Here we are, folks.
The regular season finale is upon us. The calendar has moved to November while the weather seems to have finally taken a turn for fall, the schedule makers got it right none of the league titles in four of the five Kern County leagues won outright — yet.
Liberty and Bakersfield are going at it with the Patriots seeking a third undefeated Southwest Yosemite League schedule in the last four seasons. Independence hosts Ridgeview in the South Yosemite League as the Falcons seek the program’s first outright league title.
In the South Sequoia League, Bakersfield Christian is on the road at Taft as the Eagles seek a 21st consecutive SSL win before heading to the SYL next season.
Then there is the Southeast Yosemite League, where Highland is not only going for an undefeated regular season on the road at North, but the Scots also seek the program’s first league title since opening in 1970.
All of that leaves a lot to be excited about, along with a fun Shafter-Wasco rivalry game of two teams vying for second place in the SSL.
It also makes for a week of upsets and teams either bolstering their playoff seedings or other maybe dropping out of the shot at one more home game in the postseason.
After a week of games that were never really in doubt, the end of a funky regular season should be a fun one.
With that being said, I put a lot of work into the history of some of the big games coming this week, so please, enough of the history lesson.
BAKERSFIELD (5-4, 3-1 SWYL) at LIBERTY (5-4, 4-0 SWYL) - Games like this is a reason why I enjoy high school football so much. It’s a budding rivalry that has been so integral in the section for the last decade. Since 2007, BHS and Liberty have met 12 times (including two playoff games in 2014-15), with the Drillers winning seven times. The two have combined for five D-I titles, two more title game appearances and nine of the last 10 league titles. Liberty can clinch the Patriots third SWYL title in the last four years with a win, while BHS is seeking a share of the league title and a big win for playoff seedings. This game is huge and a fantastic way to end the regular season. Liberty went from a big win over Clovis West in August to an winless September to a perfect October and have a head of steam heading into this one. Isaiah Hill has been near perfect throwing the ball the last two weeks, going 16 of 21 for 301 yards and four touchdowns and Sam Stewart, Jr. has ran for 602 yards and nine touchdowns during the four-game win streak in league play. Liberty has outscored opponents 141-51 in league play. While the offense has been stellar, the Patriots defense may be even better, holding opponents to just 26 first half points in October. Since giving up three penalties on the final defensive series against Garces that allowed the Rams to kick the game-winning field goal, BHS’ defense may be the best around over the last three weeks. BHS has given up just 23 points in this games while Max Lopez, Adrian Moreno, Jacob Zeimet, Ceyontay Bell and Caden Ochoa have been in contact pursuit in opponent’s backfields. This is going to come down to which offense can sustain drives against really, really good defenses. Liberty, a team that has been able to do that without playing behind the markers, like BHS has done in nearly every game this season, has the edge there. Will it be a lot of Stewart for Liberty on offense? Will it be a lot of Tahj Wright, who scored all three of the Drillers’ offensive touchdowns last week over Stockdale? How much will the two-quarterback systems play out with Dakota Ochoa at Liberty or at BHS with his cousin, Caden, and Cameron Williams? This is tough one to call, but I am going with Liberty to hold on a clinch the outright league title and really set the Patriots up for a No. 3 seed in the section playoffs.
Trevor’s pick: Liberty 28, Bakersfield 24
Josh’s pick: Bakersfield 27, Liberty 24
STOCKDALE (2-7, 0-4 SWYL) at GARCES (3-6, 3-1 SWYL) - This is a game of two teams finishing the season in opposite directions. Stockdale was 2-2 and just a few missed assignments away from being 3-1 or even 4-0 to start the year. Now, the Mustangs are on the verge of a six-game losing streak and a possible winless SWYL slate. Garces on the other hand is still in the running for a share of the league title with a win and a Liberty loss to BHS. Garces is 3-1 in league play, including the 20-18 thriller over BHS that ended a five-game losing streak to start the season. The Rams youthful team is getting more and more experience and veterans like Jack Tobias and Lebrevon Austin, who both missed time to injuries this season, are playing at full strength. That lends it all to a Garces win and a likely top-3 seed in the D-II bracket.
Trevor’s pick: Garces 31, Stockdale 21
Josh’s pick: Garces 30, Stockdale 16
CENTENNIAL (2-7, 1-3 SWYL) at FRONTIER (6-3, 1-3 SWYL) - Neither one of these teams has had the league portion of the season play out as anticipated. Centennial’s offense, one that looks promising at times, has faltered in scoring points, especially of late with two shutouts to Liberty and BHS and has scored just 30 points in league play. Frontier had a fantastic run in non-league, going 5-0, but those opponents, other than Ridgeview, were no where close to the opposition that the Titans saw in league play. Frontier’s run game has been solid, led by Tye Johnson, while the Titans’ defense has been led by a veteran group around Kobie Budak. Centennial has already confirmed the Golden Hawks will not be in the playoffs while Frontier is seeking a top-4 seed in D-II.
