Sixteen months into his tenure as Bakersfield College's football coach, R. Todd Littlejohn finally has an opponent to prepare for.
Littlejohn, a Bakersfield native who played defensive back for the Renegades in the 80s, took over at his Alma Mater in January of 2020, just two months before the start of a global pandemic that eventually led to the cancellation of the 2020 season.
Hopes that something could be salvaged during the 2020-21 school year were then dashed when BC couldn't find enough opponents to schedule a spring season.
Despite not knowing when his team would be able to take part in game activity, Littlejohn says he and his staff continued preparing for the best-case scenario, even as there were numerous frustrating stops and starts along the way.
"When you think back to this time last year, not knowing what the fall was going to be like, there was still anticipation of a season," he said. "Then in the later part of the summer, you knew (the chances were) diminishing very quickly. Then in the spring ... it was on again, off again, so it feels like we've been waiting a long time.
"However, there's never been a time that we stopped planning and preparing."
Now, at long last, the Renegades have something to prepare for, as the school released a full fall football schedule on Tuesday morning.
The Renegades, who have not played a regular season game since Nov. 16, 2019, will open the Littlejohn era on Sept. 4 with a road game against LA Pierce. BC will play three of its first four games on the road, also traveling to Golden West on Sept. 18 and Mt. San Antonio on Sept. 25.
"We've got to be some road warriors in our first four games," Littlejohn said. "I think that's going to be a thing to get our guys to develop very fast and mature."
Sandwiched into that busy road slate will be Littlejohn's home opener. He will make his Memorial Stadium debut against El Camino in week two on Sept. 11, before the travel schedule gets more favorable in October.
Following the Mt. Sac game, the Renegades will play four of their next five at home. They host San Bernardino on Oct. 2, College of the Canyons on Oct. 16, travel to face Ventura on Oct. 23, then return home for games against Long Beach and East LA on Oct. 30 and Nov. 6.
Bakersfield College will conclude regular season play at Allan Hancock on Nov. 13.
With roughly four months remaining before game action starts, Littlejohn and his staff are hoping the schedule release will help lock up incoming recruits who may have been hesitant to make their commitments official.
"There's something on paper," Littlejohn said "There's something tangible that people can see. But recruiting is recruiting and until they're here and attending class, you've still got to recruit them."
Even with months of work left to do, Littlejohn can still hardly contain his excitement when discussing his long-awaited first fall as Renegade head coach.
"Who knows what can happen between now and September," he said. "But I'm excited. I'm looking forward to the stands being full, looking forward to the parking lot being full and I want to be able to put a great product on the field."