The 1998 Warriors include, top Row, l to r, Anthony Bray, Chris Wallace, Jared Romo, Paul Cruz, Joe Kapturkiewicz, Nick Barlow, Ryan Backes, Josh Schmidt, Sal Luna, Clifford Sweet, Wes Backes, second Row, l to r, Mike Hall, Steve Lee, Brandon Sharp, Matt Bramen, Dennis Ruggles, Grant Snyder, Bill Carll, Steve Denman, Gary Warner, James Hollen, Pat Snyder, Jay Thoman, Travis Swanson, Dominique Dominguez, Greg Lloyd, third Row, l to r, Nick Scarlett, Jay Troffer, Kyle Ethridge, Shaun Rolow, Nick Swihart, Matt Riddle, Tommy Arrowood, Nathan Nelson, Josh Church, Dan Penney, Greg Perpich, Fabian Rodruguez, Jame Ortiz, bottom row, l to r, Jesse Garber, Bennie Hensler, Jerad Waldram, Jerry Scarola, Jason Deger, Charles Waltz, Joe Scott, Richard Munoz, Mike Howell, Keith Noonan, Ryan Kieffe, and Thomas Brown.
Season Review by Tom Shea, thswarriors.com
Warriors Finish 3rd in South Sequoia League
6-5 Season Record In 1998
Coming off one of the best seasons in school history, the 1998 Warriors were out to prove the valley that the great 1997 season did not necessarily mean that Tehachapi wanted any part of a rebuilding campaign.
Tehachapi found that the best way to serve notice to their critics was to start the season off on a high note against Bishop, humbling the visiting Broncos 41-6. Bennie Hensler led the way for the Warriors, picking up 81 yards on seven carries and a first quarter score, while Fabian Rodriquez added 48 yards, including a 23-yard TD run. Nick Swihart, coming off a great kicking year the season before, took the helm as quarterback early in the young season, connecting on five of seven passes for 132 yards and two scores to Michael Hall, who caught four passes for 118 yards.
The following week would bring the Warriors another victory behind the gap running of Hensler, who had 96 yards and two scores. Wideout Michael Hall would also score his third touchdown of the season against Rosamond, hauling in 73 yards on three catches. However, as well as the start was for Tehachapi, the winning streak would be short lived the following week, when Paraclete upset the Warriors with a Tommy Breech 14-yard TD catch from Spirit QB Rob Fockaert in the third quarter. In the game, Nick Swihart connected on a 43-yard field goal in first half, while Michael Hall, Wes Backes, and Ryan Backes combined for five catches and 90 yards receiving.
The bleeding would continue the following week for Tehachapi against Stockdale, with the Mustangs getting their first ever win over Tehachapi, scoring 20 unanswered points in the second half. However, despite the two straight losses, the final pre-season game for the Warriors would produce rewarding results for the Mountain Men, with Wes Backes catching a 29 yard TD pass reception on 4th and 6 in the first quarter, and Keith Noonan running for a one-yard score in the second quarter to secure a solid road win over the Corcoran Panthers.
Entering the SSL season, the Warriors would have to defend their league title from their stiffest competition in the first week, taking a trip up to Sam Tobias Field in Bakersfield against the rival Rams. Up 18-17 after three quarters, Garces would rally for the win behind 25 and 20 yard scoring runs by Mike Clark in the fourth and final period. Nick Swihart led Tehachapi in the game with six pass completions for 119 yards, including a 53-yard strike to Michael Hall, who logged in his sixth touchdown catch of the season.
The following week, the Warriors would suffer their second upset loss of the season against Shafter, but then would go on a three-game rally to clinch a playoff spot in the sequoia division.
