Tehachapi at Garces - Bakersfield

December 3, 2010

Warrior sophomore running back Jorge Garcia #23 punches the ball into the end zone for one of his
three TD's against Garces. Garcia rushed for 123 yards in the Division II semi-final playoff game
at Sam Tobias Field in Bakersfield. Photo by Michael Duffy, The Tehachapi News

Championship Bound! Warriors Stun #2 Seed Garces
To Reach CIF Finals vs San Joaquin Memorial

Posted December 5, 2010, by Tom Shea, The Tehachapi News

Confidence can be a lethal weapon going into a football game.

The Warriors had that in a big way, along with a near-perfect execution in all phases of their game plan. The end result sent tremors in the central section landscape with an awe-inspired 34-21 win over #2 seeded Garces in the Division II Central Section semifinals.

With the win, Tehachapi, Division IIs #6 seed, will now play in their third CIF championship in four years this Friday night.

"We showed the film on the Garces game earlier this year. We told our guys that it wasn't us, we're better now," said head coach Steve Denman. "We broke down the film and said if we play a perfect game, we could beat them. The kids executed in all aspects of the game and just did a great job. I can't tell you how proud I am of our kids to get after it like they did."

Tehachapi (12-1) stunned the Bakersfield home crowd by controlling the ball for the majority of the first and second quarters and using momentum and big plays to build their lead.

"They were an explosive, big play team," Denman said. "We saw that in the second half and we didn't want to give them that many opportunities. We were able to keep our offense on the field, stay after it and our defense played great when they had to."

After trading punts, the score was deadlocked at 0-0 at the end of the first quarter. But then Levi Garrett drew first blood for the Warriors by finding Cory Lange on a 50-yard touchdown pass with just seconds into the second quarter and a 7-0 lead.

On the Rams next possession, the Warriors were able to force a punting situation deep in Garces territory. However, in an alarming call to keep their drive alive, the Rams executed a punt fake that was sniffed out by defensive lineman Logan Smith, who dropped the runner just inside the Garces 30-yard line to give the Warriors a short field and another scoring opportunity.

"We studied film all week and came in with a game plan and what to expect," said defensive standout Cameron King. "Our defense came out fired up and we executed."

Mountain Football made sure they made good on the Garces (10-3) gift, with Jorge Garcia racing down the sideline on a 9-yard touchdown four plays later for a 14-0 advantage. Garcia added another touchdown for a 21-0 lead just before halftime, eventually finishing the game with three touchdowns overall and 123 yards on 16 carries.

Garcia's success was aided by another stellar performance by the offensive line, with players like guard Cesar Meza kicking out from the line of scrimmage to pave big running lanes.

"We always believed and we always play with pride," said Meza. "We think every play is our last play and we work hard. In the weight room, spring ball, to now and we're just glad we're going to (the CIF Finals)."

Marcus Curiel also had a big night rushing, churning out 168 yards on 25 attempts and a fourth quarter touchdown.

"We have good chemistry and our offensive line opened things up tonight and we took advantage of it," said Curiel. "We came into this game wanting to play and anyone we face we want to give them a challenge."

On defense, Ray Cross finished with six tackles, while King, Adam Bullard, David Lara, Zach Timm, Michael Lowder and Travis Farewell each had five tackles. Phil Rhodes also had a fumble recovery while Troy Mathews had five pressures and Lara and King had sacks.

Up next for the Warriors in their improbable playoff run is a trip to the CIF championship, where they will face off with San Joaquin Memorial in Fresno. The Panthers overcame a 20-point deficit to defeat Lemoore 41-20 last week in the other Division II semifinal game.

It will mark the 20th time Tehachapi has reached the valley championship and the opportunity for the Warriors to record their 11th section title in school history.

"We want to show what Mountain Football is all about," added Meza. "It's going to be a challenge but we're going play our hearts out."

CIF Central Section Division II Playoff Scores - Semifinals

(6) Tehachapi 34, (2) Bakersfield-Garces Memorial 21
(5) Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial 41, (9) Lemoore 20

CIF Central Section Division II Championship (This Friday)

(6) Tehachapi (12-1) at (5) Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial (10-3)

Warrior sophomore running back Jorge Garcia #23 (with ball) scored 3 TD's and
rushed for 123 yards Friday night against Garces. The Warriors won the game to
advance to the DII section finals. Photo by Rod Thornburg, The Bakersfield Californian.

Warriors Avenge Earlier Loss To Garces
To Earn Shot At DII Section Title

Posted December 3, 2010, by Jeff Evans, The Bakersfield Californian

Tehachapi High's goal was having sustained drives on offense to keep the explosive, big-play Garces offense on the sidelines.

And the Warriors executed that perfectly Friday night.

