Here we are, it’s championship weekend around the football landscape in the Central Section and we have … nothing to talk about.
This is weird.
For the first time since 1992, no team from the Valley region of Kern County is playing for a section title, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
Yes, Rosamond, up in the High Desert region of the county, played in and lost to Strathmore in the D-VI title game last week. But for those schools that surround the greater Bakersfield area, up to Delano, out to Taft and of course, just up the hill to Tehachapi, there is nothing to root for football-wise on the first Friday in December.
This is odd.
Look at it this way:
Since 1992, Kern County schools have won 30 section titles. That statistic is led by Bakersfield High with seven titles, the most Division I crowns in the section during that time frame.
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Tehachapi has won four since the last time the region was shutout.
Same thing for Garces and Bakersfield Christian.
What do all of those programs have in common?
They all lost in the semifinals either last week or two weeks ago.
On one hand, it shows to the staying power of those programs to either continue to stay relevant over a period of time or, in Tehachapi’s case, to return to the semifinals for the first time in seven years.
But it also indicates the teams around here just weren’t as good as the rest of the section, and sometimes that just happens.
My first year covering high school football in Kern County was 2014, and even since then there has been an impressive run of success.
That was the first season Ridgeview dazzled us with a D-II section title. Then, the Wolf Pack went down to the Inland Empire and gave eventual CIF State D-II champions Redlands East Valley a game in the Southern California regional.
In 2015, the state created a new playoff format that finally gave every section champion in California a chance at a state title.
That year we had three section champions: Liberty, Ridgeview and Kennedy. And while all three lost the following week (Liberty and Ridgeview at home, Kennedy on the road) having three section champions and, in turn, state playoff qualifiers was very impressive.
Then we got a real treat last year. Yes, Bakersfield got demolished by Del Oro on the road in the NorCal D-1A regional game, but Bakersfield Christian stunned Selma on the road in the D-4AA SoCal regional. The Eagles then hosted, and lost, to Moraga-Campolindo in the state championship on Dec. 17.
It was the first state championship game for a Kern County team since BHS won the D-I title in 2013, just before BCHS lost the D-IV state title at StubHub Center in Carson.
It was also the first state championship played in the city of Bakersfield since 1924 (history lesson: No one hosted a game between 1927 to 2015).
This look back in time is to indicate how well local teams have been at the section level recently, and to show just how big of an anomaly this year proved to be.
For me, I call something weird because it is out of the ordinary, which this season was.
Which also means it will be weird if it doesn’t take another 25 years to write this column.