Another NFL regular season is in the books and a handful of players with local ties made their mark one way or another.
Here's a rundown of eight players who either played high school or junior college football in Bakersfield and were on NFL rosters in 2018.
Derek Carr, quarterback, Oakland Raiders
High school: Bakersfield Christian
2018 stats: 381 of 553, 4,049 Yards, 68.9 completion percentage, 19 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
Season synopsis: It was rough in Oakland, with the shocking trade of Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears and continued to be a drag with a 1-8 start and the trade of Carr's top target Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys. Despite the sluggish season, Carr remained one of the team's bright spots and never gave up.
“I want to mess up the draft,” Carr said in November with his team sitting at 2-8. “I don’t want the first pick. I want to win all these games. I want everybody to be mad at me for that. That’s what I want to accomplish.”
Carr succeeded, as the Raiders finished the season 2-4. The team, which will move to Las Vegas in 2020 and is currently in the hunt for a home next year, holds the fourth pick in the draft.
One of Carr's best games this season came in a 24-21 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 9, when he completed 25 of 34 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns.
Cody Kessler, quarterback, Jacksonville Jaguars
High school: Centennial
2018 stats: 85 of 131, 709 yards, 64.9 completion percentage, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
Season synopsis: A year can make a big difference in the NFL. The Jaguars were moments away from their first Super Bowl appearance last January but ultimately fell short to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. The 2018 season brought high expectations for quarterback Blake Bortles and the team as a whole.
In March, the Jaguars traded a seventh round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Kessler. In turn, he was expected to be no more than an emergency insurance policy for Bortles in the team's championship run.
Bortles and the rest of the Jaguars struggled, however, and Kessler got his first start of the season on Dec. 2. The Centennial graduate would go on to get his first professional win as a starting quarterback in an ugly 6-0 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
"Obviously it wasn't pretty and there's a lot I left out there, but at the end of the day it feels good," Kessler said following the game. "Especially for me to get the first one.
"... It's something as a quarterback and as a kid, you dream of winning an NFL game."
Kessler would start two more contests, losses to the Tennessee Titans — where he would throw for 240 yards and a touchdown — and the Washington Redskins before Bortles reclaimed his job.
Tyrone Crawford, defensive lineman, Dallas Cowboys
College: Bakersfield College
2018 stats: 34 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Season synopsis: The former Renegade remained a mainstay on the Cowboys' defensive line, helping guide the team to a 10-6 record and an NFC East championship. He's the lone player in this bunch to reach the playoffs.
Crawford, a team captain, was third on the Cowboys in sacks and tackles for a loss. He also helped the team rank as the sixth best defense and fifth best rushing defense in the league.
Crawford suffered a neck injury on Dec. 23 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was stretchered off the field. He was released from the hospital that day but sat out Dallas' regular season finale against the Giants. The Cowboys hope he will take the field in their upcoming playoff game this weekend against Seattle.
D.J. Reed, cornerback, San Francisco 49ers
High school: Independence
2018 stats: 41 combined tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
Season synopsis: The 49ers' high team expectations were quickly dashed this season, as the roster was ravaged with injuries right from the start. That turn of events caused many reserves and hungry, young players to step up and contribute, however.
Starting out as a special teams player, Reed — a rookie fifth round draft pick — moved up the ranks and eventually entered the starting lineup. His coming out party came Dec. 9 against the Denver Broncos, when he recorded 12 tackles and collected his lone sack and forced fumble of the season. The performance made him a nominee for NFL Rookie of the Week honors.
Rishard Matthews, wide reciever, New York Jets
College: Bakersfield College
2018 stats: 5 catches, 24 yards
Season synopsis: Matthews' 2018 campaign started with promise — after solid 2016 and 2017 campaigns, he signed a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans worth $7.75 million. He would be cut a month later, however.
The Bakersfield College alum signed with the Jets later in the season, but saw very limited action before landing on IR in mid-December.
Jared Norris, linebacker, Carolina Panthers
High school: Centennial
2018 stats: 1 total tackle
Season synopsis: Norris saw limited action, playing in just three games before going on IR Oct. 12.
The Centennial graduate has been a practice squad and depth option for the Panthers in his three years in the NFL — the last two ending on injured reserve.
Colton Schmidt, punter, Buffalo Bills
High school: Liberty
2018 stats: Three games, 16 punts, 676 yards, 42.3 average, long of 55
Season synopsis: In the AFC East, Kern County punters have been highly regarded over the past few seasons. One of them was Schmidt, who made his mark in Buffalo the past four years before being cut by the Bills in September.
The Bills re-signed the Liberty High graduate on Halloween, however, but replaced him again in November for this man...
Matt Darr, punter, Buffalo Bills
High school: Frontier
2018 stats: Five games, 20 punts, 809 yards, 40.5 average, long of 55
Season synopsis: A former Miami Dolphins punter in 2015 and 2016, Darr was cut in 2017 and was benched that season before receiving the call to replace his fellow Kern County native, Schmidt, in Buffalo in November.
“I don’t think there’s any hard feelings between us. We both understand it’s the business and the profession we signed up for,” Darr said. “I don’t have any doubt that Colton is going to land on his feet. It’s never good to feel like you just put someone on the street. Especially Colton. But it doesn’t affect our relationship.”
Darr closed out the 2018 season as the Bills' punter.