The Warriors held an intersquad game (above) on Saturday, August 20, and traveled to Highland High in Bakersfield
on Friday night, August 26, for a controlled scrimmage to prepare for the season opener this Friday night in Tehachapi.
Above, runner Michael McClendon #24 sprints around the defense for a nice gain. Photo by The Tehachapi News.

SSL Ramblings
Warriors Host Exeter In Season Opener

Posted by on August 30, 2011

The Tehachapi Warriors will begin a new season of football Friday night when they play host to the Exeter Monarchs at historic Coy Burnett Field. Game time is 7:30 pm.

The Warriors begin the new year as the defending Division II Central Section champions. Tehachapi has won three sectional championships in the past four years --- and come into the 2011 season with a 12 game winning streak.

Steve Denman is beginning his 30th season as the head coach of the Warriors, looking to improve on his career 256-95-4 record. The iconic coach has collected 7 CIF championships and 13 league titles. The Warriors have advanced to the post-season playoffs 15 straight seasons. Denman is fielding one of the largest rosters in school history with more than 60 players on the team, providing for plenty of depth at all positions.

The Bakersfield Californian has ranked Tehachapi 12th in the San Joaquin Valley and the Fresno Bee lists the Warriors as 13th. Many local media experts pick the Warriors to win the South Sequoia League again and some have predicted the Warriors to run the table during the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record.

These lofty expectations come as no suprise. The Warriors are not rebuilding in 2011, but reloading. Tehachapi returns plenty of starters on both sides of the ball, including running backs Marcus Curiel and Jorge Garcia, and wide receiver Cory Lange. The defense will be led by Adam Bullard, David Lara, and Troy Mathews.

But coach Denman scoffs at these pre-season predictions, emphasizing the games will be won and lost on the field of play.

Meet The Exeter Monarchs

The Warriors defeated Exeter in the 2010 season opener, 38-25, up in Tulare County. The game was the first meeting ever between the two schools. Warrior fans may remember that Tehachapi fell behind in the first half, 18-7, only to come roaring back in the 2nd half to score 31 unanswered points.

Exeter, led by veteran coach Ben White, won a tri-championship in the Central Sequoia League in 2010 with a 5-1 league record.

The blue and gold clad Monarchs return five starters on offense, including quarterback Zach Vernon, guard Matt Dreo, wide receiver Jacob Sertich, running back Trevor Knox and fullback Joey Kunkel (6'1" 200 pounds). White says his team's strength on offense is with his skill-position players, who all have experience.

The defense, on the other hand, is young. White returns just two starters in Kunkel, an all-league defensive end, and tackle Jacob Botello, who is a 3-year starter. White said he may have to start three or four sophomores on defense. He admits his defense is in the middle of a youth movement, but he has a pair of experienced players in Kunkel and Botello, who can lead the way.

The Monarchs are a Division IV team, and winning a post-season title could be extremely tough because of a highly-touted Washington Union-Fresno team that may be standing in Exeter's way. But Central Sequoia League glory isn't out of the question. The Monarchs shared the league crown with Kingsburg and Coalinga last season and appear primed to give it another run.