After reading Clay Farr’s Feb. 10 Community Voices article,
“Ban youth tackle football and keep our kids CTE-free,” I
felt compelled to separate fact from fiction for readers.
For well over 50 years now, youth tackle football has been a
cornerstone of Kern County athletics. It’s steeped in rich
tradition and local history and it positively impacts the
lives of thousands of young athletes.
On the heels of the recently released movie “Concussion,”
and through personal anecdotal experience, Farr was quick to
criticize youth tackle football coaches and to point out his
concern for the safety of our children by referencing
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Although I share his concern for the overall safety of all
youth athletes who participate in contact sports, I was a
bit taken aback by his assertion that players under the age
of 13 years should simply not be allowed to participate in
youth tackle football, and our community should take steps
to “ban it.”
In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics, representing
over 64,000 primary care physicians and other health care
professionals, sets no limits as to when our children should
begin playing tackle football and realizing its rewards, so
long as important standards are in place.
It is clear that there is an inherent risk of injury in all
types of physical activity such as bike riding,
cheerleading, soccer, lacrosse, and yes, flag and tackle
football, among many others.
Regardless of the activity, proper teaching of safe and
proven fundamentals is paramount to injury prevention and
safety as a whole.
Over the past five years, there has been tremendous growth
in the number of local youth tackle football coaches
certified through USA Football’s Heads-Up Tackling Program,
and our community is seeing that benefit come to fruition.
USA Football and its local affiliates have really helped
reshape our local youth tackle football landscape through
their comprehensive, progressive instruction and
In addition, research from the Datalys Center published in
the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine in July 2015 found
young football players are less likely to be injured or
sustain a head injury when their coaches are trained in
teaching proper tackling fundamentals.
Leagues that took part in Heads-Up Football had a 76 percent
reduction in juries. Furthermore, leagues that adopted the
Heads-Up Football program had a 34 percent reduction in
concussions during practices and a 29 percent reduction of
concussions during games.
In 2015 nearly 6,500 youth tackle football leagues around
the country registered through USA Football’s Heads-Up
program, a number that equates to about 70 percent of all
U.S. youth tackle football leagues.
Farr’s polarizing attempt to somehow draw a connection
between what he may have seen on the Esquire Channel’s
“Friday Night Tykes” vs. what actually occurs in the
majority of youth tackle football settings is a bit reckless
and inaccurate, and it detracts from what progress has been
made in the sport both locally and on the national level.
Inflammatory generalizations can discredit individuals who
generously give their time to benefit children in a wide
range of sports.
To be fair, there are obviously youth coaches in all sports
that have no business serving as mentors to our children
and, quite frankly, give coaching a bad name at all levels.
What is often underreported is how the sport of football,
regardless of age, positively impacts and changes lives,
instills self confidence and citizenship and promotes
physical and mental fitness.
With the continuing advancement in protective equipment,
injury prevention and early recognition, as well as
consistent, proper teaching techniques, combined with
continued coaching education, it is my belief that youth
tackle football is safer now than it has ever been.
White is the Executive Director of Golden Empire Youth
Tackle Football. He has more than 30 year experience in this
field as a coach, administrator, league president and board
member. White is a former youth, high school, and junior
college tackle football coach and former player.
GEYF supports one of our own, Jen
Ramirez (Ravens Area Rep), who's gone
under the Gridiron to play Women's
Football for the
Empowering women is
nothing new for Brittany Rivera and her
mother, Arlene Anion.
Long before the
idea of brining a semi-professional
women’s football team to Bakersfield
occurred to them, the ambitious duo
created the Women’s Empowering Network,
a local organization dedicated to
assisting local female entrepreneurs
pursue their passions and dreams.
While Rivera was
raised playing football in Bakersfield,
she had her first tackle football
experience in the Independent Women’s
Football League while a student in
Sacramento. She played receiver and
But it was only
after returning to Bakersfield when she
knew that something needed to change.
“I moved back to
Bakersfield after living in Sacramento
and I just knew I had to play again,”
Although it took a
lot of thinking, Rivera and her mother
decided to purchase a franchise from the
IWFL earlier this year, and they have
self-financed the entire enterprise.
