The first week of league play around Kern County is always an interesting one when you get rivals on the same field that may have played in two completely different non-league portions of the season.
Take Liberty and Frontier. The Titans were undefeated coming against teams that they were expected to beat. Liberty went 1-4 with four of those teams ranked in the top 60 in the state. The result? A Liberty win, as the Patriots had a 21-0 halftime lead.
Plus, there were games like South going on the road and keeping the sword for the seventh straight season after beating North.
Then there was the shocker of them all, with Garces beating Bakersfield on a last second 33-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Peter Dellis for the Rams' first win of the season.
The wackiness also showed up in our predictions. Josh Bennett and myself both whiffed on all three Southwest Yosemite League games, but my vast (very little) knowledge of the small schools in the outer areas of Kern County came into play, as I got Josh by a few games this week.
Things may settle in a bit this week after we got a good glimpse of what’s to come, or, things could stay par for the course this year and we likely will be talking about another crazy upset again this week. And sometimes, that’s pretty darn exciting.
BAKERSFIELD (2-4, 0-1 SWYL) at FRONTIER (5-1, 0-1 SWYL) - Amazing what a week can do to the luster of a football game. Last week, BHS and Frontier were teams with completely different non-league schedules that seemed ready for a collision course as favorites in the opening week of the Southwest Yosemite League. Then BHS lost to Garces on a last-second field goal and Frontier suffered its first loss of the season to Liberty in a game where the Patriots had a 21-0 halftime lead. The losses do not indicate that either team is going to tank the season, whatsoever. However, what those losses do is make for one of these two teams vulnerable to an 0-2 start in league play. But which one? BHS has all the talent in the world, but the Drillers have hurt themselves so much this season with fumbles, and a ton of penalties. Good teams beat those that give away yardage and that’s what Garces did to the Drillers. Frontier was riding high with a 5-0 start to the season, but once the Titans played a really tough opponent (other than Ridgeview), the non-league schedule came into play against Liberty. Both coaching staffs here are great at finding ways to coach up kids in tough situations. So, given the fact that BHS coaches, led by Paul Golla, have a leg up on experience with this squad over first-year Frontier coach Chris Bandy, I give this one up to the Drillers. But, to be honest, I am not confident in this pick until the Drillers show me they can stop beating themselves.
Trevor’s pick: Bakersfield 27, Frontier 20
Josh's pick: Bakersfield 27, Frontier 20 (OK, we seriously do these separately)
GARCES (1-5, 1-0 SWYL) at CENTENNIAL (2-4, 1-0 SWYL) - This one is the polar opposite of the BHS-Frontier game. Where those two teams are reeling from tough SWYL opening losses, Garces and Centennial are riding high off wins. Garces beat BHS for the first time since 2006 as sophomore kicker Peter Delis nailed a 33-yard field goal as time expired to win 20-18. Garces led the whole way until BHS scored with 1:50 to play before the Rams took advantage of three really bad penalties against BHS to set up the game-winner. Centennial was on a three-game skid before going to Stockdale and hammering the Mustangs 31-9 last week. So this one comes down to which one of these two teams can capitalize on successful league openers. Will Alexander was highly efficient throwing the ball with 170 passing yards and three touchdowns, with 157 of those yards to Zach Hernandez and Zach Hartsfield, while Cody Hartsfield rushed for 156 yards against Stockdale. Joseph Campbell threw for 129 yards and Isaiah Martin had 127 yards on 30 carries for Garces against BHS. This one just feels like two very equal teams that are quite eager to get a huge second win in league play and stay undefeated. Garces is still without the services of WR/DB Lebrevon Austin (dislocated elbow) and will miss senior linebacker Jack Tobias for the next few weeks after a fourth quarter injury suffered last week. Tobias is such an integral part of the Rams defense that it may be hard to be without another captain this week.