Trevor’s pick: Frontier 28, Centennial 14
Josh’s pick: Frontier 31, Centennial 13
INDEPENDENCE (7-2, 4-0 SYL) at RIDGEVIEW (5-4, 3-1 SYL) - It’s a banner year thus far for Independence. Now, the Falcons are seeking a banner all to themselves. Last fall, Independence won the program’s first league title, sharing the South Yosemite League crown with Ridgeview and Tehachapi as all three went 4-1 in league play. That situation could happen this year, and Independence is once again in the driver’s seat. Last week’s 27-22 win over East was the Falcons' seventh of the season, which is now a school record. The Falcons have won five consecutive games while playing unselfish football offensively has a defense that is led by the front seven as the secondary has matured quite well throughout the season. Ridgeview’s 21-14 loss to Tehachapi last week halted the chance for this game to be one of two teams undefeated in league play and a legitimate title game. The Wolf Pack has been a sort of Jekyll and Hyde team this season. The Wolf Pack lost to Frontier 35-25 in Week 3 but beat Liberty 19-14 two week later. Frontier is 1-3 in the SWYL while Liberty has won four consecutive wins. One week, the Ridgeview offense exploded for 48 points against West, but has scored just 54 in the other three SYL games. The Wolf Pack defense has been above average all season and will be key this week. If Independence can stymie Ridgeview’s offense and pick off a few passes, then the Falcons’ offense would likely have a shot at good field position and opportunities to score points early. I like the going with the hot hand here.
Trevor’s pick: Independence 28, Ridgeview 21
Josh’s pick: Independence 31, Ridgeview 24
TEHACHAPI (4-5, 3-1 SYL) at WEST (5-3, 2-2 SYL) - What an unbelievable turnaround it has been for Tehachapi this season under first-year coach Doug DeGeer. After a rough 1-5 start, the Warriors have won three straight in the SYL and are in contention of a second consecutive three-way tie for first place in league with a win over West and an Independence loss to Ridgeview. The Warriors have utilized a beavy of runners on offense, led by Garrett Curry, Tanner Love, Hayden Palmer and quarterback Chris Garcia to churn out long drives as the defense, led by Patrick Grimes, Luke Soto and Dylan Ragsdale, have kept opponents, like Ridgeview last week in a 21-14 win, off the field. This one will be a quick game most likely because both teams rely heavily on the ground game, with West’s triple-option veer led by quarterback Gabriel Salcido and running backs L.J. Laulu and Donta Mason against the wing-T of the Warriors. Something tells me the late season heroics of the Warriors continues here.
Trevor’s pick: Tehachapi 21, West 20
Josh’s pick: West 21, Tehachapi 20 (This is odd)
GOLDEN VALLEY (2-7, 0-4 SYL) at EAST (3-6, 0-4 SYL) - The best thing about this game is someone gets to end a long losing streak. East has endured a four game slide and has lost six of the past seven, with the lone victory during that stretch coming by way of winless Foothill on Sept. 29. Golden Valley has lost seven straight since starting the season 2-1. It’s been a let down of a season for both teams. Golden Valley was hopeful that the talented do-it-all force for the Bulldogs in Carl Jones would lead the Bulldogs to a shot at least a .500 record despite a small roster. East, which went from a 1-win team in 2015 to a 7-game win streak a year ago, was hopeful for a shot at a league title with a senior-heavy roster, but it hasn’t played out as such in the program’s final season in the SYL before moving to the SEYL next season. Something tells me Jones will have a big night on both sides of the ball and in the return game to lead Golden Valley to victory on the road.
Trevor’s pick: Golden Valley 35, East 28
Josh’s pick: East 27, Golden Valley 18
HIGHLAND (8-0, 3-0 SEYL) at NORTH (6-3, 2-1 SEYL) - According to Central Section historian Bob Barnett, five programs in Kern County have had undefeated seasons since 1980. Bakersfield has done it five times over the last 37 years, Garces three times while West, Tehachapi and Wasco (the most recent in 2012) have felt the elation of going an entire regular season without suffering a loss. We could have a sixth. Highland has been on a magical ride this fall, and the entire calendar year for boys sports, going undefeated going into tonight’s rivalry game at North. The Scots have never won a league title in school history. The 8-game win streak is the longest in school history, by two games. In the nine games this season, Highland has won by double-figures six times (275-91) in those games while also beating east Bakersfield rival East 15-7 in a defensive battle and the thriller over South two weeks ago on the Cade Sakamoto-to-Matthew Miranda Hail Mary. All of that sets up for a celebration of incredible magnitude for the Scots. However, there is a team on the other side, at home, in North that doesn’t want to be the team to give Highland the perfect regular season. The Stars are still in line (or aligned? kidding) for a three-way tie for the Southeast Yosemite League title with a win (South finished regular season last week at 3-1 in SEYL). North is quite talented, but has been turnover prone and nearly suffered a devastating loss to D-VI McFarland last week in a non-league contest. North has beaten the teams the Stars should have beaten, and now even have a quality win over a surging Tehachapi team, but it’s hard to pick against the team playing on the side of destiny. This is the story of the year so far.