Against Wasco in week eight, Tommy Arrowood led the way with 92 yards on 17 carries, while Benny Hensler, Keith Noonan, and Jared Romo would contribute with 139 yards on the ground collectively in the 32-8 win. Romo and Noonan would account for the games four touchdowns in the road victory. The following Friday, Taft provided more of the same winning results for the green machine, but this time the Warriors exploded for 281 yards rushing, led by Mike Howell’s 106 yard and three touchdown performance on only 16 carries. Tommy Arrowood would grab the spotlight again for the second straight week, chipping in with 83 yards and a score, while the ever-dependable Bennie Hensler carried nine times for 51 yards and three scores.
In week 10, Tehachapi had their backs against the wall to try and grab a playoff spot in the sequoia division, and the roadblock would not be an easy one against the 8-0-1 undefeated Arvin Bears. Much to the surprise of many valley watchers, Tehachapi rose the victor in the contest behind senior Wes Backes, who caught an un-Warrior like eight passes for 89 yards (including a second quarter score). Bennie Hensler, Tommy Arrowood, and Mike Howell also contributed to the ground game for the third week in a row, collectively picking up 141 yards in 38 attempts. With the shocking loss by the Bears, the Arvin SSL record fell to 3-1-1, giving the title to the Garces Rams, who defeated Taft in week 10 to bring their final league record to 4-0-1.
In the playoffs, Tehachapi opened up the scoring early against #1 seed Sierra with a Romo-to-Hall score in the first quarter, but the Chieftains would go on to score 26 unanswered points in the second quarter, including another 30 points in the second half to end the Warriors season. Jared Romo would finish the first round playoff game with six completions for 108 yards, including a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter. Michael Hall finished his last game as a Warrior in fine form as well, nabbing four catches for 97 yards and a first quarter score.
For the season, Bennie Hensler led all Warrior rushers with 699 yards and eight touchdowns on 154 attempts, while Keith Noonan carried for 242 yards and seven scores. Tommy Arrowood and Mike Howell also proved to be a solid duo, combining for four touchdowns and 513 yards rushing. In the passing game, Nick Swihart ended his Warrior regime with 30 competions for 561 yards and six touchdowns, while Jared Romo completed 30 passes as well for 505 yards and three scores. The main target for Tehachapi, in one of the best performances ever by a wideout, was senior Michael Hall who had 23 completions for 620 yards and seven touchdowns. Wes Backes also had a solid year with 253 yards on 17 completions and three TD’s, while his brother Ryan Backes has 11 receptions for 162 yards on the year.
All-SSL honors went to Nick Barlow (defensive line), Ryan Backes (linebacker & tight end), Keith Noonan (defensive back), and Greg Perpich (offensive line). Earning 2nd Team All-SSL honors were Daniel Penney (defensive back), Paul Cruz (defensive line), Josh Schmidt (offensive center), Bennie Hensler (wingback), and Steve Lee (defensive lineman).
Wes Backes and Joe Kapturkiewicz wrestle a Bishop player to the Coy Burnett turf.
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|Sep 11||Bishop||41||07||H||Michael Hall: 2 TD's, 118 yds. receiving|
|Sep 18||Rosamond||22||11||H||Benny Hensler: 2 TD's, 96 yds. rushing|
|Sep 25||Paraclete (Lancaster)||17||20||A||Nick Swihart: 1 TD, 92 yds. passing|
|Oct 2||Stockdale(Bakersfield)||09||20||A||Michael Hall: 1 TD, 64 yds. total|
|Oct 9||Corcoran||14||00||H||Benny Hensler: 94 yds. rushing|
|Oct 16||Garces (Bakersfield) *||18||32||A||Nick Swihart: 1 TD: 119 yds. passing|
|Oct 23||Shafter *||16||17||H||Jared Romo: 150 yds. passing|
|Oct 30||Wasco *||32||08||A||Keith Noonan: 2 TD's, 44 yds. rushing|
|Nov 6||Taft *||55||00||H||Mike Howell: 3 TD's, 106 yds. rushing|
|Nov 13||Arvin *||16||06||A||Wes Backes: 1 TD, 136 yds. total|
|Nov 20||Sierra High (Tollhouse)||20||56||A||Jared Romo: 2 TD's, 108 yds. passing|