In trying to make a point about parity in a high school football column last week, I inadvertently used the word parody instead.
Honest mistake, but embarrassing nonetheless, and at least one reader had a little fun at my expense.
But in looking at the scores from Friday night’s high school football action, the parity — or maybe better put — the competitive balance among Kern County’s teams — once again grabbed the spotlight.
I was also struck by how easy it would be for someone to make a parody of me had I made my Week 7 predictions public. It would have been laughable how inept my prognostication skills are, especially considering I won the BVarsity Beat the Experts competition last season.
Arvin slips past Chavez 35-34? Didn’t see that coming.
Stockdale spoils BHS’s homecoming with a 33-20 victory? No way.
Those were obvious wins for me, or at least I thought, based on scores against common opponents, strength of schedule or in some cases my own preconceived notions.
The Bears were 2-3 and 0-1 in South Sequoia League play. The Titans were 5-1 and 2-0 in the SSL. I also recalled a conversation with Arvin coach Edgar Mares prior to the season when he mentioned he lost 28 seniors from last year’s squad and had only 25 players on his roster at the time.
Although the Bears appeared to be better than I expected in the preseason, they lost 40-6 to Kennedy in their SSL opener last week. I had seen Chavez play in Week 3. Although they lost a close game to East that night, the Titans showed the explosiveness that led me to believe they might be one of the few teams that could challenge Kennedy for the SSL title. That still may happen, but Friday night’s loss to Arvin didn’t help.
The Bears were led by Gil Medina, who rushed for 187 yards and two touchdowns, and added another 85 yards and a score through the air, including a TD toss to Billy Avila. Avila also rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown.
In Stockdale’s case, I was also a victim of forming an early-season opinion about a team, and sticking with it. The Mustangs are playing without arguably the best player in the area, senior quarterback Evan Burkhart, who will miss the entire season after tearing his ACL in a non-contact clinic in June. Surely Stockdale wasn’t going to be able to compete with the likes of Bakersfield High or Liberty in the Southwest Yosemite League, are they? At least part of that question was answered Friday night.
The Mustangs (4-2, 1-0 SWYL) capitalized on several Drillers’ mistakes that led to three defensive touchdowns, two on interceptions and one off an errant snap.
Jose Saenz returned an interception for a score to put the game out of reach. Armando Trujillo opened the Mustangs’ scoring with a 12-yard Pick-6, and James Lucio recovered a bad snap and took it to the end zone for a 27-14 Stockdale lead midway through the third quarter.
Offensively, Jaykob Jones rushed for over 100 yards, and Jack Kaiser threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Gradowitz late in the first half.
BHS (2-4, 0-1), which had played one of the area’s toughest preseason schedules, appeared to be a heavy favorite coming in. And, the Drillers had their moments. Ricky Easterwood hooked up with Elijah Lee on a long scoring play and Wesley Wilson gave the Drillers an early 7-0 lead with a 70-yard TD run on BHS’s opening possession. But too many penalties and turnovers derailed Bakersfield’s effort.
Just how good is Kennedy?
The Thunderbirds just keep rolling along, and following a 40-7 victory over Wasco on Friday night you just have to wonder if anyone can challenge them as they look for their first league championship in school history.
Kennedy (7-0, 3-0 in SSL) has outscored its opponents an average of 49-8 this season, including a 78-13 victory over Taft in the league opener two weeks ago.
Speaking of parity …
Frontier slipped past Garces 40-35 and Centennial hung tough against SWYL-favorite Liberty in a 17-7 game. With Stockdale’s victory over BHS, this might be the most competitive the “The Power League” has been, top to bottom, since being constructed in 2014.
Talented triple threat
Shabazz Muhammad, A.J. Cleveland and Nick Salas had quite a connection in Friday’s 52-28 victory over North in the SEYL opener for both teams.
Muhammad scored on four of his five receptions, demonstrating an elusiveness and break-away speed that made him virtually unstoppable. The senior wide receiver gave the Scots’ the lead for good in the first quarter with a 27-yard TD reception on the first play of the second quarter, and then almost four minutes later, scored a 55-yard pass play.
Cleveland was accurate, completing 17 of 22 passes for 356 yards and six touchdowns. He was also intercepted once, but his pinpoint passes, enabled him to thread the needle on several big plays through the air. He now has thrown for more than 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns with just two interceptions in six games this season.
Salas combined for 153 yards rushing and receiving, capped by a 32-yard touchdown reception from Cleveland that gave Highland (5-1, 1-0 SEYL) a 52-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Pack back on track
Ridgeview, which finished a tough preseason schedule with a 2-3 record, opened South Yosemite League play with a strong showing in a 50-18 victory over Golden Valley. Jaron Amos lead the Wolf Pack with 177 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 15 carries, while Kelijah Lucas had two receptions for 104 yards and two scores. Alec Zendejas and Jaden Fletcher also had TD runs for the Ridgeview (3-3, 1-0 SYL).