Trevor’s pick: Centennial 28, Garces 20
Josh's pick: Garces 24, Centennial 21
STOCKDALE (2-4, 0-1 SWYL) at LIBERTY (2-4, 1-0 SWYL) - Sometimes there’s nothing better than a little home cooking. Liberty went 0-4 during a month-long road trip before handing Frontier the Titan’s first loss of the season in a 28-16 victory. The Patriots led 21-0 at the half, a much-needed boost of confidence after Liberty played at, and lost to, BVarsity Central Section No. 1 Fresno-Central, No. 2 Clovis-Buchanan, No. 16 Ridgeview and state-ranked No. 20 Westlake Village-Oaks Christian. Sam Stewart Jr. led Liberty with 104 rushing yards and added two rushing scores as Winston Jountti had two catches for 77 yards and touchdown catch from Isaiah Hill. The Patriots, winners of 21 of the last 23 SWYL games will get another home game this week against a Stockdale team that has lost two straight and three of the last four. At times, the Stockdale team has looked impressive on both sides of the ball with senior Jalen Smith at quarterback and Nick Maiden leading the way on defense. But the Mustangs let a game get away from them late in a 30-28 loss at Independence, then Centennial ran right past Stockdale last week in a 31-9 SWYL opener loss. Given the fact that Liberty made such easy work of a previously undefeated Frontier team last week and the pedigree of the Patriots being able to get better as the season progresses, this one looks like a winner for the home team.
Trevor’s pick: Liberty 35, Stockdale 14
Josh's pick: Liberty 35, Stockdale 21
INDEPENDENCE (4-2, 1-0 SYL) at GOLDEN VALLEY (2-4, 0-1 SYL) - Since going 1-10 in 2011, Independence has won between five and six games each of the past five seasons, including 5-6 overall record and share of the South Yosemite League crown with Ridgeview and Tehachapi last season. Led by junior quarterback Sergio Borreli, who connected with David Hernandez on a 35-yard touchdown pass to beat Tehachapi 14-13 last week, the Falcons are off to the best start since 2012. Golden Valley was a darling early in the season with a blowout 55-0 win over Taft and handing small-school power Shafter before dropping three straight heading into this week’s homecoming game. Carl Jones continues to be an impressive all-around playmaker for Golden Valley, but a small roster has made life difficult for the Bulldogs. Independence should be able to contain Jones just enough and put some points on the board to stay undefeated in league play two weeks in.
Trevor’s pick: Independence 27, Golden Valley 19
Josh's pick: Independence 31, Golden Valley 20
RIDGEVIEW (3-3, 1-0 SYL) at WEST (4-1, 1-0 SYL) - What a fun game this one could be. West is one of the top stories this season, as the Vikings have gone from a 1-9 squad in 2016 a team on the verge of something special this season. Last weekend, West came back to beat East 22-19 to open SYL play. The Vikings have become a wing-T oriented offense running at a high rate at 291 yards a game. Senior Donta Mason has been a one-man wrecking crew the past few weeks as sophomore L.J. Laulu is averaging 114.5 rushing yards per game. And now, in rolls Ridgeview after the Wolf Pack held off Golden Valley for a 20-10 league-opening win. Ridgeview is 29-3 in SYL games going all the way back to 2010. Last week’s win over the Bulldogs wasn’t pretty, but sometimes just getting a win is good enough. It’s hard to know exactly which Ridgeview team will show up — the team that beat Liberty 19-14,or the one that lost 30-9 to BHS two weeks ago. Sometimes, I like the darlings, the ones with nothing to lose. It feels like one those this week.
Trevor’s pick: West 26, Ridgeview 22
Josh's pick: Ridgeview 30, West 24
TEHACHAPI (1-5, 0-1 SYL) at EAST (3-3, 0-1 SYL) - I was 5-years old the last time Tehachapi started a season 1-5. I just went to my 20-year high school reunion last weekend. Do the math, it’s been a long time — 33 years long, in fact — since that 1984 season when the Warriors last had this type of start. It’s been a rough go for the Warriors. Other than the 28-27 overtime thriller at home over long-time rival Garces, the season has been rough on Tehachapi. In fact, the Warriors have scored just 33 points in the other five games combined. East made easy work of Delano and Mira Monte before losing three of the last four games. Hahkeem Taylor (467 rushing yards) and Jonathan Monroe (357 yards) have been a great running back combo for the Blades, but not having Richard Lara at quarterback the last few weeks has been rough on East. If the Blades defense can contain the Warriors run game, this looks like a solid win for the home team, and the first 1-6 start since 1940 for the Warriors.