Having come from a
strong military family, toughness comes
natural for Rivera. Anion and her
husband are U.S. Army veterans, and
Rivera’s sister is actively serving.
Though Rivera is co-owner of the team,
her intention is to try out and earn her
Bombers will have a roster comprised of
team members who live in the Kern County
area, each with a different range of
But deciding to own
a women’s team in a sport that is male
dominated has invited much criticism.
Some robustly argue that if a
professional men’s team cannot be
maintained – referring to the
Bakersfield Blitz, which dismantled in
2007 – then a women’s league shouldn’t
be expected to flourish.
“They didn’t hit
the right demographic,” she said. “They
couldn’t cover their own expenses. But
the Bombers are going to play on a high
school field. It’s going to be family
oriented, and we’re going to have
As a member of the
IWFL, which is distinct from the Legends
League, the Bakersfield Bombers will be
fully dressed and padded. The tentative
kickoff date is sometime in April, but
Rivera and Anion will meet with the
league in Texas in November to determine
next year’s schedule.
The IWFL is a
nonprofit women’s tackle football league
founded in 2000. It consists of 36 teams
across North America and has more than
1,600 female athletes.
interested in supporting the Bakersfield
Bombers or seeking more information,
contact Rivera at 330-9143 or visit
By Gregory D. CookPhotos by David Dennis/All-Star Sports
Bakersfield Life Magazine
In the mind of a young football fan, few things
are sweeter than a perfectly thrown spiral,
breaking the last tackle before the end zone or
making the game-saving stop at the goal line.
They are truly the stuff of football dreams, and
one local organization is giving area youth a
head start at making those dreams realities.
The Golden Empire Youth Tackle Football and
Cheer Program was formed in 1998 out of a desire
to create a competitive feeder program that
could better prepare kids for high school
Over the last 18 years, the program has grown to
over 3,000 participants playing and cheering on
18 teams, each acting as a feeder team for an
area high school.
Teams are made up of players who live within the
school's enrollment area and practice on the
high school's field.
"When a player is done playing with us and they
get to high school, we want them to be able to
just plug in and refine," said Ron White,
executive director and one of the program's
founders. "We want them to know how to tackle,
know how to block and know the terminology. We
want to share philosophies and ideologies and
become an extension of that school's program."
In addition to making better football players,
White says the program has players rely on one
another as part of a team, which develops
discipline, sportsmanship, commitment and
"It's basic citizenship," he said. "If you're
not taking care of those things in life you're
not going to succeed."
With any contact sport, safety is a primary
concern, and GEYF makes the safety of its
players a top priority. In addition to the
program's own training, all GEYF coaches must be
certified by USA Football, a national
organization devoted to training coaches in
The program also prides itself on making sure
each player plays in high-end equipment that is
individually fitted for each child.
"We put safety first; everything else is a
distant second," said White. "It has to be that
According to White, the true strength of the
program, both on and off the field, is the
program's nearly 500 volunteer coaches and staff
"We don't look at our coaches like coaches,"
said White. "You want to impress this
organization? Be a mentor."
One of those coaches, Kraig Gradowitz, varsity
coach of the Southwest Mojo, the feeder team for
Stockdale High School, started coaching in 2007
when his oldest son became interested in
playing. Like White, Gradowitz believes there
are valuable life lessons to be learned from
"I tell the kids, 'In life, it's not just going
to come to you easy,'" he said. "'You're going
to face adversity. And playing football, you
face adversity. Sometimes you lose games, but
sometimes you overcome adversity. If you work
hard and push yourself, you can succeed.'"
Teams normally start holding tryouts as early as
March, with the season beginning in September
and culminating in playoffs and a bowl game in
Last year the program instituted a rookie
division for players as young as 6 years old, in
addition to its freshman (8-9), sophomore
(10-12), junior varsity (11-13) and varsity
(12-14) divisions. Both male and female players
Eight years ago, in the Golden Empire Youth Football league,
there was a feeling that there was something special going
There was a handful of running backs making cuts and running
over and around the rest of the competition. The future
Those little tikes are now closing out their high school
careers this fall, and as impressive as they were as
10-year-olds, they're even more of a sight to see now.
