The Bakersfield College Renegades saved probably their best performance for the last game of the season (considering star running back Elisha Ortiz was out), losing on a last-minute field goal to Saddleback in the Patriotic Bowl. BC led the No. 1 team in the state by two scores a week prior to that, but close doesn’t count for much.
The Renegades finished the year 6-5 and saw conference foe Ventura advance to the state title game. BC hasn’t won a postseason game since 2014.
Let’s take a look back on the 2018 season and dole out some letter grades.
Quarterbacks (C) - If Josh Medina had played the way he did in the bowl game, it would have been a much different season. He threw for two touchdowns and 259 yards, including completions of 45, 45, and 51 yards. Medina also led the Renegades on a game-tying 99-yard touchdown drive with three minutes left in the game. But Medina sat out the previous four games with a hamstring injury and wasn’t nearly as effective when he was healthy earlier in the season. Jacob Irby replaced Medina for five starts and was mostly a boom-or-bust option. The Renegades finished the year 59th in the state with 140.6 passing yards per game and 47th with 13 touchdowns through the air.
Running backs (B-plus) - Starting running back Elisha Ortiz was far and away the focal point of the offense. In his final four games, he averaged 28.5 carries for 122.5 yards, scoring eight touchdowns in that span and maxing out at 41 rushing attempts in a game. With an offensive line that struggled to create holes at times, the entire attack sometimes depended on Ortiz making players miss.
Wide receivers (B-minus) - Cameron Roberson didn’t get the ball enough. Shane Jones really, really didn’t get the ball enough with just five catches in the last six games of the year (three came in the season finale). And those were two of the best players on the team. Adarian Rowel turned out to be a solid option, but every receiver suffered from the struggles at the QB spot.
Offensive line (C-plus) - The offensive line was at its best in the stunning first half against then-No. 1 Canyons. It progressed a notable amount primarily in run blocking throughout the season but still had its fair share of struggles. Preseason injuries to Cayden Cox and Maino Maino, as well as the absence of left tackle Quintin Cheevers this year, set the line and the offense back.
Defensive line (B-plus) - Ricky Leung-Wai was the star of the defense. He led the team with 5.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. He was a force inside and constantly pressured opposing quarterbacks. With Holden Williams playing strong alongside him and Roberto “Tank” Enriquez showing flashes of brilliance up front, BC typically won in the trenches.
Linebackers (B-plus) - Jalen Simpkins, Mario Solorio and James Thomas were playmakers all year long. Solorio led the team with 74 tackles. Simpkins recovered three fumbles and picked off two passes. The group was strong against the run and good pressuring the quarterback.
Secondary (B-plus) - The Renegades allowed just 189.4 passing yards per game, 17th best in the state. Justin Harrington and LJ Early each grabbed four interceptions, helping the team to 14 total. Two interceptions returned for touchdowns and one fumble returned for a score were by BC defensive backs. The big plays and third downs are where the unit occasionally struggled.
Special teams (A) - There’s an argument for BC’s specials teams unit being the best in the state. Punter Carson Olivas led all punters, averaging 41.4 yards per kick. Place kicker Nathan De Jager made 16 field goals (third most) and had the best percentage among kickers with nine or more makes. Cameron Roberson returned three punts for scores, including two in one game. He was the only player in the state to have more than one punt return touchdown. Roberson also averaged a state-best 21.4 yards per punt return.
Overall (B) - The Renegades had more talent than their final record showed. Defense and special teams kept BC in games it otherwise would not have been. Ortiz, Roberson and Jones provided plenty of options offensively. But the offense fell flat. The struggles at the quarterback and offensive line spots held BC’s attack back. Even the play calling got stale and was questionable at times. Sure BC was above average, but not at the level of the top teams in the state.