A totally different week, a totally different team, and an entirely different outcome on the scoreboard.
That was the storyline Friday night, as Bakersfield High (6-5) responded with a 41-6 drubbing of rival Liberty in the Central Section Division I quarterfinals at Liberty High School.
Two weeks ago, it was Liberty (6-5) topping the Drillers, 27-24, in the regular-season finale. That granted the Patriots an outright Southwest Yosemite League title, while BHS shot itself in a foot a number of times that evening.
Friday, however, the Drillers looked like a wildly different ball club, getting the job done in a win-or-go-home scenario.
Offensively, the team’s primary culprit throughout the season has been penalties. Center Bryce Underwood said the Drillers simply had to execute better and finish drives. That was a central focus in practice leading up to the game, Underwood said.
“A lot of holding, a lot of block in the backs,” he added. “So we corrected that. Just the little things. Simple adjustments, recognizing fronts. Adapting to what we see.”
Following a 13-play, 95-yard drive to make the score 14-0 in the second quarter, the Drillers committed zero penalties, as quarterback Caden Ochoa masterfully ran the offense. He punctuated the scoring march with a 2-yard run.
“It’s funny. After every big play, we always looked back. Look for the yellow flag,” BHS head Paul Golla said, tongue in cheek. “The penalties have backed us up all year. It’s exciting that, when we don’t have penalties, what we can do.”
Defensively, the Drillers controlled play up front. They swarmed the line of scrimmage with eight- and nine-man fronts, and hounded Liberty quarterback Isaiah Hill throughout the night. On the evening, BHS had six sacks and numerous pressures in the backfield.
“We’re raptors. We run and eat,” linebacker Adrian Moreno said of the Drillers’ mindset defensively. “That’s what we do. We ran 110 percent, every single play. That’s what BHS football is all about.”
When they’re on their game, they most certainly do. And they were on Friday night, in what could be classified as a statement win.
Next up for BHS is the section semifinals, against top-seed Fresno-Central. Can another upset be in the offing?
“This game we finally figured out how to put it together,” Underwood said. “We’ve had games where the defense would play really well but the offense would struggle. We just couldn’t get it together. This game, tonight, we figured it out.”