Those "little guys" -- Sheldon Croney, Marcus Bruce, Anthony
Mariscal, Isaiah Sharp and Matt Smith -- now are the leaders
of what is one of the best overall running back classes in
Kern County history.
"It's been a while since we have seen that many come through
at one time," East coach David Fanucchi said. "This is
really a special time here for the fans."
Yes, there have been fantastic individual seasons: Steve
Wofford at Bakersfield, the county's leader in career
rushing yards with 7,100 from 1992-1994; Ryan Mathews with
his incredible 3,396-yard, 34-touchdown performance as a
senior at West in 2006; and most recently, Cody Shirreffs'
2,317 yards for Taft in 2009.
But this group, diverse and deep, is special, and the
players are enjoying the end of their impressive run here at
"Growing up, we all knew each other and have been around
each other playing Golden Empire," Bakersfield Christian
senior Matt Smith said. "We knew we were going to be that
Smith, an imposing presence at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, has
rushed for at least 1,300 yards in each of his three seasons
for the Eagles, including 1,694 yards and 24 total
touchdowns as BCHS went to the CIF Division IV state
championship game a year ago.
Sheldon Croney, now at Ridgeview, has the best overall
season of the group after rushing for 2,377 yards and 28
scores for Garces last fall.
A transfer brought Croney back to his neighborhood school
for his last prep season. Looking back at the years playing
against his fellow seniors, Croney said it has been a blast
to be a part of this impressive group.
"We all knew at a young age that we were all talented,"
Croney said. "We knew it could pay off in the end."
Isaiah Sharp was an all-state performer as a sophomore for
Wasco in 2012. His 2,317-yard, 34-touchdown performance
helped lead the Tigers to a 13-0 record. Injuries kept Sharp
off the field for half of last season, but he still managed
889 yards in six games on an out-of-this-world 16.94
Sharp transferred to Frontier in the offseason. Titans coach
Rich Cornford was at the helm at West during Mathews' career
when the San Diego Chargers running back shined, and
Cornford says Sharp is "the best back I've coached since
"Sharp has a lot of the same attributes as Ryan," Cornford
said. "He doesn't waste time. He's a really good all-around
player and a very well-rounded young man."
Bruce's numbers at Bakersfield aren't as shining as the
other seniors around the city, but his leadership and
athleticism has made him a third-year starter for the
Teamed up fellow senior Lameshio Hill, Bruce likes the fact
that the two get to battle it out daily in practice together
for the defending D-I state champions.
"Me and Lameshio, we get to go against each other every day
in practice," Bruce said. "Every play, it's either him or
me. We compete every day."
Mariscal, the only one of the bunch so far that has verbally
committed to play college football, might very well be the
fastest of the bunch, too.
Headed to Arizona as defensive back, Mariscal led Liberty a
year ago with 1,089 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. The
toughness and selfishness that Mariscal plays with was
evident in the final game last season. In a playoff loss to
Clovis, Mariscal couldn't play offense after dislocating his
elbow. But he still made an impact on defense, intercepting
a pass, and, with his left arm dangling to his side, zooming
past the Cougars for the score.
Healthy now, Mariscal sees a future for this group of backs:
To finish out their stellar prep careers and shine on the
big stage at Division I college programs.
"I know we were all going to play in college," Mariscal
said. "We have always had the spotlight on us. This class is
becoming the name out of Bakersfield. We have some talent
that no one has seen. We are all capable of great things."
Smith and Croney have both been on the radar of many
colleges, with Smith pulling in offers from Colorado State,
Utah State and UC Davis while Croney has a Pac-12 offer from
Oregon State to go along with seven other offers.
As all of Kern County football fields still boast the
old-school grass fields that the rest of California has
stopped usingin the last
decade, it makes sense that the offenses here are geared
around a three-yard burst and a cloud of dust.
Or, thanks to the unreal talent of these backs, it's more
like a 20-yard scamper with a juke, a stiff-arm and defenses
left in the rearview mirror.
"You have running backs that
defenses have to try and stop before they go another 70
yards," Bakersfield coach Paul Golla said. "Those are things
you can't coach."