Trevor’s pick: Highland 35, North 20
Josh’s pick: Highland 45, North 28
MIRA MONTE (0-8, 0-3 SEYL) at FOOTHILL (0-8, 0-3 SEYL) - It’s been a rough go for both of these programs in the last half-decade. Neither team has won more than three games in a season since 2011 (Foothill went 3-7 in 2012) and are combined 15-84 since 2012. Both have suffered through one winless season over the last five years and, sadly, will again be the case this season. One will end the season with a victory while the other stews in the agony of a winless regular season. It’s tough no matter how it shakes out. When it comes to head-to-head matchups here, Foothill has the edge. The Trojans haven’t been competitive in league, but put up a contest in a 36-20 loss to West before four consecutive blowout losses heading into this week. Mira Monte, on the other hand, has only scored points in two games this season, including an 18-13 loss to California City when the Lions had a 13-0 halftime lead over the Ravens.
Trevor’s pick: Foothill 28, Mira Monte 13
Josh’s pick: Foothill 35, Mira Monte 21
BAKERSFIELD CHRISTIAN (8-1, 5-0 SSL) at TAFT (2-6, 2-3 SSL) - It’s always tough to dive into the talk of a tune-up game for a team, but this looks like just that for BCHS. The Eagles, winners on seven straight, are coming off a bye and have a legitimate shot at a top-2 seed in D-III. With a quality win over Taft, one that would clinch a third straight undefeated record in league play and fourth in the last five years, coupled with a blowout loss for Tulare Western to Tulare Union and a Sanger win over Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial, there is conversation for a possible 1-seed for the Eagles. But, first, BCHS has to beat Taft on the road, and do it convincingly. Since Braden Wingle has come back to full strength after a knee injury in Week 1, the Eagles have been winning with ease. During the seven-game win streak, BCHS has outscored opponents 320-48. That is a product of balance of a solid offense and a dominating defense for the Eagles. Taft, losers of three straight, has shown glimpses in the run game, but a small roster and an inexperienced defense have kept the Wildcats to the lowest win total since 2011. Eagles will soar here and gear up for another likely bye week in round one of the playoffs.
Trevor’s pick: Bakersfield Christian 56, Taft 13
Josh’s pick: Bakersfield Christian 56, Taft 13 (Hey, Josh, get outta my head)
WASCO (5-4, 4-1 SSL) at SHAFTER (7-2, 4-1 SSL) - This one is going to be a lot of fun. The rivalry sets itself up perfectly with an all-day affair between the two towns that keeps the momentum going into the game on Friday night. What makes it even better is both teams are playing very well. Shafter, other than a loss to Golden Valley in September and a blowout loss to BCHS in league play, has been very impressive. Alex Aguilar has thrown for 2,286 yards and ran for another 882 with 40 total touchdowns in nine games for Shafter. The General’s defense, led by Thomas Richardson and Sebastian Tavarez, has allowed the offense to play with good field position and allowed Shafter to play with a big lead late most of the season. Wasco has won four straight in league play after opening the SSL with a 51-6 loss to BCHS and a 42-0 blowout loss to Delano. Since, the Tigers have edged Taft and Kennedy and beat Arvin and Chavez handedly. But none of those teams match what Shafter brings to the table in Aguilar. The senior signal caller for Shafter will be the X-factor here for the Generals to head into D-V playoffs with a solid shot at the No. 2 seed.
Trevor’s pick: Shafter 49, Wasco 27
Josh’s pick: Shafter 34, Wasco 20
CHAVEZ (0-8, 0-5 SSL) at ARVIN (1-7, 0-5 SSL) - There are three winless teams left in Kern County with one week to go. No way I would have picked Chavez to be one of those. Yes, the Titans lost a huge senior class to graduation, one that helped Chavez to 29 wins the previous three seasons, but this is incredibly sad. Same goes for Arvin. The Bears only win this season came over a winless Mira Monte team. But the Bears have been competitive. Twice in league play, Arvin lost to Taft and Kennedy by a combined 11 points. Chalk this one up to a second win for Arvin and a tough 0-9 season for Chavez.
