game winning streak, which is still a Valley record.
The offense was almost all new, with the only established player being star lineman Jeff Buckey. Quarterback Robert Ray and running back Aaron McDonald stepped up from backup positions in ’89 to establish they were a force to be reckoned with. McDonald would become one of the greatest running backs in Driller football history, racking up 2,000-plus yards in his career, and Buckey would go on to star for the Stanford Cardinal and play in the NFL for the Miami Dolphins.
Defensively, the '90s squad was a feisty bunch led by Jason Scroggins, Ryan Slayton, Dave Blevins, Ryan Peterson and Damon Van Osdel. The linebacking crew and secondary had talented players like Kevin Parks, Alex Qualls, Steffon Bradley, Jeff Gardner, Jeff Priest and Acie George.
It was an interception by Parks that set up the winning score to seal the Valley championship. The defense recorded four shutouts and allowed only 60 points in 13 games.
Driller Hall of Fame coach Tim Harnett recalled, “This team had been together and played on two winning teams and felt like they should win and were motivated to win; they motivated each other. Through the three years we had great leadership, and it was an honor for me to coach and work with these kids."
James C. Allison II (class of 1989)
Played running back and defensive back, starring on the undefeated '88 team and earning Player of the Year honors all four years.
He earned The Californian All-Area awards his junior and senior years and Fresno Bee All-Valley Player of the Year in ’88. During his stellar football career, Allison and the Drillers only lost three games.
After BHS, Allison played running back at Fresno State from 1989-93. Allison's brothers, Bryan Adams and Lawrence Moore, also played for the Drillers.
Allison married Diane and together they have four children: Brittany, Christopher, Joshua and Briana, and one grandchild, Jayceon.
Steve Dowlearn (class of 1965)
After setting an age-group national record as part of a relay team in track and field as a youth, Dowlearn focused on football at BHS, where he played tackle on offense and defense.
He was a two-year varsity letterman and was integral to the undefeated ’63 and ’64 Driller championship teams. In ’64 he started every game at left tackle and earned All-City First Team honors as an offensive lineman.
After BHS, Dowlearn played for three years at Colorado before knee injuries ended his collegiate career.
Steve has been married for 40 years and has a son and two daughters. He resides in the greater Boston area.
Scott Graham (class of 1996)
As a sophomore, Graham was moved up to the varsity level and continued as a stellar lineman for the next three years. In his junior year, he earned All-Area honors as an offensive tackle and was second-team all-state. As a senior, he was named to the All-Area offensive team, earned the Area Lineman of the Year Award and was named to the Shrine All-State team.
Graham counts future pro Jeremy Staat as a BHS mentor, and he blocked for Driller Football Hall of Famer Steve Wofford for the 1994 section championship team.
Graham was an all-conference lineman for Bakersfield College, then played for Louisville, where he won a conference title.
Fred Parker (class of 1964)
Parker was a valuable all-around player at running back, defensive back and kicker. In ’63, he was named to the All-City and all-league teams. He was also named the Harry Coffee Most Valuable Player in ’63. In addition to football, Parker played basketball and ran track. He states his favorite memory while at BHS was the ‘63 undefeated football season.
After BHS, he played three positions for Bakersfield College and then played at Fresno State from 1968-70 and semi-pro football for several years.
Josh Sherley (class of 2002)
Played wide receiver, quarterback and cornerback while playing for the Drillers. As a freshman, he was voted toughest player by the team and coaches. In 2000 and 2001 he was first-team All-Area and was Defensive Player of the Year in 2001. In addition to football, Sherley won a wrestling state championship at 160 pounds in 2002 and placed third at senior nationals.
After BHS, Sherley played safety at Fresno State, was named second-team all-conference twice and played in four bowl games.
He is most proud of his beautiful wife who loves the Lord, loves him and loves their three beautiful children.
Bob Stone (class of 1965)
Played center and linebacker as a freshman and sophomore, sat out junior season, but returned his senior season to play center and on special teams. In ‘64, Stone’s senior year, the Drillers recorded an 8-0-1 season.
Stone said he feels blessed to have played for such great coaches as Paul Briggs, Don Harrison and Charles Sarver.
Stone also was a water ski drag racer, reaching a speed of 104 mph in ’64.
He enlisted in the service as a senior and served in Vietnam from 1965-66. He then continued his education as a kicker at BC and Fresno State. In two seasons the Renegades lost only one game.
In 1973, he was named football coach for Kern Valley, where he led the Broncos to their first winning season in eight years. He served as a board member for the Inaugural Hall of Fame committee.
Ed Witzke (class of 1959)
Witzke started at left offensive tackle and defensive end. Under the disciplined coaching of Paul Briggs, he learned the hard-nosed fundamentals of blocking, tackling, catching and running with the football.
In ’57, he earned the Special Achievement Award for Most Fumble Recoveries. In ’58 he played on the South team for the Annual Senior Bowl sponsored by the Kern County Firemen’s Association at Memorial Stadium. Witzke earned Most Outstanding Lineman.
After BHS, Witzke played left end at BC. In ’59 the Gades went undefeated, won their conference championship and won the JC National Championship game in the Rose Bowl against Del Mar Junior College from Corpus Christi. In ’61, after taking a year off to focus on academics at Fresno Pacific University, he returned to BC and led BC to a national runner-up finish.
In ’62, he went to Oregon on a football scholarship but sadly sustained a career-ending ACL injury. In ’64, he graduated from Oregon with a BS in Sociology and pursued a career in the juvenile justice system. He is married to his college sweetheart, Judy. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.