To an extent, there will be changes at quarterback for nearly every high school program in Kern County in 2019.
Over the next four weeks at Kaiser Permanente Sports Village, eight teams are working through the passing game during 7-on-7 competition each Wednesday beginning at 6 p.m.
With 11 weeks left before the season opener on Aug. 23, there is plenty of work to be done for each at the signal caller position and even the seasoned veterans working with new head coaches.
Bakersfield Christian has been one of the top passing programs in the Central Section over the better part of the last decade and fifth-year head coach Darren Carr will lean on senior Dominic Gamboni in the fall to lead the way.
Gamboni spent time last season as the starting quarterback before Jacob Maran took over the duties after Gamboa transferred from Dos Palos.
Gamboni threw for 886 yards with six touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2018.
There will also be a competition with Tyler Torigiani transferring from Liberty.
“It’s different with each guy,” Carr said. “(Torigiani) is like a Jake Maran (with his speed). It’s cool to have a package for him. So there will be competition for a backup spot. We have schemes for each guy, but Dom is going to be our dude.”
The signal caller at BCHS has a chance to air it out with offensive weapons like Ben Yurosek, Chris Gutierrez, David Stephenson, Shawn Warren and Ronnie Simril. For the next month, it’s about finding chemistry with the receivers and running backs.
“The main thing for our quarterbacks is timing,” Carr said. “Timing with other guys and other defenses you may not know. It’s about getting it in there on time. That’s big.”
Bryan Nixon has groomed some of the best quarterbacks the county has seen in the past 10 years and he’s trying to get another one in line.
Cody Kessler is with the Philadelphia Eagles and Jordan Love is rated as a top-10 college quarterback at Utah State.
Nixon’s latest protege is Haden Mann, a junior who looks more like a middle linebacker than a high school quarterback.
Mann, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds was a standout as a backup quarterback to Hector Gonzalez and even spent time at receiver and in goal-line situations at running back as a sophomore in 2018.
Mann threw for 107 yards, rushed for another 195 and caught three passes for 81 yards, accounting for five total touchdowns.
Now, it’s his turn to take over the offense for the Patriots.
“He’s going to have to learn our passing game a little more,” Nixon said. “He was on the varsity level and it’s one of those things that’s going to take time. Getting out here and in some passing tournaments, he’s going to get to see that. It’s a lot faster and he hasn’t had those reps since December.
But, Nixon is excited for the future of his new quarterback.
“The only bad part is that he can’t run the football out here (in passing leagues),” Nixon quipped.
Over at Ridgeview, first-year coach Rich Cornford, who was also the coach at West and Frontier, has the opportunity to begin his new venture with a quarterback with two years of starting experience under his belt.
Senior Justin Hinzo has thrown for more than 2,500 yards and 28 touchdowns the past two seasons and gives the Wolf Pack an upper hand in terms of experience.
“It’s nice. Justin’s arm strength is unquestioned. He’s got a cannon,” Cornford said. “And three years experience, you can’t buy that. He’s been working hard on his leadership skills.”
Hinzo will also have a ton of talent at his disposal returning with running backs Shawn Allen and Alijah Alexander-Williams and receivers Anthony Ramirez and Zion Hall returning.
Other quarterback situations to watch
• At Frontier, sophomore Travis Plugge will take over at quarterback. Strong-armed and a big build at 6-foot-4, Plugge has the tools to be a next-level quarterback.
• Paul Golla gets an experienced quarterback returning at Garces in senior Joseph Campbell, who has thrown for 3,553 yards and 19 touchdowns in two seasons as the Rams starter.
• Centennial not only is ushering in a new starting quarterback with senior Max Richey, but also doing it under the helm of first-year head coach Richard Starrett.
• East, South and North will both be seeking new quarterbacks in the Southeast Yosemite League and South Sequoia League champions Shafter will need to replace Alex Aguilar, as well.