2011 Warriors

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 2011 Warriors

Posted on August 13, 2011, by Zach Ewing, Prep Beat Sportwriter, The Bakersfield California

Key Players: Marcus Curiel, sr, RB/LB; Cory Lange, sr, WR/DB; Adam Bullard, sr, RB/LB; David Lara, sr, RB/LB; Troy Mathews, sr, OL/DL

Key Losses: Michael Lowder, RB/DB; Levi Garrett, QB/DB; Travis Farewell, TE/LB; Phil Rhodes, RB/DB; Niko Taliulu, OL/DL; Zach Timm, RB/LB

Offense: Out go running back Phil Rhodes and a couple of linemen, but the Tehachapi assembly line has 1,100-yard rusher Marcus Curiel, Jorge Garcia and plenty of talent up front to shoulder the load this year in what might be Kern County’s most storied attack. The scary thing about this Warriors team is that plenty of underclassmen contributed to last year’s Division II championship run, and they’ll be more than ready to roll in 2011. Cory Lange is an explosive player at wide receiver and if junior Bobby Howell, who took some snaps last year in a rare Tehachapi call-up for a sophomore, can get him the ball, Lange will stretch defenses and expose holes for Curiel and company to chew up plenty of real estate.

Defense: There isn’t quite as much back on this side of the ball, but that doesn’t mean the Warriors won’t have the best defense in the SSL by a long shot. Lange was an interception machine with six, and Adam Bullard is going to rack up tackles as a linebacker (he had 133 last year). David Lara, a defensive end, anchors the line (105 tackles and 7.5 sacks). And you can count on this: Enough younger players will figure out what they’re doing by November to make this an efficient unit. It happens every season on the mountain, and this year should be no exception.

Outlook: Steve Denman and crew have had a gaudy amount of success in 29 years at Tehachapi — 16 of them have produced 10 or more wins, with only three losing seasons in the same span — but last year might just trump them all. The Warriors started rather slowly, with hard-fought wins against Exeter and North and a blowout loss to Garces, quietly picked up some steam through a soft middle of the schedule, then blitzed their way to the SSL title and made their way through a new, tougher Division II bracket, avenging that Garces defeat and beating San Joaquin Memorial for a championship in a division in which Tehachapi was by far the smallest public school. Not too shabby, and now consider this: Many of last year’s key contributers were juniors, meaning this year’s version could be even better. If injuries or chemistry issues don’t get in the way, the Warriors have a great shot at running the regular-season table in their final SSL year (a Week 1 game at Garces likely is the biggest challenge) and entering the D-II playoffs as a favorite to repeat.

Quotable: “We’ve had a lot of great teams, and I don’t want to single out anyone, but to have the uphill battle that we had, and the kids kept plugging away and kept improving, that was a special year.” — Denman

Prediction: 10-0; 5-0 SSL

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SSL Predictions For 2011
By Zach Ewing, The Bakersfield Californian

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

(Webmaster Note: All of the 2011 South Sequoia League teams were previewed by the Bakersfield Californian between August 11-13, 2011.)