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December 21, 2013

Del Oro gets 'Drilled'

Bakersfield's speed was the story from Friday night as the Drillers ran past Del Oro 56-26 in the Division I game. In the first game, Central Catholic became just the third program to win back-to-back state bowl games with a 36-23 win over Bakersfield Christian.

You can't teach speed. It is hard to simulate it too. Bakersfield had a night of big plays, headlined by quarterback Asauni Rufus, to beat the Golden Eagles 56-26 for the program's first bowl win and first state title since 1927.

"There's no doubt it is hard to simulate it in practice. They have four or five guys that can run," Del Oro head coach Casey Taylor said. "We knew coming in they had some speed we had to contain it and obviously we couldn't do that.

Rufus, headed to Nevada as a safety, had 19 attempts for 184 yards and two touchdowns to go with 5-for-7 passing for 71 yards and another score. He was dynamic in the first half with eight plays of at least 10 yards including a reverse the field run for 34 yards, a 21 yard keeper off the option and a nasty fake pitch near the goal line before waltzing in.

"That quarterback is electric. As good of a player I've seen since I've been coaching," Taylor said.

Others to join the rushing parade include Jeremiah Reddick (69 yards, two touchdowns) and scores from Derrick Vickers and Marcus Bruce as the Drillers totaled 320 total yards. They averaged seven yards per carry.

Despite the Drillers' rushing prowess, Del Oro found itself down 28-17 in the third quarter and forcing Bakersfield to punt. The Drillers' punter, Oregon State cornerback commit Kevin Hayes (who later added an 89 yard interception return), went 12 yards for a first down on a fake punt. Next play, Reddick breaks out for a 47 yard touchdown. Following a Del Oro interception nearly returned for a score, Vickers punched it in for the second touchdown in less than a minute to make it 42-17.

For the first quarter, Del Oro went step for step with Bakersfield in trailing 21-14 after the first quarter. However, the Drillers began to crowd the box to limit Dylan Kainrath (198 yards, three touchdowns) and the Golden Eagles' run game. After rushing for 94 yards in the first quarter, Del Oro managed just 33 more yards the rest of the night due in part to seven sacks for 76 yards of quarterback Michael Moore. Taylor called Bakersfield "the most athletic secondary we have seen."

"I thought we had some chances (to get back into it)," Taylor said. "We had an opportunity to get down there and score and make it real interesting, but couldn't make that play."

Del Oro finishes the year 13-3 with losses to De La Salle, Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks and Bakersfield. It is the second loss in the state bowl for the Golden Eagles, which fell 35-24 to Helix in 2011.

Raiders champions again

After three Bakersfield Christian drives, the Eagles led 14-7 and had outgained Central Catholic 172-17. From there on, the defending champion Raiders started controlling the action and used its physicality to win its second straight Division IV state title 36-23.

In the second best Division IV/small school game since its inception in 2008 (Modesto Christian's 44-40 win over Francis Parker being the top game), the power of Central Catholic won out over the spread/speed look for Bakersfield Christian. With a 13 point win and outscoring the Eagles 29-9 over the last 37 minutes, the Raiders remain the class of small school programs in the state

Playing without senior star runner Matt Ringer, the Raiders relied on the combination of senior Reggie Bland (88 yards, touchdown) and freshman Montell Bland(103 yards, two touchdowns) behind a physical offensive line to push the second half lead into double digits. They ran for 130 of their 221 total yards in the second half using mainly a pitch back play to the running back and having quarterback Hunter Petlansky go through as an extra blocker.

"We do what we do best. Matt didn't play and we just leaned on the two Blands," Central Catholic head coach Roger Canepa said. "Power football. We went back to it in the second half."

While the offense put up 36 points, it was the improvement of the defense which may have won the game. While Bakersfield Christian quarterback Brandon Jones threw for 380 yards (setting the single season passing yards record for the section in the process according to the Modesto Bee), and two touchdowns, Central Catholic slowed down the spread passing attack after the first quarter.

Taking chances to bring an extra blitzer or two and playing tighter on the outside to take away the short slants and bubble screens, Central Catholic gave up 213 yards over the final three quarters after surrendering 169 in the first quarter. Four different receivers caught at least five passes with Hayden Kuchta and Josh Jackson surpassing 100 receiving yards for the Eagles.

"We made some great plays in the secondary. We just played well. This team, it's amazing how many close games we have found ways to win. That's what you do if you are a championship team," Canepa said.

A key was tough pass coverage down the field yielding five pass breakups. 6-foot-4 junior safety Jared Rice had three of them. Jackson Finch added an interception.

Harvard bound kicker Kenny Smart added two field goals with six touchbacks on seven attempts to round out the victory for the Raiders. They are one of three programs to repeat as champions joining De La Salle and St. Bonaventure.

"32 games is a lot of football," Canepa said on the back-to-back run. "I think I'm taking a vacation. Like I said, I might go to Disneyland."


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