This is the ninth in a series of posts comparing two local rivals who both may be toward the top of the preseason state football rankings. These two schools have combined to win the last two CIF Central Section Division I titles with Bakersfield also winning the 2013 CIF Division I state bowl game.
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For other preseason duels:
Alemany (Mission Hills) vs. Chaminade (West Hills)
St. Mary’s (Stockton) vs. Lincoln (Stockton)
Oceanside vs. Mission Hills (San Marcos)
Valley Christian (San Jose) vs. Serra (San Mateo)
Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) vs. Westlake (Westlake Village)
Del Oro (Loomis) vs. Granite Bay
Servite (Anaheim) vs. Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
Pittsburg vs. Foothill (Pleasanton)
What The Teams Accomplished Last Season: Coach Paul Golla stamped himself along some of the great coaches in BHS history (like Dwight “Goldie” Griffith and Paul Briggs) by guiding last year’s Drillers to their seventh (CIF will be counting eighth) state title. Bakersfield finished 13-2 after the 56-26 win over Del Oro of Loomis in D1 state bowl game. After winning the CIF Central Section D1 title in 2012, Clovis North got back to the semis last year before losing to Bakersfield 60-21. The Broncos ended 11-3 with one of their other losses coming to St. John Bosco.
Shapshot of Bakersfield: This duel is a classic matchup of evaluating whether the championship team from the year before has enough back to start out No. 1 in its section or does another team have too much returning talent to cause a change. Bakersfield’s grad losses seem heavy, especially with QB Asuani Rufus heading to play safety at Nevada. There are some building blocks on defense, though, with Nigel Brooks (6-3, 275) up front and Marcus Bruce returning at linebacker. In addition, Bruce rushed for 541 yards and scored eight TDs last year. Golla also has shown that who he develops as the Drillers’ QB, no matter who it is, can be effective. It was reported just this week by Trevor Horn of the Bakersfield Californian that the new QB is going to be senior Keayr Gregg.
Shapshot of Clovis North: There’s not much doubt that the Broncos have the most returning talent in the Central Section and that talent is spread evenly in the skill positions and on both sides of the ball. We consider UCLA-bound Bolu Olurunfunmi as the No. 1 running back prospect in the state, according to our Class of 2015 Hot 100, but he’s not even the top overall prospect on the team. That would be defensive lineman Jacob Daniel (6-4, 295), who is headed to USC. Clovis North also has an experienced quarterback in Austin Autry (2,000 yards passing) and a new head coach, Tim Simons, but who is starting his 29th season on the sidelines. Simons, known for his many outstanding years at Clovis High, started the Clovis North program and has returned following the departure of Cory Hall, a former NFL player.
More Top Players for Clovis North: DE/TE Hayden Haupt (all-league, all-state sophomore for 2012); DB Naruwa Obanor (multiple D1 college offers); LB Jacob Awrabi (6-1, 225); DL Jasad Haynes; FB Weston Hatcher; DB Bransin Johnson.
Recent History Between These Two: Last year’s 60-21 playoff win by the Drillers was the first and only meeting between the schools. Clovis North only started playing varsity football in 2009, however, as a new school and has only been playing at the D1 level in the section since 2012.
Hunch As To Where Each Team Should Be Ranked In The Preseason: Yes, we know the Drillers won by a convincing margin last year but we like the Clovis North returnees better and we like it that the Broncos are playing a powerhouse like Folsom in their second game. Bakersfield also has a strong early schedule with games against Oaks Christian of Westlake Village and Edison of Fresno. Once both teams have played Edison (which is another team that will be highly ranked from the Central Section in the preseason) everyone will definitely know what the true rankings of the teams should be.
Next Preseason Duel: Centennial (Corona) vs. Vista Murrieta (Murrieta)