Garces' Robert Richardson breaks up a pass intended for Tehachapi's
Matt Patience. (Photo by Rodney Thornburg, Bakersfield Californian)
By the time the Garces High football team arrived in Tehachapi at 5 p.m. on Friday, the temperature neared 60 degrees, allowing players and coaches to feel their hands and toes for three hours.
And by late Friday night, Garces left Tehachapi and its last South Sequoia League game without not only feeling its hands and toes, but also without getting close to feeling a victory.
The temperature falling to 35 degrees at game time had something to do with it, but so did Tehachapi.
Tehachapi played its traditional game, pounding the ball and playing stingy defense in winning the SSL title outright with a 28-0 win over rival Garces.
The win puts the series at 14-13-2 with Garces leading, but it also gives Tehachapi coach Steve Denman his 10th league championship.
And he can thank Kris Haycock, a senior, for cutting Garces' lead in the series and for winning the SSL.
Haycock might have completed 1-of-10 passes for 16 yards, but he did it all for Tehachapi.
He started at quarterback and five other positions -- defensive back, kicker, punter and kick and punter returner.
Running back Tyler Hutchinson scored three of Tehachapi's four touchdowns, but Haycock gave him the chance to score by keeping drives alive.
"Haycock had a lot of balls dropped, and he could have easily completed seven more passes," said Denman, who is now 9-12-1 against Garces in his 22 years.
"Haycock came up big for us by running for 21 yards and 10 yards on other plays. He has been doing that ever since he took over at quarterback in our first league game against Wasco. He has a knack for making things happen."
Since Haycock replaced AJ Barcelona in Week 6, Tehachapi (7-3, 5-0) has reeled off five consecutive wins. On Friday, he helped Tehachapi notch No. 5 and most likely a first-round home game in the CIF Central Section Sequoia Division large school playoffs next Friday.
Haycock, who rushed for 36 yards on four carries, put his team in scoring position on its second possession with his legs and right arm. Haycock first returned a punt from the 49-yard line to Garces' 31. Two plays later, he almost hit wide receiver Matt Patience for a 29-yard score, but safety Robert Richardson broke up the pass over the middle.
And two plays later, Tehachapi decided to let Haycock get a first down on fourth-and-seven with his legs and not arm. Haycock rolled to his right and headed toward the Tehachapi sideline to pick up 10 yards before being forced out on the 18.
And on third-and-13, it wasn't Haycock who hurt Garces. An illegal motion on Tehachapi nullified a bad option pass from Haycock that landed out of bounds and five yards behind the line of scrimmage, giving Tehachapi another third down.
This time Haycock burned Garces with his arm, connecting with running back Mike Wright on a 16-yard pass, which would be Haycock's only completion. With Tehachapi on the 5, Haycock handed the ball off to Hutchinson and he jumped over a pile for the touchdown.
"Garces couldn't just focus on me after Haycock's early performance," said Hutchinson, crediting Haycock for scoring his first touchdown that put Tehachapi ahead 7-0 after Haycock's extra point with 4:45 remaining in the first quarter. "The offensive line opened up holes big enough for me to slide through and I just kept my legs moving forward."
And Hutchinson dragged defenders with him as he carried the ball 16 times for 91 yards against a tough defense, which went into Friday allowing 146 yards rushing per game.
Garces (5-4-1, 3-2) should receive a wild card spot in the Central Section Sequoia Division small schools playoffs today at the CIF playoff seedings in Porterville.
But first-year coach David Fanucchi said after Friday's game that his offense will have to find ways to move the ball if wants to get out of the first-round of the playoffs.
Garces had 125 yards of total offense and turned the ball over four times, three coming on downs. "Tehachapi's line on both sides dominated," said Fanucchi, whose program will be joining the Southeast Yosemite League next school year after being in the SSL where it has won 18 league title since 1956. "It was a little chilly tonight, but our program has played games in Tehachapi where it's been freezing. "When we got to Tehachapi it definitely didn't feel as cold as it is now."
Funny how five hours and the temperature dropping 25 degrees can change ones feeling.
T--Hutchinson 5 run (K. Haycock kick)
T--Hutchinson 5 run (K. Haycock kick)
T--Hutchinson 7 run (K. Haycock kick)
T--Lange 1 run (K. Haycock kick)
Rushing--Garces: Keown 7-49, Tarver 15-17, Tudor 4-22, Richardson 1-(-1),
Etchechury 2-(-2), Cauzza 5-(-14).
Tehachapi: Hutchinson 16-91, Wright 8-68, D. Haycock 2-37, K. Haycock 4-36, Clark 9-35, Lange 9-26.
Passing--Garces: Etchechury 3-6-0-45, Cauzza 1-2-0-9. Tehachapi: K. Haycock
Receiving--Garces: Richardson 2-27, Geissel 2-27. Tehachapi: Wright 1-16.
Varsity -- Tehachapi (7-3, 5-0 SSL); Garces (5-4-1, 3-2 SSL)
Junior Varsity -- Tehachapi 43, Garces 8 (Tehachapi, 9-1, 5-0 SSL)