The 2003 Warriors are the Valley Champions of the Sequoia Division Large Schools.
It was a great season for the Tehachapi Mountain Men, securing their first double-digit win season since 2000 and their first CIF Crown in 10 years. Looking back at the season that was, it was a memorable ride for all those that had the honor to be involved in Warrior Football during 2003.
Opening night of the season for both the Burros and the Warriors had its share of rollercoaster emotions, with Burroughs firing out of the gate early in the first half to take a commanding 27-6 lead at halftime. Leading the way for Burroughs was talented junior Quarterback Karsten Sween, who wasted no time in showing the power of the no-huddle spread offense by taking the opening drive 12 plays in 80 yards, capping the scoring off with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Cubit. Sween would finish the evening with 214 yards passing and four touchdown passes, securing the game with a commanding 34-6 third quarter advantage. Despite the large winning margin, Tehachapi would still show that they were a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season, scoring 27-unanswered points to close the game, dominating the second half of the contest. Hutchinson would lead the ground game with 106 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns.
The Warriors would go on to lose their second game of the year the following week, marking the first time since 1991 that a Warrior team started 0-2. Despite the second game loss, the Mountain defense held steadfast for most of the contest, allowing only one touchdown in each of the four quarters against a tough Clovis East team. (Note: Clovis East went on to win the Yosemite Divison Large School Championship.)
The first win of the year would come against the Foothill Trojans, with Mike Wright taking the Mountain Menís first play on offense 80 yards for a score. Sean Finley would go on to add two more touchdowns in the second quarter, while Tanner Hutchinson and Mike Papac would log in another to help Tehachapi take a commanding 35-0 lead into the locker room. After the break, Ceasar Gonzales and Jeremy Clark would help pad the lead with two more scoring jaunts to give the Warriors their first victory of the season.
On a roll after logging in their first win, the Warriors showed that their 2002 44-14 victory over Tulure Union was no fluke in week 4 by reeling off 35-unanswered first half points to help secure a respectable 2-2 record after four games. However, week 5 would bring more hearthreak when an AJ Barcelona 6-yard run capping an eight-play drive would be the only scoring for Tehachapi in a tough 20-6 loss to Delano on homecoming night.
With doubts looming on the Warriors chances at vying for a 5th South Sequoia League title, the Mountain Men wasted no time in laying a claim at the crown in their league opening week with a shutout over Wasco. The Tigers, who had suffered four straight losses coming into their game with the Warriors, could not find an answer for utility back Kris Haycock, who contributed 16 of Tehachapiís 35 total points in the win. The opening round victory would be followed up with one of the most Ďimprobableí wins on the year, when the Warriors engineered one of their greatest comebacks in team history with 23 unanswered points to post a thrilling win at Coy Burnett Field against the Taft Wildcats. Taft, who came into their game with Tehachapi with a respectable 4-2 record, boasted the best overall defense in the central valley (only 172 yards relinquished a game).
Tehachapi would go on to take care of league rivals Arvin (17-13) and Shafter (34-7), to set up a league title showdown with Garces. Tehachapi, having secured at least a share of the SSL title, needed to defeat the Rams to prevent the parochial school from grabbing a share of the crown in their final year in the SSL.
Playing in one of the most inspiring games of the year, the Warriors rose to the occasion in the final regular season game to post an impressive shutout victory over the defending league and CIF champion Rams, 28-0. With the win, Tehachapi won their first out-right SSL championship since 1997, and secured the #4 seed in the CIF Large School Playoffs against the #5 seed Selma Bears.
Coming into their game with Tehachapi, Selma was crippled from the start when All-CSL running back Sherman Moon (who had 1,588 yards coming into the game with Tehachapi) was held back for disciplinary reasons, and Steven Stalie (78 completions for 1,019 yards) was lost for the season to injury.
Moon and Stalieís absence was costly for the rest of the Selma players, as Tanner Hutchinson electrified the home crowd with a school record six touchdowns in one game. Hutchinson also piled on an alarming 266 yards rushing on just 16 carries. Hutchinson would be the only offensive threat the Warriors would need, as Tehachapi took a commanding 49-14 lead into the fourth quarter. Dan Haycock would provide Tehachapiís final score of the evening with a 1-yard run in the waning minutes of the contest. The win would set up a date with the Sequoia Large School #1 seed and 11-0 Washington Union Panthers.
On the road for a semi-final match-up with Washington Union, the #1 seeded Panthers welcomed their guests with Tehachapi-like football conditions, with frigid air and smash-mouth football.
Unfortunately for the North Sequoia League Champion Panthers, most of the smashing came from the Tehachapi offensive line, who helped Tanner Hutchinson with the second highest single game rushing mark in team history with 282 yards on the ground and 411 yards overall as a team. Josh Lange provided the winning score for Tehachapi, scoring the teamís second touchdown of the night in the second quarter with an 8-yard run. Hutchinson would seal the win for good with a 19-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
The victory would set up a date with the 11-1 Central Sequoia League Champion Yosemite Badgers, who coming in to the CIF championship had a #5 Division III state ranking.
Emotions ran high in Tehachapiís CIF championship appearance with the Badgers of Oakhurst. The Warriors not only had a chance to win their first CIF title in 10 years, but avenge a 20-6 defeat to Yosemite in the 2002 CIF Sequoia Large School semifinals.
