With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, there’s still plenty of intrigue for local football teams as they try to maneuver themselves into league title contention.
The problem is, figuring out all the possible scenarios can, well, make your head hurt.
Of the top-four leagues in Kern County, 16 teams still have a chance to win a championship, at least mathematically. Of those contenders, 11 can still win outright titles, while the other five would have to share. But most will need help, and in some cases, a lot of help.
So let's try to make some sense of this as we look at where each team stands in their respective leagues. I promise, I'll do my best to make this as painless as possible. Here goes:
SOUTHWEST YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Favorite: Liberty. The Patriots (7-1, 3-0) have won 13 straight SWYL games and can clinch at least a share of their third straight league title with a victory over Garces (3-5, 1-2) on Friday.
In the mix: Bakersfield (4-4, 2-1) and Stockdale (5-3, 2-1). The two teams still have a chance to either catch or overtake Liberty. BHS has won two straight and can set up a showdown with the Patriots in the league finale next week with a victory over Centennial (3-5, 0-3) on Friday. If Liberty loses this week to the Rams, the Patriots’ Week 11 matchup with the Drillers could be for the outright league title. The Mustangs need to beat Frontier (4-4, 1-2) and Garces, and then hope for some help from either the Rams or Bakersfield in the next two weeks.
Longshots: The Titans and Rams would need all heck to break loose in the final two weeks to have an opportunity to share the SWYL crown. Suffice to say, they’d have to win out, Liberty would have to go 0-2, and BHS and Stockdale would have to lose this week.
Eliminated: Centennial can’t win a league title this year, but it can still earn a playoff spot — and play a spoiler role in the process — with victories over BHS and Frontier to close out the regular season.
SOUTH YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Favorite: Ridgeview. The Wolf Pack (5-3, 3-0) took a giant step forward toward regaining SYL supremacy with a 36-22 victory over Bakersfield Christian (5-3, 2-1) last week. With a victory over Tehachapi (1-7, 0-3) this week, Ridgeview would clinch at least a share of its ninth league title in the last 10 years.
In the mix: Independence and BCHS. The two teams meet Friday with a league title still in play. The Falcons (3-5, 3-0) turned their season around with three straight victories after starting the season 0-5. They now find themselves tied with Ridgeview for first place. Should Independence lose to the Eagles, they would still have a chance to tie for the SYL title with a victory over Ridgeview in Week 11. The Eagles can no longer control their own fate after the loss to the Wolf Pack last week, and will need to beat Independence and then hope the Falcons can beat Ridgeview the following week.
Eliminated: Tehachapi, Golden Valley (1-7, 0-3) and West (2-6, 0-3). It’s been a rough year for the Warriors, Bulldogs and Vikings, but they can still help decide the league championship. Tehachapi plays Ridgeview this week and Golden Valley closes the season at BCHS. An upset victory by either would really shake things up.
SOUTHEAST YOSEMITE LEAGUE
Favorite: Highland. The Scots (7-1, 3-0) averaged more than 52 points a game in their first three SEYL games. But there is still work to be done. Highland plays at perennial league power South (5-3, 2-1) on Friday before hosting East (6-2, 2-1) in the league finale.
In the mix: South and East. The Rebels have had an up-and-down season, splitting their past six games. South lost to Golden Valley, handing the Bulldogs their only victory in the last two years. The Rebels also scored 70 points in the league opener against Foothill (4-4, 1-2). Which team will show up when they host Highland on Friday will determine their fate. The Blades, who shared the SEYL title with North last year, were tripped up with an overtime loss to the Stars (5-3, 1-2) last week. East can still control how things play out with a victory over Foothill on Friday, which would likely set up a showdown with Highland the following week.
Longshots: Foothill and North. The Trojans and Stars need to win their last two games and hope Highland loses its final two. That would create a 5-way tie for the title with all the teams being 3-2.
Eliminated: Mira Monte (1-7, 0-3). The Lions can still spoil things with a win over North on Friday or Foothill in Week 11.
SOUTH SEQUOIA LEAGUE
Favorite: Kennedy. The Thunderbirds (8-0, 4-0) have looked unstoppable and appear determined to win their first-ever league championship. RFK has outscored its first four league opponents 210-38, including a 78-13 victory over Taft (4-4, 1-3) in the SSL opener.
In the mix: Shafter (4-4, 3-1) and Chavez (7-2, 4-1). The Generals have won three straight to put themselves in SSL title contention after a 1-4 start to the season. The best Shafter can do is share the title. The Generals, who were perfect in league play last year, will need to start by beating the Thunderbirds on Friday to have that shot, and then will have to get past rival Wasco the following week. The Titans have a bye this week, so one way or another, they will be playing for the SSL championship next week against Kennedy.
Eliminated: Wasco (4-4, 2-2), Taft, Arvin (3-5, 1-3) and McFarland (3-5, 0-5). All four teams are playing for a spot in the playoffs, although Wasco could hurt Shafter’s title hopes with a victory next week.
See, that wasn't so bad, was it?