Utilizing numerous clock-eating drives, Tehachapi jumped ahead 21-0 at halftime and polished off Garces 34-21 in the Central Section Division II semifinals at Garces.

The win avenged a 35-6 Garces win over the Warriors on Sept. 10.

"When you play a team like Garces, you've got to keep their offense off the field," said Tehachapi coach Steve Denman, who will lead his squad into the Division II title game next Friday at Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial, which beat Lemoore 41-20 in the other semifinal.

"We did not do that at all the first time we faced them."

Tehachapi (12-1), seeded sixth in its first season in Division II, will try for the school's 11th section title next week and fifth as a Central Section school.

Garces, the No. 2 seed, finishes 10-2.

"We wanted revenge. That first game was a big motivation for us," said Tehachapi junior running back Marcus Curiel, who had 25 carries for 168 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run. "This feels good. No one expected us to do this tonight."

Sophomore running back Jorge Garcia had 123 yards on 16 carries for Tehachapi with touchdown runs of 9, 3 and 2 yards.

"We had faith in ourselves," said Garcia, who was particularly effective on sweeps to the right side of the Tehachapi line. "I just had to run behind our good line."

Garcia said the sweeps were effective when the Warriors caught Garces overplaying to the left side of Tehachapi's offense. "So we ran to the right," he said.

Denman said film from Garces' lopsided win on Sept. 10 was shown early in the week.

"We knew we were better than that," he said. "We told them that if we played a good game, we can beat these guys. We had to play a perfect game, and we did. I can't say how proud I am of these guys."

Tehachapi's defense sparkled in the first half, when Garces was held to four first downs, punted three times and turned the ball over on downs another time on an ill-fated attempt to run for a first down out of punt formation.

Tehachapi had the ball nearly 16 minutes of the 24-minute first half. Tehachapi's time-of-possession edge was 30:25-17:35 when the game ended.

Two of Garces' touchdowns were quick strikes: a 71-yard TD run by Zack Puente on the first play after the Rams recovered a fumble; and a 20-yard TD run by Puente to cap a two-play drive. Puente's 56-yard kickoff return set that up.

The Warriors responded to the 71-yard Puente score by driving 84 yards and burning more than six minutes off the clock.

Puente's 20-yard TD made it 28-14 with 10:43 left in the game, but Tehachapi put the game away on Garcia's 2-yard TD run, which was set up by a 61-yard run by senior running back Phil Rhodes.

For Garces, Puente finished with six carries for 122 yards and senior Jalen Sykes ended his Garces career with 16 carries for 95 yards.

"Our execution was not there," Sykes said. "They did a great job of keying on me. On defense, we missed a lot of tackles."

"Our kids played hard but the best team won tonight," Garces coach John Roberts said. "You've got to give credit where credit is due."

Garces was missing its best lineman, two-way starter Thomas Ansolabehere, who has been hospitalized because of illness and dehydration.

"He's still in the hospital but he's getting better," Roberts said. "We dedicated the game to him. You like to get a win when you dedicate a game to someone but sometimes that's the way it goes."

The Warrior "D" swarms a would be Ram running back. The Warriors held
the explosive Rams offense in check most of the night, enroute to a 21-0 halftime
lead, and a final 34-21 victory. Photo by Rod Thornburg, The Bakersfield Californian.

1st2nd3rd 4thFinal
Tehachapi   0 21   0 13 34
Garces  0  0   7 14 21

The Scoring:

2nd Quarter:

Teh - Lange 50 yd. pass from Garrett (Farewell PAT kick)
Teh - Garcia 9 yd. run (Farewell PAT kick)
Teh - Garcia 3 yd. run (Farewell PAT kick

3rd Quarter:

Gar - Puente 71 yd. run (Robertson PAT kick)

4th Quarter:

Teh - Curiel 1 yd. run (Farewell PAT kick)
Gar - Puente 20 yd. run (Robertson PAT kick)
Teh - Garcia 2 yd. run (PAT kick failed)
Gar - Sakowski 30 yd. pass from B. Campbell (Robertson PAT kick)


First Downs178
Passing Yards74 67
Total Yards444291
Punts4-44.0 5-37.0
Penalties4-50 4-40

Individual Statistics:

RUSHING - Tehachapi: Curiel 25-168; Garcia 15-123; Rhodes 4-61; Garrett 4-7; Timm 1-11.
Garces: Puente 6-122; Sykes 16-95; Thomas 6-9; G. Campbell 2-6; Fanucchi 1-2; B. Campbell 2-(-10).

PASSING - Tehachapi: Garrett 2-6-0-74; Bullard 0-1-1-0. Garces: B. Campbell 6-13-0-67; Thomas 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING - Tehachapi: Lange 2-74. Garces: Sykes 3-24; Sweeney 2-13; Sakowski 1-30.

Varsity Tehachapi 12-1, Garces 10-2