Head coach: Doug DeGeer
Second season at Tehachapi (7-6)
Last season: 7-6 overall: 4-1 SYL
Playoffs: Lost in Central Section D-III semifinals
History: League titles (30); Section titles (11)
Assistant coaches: Ralph Curiel, OL/DL; Jason Hail, defensive coordinator; Darrel Sipes, quarterbacks; Johnny Macon, wide receiver/defensive backs

2018 schedule

Aug. 17 - vs. Wasco
Aug. 24 - at Bakersfield
Aug. 31 - vs. Taft
Sept. 7 - vs. Highland
Sept. 14 - at Garces
Sept. 21- BYE
Sept. 28 - vs. Independence*
Oct. 5 - vs. Bakersfield Christian*
Oct. 12 - at Golden Valley*
Oct. 19 - at Ridgeview*
Oct. 26 -vs. West*
*SYL game

Top returner

Chris Garcia, senior, QB - In an offense predicated on running the ball, it’s easy to question the importance of a quarterback. But in this case it’s the exact opposite. Garcia has been a leader on the team and is the most integral piece to how good Tehachapi can be this fall.

Key standouts

Hayden Palmer, senior, RB/LB - Top returning rusher for Tehachapi after finishing with 525 yards on 125 carries in 2017.

Tanner Love, senior, RB/DB - Came on late as a key rusher in 2017 and will be a two-way standout for the Warriors.

Peyton Stowers, senior, OLB - Key standout on defense as top returning tackler and has an eye for the ball with three interceptions.

Defining feature

Give Doug DeGeer credit. Replacing a legend isn’t easy, especially in a football-crazed town like Tehachapi.

But despite a 1-5 start to his coaching career after Steve Denman — and his 301 career wins — stepped down after 35 years, DeGeer and his coaching staff regrouped to share the South Yosemite League title and clinch a berth to the Central Section Division III semifinals.

That experience of getting 13 games together and putting together a significant six-game win streak — that included a 21-14 win over Ridgeview — gives Tehachapi momentum heading into this fall.

“There were so many things that we were just trying to figure out and tried to stay on top of,” DeGeer said about the start of the 2017 season. “I just tried to ask questions. But it was all such a blur. That’s gone.”

What’s ahead this fall is a new group of offensive and defensive leaders abound. The top two rushers and top eight tacklers a year ago are gone, but there's enough back to give the coaches reason to be excited.

“We don’t have a lot of returning starters, but we have young guys who have confidence in themselves,” DeGeer said.

What's changed?

For Doug DeGeer, getting his first year at Tehachapi out of the way and seeing his team progress in the process was a huge step forward.

Much of the rough going in the first half of the season was the result of a tough schedule for the Warriors.

The five regular season losses in 2017 came in the first six games to teams that finished the year 50-15 overall.

The schedule change might not get easier at the top end, particularly with a road game at Bakersfield High on Aug. 24, but it might help the confidence of a young squad to get a few wins before league starts.

“I’d like to think our preseason is more bearable, but I don’t know,” DeGeer said. “One thing we have going is what we have returning. We have a good base of chemistry and the will to win.”

Leading the way once again is third-year starting quarterback Chris Garcia, who suffered a concussion and missed the better part of the four-game losing streak last season.

“He has so much experience and is so big for us,” DeGeer said. “His confidence is huge and he is such a dual threat. He might be our most athletic guy. He understands the offense and everything we try to do here.”

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