The 1997 Warriors include, top row, l to r, Josh Schmidt, Jacob Ursua, Ryan Backus, Rodney Michael, Bryan Phillips, Andy Eyler, Sean Morphis, Jon Dean, Jeff Pandolfe, 4th row, l to r, Brad Johnson, Jese Garber, Darin Redelsperger, Chad Steele, Matt Schneider, 3rd row, l to r, Fabian Rodriguez, Paul Cruz, Bill Carll, Dennis Ruggles, Steve Denman, Derrick Thomas, Pat Snyder, Sal Luna, Matt Bramen, 2nd row, l to r, Daniel Penny, Cavan Cox, David Shall, Scott Hernandez, Eddie Brown, Corey Costelloe, Geoff Nikkel, Jeremy Olson, Josh Church, Jeremy Waldram, Bennie Hensler, Jeremiah Thoman, bottom row, l to r, Eric Weiss, Greg Perpich, Chris Noonan, Jeff McLaughlin, Mike Hall, Chris Minton, Rustin Youghblood, Nick Swihart, and Steve Lee.
Season Review by Tom Shea, thswarriors.com
Warriors Win South Sequoia League Championship!
CIF Finalists Finish With 12-1 Season Log
Entering the season with many returning starters from 1996, Tehachapi enjoyed one of its best seasons in school history with a 12-1 overall record, recording their second South Sequoia league title in six years with a perfect 5-0 league mark. To many, the 1997 team was arguably one of the deepest and most talented in school history, and received wide recognition in the valley as one of the yearís most dominant teams.
It didnít take Tehachapi very long to become an early favorite to win their second South Sequoia league and CIF title with a first game 48-0 thrashing over Highland (Bakersfield). Eddie Brown got the scoring started early with an electrifying 80-yard run with 1:02 to go in the first quarter, finishing with three touchdowns overall. The route accumulated 528 yards of total offense, with 402 yards rushing.
The next week against Rosamond, the Warriors piled on more yardage and points in a 47-0 drubbing over the Roadrunners. Darin Redelsperger led the way in the victory with 94 yards on 13 attempts and three scores, while Eddie Brown contributed with 90 yards on five carries and a second quarter touchdown. Matt Schneider also added on two touchdowns and 76 total yards. Having one of their best starts in school history, the Sequoia and Yosemite divisions were starting to take notice of the Mountain Men and their success.
However, before Tehachapi could prove their legitimacy with the rest of the pack, Big Green would have to prove their meddle in a week three game against Stockdale, with the Mustangs keeping the Warriors scoreless throughout the entire game until Tehachapiís last drive of the fourth quarter. Senior wingback Eddy Brown would provide the spark on the last minute effort, hauling in receptions of 26 and 16 yards on the impressive 68-yard drive. Darin Redelsperger would punch in the touchdown with 45-seconds left in the contest, and Senior Quarterback Geoff Nikkel would connect with a diving Brown for the successful two-point conversion and the 8-7 win.
The next two pre-league contests would display shear domination by Tehachapi, particularly on defense, giving up only 164 yards against Arvin and 127 against an awe-struck Valley Christian squad. Against the Bears, senior wingback Jeff Pandolfe would provide the games only touchdowns, scoring three in the second half and finishing with 41 yards on 12 carries. Matt Schneider and Michael Hall would contribute with two touchdowns a piece against Valley Christian at Cerritos to give the Warriors a 5-0 record heading into league play.
Against Shafter, Wasco, and Taft in the weeks to follow, Tehachapi established their SSL stronghold with an incredible 975 total yards against the three opponents. Leading Tehachapi in all three contests was Darin Redelsperger, who had 267 yards and five touchdowns in limited first-half action. Geoff Nikkel also had a notable game against Shafter, passing for 235 yards on eight completions and two scores.
With the SSL title seemingly wrapped up with only two weeks left in league, Tehachapi had one more daunting task to overcome in hosting Garces Memorial on the Mountain. Facing a three-game losing streak against the Rams, and losing 12 of the last 13 contests, the Warriors would find themselves behind at halftime, 18-7. However, there was no quit in the heart of champions. After a Darin Redelsperger 20-yard TD run early in the third quarter, Tehachapi found themselves within striking distance of their visitors. Late in the third quarter, the Warriors reeled off arguably one of the greatest single-plays in program history when a jaw-breaking hit by defensive back Jeremy Waldram popped the ball loose at midfield and into the hands of an in-stride Eddie Brown. 65 yards later, Brown capped off the turnover in a dazzling display of jukes and determination for the fumble return for a touchdown. The six points proved to be the final score for either team in the game, putting Tehachapi in victory circle, 19-18. After the game, Steve Denman was quoted saying that Eddieís fumble return was ďone of the biggest plays in school history. It was a heads up play. Waldram had the big hit and Eddy picked it off.Ē Tehachapi QB Geoff Nikkel also said that the Warriors ďhad no letdown at all at halftime. We just went into the locker room and said that we were going to hit and fly and do whatever we needed to do to get the win. We were calm and didnít scream at each other or anything.Ē
The following week, Tehachapi made their SSL domination official with a 35-0 romp over the Ridgeview Wolfpack. Darin Redelsperger led the way with 16 carries for 145 yards and two scores, while Eddie Brown and Matt Schneider combined for 132 yards on nine carries. Entering the playoffs as the #1 seed with the week 10 victory, Tehachapi made quick work of visiting #8 seed Woodlake, giving the Tigers a taste of two receiving and two rushing touchdowns by Eddie Brown. Geoff Nikkel also had a 5-8 passing game for 180 yards, with three receptions for 101 yards going to junior wideout Michael Hall.