Golden Empire Alumni continue to Shine
at the next level including:
ALL AREA Player of the Year - Liberty High Anthony Mariscal (Far West Freedom Alumni)
ALL AREA Offensive Player of the Year - Ridgview High
Sheldon Croney (South East Wolverines/Southern Ravens
All Area Defensive Player of the Year - Bakersfield High
Marcus Bruce (Southwest & Far West Freedom Alumni)
A workhorse running back who averaged 7.6 yards per carry to
amass 1,252 yards and 19 touchdowns, the Arizona recruit was
even more valuable on defense, where he scared offenses away
from him and still had 74 tackles, two forced fumbles and a
team-leading eight passes defended.
Offensive Player of the Year
Sheldon Croney * Ridgeview
RB * 6-1, 210 * senior
After three historic years at Garces, Croney had his best
season yet, rushing for 2,269 yards (second in the Central
Section, according to MaxPreps) and 31 touchdowns (tied for
first), and helping the Wolf Pack to the second section
championship in school history.
Player of the Year
Marcus Bruce * Bakersfield
RB/LB * 5-10, 200 * senior
One of the most versatile players in the
county, Bruce makes the most impact on
defense as a linebacker who racked up
120 tackles, including 5 for loss.
Bruce, who has scholarship offers from
San Jose State and UNLV, also ran for
1,194 yards and 15 touchdowns, caught
two TD passes and even threw for one.
Brandon Jones * Bakersfield Christian
QB * 6-3, 200 * senior
A year after tying the Central Section
record for touchdown passes, Jones had
quite an encore, throwing for 3,522
yards, 36 touchdowns and 11
interceptions and leading BCHS to a
share of the SSL title and to the
Division III semifinals.
Gabriel Cabezuela * Wasco
RB * 5-11, 185
The transfer from rival Shafter shined
in his one year as a Tiger, running for
a county-leading 2,376 yards and 21
touchdowns while averaging more than 8
yards per carry. He surpassed the
200-yard mark in seven of Wasco's 11
Curtis Threlkeld * North
RB * 5-11, 170 * junior
The big-play running back averaged 8.2
yards per carry and led North back to
the playoffs by rushing for more than
200 yards in three games, including a
270-yard effort in a playoff win over
Wasco. Threlkeld finished with 1,645
yards and 21 touchdowns.
R.J. Oliver * Bakersfield Christian
WR/TE * 6-3, 230 * senior
His receiving totals of 1,131 yards and
14 touchdowns were easily tops in the
city. The tall transfer from
Stockton-Brookside Christian became
Brandon Jones' go-to outlet for big
plays. Will play football at Yale.
Braylin Scott * Liberty
WR * 6-3, 188 * senior
Previously known more for his basketball
prowess, Scott exploded onto the D-I
recruiting scene with a highlight-filled
season that included 37 catches for 902
yards and 9 touchdowns. His leaping
ability and speed made him a tough cover
for all but the very best cornerbacks.
Fred Weaver * Independence
WR * 5-11, 180 * junior
Speedy wide receiver was Jordan Wiley's
favorite target in the Falcons'
high-flying offense, catching 43 passes
for 808 yards and 9 touchdowns. He had
four games with more than 100 yards
receiving, plus a 135-yard rushing day
against East High.
Blake Bryant * Liberty
OL * 6-2, 276
An anchor for Liberty's offensive line,
which was the backbone for one of the
section's most balanced offenses: 2,227
passing yards and 2,442 rushing yards
for the SWYL champions and D-I section
Ruben Guerra * Liberty
OL * 6-5, 290
A senior leader and captain for the best
Patriots team in school history, Guerra
was one bookend for an offensive line
that sprung the likes of Anthony
Mariscal, Jordan Love and Quincy Jountti.
Dylan Guillermo * Bakersfield
OL * 6-0, 255
A prototypical Drillers road-paver,
Guillermo was smaller than the average
lineman but faster than almost all of
them. He helped a team that didn't have
the luxury of a passing attack rush for
3,182 yards anyway.
Jestyn James * Ridgeview
OL * 6-1, 310
One of the emotional leaders of the Wolf
Pack, James, a three-year starter, also
was a physical force, paving the way for
the powerful rushing attack and pitching
in on defense when needed, too.
Chris Martinez * Ridgeview
OL * 5-11, 270
Another of the Wolf Pack's three-year
starters on the offensive line, Martinez
helped Ridgeview rush for 4,482 yards
against what was easily the best
schedule in school history.