From start to finish, the championship did not disappoint, with two titan programs exchanging blows in hopes of bringing a CIF championship to their school. For the defending CIF champion Badgers, the passing game proved to be their greastest asset, with Junior Quarterback Shawn Long completing 18 passes for 286 yards. Much to the dismay of the Badger faithful however, Longís four interceptions were detrimental, helping to keep the game close and Tehachapi in the positive on the turnover ratio. One of those interceptions found the hands of defensive back Kris Haycock, who darted 63 yards for a touchdown to help close the gap on an early Badger 7-0 lead. Haycock would add another touchdown on an option run with 1:47 left in the second quarter. After a two-point pass completion to Josh Lange, The Warriors took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
In the second half, the Mountain Defense raised the bar to secure the win, giving in to only a 23-yard Casey Lucas field goal in the fourth quarter. Up 14-10 with the seconds winding down, Anthony Scott intercepted a Long pass deep in Warrior territory to close out the win for the Warriors and the 2003 CIF Championship.
The Warriors placed seven (7) players on the All-SSL first team. They included Tanner Hutchinson (runningback), Chris Bowman (offensive line), Kyle Fife (offensive line), Jon Anderson (defensive end), Kris Haycock (defensive back), Mike Faulkner (linebacker), and Anthony Scott (defensive line).
Tanner Hutchinson closed out his stellar Warrior career in 2003 with 2,005 yards on 291 carries and 29 touchdowns. Hutchinson set new school records in varsity career points (302), varsity career touchdowns (48), single game points (38), and single game touchdowns (6). Josh Lange finished off his senior year with 508 yards on the ground and two scores, while Jeremy Clark had 441 yards and three touchdowns. Mike Faulkner led the Tehachapi defense with 68 tackles, while Anthony Scott and Sean Finley were close behind, with 67 and 64, respectively.
The Tehachapi Junior Varsity Braves finished the year as SSL champions with a 9-1 (5-0 SSL) record.
The freshman team finished their year with a 4-5 (1-3-1) mark.
The 2003 Warriors are elated after winning a Valley Championship at Oakhurst.
Pictured are l to r, Kris Haycock, Tanner Hutchinson, and AJ Barcelona.
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|Sept 5||Burroughs (Ridgecrest)||28||34||H||Tanner Hutchinson: 3 TD's, 106 yds. rushing|
|Sept 12||Clovis East||00||27||A|
|Sept 19||Foothill (Bakersfield)||49||13||H||Tanner Hutchinson: 1 TD, 131 yds. rushing|
|Sep 26||Tulare Union||42||24||A||Tanner Hutchinson: 4 TD's, 116 yds. rushing|
|Oct 3||Delano||06||20||H||AJ Barcelona: 1 TD rushing|
|Oct 10||Wasco *||35||00||A||Tanner Hutchinson: 1 TD, 152 yds. rushing|
|Oct 17||Taft *||23||18||H||Tanner Hutchinson: 3 TD's, 156 yds. rushing|
|Oct 24||Arvin *||17||13||A||Tanner Hutchinson: 2 TD's, 168 yds. rushing|
|Oct 31||Shafter *||34||07||A||Tanner Hutchinson: 4 TD's, 167 yds. rushing|
|Nov 7||Garces *||28||00||H||Tanner Hutchinson: 3 TD's, 91 yds. rushing|
* Denotes League Game
|Nov 14||Selma||55||22||H||Tanner Hutchinson: 6 TD's, 266 yds. rushing|
|Nov 21||Washington Union (Fresno)||27||13||A||Tanner Hutchinson: 2 TD's, 282 yds. rushing|
|Nov 28||Yosemite (Oakhurst)||14||10||A||Kris Haycock: 2 TD's, 31 yds. rushing|
The 2003 Warriors include #1 Matt Munoz, #2 Kris Haycock, #3 Matt Patience, #4 AJ Barcelona, #5 Josh Lange, #6 Jon Anderson, #7 Robert Helfrich, #8 Sam Tyner, #9 Jared Stevens, #10 Jameson Freymond,
#11 Troy Royer, #12 Brandon Woodard, #15 Cameron Wood, #16 Josh Epstein, #20 Mike Wright, #21 Tanner Hutchinson, #23 Maurice Sales, #24 Ceasar Gonzales, #25 Bryan Frank, #26 David Watson,
#28 Daniel Rivers, #31 Zack Harris, #32 Sean Finley, #33 Marcos Coates, #35 BJ Corey, #38 Travis Ureno, #40 Dan Haycock, #41 Jeremy Clark, #44 Mike Faulkner, #50 Kyle Fife, #51 Marcos Saavedra,
#52 Sean Rogers, #53 Nathan Abromovich, #54 Chris Bowman, #55 Anthony Scott, #56 David Gall, #57 Isaac Saavedra, #58 Vincent Flores, #59 Jose Pulido, #60 Tyler McCann, #61 Corbin Medina, #62 Joe Steele,
#64 Ralph Curiel, #65 Shawn Morten, #66 Greg Harrod, #68 Phil Cristenesen, #70 Cael Cox, #71 Chris Dockery, #72 Mike Tercy, #75 Taylor Peck, #76 Ryan Moran, #77 Trenton Pera, #80 David Gonzales, and #85 Mike Papac.