Head coach: Paul Golla
14th season at Bakersfield (125-40); 16th overall (146-52-1)
Last season: 6-6 overall; 3-2 SWYL
Playoffs: Lost in Central Section D-I semifinals
History: League titles (29), Section titles (37), State titles (8)
Assistant coaches: Sean McKeown, offensive coordinator; Cody Stone, wide receivers; Lance McCullah, running backs; Adam Levinson, offensive line; Dan Ingle, quarterbacks; Jay Durant, defensive coordinator; Chris Herstam, front-six; Nate Munson, defensive backs.

2018 schedule

Aug. 16 - vs. Anaheim-Servite at Santa Ana Bowl
Aug. 24 - vs. Tehachapi
Aug. 31 - at Paramount
Sept. 7 - at Ridgeview
Sept. 14 - BYE
Sept. 21 - vs. Chatsworth-Sierra Canyon
Sept. 28 - at Stockdale*
Oct. 5 - vs. Garces*
Oct. 12 - vs. Frontier*
Oct. 19 - at Centennial*
Oct. 26 - vs. Liberty*
*SWYL game

Top returner

Cameron Williams, senior, QB/DB - Williams ended a whirlwind recruiting season last month with a verbal commitment to the University of Washington where he intends to play safety. A three-year standout is now the two-way leader for the Drillers.

Key players

Carl Jones, senior, ATH/DB - The Colorado commit brings a lot to the table for BHS after playing six positions in 2017 at Golden Valley.

Ceyontay Bell, senior, RB/DB - A top-end defender that can cover the whole field while likely playing a large role on offense at running back.

Isaac Jernagin, junior, WR/DB - One of the top wide receiver recruits in California, he will be looked on to assume the role vacated by Tahj Wright.

Isaiah Jernagin, senior, WR/DB - A two-way starter for the Drillers, the older of the two brothers is a lockdown cornerback and receiver with great hands.

Defining feature

If anyone knows how to handle a large amount of athletes that crave and rightfully deserve to handle the ball on offense, it’s Paul Golla.

A defensive-minded head coach now in his 15th year at Bakersfield High, Golla has molded plenty of talented athletes into college-level players.

This group has that type of talent once again, a trend that has become the norm at BHS.

“We have great team speed,” Golla said. “That’s what we’ve always been known for. We’ve been known for being undersized with good team speed. That’s typical. What’s not typical with this team is the amount of returners that we have this year compared to some of the other years.”

It all starts with Cameron Williams. The University of Washington verbal commit — in his third season as a two-way standout on varsity — will take the lion's share of reps at quarterback. He'll also make opposing signal callers sweat while roaming the defensive backfield at safety.

Williams compared this year's senior class to that of BHS state championship teams in 2013 and the 2016, when he was a sophomore.

“We work together,” Williams said. “Last year, that was a little hard to do. This year, we actually don’t need coaches to practice. As brothers, starting from freshman year, we have that connection and this year more than last year, it will hopefully bring us more wins.”

Carl Jones, a transfer from Golden Valley who commited to Colorado, will also take snaps at quarterback, running back and receiver on offense and play the other safety position opposite Williams on defense.

Then there's Ceyontay Bell, an undersized yet explosive running back and sideline-to-sideline defender, and the Jernagin brothers who are both high-end receivers and cornerbacks.

Senior Isaiah is being recruited by mid-major college programs while junior Isaac is one of the top receivers in his class in California with offers from USC, Arizona.

That’s just five of more than a dozen returning starters that will push BHS into the conversation of D-I title contenders.

What has changed?

Anywhere, anytime. A motto overused by many, but one that truly reflects how Golla runs his football program.

The Drillers started slow last season with a 16-0 win over a young Fresno-Edison team before losing four of the next five games. All those defeats came on the road.

The opponents all change in non-league except for the annual showdown at Ridgeview on Sept. 7. The Drillers open the season a day before everyone else on Thursday, Aug. 16 against Anaheim-Servite at the Santa Ana Bowl. They then have a home game against Tehachapi, followed by consecutive road games at Paramount and Ridgeview.

Add in returning full-time starters like Adrian Moreno, Jacob Zeimet, Wesley Wilson — along with three returning offensive lineman— and the idea this team could falter early on like last season seems unlikely.

“They’re a really mature group. Five of these guys started as sophomores when we won Valley two years ago,” Golla said. “They’ve seen the great, the bad, the ugly, the blowout, they’ve seen us blow people out. They have seen it all. Hopefully the matureness they have got from the last two years is, when things go bad — and they will — they are the guys to lean on and keep things in perspective.”

Trevor Horn can be reached at (661) 395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @trevhorn.

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