Trevor’s pick: East 20, Tehachapi 13
Josh's pick: East 27, Tehachapi 13
NORTH (3-3, 0-1 SEYL) at FOOTHILL (0-6, 0-1 SEYL) - North has shown glimpses of playing really well with a talented roster, but the team has been bitten by the turnover bug really badly this season. When North isn’t turning over the ball, it’s taking care of business and shutting out Tehachapi. When the Stars are fumbling away drives, it’s suffering 31-30 losses at Porterville-Monache and a rivalry-game defeat against South, in a 30-27 heartbreaker. Bailey West (908 passing yards) can sling the ball while Victor Boggs (239 yards) and James Johnson (321 yards) have been viable options in the pass game. But 22 turnovers in six games makes winning tough games even harder. On the other hand, Foothill is still winless this season under first-year head coach Dan Ingle. North should be able to get away here even with a few turnovers, but pretty certain that is not part of the gameplan for Stars coach Norm Brown.
Trevor’s pick: North 35, Foothill 13
Josh's pick: North 42, Foothill 14
SOUTH (3-3, 1-0 SEYL) at MIRA MONTE (0-5, 0-0 SEYL) - The streaks continue. I say streaks because after South beat North last week, it was the seventh consecutive win for the Rebels in the “Battle for the Sword” annual rivalry game. The win also extends South’s SEYL win streak to 13 since the Rebels entered the league in 2014. The win also snapped a three-game losing streak for the Rebels after a tough run against Independence, Tulare Western and West. Bryson Aguirre had one of his best games of the season last week while throwing for 311 yards and two touchdowns. It’s been a tough run again for Mira Monte this season. After the Lions appeared to be on the path to victory with a 13-0 halftime lead over California City on Sept. 22, Mira Monte has been outscored 59-0 over the last six quarters. South will extend the league streak to 14 games here on the road, likely will ease. Someday, things will turn for Mira Monte.
Trevor’s pick: South 34, Mira Monte 12
Josh's pick: South 35, Mira Monte 10
SHAFTER (5-1, 3-0 SSL) at BAKERSFIELD CHRISTIAN (6-1, 3-0 SSL) - This is the one. Other than these two teams, it’s a total down year for the South Sequoia League. Even though it’s only Oct. 13, the league title will likely be decided here. BCHS has been on an amazing run since losing to Visalia-Central Valley Christian on Sept. 1. Since, the Eagles have outscored opponents 223-25 during the current five-game win streak. BCHS has done it in the pass game, the run game, defensively, and Alex Wallace is turning into a human highlight-reel as a returner as well. Shafter is led by junior dual-threat quarterback Alex Aguilar, who leads the county in passing yards with 1,616 and has another 569 on the ground and 26 total touchdowns. It’s a great matchup for Jerald Pierucci in his first game back at BCHS after leaving the program after the 2014 season. Pierucci coached BCHS to the CIF Southern California Division IV championship game in 2013. BCHS has not lost an SSL game (15-0) since Darren Carr took over in 2015. If there ever was a time for two teams in Kern County to light up the scoreboard with great passing games, this is the one with Aguilar going up against Braden Wingle. This is going to likely be a good old fashioned shootout. With the winning pedigree at BCHS, including playing in a state championship game last season with a lot of this season’s standouts, this one looks like it will land in the Eagles' favor, but not without a fight from the Generals.
Trevor’s pick: Bakersfield Christian 42, Shafter 27
Josh's pick: Bakersfield Christian 49, Shafter 38
WASCO (2-4, 1-1 SSL) at CHAVEZ (0-5, 0-2 SSL) - Look at this in terms of numbers only. Chavez lost 95 percent of the offensive product from a year ago, including the quarterback, top four running backs and all but one player that hauled in at least one catch in 2016. Also gone are 12 of the top 13 tacklers from a year ago. It’s hard to recover from that type of graduation at any level, let alone one from a small school in Delano. There are no excuses being made here, but one can see why Chavez, a team that won 29 games over the previous three seasons, would have a rough go, but this, no one could have seen coming. For Wasco, there were holes to fill, yes, but it seemed like the Tigers had the right pieces in place to make a run in Rick Stewart’s first year as head coach. Wasco beat Kennedy 36-29 to snap a two-game losing streak. That was the first time Wasco put up more than 18 points in a game, so, maybe it took half the season to get a rhythm going. I have a sense that may be it. So, give this one to the Tigers on the road.
