How good are the Central Valley Christian Cavaliers going to be in 2015?
Over the past few years, the best time to get a definitive answer on the Cavaliers’ prowess for that particular season is after the Bakersfield Christian game:
•In 2013, CVC was the lone Central Section team to defeat Bakersfield Christian, the eventual Central Section Division IV champion and CIF State Division IV bowl runner-up. The Cavaliers edged Bakersfield Christian 34-33. The Eagles avenged in the loss in a dramatic Division IV semifinal game at CVC, 21-14.
•In 2014, CVC routed Bakersfield Christian, which entered the game ranked in the state Division IV polls, 49-19. The Cavaliers went on to a runner-up finish in the Central Section Division IV playoffs.
Well, we should have our answer on Friday.
CVC (1-0) hosts Bakersfield Christian (0-1) in the annual Milk Bowl. Game time is 7:15 p.m.
“When we play this rivalry game, both teams play really hard. It’s a really intense game. It prepares us for league. The intensity from this game is like something you would see in the playoffs,” CVC coach Mason Hughes said. “I think [this game is] a good barometer of where we’re at as a team. If we compete well, I think we’ll compete well for the season.”
There’s a little more electricity about this year’s meeting against the Eagles for CVC.
The Bakersfield Christian coaching staff received a major dose of star power during the offseason.
The Eagles tabbed Darren Carr to replace Jerald Pierucci as their head coach. Carr’s younger brother is Derek Carr, the Oakland Raiders’ starting quarterback.
Darren Carr, who spent the previous seven seasons as a defensive assistant coach at Bakersfield, hired his dad Roger to be the Eagles’ quarterback coach.
And who did Darren Carr get to be the Eagles’ offensive coordinator?
His older brother David, the former Fresno State star quarterback and the No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 NFL Draft.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this may be Derek Carr’s best chance to see his brothers in action.
The Raiders finish the NFL preseason tonight in Seattle, and Carr will likely have Friday off to visit his family — and most of them will be in Visalia for the CVC-Bakersfield Christian game.
“My son told me that I’ve got to try to stop David Carr’s offense this week. I haven’t thought about it like that, but he’s kind of right. It really comes down to the players, though,” Hughes said. “You know those guys know what they’re doing when it comes to football. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
What kind of impact have the Carrs made already with the Bakersfield Christian program?
In terms of what you see on the field, it’s like watching an entirely new team.
“They’re different, very different,” Hughes said of Bakersfield Christian’s playbook changes. “The no-huddle spread offense is gone. They have more of a single-back, pro-style offense, the type of offense you see on TV on Sundays. … Defense is totally different. They’re all standing up except for the nose guard. It’s a tough one to figure out. Fortunately, we’ve seen almost everything under the sun in [opponents] trying to stop our run game.”
Bakersfield Christian fell 18-16 to Templeton in its season opener last week. The Eagles missed out on a two-point conversion attempt, which would have tied the game late in the fourth quarter. Templeton is one of the top teams in the Southern Section’s Northern Division (Division XI).
A win over Bakersfield Christian could vault CVC to front-runner status in the projected Central Section Division IV playoff bracket. CVC is currently ranked No. 2 amongst the section’s 19 Division IV teams by Calpreps.com.
Here’s a look at some of the other top story lines in Tulare County high school football this week:
•Blazing a trail in Division IV? CVC’s top three challengers for the No. 1 Division IV playoff seed figure to be Golden West, defending Division IV champion Liberty-Madera Ranchos (1-0) and Cesar Chavez (1-0). Golden West, ranked No. 1 in Division IV by Calpreps, begins its season Friday on the road against Kingsburg. Trailblazers have new starting players at several pivotal positions, but they do return a good core from last year’s team that advanced to the Division IV semifinals — leading rusher Cristian Canales, linebacker David Flores and quarterback Martin Aguilar.
•A Division III dark horse? Mt. Whitney (1-0) visits Tulare Western (0-0) tonight at Bob Mathias Stadium (game time is 7:30 p.m.). The Pioneers opened up the season with a 21-7 win over Garces on Friday. Mt. Whitney’s defense dominated the game in the second half, limiting the Rams to one first down and 10 yards of total offense over the final two quarters. This is Tulare Western’s season opener. The Mustangs are introducing a new starting offensive backfield, but should have one of the area’s better offensive and defensive fronts. Winner could be Tulare County’s best Division III hopeful; although, we’ll get a better idea on who that team will be after both teams play Mission Oak. The Hawks figure to be somewhere in the Division III title picture despite last week’s 31-21 season-opening loss to Dinuba. Mission Oak hosts Washington Union Friday at Bob Mathias Stadium. Defending Central Section Division III champion Hanford (1-0) moved up to No. 7 in this week’s CalHiSports.com’s Division III state rankings.
•Bounce-back week? Redwood and El Diamante have their home openers after suffering season-opening losses on the road. Redwood (0-1) will try to shore up its run defense after Sanger ran wild in last week’s 28-7 Apache win. The Rangers take on Clovis East (1-0). El Diamante had its problems trying to contain Tulare Union star Romello Harris, as Harris rushed for 333 yards and five touchdowns in the Redskins’ 41-14 win. El Diamante faces Sunnyside (0-0), a Division II playoff team from last year.
•County’s oldest rivalry: The oldest rivalry in Tulare County takes place Friday with Exeter (1-0) visiting Woodlake (0-1). The two teams first met nearly 100 years ago. Exeter has won the last 12 in the series, including last year’s 28-21 win. Woodlake’s last victory over Exeter was a 25-24 double-overtime win in 2002. Exeter opened up this season with a 42-14 win over Lindsay. Woodlake fell 35-6 to CVC, but this Tiger team should have a prominent role in the East Sequoia League title picture. Game time is 7:15 p.m. at Leo Robinson Field.
•Tulare Union in Bakersfield: Tulare Union (1-0) makes its first visit to Garces (0-1) on Friday. Redskins are the strong favorite, but it’s hard to gauge how a sound win over the Rams will affect their Division II playoff seed possibilities. Still, it’s an opportunity for Tulare Union to make a statement in front of a Kern County audience. Garces doesn’t have Ridgeview on its schedule, but the Rams and Ridgeview both play Bakersfield, Liberty and Stockdale. As long as they play well, it bodes well for the Redskins when the seeding meeting rolls around in November.