Bakersfield College’s football team has been more focused this week than any other throughout the season, according to sophomore wide receiver Cameron Roberson.
It could be because of the time of the year: it’s BC’s final regular season game. It could be because of the opponent: state-ranked No. 1 and undefeated College of the Canyons. Or it could be because of what’s on the line: a conference championship and postseason aspirations.
It’s probably a combination of all three. Either way, it’s exactly what the Renegades need, Roberson said.
“We have to play a perfect game to win,” Roberson said. “The only way we can do that is our approach.”
No. 11 BC (6-3, 3-1 National Northern) will head to Santa Clarita on Saturday for its biggest — and likely toughest — game of the year, which kicks off at 6 p.m. Canyons (9-0, 4-0) is in first place in the conference and the top team in the state in all of the polls.
A win would give Bakersfield a share of the National Division Northern League title, referred to as conference a championship, and guarantee the Renegades at least one postseason game. If Ventura wins its final game, the three teams would be tied with a 4-1 league record.
A loss would drop BC to 6-4 and put it on the edge of making a bowl game. The top 10 National Division teams in the Southern California Football Association, determined by its Power Ranking Index, make the postseason.
“Huge deal for us, but we’ve got one big obstacle in the way,” BC head coach Jeff Chudy said, “and that’s beating those guys. They’re a good football team. They do a lot of things right. They’re well coached. They don't beat themselves.”
Based on what they’ve seen on film, Chudy and Roberson consider Canyons to be the most complete of the Renegades’ opponents.
Canyons is 17th in the state with 35 points per game, seventh in passing yards per game (297.3) and in the Top 10 in fumbles recovered and interceptions.
Wyatt Eget, who has filled in for injured Cougars starting quarterback Andrew Brito, has 12 passing touchdowns and three interceptions with more than 1,400 yards. Brito threw for more than 1,000 yards in four games.
The Renegades have only thrown for 1,162 yards this season with Jacob Irby leading the way at 676 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.
Eget is skilled in the pocket and extends plays, Chudy said. He’s the best quarterback BC has prepared for all season, Chudy added.
Sophomore wide receivers Brandon Pierce and Jarrin Pierce, no relation, have combined for 74 catches, 1,255 yards and 12 touchdowns for Canyons. That’s more yards and touchdowns than BC’s entire team.
“There’s a reason why they haven’t lost yet,” Chudy said. “They play well together.”
Defensively, Canyons has 15 interceptions, which is sixth best in the state. The team hasn’t given up more than 14 points in a game all season.
Chudy and Roberson noted that Canyons is disciplined on defense. Teams have fallen behind and been forced to throw, leading to interceptions, Chudy said. Canyons’ opponents have constantly thrown passes directly to the Cougars, Roberson said.
The Cougars’ closest game this season was its first, a 19-6 win over Saddleback. Since then, no game has been closer than 18 points. Canyons beat Ventura 31-7 on Oct. 27. The Renegades lost to Ventura, 23-10, on Oct. 13.
Roberson, who has a shoulder injury and has been in a sling, will play Saturday, he said.
“It’s either win part of the conference championship or lose and possibly our season being over,” Roberson said, “so it’s kind of a do-or-die game for us.”