Trevor’s pick: Wasco 20, Chavez 15
Josh's pick: Wasco 20, Chavez 13 (Get out of my head, Josh)
KENNEDY (1-5, 0-3 SSL) at ARVIN (1-4, 0-2 SSL) - Kennedy was the small-school darling in the county for three years, winning the D-VI title in 2014 and 2015. Things looked up-and-coming for the newest school in Delano, but other than a season-opening win over winless Foothill, the Thunderbirds have gone winless themselves since. There have been competitive games against Highland, Kerman and Wasco, which gives reason to think something will click. Like Kennedy, Arvin’s lone win this season came against a winless team as the Bears beat Mira Monte 32-0 on Sept. 15. Since then, the Bears’ offense has been putting up points in losses to Taft and Shafter in the first two weeks in the SSL. A bye last week gives Edgar Mares and his coaching staff more time to work off that, which lends itself to a Bears' win.
Trevor’s pick: Arvin 28, Kennedy 21
Josh's pick: Arvin 31, Kennedy 27
DELANO (2-3, 0-1 EYL) at TULARE UNION (6-0, 1-0 EYL) - Good thing for Delano is that after this week, it does get easier. After a 48-0 loss to Tulare Western last week, now it’s time to play one of the top offenses and one of the best running backs in the state. Kazmeir Allen has 1,118 rushing yards, another 376 yards through the air, and has scored 30 touchdowns in the first six games for the Tribe. Add in Nathan Lamb — who leads the section with 1,971 passing yards — and Fresno State-commit Emoryie Edwards already with 46 catches for 1,016 yards and 11 scores, and this is a potent offense for the No. 5 ranked team in the section. In fact, Tulare Union has scored at least 42 points in every game and has posted 69 points the last two weeks over Dinuba and Porterville-Monache. The Tigers had a solid 42-0 win over Wasco two weeks ago, but there is very little doubt the Tribe will roll here and Delano can look towards ending the regular season against teams that are a combined 4-12.
Trevor’s pick: Tulare Union 55, Delano 13
Josh's pick: Tulare Union 56, Delano 14 (He's not cheating, I promise)
BISHOP (3-3, 0-1 HDL) at ROSAMOND (5-1, 0-0 HDL) - Bishop snapped a three-game losing streak with a 54-14 romp over Kern Valley to open High Desert League play last week. Rosamond is at home in this HDL opener for the Roadrunners after beating Yermo-Silver Valley last week 30-27. Isaih Escobar has thrown for 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns to just two interception this season for Rosamond, while Mario Aparacio has been Escobar’s main target as a receiver and leads the Roadrunners with four sacks. The ball will fly again and Rosamond will open league play with a win.
Trevor’s pick: Rosamond 35, Bishop 20
Josh's pick: Rosamond 30, Bishop 21
LANCASTER-MCAULIFFE (1-4, 0-0 GCL) at CALIFORNIA CITY (3-3, 0-0 HDL) - With Desert deserting the HDL for 8-man football, the remaining four members have scurried to find replacement games, like this one for the Ravens. Cal City has won three consecutive heading into this non-league game against McAuliffe with close wins over Mira Monte, Orange Cove and winning the league opener over Boron, 26-22. The Mustangs haven’t been competitive, other than a win over L.A.-New Designs Watts. Can’t see this one getting by Cal City.
Trevor’s pick: Cal City 35, McAuliffe 13
Josh's pick: Cal City 34, McAuliffe 14 (This is creepy, man)
FRAZIER MOUNTAIN (0-6) at TRONA (7-0) - Another week, another loss for Frazier Mountain. The streak is now at 30 games with the last 25 coming as an 8-man team. The streak will go to 31 because Trona is one of the best 8-man teams in the state and if you haven’t seen it, they play on a dirt field. It was featured on ESPN's “Outside The Lines” in January. The Tornadoes have outscored opponents 420-46 while the Falcons have been outscored 323-128. There’s no sugar coating this one, it won’t be close.
Trevor’s pick - Trona 77, Frazier Mountain 18
Josh's pick: Trona 78, Frazier Mountain 7
Trevor last week: 11-5 (.688)
Trevor this year: 89-42 (.679)
Trevor all-time: 785-290 (.730)
Josh last week: 9-7 (.562)
Josh this year: 21-15 (.583)
Josh all-time: 21-15 (.583)