In the 14 years that Paul Golla was head football coach at Bakersfield High, no other team in the area had as much consistent success.
From 2005 until Tuesday, when Golla parted ways with BHS to take over as head coach at Garces, none of the other nine programs that have been in the Central Section Division I field during that time had anywhere near the winning track record that BHS had during his tenure at BHS.
The Drillers won more games (134) and more section titles (five) than any other school from Bakersfield, Fresno or Clovis during that period. The Drillers are also the only team to bring home a CIF State championship to the Central Valley in D-I, beating Loomis-Del Oro in 2013.
To boot, while Golla was at BHS, no other D-I program in the section had the consistency of just one coach for that long. The only one that came close was Fresno-Bullard, which was coached by Don Arax until he stepped down after the 2017 season.
The only other team that came within 15 wins of BHS during that time frame was Liberty, which had 120 wins under Bryan Nixon, Tony Mills and Chad Provensal.
Eight teams have won D-I titles since 2005, while only Clovis West, BHS and Central have won multiple titles during that time. The only team on that list that hasn’t been D-I that entire span is Clovis North, a school that opened in 2009 and won the championship in 2012.
As Golla's time at BHS has come to a close this week, and he begins his new venture at Garces, here’s a look back at his five most memorable moments with the Drillers.
5. Beating Central on the road in 2016
The 37th section championship at BHS — a state record — came with a lot of flare. The Drillers were on the road in the December cold at Fresno-Central. Josh Maran wasn’t supposed to play because of a broken collarbone. Navonte Demison was on the football team that season for the first time since his freshman year. The two seniors hooked up for the game-winning touchdown — a 3-yard swing pass on third down — with three minutes remaining for the 21-14 victory.
4. Snubbed for state
Yes, the Drillers have a record eight state titles, but seven of those came before the CIF dismantled the state playoff format in the 1920s — it wasn’t until 2006 that the state brought back the playoff system. Adding to that, getting to state was far from guaranteed, with a committee selecting state playoff teams prior to the 2015 campaign. So, here the Drillers were in 2011, undefeated at 13-0 after beating Bullard 38-3 for the section title, but snubbed from competing in the state championship. That team had some exceptional seniors such as Chris Hannible and Silas Nacita. But there was a sophomore class waiting in the wings for their opportunity.
3. Mitchell led the way
Peter Mitchell, by all accounts, was never a Division I college athlete. The dude was 5-foot-8, 160 pounds soaking wet when he was the quarterback at BHS. Regardless, his senior year in 2007, Mitchell led the Drillers to the D-I section title over Clovis West. It wasn't Mitchell's arm or running ability that came through in the shining moment, however — it was his right foot. His 43-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining gave the Drillers a 19-16 victory.
"Straight down the middle," Golla said after the game. "You cannot explain how good he really is. You see teams wanting guys at quarterback who are at least 6-feet tall and run 4.4 40s, but we want Pete Mitchell every time."
2. First one out the gate
When Golla came to town in 2005, the Drillers were four years removed from a 13-0 season in 2001 and were just 16-17 from 2002-04. With junior Phillip Thomas — who went on to play five season in the NFL — leading the way, the Drillers beat Stockdale to open the season 28-26, then went 2-2 to close out non-league action. BHS won the Southeast Yosemite League title and finished the season on a 10-game win streak, including a 35-28 win over Bullard for the D-I section championship.
1. BHS secures state title No. 8
So much of what made the 2013 season so special was how those seniors helped lead the team to an undefeated season in 2011, and how they overcame adversity in 2012 to become one of the greatest teams in recent Kern County history. It was Asauni Rufus, Kevin Hayes, Nate Stancil and Jeremiah Reddick leading the Drillers to the state title over Loomis-Del Oro, 56-23, at StubHub Center in Carson. But it was the lead-up to the state title game that was most impressive. The Drillers averaged 48 points per game during a 10-game win streak that included a 60-21 drubbing of Clovis North in the D-I finals. Seemingly, nothing could stop this team and games got out of hand quickly. Then came the SoCal regional game on the road in San Marcos. The Drillers trailed Mission Hills for most of the contest. But Rufus, who was successful on all 10 of his passes for 224 yards, scored the game-winning touchdown from a yard out with 51 seconds left to secure the 35-28 win, and state-title berth. That regional game is still widely considered by locals as one of the most entertaining and well-played games in BHS history. It led to the Drillers first state crown since 1927.