In the section semi-final game, Tehachapi played one of its finest all-around performances of the season, limiting Washington Union High School ball carriers Gaylon Phillips and Edward Mitchell to only 84 yards on 27 attempts. Phillips had been collecting nearly 160 yards a game in the previous 11 Panther games, entering the game with Tehachapi tallying 1,759 overall. Adding to the Panther woes was QB Adam Rothenfluh, who had a forgetful night against the Warrior secondary, throwing four interceptions, with Eddie Brown returning one for a touchdown. On offense, Brown finished with 63 yards on seven carries and two rushing scores to bring his playoff total to seven TDís overall.
Having defeated Garces 16-9 (in overtime) in the Sequoia divisionís other semi-final section contest, Dos Palos entered the championship game against two tough opponents in Tehachapi and mother nature, having to play the final game in a sleeting & hail blizzard. The Broncos would squeeze out the win in the epic match-up, with Dos Palosís Rodney Davis capping off a nine play, 66-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and Jeff Darneal scoring on a 15-yard run in the third quarter. For Tehachapi, Darin Redelsperger led all Warrior rushers with 82 yards on 16 carries, while Matt Schneider had 46 yards on 10 carries. Geoff Nikkel accounted for the Warriors lone TD with a quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter, and kicker Nick Swihart also had a 29 yard field goal in the second quarter. The Warrior defense played outstanding in the championship, holding senior RB Marque Davis to only 22 yards on 12 attempts. Before facing the Warrior-D, Davis had amassed 1,527 yards in the twelve games leading up to the championship.
For the season, Geoff Nikkel led Tehachapiís passing attack with 46 completions for 969 yards and nine touchdowns, hitting Michael Hall for 23 completions, 477 yards, and five of those scores. Eddie Brown also had a stellar year, with 351 yards catching and 771 yards rushing and 13 total touchdowns. Darin Redelsperger led all Tehachapi rushers with 1,083 yards on 164 attempts and 12 touchdowns, while Matt Schneider chipped in with 460 yards and seven endzone appearances. Other highlights included Nick Swihart raking in 49 points (41 PAT's; 2 FG's on the year), and Sean Morphis and Jeff Pandolfe logging in five touchdowns a-piece.
All-Area/CIF honors were given to Rodney Michael (offensive line) and Eddie Brown (defensive back), with All-SSL honors given to Geoff Nikkel (quarterback), Darin Redelsperger (runningback), Michael Hall (wide receiver), Chris Noonan (linebacker), Brian Phillips (offensive line), along with Rodney Michael and Eddie Brown. Earning ALL-SSL second team honors were Jeff Pandolfe (runningback), Jeff McGlaughlin (offensive line), Jacob Ursua (tight end), Jeremy Waldram (defensive back), and Corey Costelloe (offensive line).
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|Sep 12||Highland (Bakersfield)||48||00||H||Eddie Brown: 3 TD's, 153 yds. rushing|
|Sep 19||Rosamond||47||00||A||Darin Redelsperger: 3 TD's, 94 yds. rushing|
|Sep 26||Stockdale (Bakersfield)||08||07||H||Eddie Brown: 80 yds. receiving|
|Oct 3||Arvin||21||07||H||Jeff Pandolfe: 3 TD's, 41 yds. rushing|
|Oct 10||Valley Christian||35||07||A||Michael Hall: 2 TD's, 44 yds. receiving|
|Oct 17||Shafter*||49||30||A||Eddie Brown: 4 TD's, 147 yds. total|
|Oct 24||Wasco*||31||06||H||Darin Redelsperger: 1 TD, 102 yds. rushing|
|Oct 31||Taft*||28||00||A||Darin Redelsperger: 2 TD's, 101 yds. rushing|
|Nov 7||Garces (Bakersfield)*||19||18||H||Eddie Brown: 1 TD, 65 yd. fumble return|
|Nov 14||Ridgeview (Bakersfield)*||35||00||A||Darin Redelsperger: 2 TD's, 145 yds. rushing|
|Nov 21||Woodlake||41||06||H||Eddie Brown: 4 TD's, 212 yds. total|
|Nov 28||Washington Union (Fresno)||28||00||H||Eddie Brown: 3 TD's, 63 yds. rushing|
|Dec 5||Dos Palos||11||14||H||Darin Redelsperger: 82 yds. rushing|
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