The Bakersfield High football head coaching position is the most coveted in the Central Section.
There are other programs that have come up and taken over at points in time, but none have the staying power of the Drillers.
Griffith Field is storied. The grandstands should be a national landmark. History runs deep with this school dating back to the 1800s and the football program is a big reason for that.
The eight CIF State titles and 37 Central Section championships are California records. Since Dwight “Goldie” Griffith took over as head coach of then-Kern County High School, the Drillers have had just seven head coaches in the past 111 years, including the last 14 under Paul Golla.
The earth-shattering news struck Tuesday, however, when Golla announced his resignation after accepting the same position at Garces.
Now there's a void in the head coach's seat, and the administration at Bakersfield High needs to hit one out of the park with this hire. The new coach will need to take on the expectations of winning Golla has left behind — five Central Section Division I titles and a CIF State Division I championship in 2013 during his tenure.
There will also be plenty of expectations for new principal Ben Sherely, a BHS graduate in his own right.
Here's a list of go-to candidates that should get consideration as next head coach at BHS:
Rick Van Horne: The guy literally wrote the book on Driller football. The 1979 BHS graduate and three-year varsity standout and assistant coach for the Drillers was the head coach at East from 1994-98 and was Liberty's inaugural coach 1999-01. He then coached the Bakersfield Blitz. Van Horne is the author of “Friday Night Football: 100 Years of Driller Football” that was published in 2006. Van Horne has been a candidate for other coaching jobs in town before, but his mind for the spread offense and knowledge of the BHS lore makes him a top candidate.
Cory Hall: This is a guy that was interim head coach at Oregon State in 2017. Hall played locally at Stockdale and South and was head coach at Clovis North for three seasons (2011-13). He's currently defensive backs coach at Central Michigan. Coming back to the high school ranks might seem like a step back, but Hall did say over the phone, “I would have a conversation. That’s BHS.”
Eric Coleman: He's currently offensive coordinator at Occidental College, a Division III program in Los Angeles. The Ridgeview graduate also coached at BHS about a decade ago and is a prime candidate. Coleman spent five seasons as an assistant at Cal Poly, recruiting the Central Valley for the Mustangs. Bringing back a former assistant that has honed his craft at the next level would be a smart move.
Michael Stewart: The former BHS star who went on to become a standout safety at Fresno State and in the NFL for the Rams and Dolphins has most recently spent time as an assistant coach at Ventura College. If the administration wants someone that can coach up the urban community around campus, Stewart is a prime candidate and has told friends he's interested in the position.
Mario Millan: The former BHS assistant thrived this season as head coach at Kennedy High in Delano. The Thunderbirds won the Central Section Division V title in 2018 and Millan has spoken very highly about his time at BHS and coaching underneath Jason Oliver and Golla. Millan has stated he hasn't applied for the position, but would be a great hire if given the opportunity.
Ed Croson: The West Hills-Chaminade head coach is a Bakersfield native. His grandfather graduated from Kern County High School in 1925 and Croson was a Highland graduate in 1975. BHS athletic director Jeff Scott was also his neighbor in high school. Still, Croson said his wife likely wouldn’t buy into moving to Bakersfield. “She’s an L.A. girl,” he said on Thursday.
Rahsaan Shehee: Listen, in his words, the former Foothill, University of Washington and Kansas City Chiefs running back is happy in his role as BHS girls basketball coach. Shehee said he's “100 percent” not going to apply for the football position. He spends a lot of his down time coaching his son, R.J., in basketball and football. He loves his life right now. But if this is truly a water cooler-type conversation in town, then Shehee's name is a must, even if it's just ceremoniously.
Darren Carr: After eight years as defensive line coach at BHS, Carr has found great success as head coach over the last four years at Bakersfield Christian. The Eagles won the Central Section D-IV title in 2016 and played for the CIF State D-4AA championship two weeks later. Carr has the coaching pedigree, a knowledge of BHS and, of course, would always have the services of big brother, David, at his disposal wherever he is coaching.
Bryan Nixon: OK, Nixon was quick to say that he will not apply for the job at BHS. Nixon has coached Centennial and Liberty to six Central Section D-I championship games over the last 18 years, and won the title in 2015 for the Patriots. If Nixon can go from Centennial to Liberty, then the move to BHS is not 100 percent inconceivable.
Joey Porter: This one is just for fun. No way Porter leaves the NFL ranks, where he was recently let go as an assistant for the Pittsburgh Steelers. But having him back home would sure be fun to watch. His incredible energy would get a lot out his players, but his lack of teaching credentials also keep him from being a viable option. But hey, if Antonio Pierce could coach at Long Beach Poly, why not Porter here at BHS?