Zach Ewing is the prep sports beat writer for The Bakersfield Californian.
He is providing season previews on all Kern County high school football teams.

School House Zach
Previews the 2010 Warriors

Posted on August 12, 2010, by Zach Ewing, Prep Beat Sportwriter, The Bakersfield California

Key Players: Colt Murrow, sr, OL/DL; Levi Garrett, sr, QB/DB; Travis Farewell, sr, TE/LB; Phil Rhodes, sr, RB/DB; Niko Taliulu, sr, OL/DL

Key Losses: Drew Howell, OL/DL; Nick Howell, WR/DB; Jesse Olofson, RB/DB; Tyler Guyon, OL/DL; Luke Mears, TE/DL

Offense: Things don't change much around the Tehachapi football program, and that starts with Steve Denman's wing-T offense. What does change, however, are the names of the linemen who create holes and the back who squirt through them. After Adam Mullen and Josh Strauss led the Warriors to a couple of Central Section Division III championships in 2007 and 2008, it was Jesse Olofson who racked up 1,932 rushing yards last year. He's graduated now, too, but there will be other names at the top of the Kern County rushing leaderboard The Californian prints each Thursday. Look for Phil Rhodes and perhaps Michael Lowder to fill those roles this year, with Niko Taliulu and Colt Murrow doing the blocking. Levi Garrett likely will take over for Chris Rush at quarterback, and don't forget from a comeback against Taft last year that Tehachapi can throw when need be, too. Oh, and one more thing expect the Warriors to score plenty of points. Few problems here.

Defense: Same story here. Gone to long-snap at Oregon is versatile linebacker Drew Howell, along with brother Nick and a couple of other key defenders. But Travis Farewell is the next standout at linebacker, and Murrow, Taliulu and Cameron King will man the fort up front. In the secondary, look for juniors Adam Bullard and Cory Lange to have big years; both had three interceptions are were among the team leaders in tackles as sophomores. Tehachapi's senior class always comes up big; when the underclassmen help out in force, this team becomes a threat to win every game.

Outlook: You can put Tehachapi near the top of the SSL standings in pen most years, and 2010 will be no different. Kern County's dean of coaching, Steve Denman, in his 29th year, has talent and depth this year to go with the system that has worked so well for him. The year-to-year differences you see in Tehachapi's results come down to just a couple of variables luck and chemistry. Those aren't easy to predict, but keep in mind this year that the Warriors must travel to Taft and Bakersfield Christian in league play before entering the playoffs in the Division II bracket for the first time since the section bumped them up. I think the program is ready to make the leap to that level competitively, though championships clearly will be much tougher. One thing's for certain: This team will be playing its best ball at the end of the year, and that's when the big games are. Win a couple of those, and this has the potential to be another classic Tehachapi success story.

Quotable: "The main thing, we have a philosphy and we stick to it. The chemistry of the kids is always going to be different. The leadership of senior class is most important thing, and juniors and whatever sophomores you bring up, they just plug in." Denman

Prediction: 8-2; 4-1 SSL

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SSL Predictions For 2010
By Zach Ewing, The Bakersfield Californian

#1 Taft (5-0)
#2 Tehachapi (4-1)
#3 Wasco (3-2)
#4 Bakersfield Christian (2-3)
#5 Arvin (1-4)
#6 Shafter (0-5)

(Webmaster Note: All of the 2010 South Sequoia League teams were previewed by the Bakersfield Californian between August 7-13, 2010.)