Competitive Inequity: Warriors Embrace Challenge of Unfair Playoff Seeding

Posted by Tom Shea, The Tehachapi News Sports Staff on November 5, 2023.

It has been a roller-coaster couple of weeks for Mountain Football, to say the least.

For Kern County football, the Bakersfield Drillers have been the gold standard for well over a century,
a school that has a California record eight state championships and 37 section championships to their credit.

In games from 1930 to 1956, Mountain Football’s varsity faced off against the Driller junior varsity/reserves,
finding success, compiling a 7-2 record during that time frame.

Then there was 2001. Tehachapi found itself playing the varsity Drillers for the first time, who
were ranked fifth in the state that season. It was a game that only occurred due to tragic events of 9-11
in New York at the World Trade Center. The Warriors had a game scheduled with Rosamond on Friday, Sept. 14
of that week, but the game was cancelled with a country reeling. It was a national day of prayer and virtually
all high school sporting events nationwide were put on pause. Coincidentally, Tehachapi and Bakersfield both had an
opening on Sept. 21, so the Goliath Drillers and David Warriors agreed to play.

Mountain Football fought hard and made their presence known in the contest, but in the end, fell 14-6.
Two other games against the Drillers took place in 2018 and 2019, but the results were not nearly as close,
with the Warriors outscored 106-27 in two blowout defeats.

Which brings us to the game last Friday. Once again, Tehachapi was faced with a monumental challenge,
having to take on a CIF Central Section Division II bracket and first-round match-up with the higher-ranked Bakersfield Drillers.
Tehachapi, a school with an enrollment of just over 1,200 students, went up against a school with an enrollment of just over 3,000 students.

David’s rock was slung in a fourth (varsity game) attempt and this time, Goliath fell. The Warriors came
away from historic Griffith Field with a 35-14 victory.

The events leading up to the contest were nothing short of shocking. Tehachapi, finishing the regular season with
an undefeated 10-0 record and second-straight league championship, were forced to bump-up a division in the CIF Central Section against
schools that predominantly have either exponentially higher school enrollment or access to resources (private schools) that
are unequal to that of public schools like Tehachapi.

The Warriors were hopeful of a proper playoff placement in their base-division, Division III, by the
CIF playoff seeding committee. However, pre-established rules, policy and layers of bureaucracy that burden the CIF Central Section
could not allow that to happen. The coup de grâce, the Warriors were not awarded an opening-round playoff home game.

This week, Tehachapi will once again go and play. They will face off against Central Valley Christian,
a private school and the CIF Central Section Division II No. 1 seed, at 7 p.m. Friday in Visalia.

The Cavaliers will feature what many observers consider the best player in the entire Central Section in Bryson Donelson.
The standout athlete finished the regular season with 1,826 yards rushing and has 37 total touchdowns rushing and receiving
this year. Donelson will be going to Fresno State on a full-ride scholarship next season.

The Warriors are not a stranger to dynamic runners, having just faced off against Bakersfield’s Brison Abbott,
who was held to 50 yards on 19 carries last Friday night. Abbott came into the playoffs
with 2,078 yards (10.7 yards per carry) in 10 previous games, the sixth-best mark in the state of California.

David’s march continues, this time facing yet another huge test in the Central Section Division II playoff
quarterfinals. Undoubtedly, the entire town of Tehachapi will have their back once again.