Trevor’s pick: Arvin 34, Chavez 13
Josh’s pick: Arvin 20, Chavez 7
TULARE-MISSION OAK (0-9, 0-4 EYL) at DELANO (4-4, 2-2 EYL) - What a turnaround it has been for Delano in Mario Abundez’ first season as head coach of the Tigers. Delano lost the first two games of the season to East and North, but have won four of the last six games, with the two losses coming in East Yosemite League games to Tulare Union and Tulare Western, which are both 18-0. This one sets up Delano for a third place finish in league knowing Mission Oak is on the losing end of a likely winless campaign. The strength of schedule between these two is no comparison with the Hawks playing the top teams in D-II (Tulare Union, Dinuba) and D-III (BCHS, Tulare Western), but Delano has been winning and sometimes that counts for something, especially this late into a season.
Trevor’s pick: Delano 21, Mission Oak 14
Josh’s pick: Delano 35, Mission Oak 17
CALIFORNIA CITY (4-5, 0-2 HDL) at KERN VALLEY (2-6, 0-2 HDL) - The High Desert League has been a odd one this season. Three years after Frazier Mountain moved down to 8-man as enrollment has dropped at the Lebec campus, Desert did the same this summer, leaving the HDL with just four teams. That left its remaining members to find two non-league games in October. That being said, neither of these teams have been very competitive of late. Kern Valley has lost the last three games by a combined score 158-29 while Cal City lost 43-0 to Bishop last week. Tough to gauge exactly how this one will play out as Cal City could bolster its place in the D-VI playoffs with a win while Kern Valley is just trying to salvage a win in league play.
Trevor’s pick: Cal City 20, Kern Valley 13
Josh’s pick: Cal City 26, Kern Valley 18
MCFARLAND (3-6, 0-2 ESL) at FARMERSVILLE (2-7, 0-2 ESL) - McFarland nearly got the win it needed last week. The Cougars were tied with North at halftime before the Stars scored the lone second half touchdown in a 20-14 contest. Now, McFarland is on a six-game losing streak after winning the first three games of the season. Now the Cougars head out for an East Sierra League finale at a Farmersville team that has lost four straight, but has put up points recently. The problem though, the defense has given up 40-plus points five times this season. Not sure about McFarland’s offense enough to believe the Cougars can put up those type of points, seeing how they have scored just 48 points over the last six games.
Trevor’s pick: Farmersville 34, McFarland 19
Josh’s pick: McFarland 24, Farmersville 16
ROSAMOND (8-1, 3-0 HDL) at BORON (2-7, 1-0 DML) - Rosamond clinched the outright HDL title last week in a 50-15 thumping on the road at Kern Valley. This week, the Roadrunners will look for a big win and a likely 2-seed in D-VI. Isaiah Escobar threw for 179 yards and three touchdowns and ran another two scores in for Rosamond over Kern Valley. The junior has been highly efficient this season with 22 touchdown passes to just three interceptions. Boron, a team that has continually been a small-school power in the Southern Section, has won their last two contests, which are the only wins this season for the Bobcats. Despite the late run for Boron, it’s likely Rosamond comes out hot and stays that way to a road win off Highway 58.
Trevor’s pick: Rosamond 35, Boron 13
Josh’s pick: Rosamond 54, Boron 13
BISHOP (5-4, 2-1 HDL) at KENNEDY (4-5, 3-3 SSL) - Both teams need a win here in a non-league regular season finale. Kennedy moved up to D-V this season and both teams are vying for the eight-seed in the playoffs. That leaves room for a lot of intrigue. Kennedy has done its part winning three straight down the stretch over Arvin, Chavez and Taft. The problem there is those three have combined for three wins after the Thunderbirds opened the season 1-5. Bishop got a big win over Cal City last week in a 43-0 rout and have won three of the last four. It’s a long, long drive down for the Broncos, a team that rarely plays on an artificial surface like that at Kennedy. Chalk this one up to the T-Birds.
Trevor’s pick: Kennedy 33, Bishop 29
Josh’s pick: Bishop 34, Kennedy 20
LATON (6-3, 4-1 CSL) at FRAZIER MOUNTAIN (1-8, 0-5 CSL) - Earlier I talked about three county teams still winless going into the final week of the regular season. Well, because of a 42-38 win over Cuyama Valley two weeks ago, snapped a 31-game losing streak, Frazier Mountain is not one of them. The seniors on the Falcons squad got to taste victory, even for one week. However, that seems to be it. Laton, losers of two straight, had a six-game win streak snapped, but the Mustangs likely will get a victory here to end the regular season.
Trevor’s pick: Laton 48, Frazier Mountain 26
Josh’s pick: Laton 47, Frazier Mountain 24
Trevor last week: 14-3 (.823)
Trevor this year: 128-51 (.715)
Trevor all-time: 824-299 (.733)
Josh last week: 12-5 (.705)
Josh this year: 59-25 (.702)