With Halloween just a few days away, you might think I’d be used to a fright or two this time of year.
But nothing in my long history of greeting trick-or-treaters or watching horror flicks has prepared me for this week’s high school sports schedule.
It’s a yearly ritual, but it always catches me by surprise, and it’s downright scary.
It starts Tuesday with the South Area Girls Golf tournament, where the top local players will ascend upon the Buena Vista Golf Course in hopes of qualifying for next week’s Central Section Championships in Porterville. A shotgun start is scheduled for noon.
The event will be dominated by the Southwest Yosemite League. Of the 22 players competing, only Kendall Chao from Bakersfield Christian did not compete in the SWYL this season. Chao was the top player from the South Yosemite League.
The area’s top three players will be in the first group, led by Stockdale sophomore Iris Han, who has been consistently atop the SWYL leaderboard this season. She will be joined by Liberty senior Regan Barton and Garces junior Julianna Escobedo. All three were first-team BVarsity All-Area selections last season.
On Wednesday, girls tennis will terrorize the courts with the first round of the Central Section team playoffs. Of the 18 teams that qualified for the postseason, 15 will be in action on the opening day.
Garces, which swept through the SWYL, earned a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed in Division I, as did South Sequoia League champion Taft (No. 2 in D-IV) and Highland (No. 3 in D-IV), the top squad from the Southeast Yosemite League.
Stockdale, which finished second in the SWYL, is perhaps the best area team that will be playing on Wednesday. The Mustangs will host Fresno-Bullard at 4 p.m. It is one of six matches being played that day in Kern County. Liberty, Bakersfield Christian, Centennial, Shafter and Kern Valley also have home matches.
If that isn’t enough, local sports fans will be treated to the opening round of the volleyball playoffs on Thursday, which also happens to be Halloween. There will be 22 area teams in action, including nine home games.
Liberty, which shared the SWYL title with Stockdale, is the only local team to earn a bye. The Patriots are the No. 2 seed in Division I and will play the winner of Exeter and Fresno-Central the following Tuesday.
With Liberty on the shelf for the night, Bakersfield and Centennial could steal the spotlight as the only local D-I match on the night. The teams split during league play, with the Drillers winning a five-set thriller last week.
The Mustangs, who went from last to first this season in the SWYL, will host San Luis Obispo-Mission Prep as the No. 3 seed in Division II. On the opposite side of the bracket, No. 4 BCHS and No. 5 Frontier each have home games, with a win setting up a head-to-head quarterfinal matchup next week. The Eagles play No. 13 Fresno-Bullard, while the Titans play No. 12 Tehachapi.
Arvin, which won its first SSL title since 2005, is the No. 8 seed in Division III and will host Reedley. In D-IV, Mira Monte and California City will play home games. The Lions play Taft, with the Ravens squaring off against Bishop Union. Frazier Mountain and Rosamond will host Division V matches.
This all serves as a warmup for this weekend’s action that starts Friday with multiple football games with league championship implications.
Liberty (8-1, 4-0) can win the outright SWYL crown with a victory over Bakersfield (5-4, 3-1). The Drillers have won three straight and are hoping to share the title, and snap the Patriots’ 14-game league winning streak.
Kennedy (8-1, 4-1) plays at Chavez (7-2, 4-1) and Shafter (5-4, 4-1) hosts Wasco (5-4, 2-2) with three teams still in the hunt for SSL supremacy.
In the SEYL, East (7-2, 3-1) travels to Highland (8-1, 4-0) with hopes of sharing the league title. The same is true for Independence (3-6, 3-1), which plays at Ridgeview (6-3, 4-0). Bakersfield Christian (6-3, 3-1) can still share the title if the Falcons can pull off the upset and the Eagles can dispose of Golden Valley (1-8, 0-4) at home.
Girls tennis is back in action Friday and Saturday with the South Area individual tournament at Garces, where the host Rams and Stockdale figure to dominate.
Alexsia Drulias, the two-time BVarsity All-Area player of the year, and Jackie Sala are the defending Central Section Division I doubles champions. They just wrapped up the SWYL title and should be heavy favorites this weekend. Rams freshman Kylee Limpias won the league singles crown.
What a week. And just think, next week will feature the start of the football and water polo playoffs, and even more girls golf and volleyball action.
So if you see me out and about, stop by and say hello. I’ll be the one conspicuously hiding under my blanket.