To say first-year Bakersfield High head coach Michael Stewart was unhappy after Friday night’s 28-20 loss to Paramount is an understatement.
Penalties, blown coverages, poor tackling. You name it, and Stewart let his team hear about it on Griffith Field after the game.
“You can’t be undisciplined, you can’t miss tackles, you can’t not play the defense, you can’t run the routes on offense,” said Stewart, who was coaching his first varsity game as head coach at Griffith Field. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what skill level you have, you’re going to get beat, and that’s what happened tonight.”
The Drillers led 10-0 midway through the second quarter when Isaac Jernagin took a pass from Ricky Easterwood and sprinted 76 yards for a score with 5:33 left in the first half.
That’s when the game’s momentum began to turn.
The Pirates (2-1) drove 62 yards on their next position, capped by a 3-yard TD run by James Thomas to cut the lead to 10-7 with 2:06 left in the second quarter. The play was set up by a 22-yard pass from Kingston Hala to Anthony Williams
Bakersfield took over and was forced to give the ball back with 41.3 seconds left in the half. That was more than enough time for Paramount.
Hala connected with Williams for a 33-yard play, down to the Driller 5-yard line. Two plays later, Hala threw a 6-yard TD pass to Justin Livingston to give the Pirates the lead for good with 5.6 seconds left in the half.
“(It’s frustrating) when you feel like you can compete against a team, and feel like you’re a little bit more skilled …” Stewart said. “You never want to lose because of your own mistakes. And that’s what happened tonight.”
Hala consistently connected with Williams. On Paramount’s opening possession of the second half, Williams scored a 10-yard TD on a perfect pass from Hala to build the lead to 21-10.
Bakersfield (1-2) cut the lead to 21-17 on a 13-yard run by Wesley Wilson with 9:20 left in the game. Wilson had 58-yard run called back midway through the third quarter because of an illegal shift penalty.
The Pirates responded on their very next play. Williams and Hala hooked up again, this time for 75 yards, bringing the ball to the Driller 5-yard line. Three plays later, Williams scored on a 3-yard run to build the lead back to 11 points.
BHS kicker Ryan Bonner made two field goals, including a 26-yarder to make it a one possession game with 4:38 to play. But Paramount was able to run out the clock, thanks in part to a pass interference penalty on a third-and-seven play near midfield.
“Give credit to the other team,” Stewart said. They drove up here. They drove a couple hours in the heat and the score speaks for itself. So you have to give them the love that they deserve, but at the same time you never want to beat yourself.”