The high school football season is finally back after a shorter offseason (by one week) than in previous years. Bakersfield High will kick things off with a Thursday matchup out of town at the Santa Ana Bowl. Some Kern County teams will keep things local with old foes while others are travelling to challenge some of the top teams in California.
Here’s a look at the first week of games.
Bakersfield High vs. Anaheim-Servite at Santa Ana Bowl, 7
Bakersfield is ranked No. 54 in California by Calpreps.com, but the Drillers’ talented and experience-filled squad is looking up at No. 17 Servite. BHS lost four of its five non-league games that were on the road in 2017.
Avenal at McFarland, 7:30
This will be the fourth straight season McFarland and Avenal open the season against one another. McFarland won, 7-0, to start 2017.
BCHS at Garces, 7:30
Bakersfield Christian and Garces have split this season-opening matchup the last two years. Garces will have to use it to quickly get up to speed before hosting arguably the top team in California, Bellflower-St. John Bosco.
Centennial at North, 7:30
North had a season to remember in 2017 and Centennial had one to forget. The Division IV Stars will host the Division I Golden Hawks.
Delano at Chavez, 7
These two Delano schools keep it in town to kick off the year. Delano finished a game above .500 last season (6-5) and Chavez never got a win (0-9).
Foothill at Kennedy, 7:30
Kennedy has beaten Foothill by a significant margin to start each of the last two seasons, including a 55-6 win last year.
Golden Valley at East, 7:30
East is looking for payback after a 28-27 loss to Golden Valley to end the 2017 season. The Blades scored 27 points in the fourth quarter but fell just short in the comeback attempt.
Highland at Arvin, 7:30
Highland won its first eight games of 2017. Its first test will be Arvin, which has won seven games the last four seasons combined.
Kern Valley at Taft, 7:30
Kern Valley and Taft shared identical records of 2-7 last season. Ben Goffinet will be back as Kern Valley’s head coach after a three-year hiatus.
Lindsay at Cal City, 7:15
California City starts its season-opening eight-game road trip at Lindsay. The Ravens have shed their run-first attack for a more pass-happy approach.
Mira Monte at Shafter, 7:30
Shafter and Mira Monte have split four meetings over the last four seasons, but Shafter won convincingly in 2017, 48-0, to start a breakout season for the Generals and then-second-year head coach Jerald Pierucci.
Tulare-Mission Oak at West, 7:30
Mission Oak heads to West coming off an 0-10 season. West can relate, as the Vikings went 1-9 two seasons ago.
South at Independence, 7:30
Former Independence quarterback Tyler Schilhabel will return to the Falcons sideline as the team’s new head coach. Independence has won three of the last four meetings.
Stockdale at Ridgeview, 7:30
Ridgeview will show off new playmaker Tahj Wright and Stockdale will show off new offensive coordinator Erich Smith.
Fresno-Sunnyside at Frontier, 7:30
Frontier head coach Chris Bandy led the Titans to their first winning season since 2012 in his first year last season. He’ll try to get 2018 off to a good start.
Wasco at Tehachapi, 7:30
The Tehachapi Mountain Festival and the first game of the season could make for a great atmosphere to start the year at Tehachapi High School, but it also adds distractions for the Warriors players.
Liberty at Mission Viejo, 7:30
One of the Central Section’s top teams takes on one of California’s best. Mission Viejo is ranked the No. 7 team in the state, according to Calpreps.com, and features several Division I prospects.
Littlerock at Rosamond, 7
Rosamond went 11-2 last season and Littlerock lost 10 games. It will be Rosamond head coach Jeff Schank’s debut.