Lameshio Hill * Bakersfield
Util * 5-10,
208 * senior
The rare full-time wildcat quarterback,
Hill rushed for 1,151 yards and 16
touchdowns and threw for 384 yards, 5
touchdowns and no interceptions. Hill
also caught six passes, the most of any
Lawrence White * Ridgeview
Util * 6-0,
165 * junior
The sparkplug for Ridgeview's offense,
White threw for 1,228 yards with 14
touchdowns and just 2 interceptions, and
he ran for 1,033 yards and 11 more
touchdowns. Oh, and he also caught a
30-yard touchdown pass and pitched in on
defense when the Wolf Pack needed an ace
Jefferson Escobar * South
K * 5-7, 135 *
As consistent as they come in the
kicking game. Converted four of five
field goal attempts with a long of 48
yards and was successful on 94.5 percent
of PATs (35 of 37).
Nigel Brooks * Bakersfield
DL * 6-3, 300 * senior
The spearhead of the Drillers' dynamite
defense, Brooks lived in the backfield
despite frequent double-teams, racking
up 60 tackles, including 9 for loss,
during the regular season. He has six
D-I scholarship offers, including from
Pac-12 schools Arizona and Colorado.
Darryl Clark * South
DL * 6-2, 200 * senior
A bruising force for the Rebels defense
that gave up just 8 points per game in
Southeast Yosemite League play. Had 25
tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 11 sacks
and four batted passes.
Hugo Martinez * Chavez
DL * 5-11, 210 * junior
This defensive end's numbers are simply
eye-popping: 135 tackles, 47 tackles for
loss, 11 sacks, 5 forced fumbles. In one
game vs. Taft, he had four sacks and six
Peyton Solf * Liberty
DL * 6-2, 230 * senior
One of the area's best pass-rushers,
Solf blew up the backfield repeatedly
for the 10-3 Patriots, accumulating 12
sacks and 9 tackles for loss among his
Frank Zavaleta * Ridgeview
DL * 5-11, 200 * senior
A lack of size didn't bother Zavaleta,
who could power over offensive lineman
or zip around them. His array of moves
resulted in 7.5 sacks and 4 additional
tackles for loss.
Krys Barnes * Liberty
LB * 6-2, 220 * junior
An active sideline-to-sideline
linebacker, Barnes had 130 tackles -- by
far the best on his team and the top
total in the SWYL. Barnes, who has an
early scholarship offer from Boise
State, also forced five fumbles and an
interception he returned 71 yards for a
touchdown in a playoff game against
Ethan Cullifer * Stockdale
LB * 5-10, 205 * senior
Despite missing three games because of
injury, Cullifer racked up 88 tackles, 6
for loss, in seven games. The returning
first-team All-Area player also made an
interception, forced two fumbles and
recovered two fumbles.
Jaccob Lopez * Ridgeview
LB * 5-10, 215 * senior
Forced to move full-time to linebacker
when Croney arrived to play running
back, Lopez shined, ranking second on
the team in tackles and making three
interceptions, including the one that
sealed a Division II section
championship victory against Dinuba.
Mario Solorio * Chavez
LB * 5-11, 205 * junior
Second in the area in tackling with 153,
including a whopping 44 tackles for
loss, Solorio was the South Sequoia
League defensive MVP and the linchpin of
a defensive unit that carried the Titans
to their first SSL championship.
Alex Fulmer * Bakersfield
DB * 5-7, 140 * junior
Physical safety was one of the Drillers'
leading tacklers and key cogs in a run
defense that keyed many of Bakersfield's
nine victories with 28 forced turnovers.
Curtis Hampton * Bakersfield
DB * 5-8, 155 * senior
Twice in SWYL play, Hampton returned a
fourth-quarter interception for a
touchdown to seal a Drillers' victory.
He made four interceptions in all to go
with a 24.6-yard kickoff-return average,
a rushing touchdown and a receiving
Stavros Katsantonis * Liberty
DB * 5-10, 172 * senior
With Mariscal, he formed the area's most
fearsome safety combination. Katsantonis
was consistently disruptive, making 72
tackles and four interceptions,
deflecting six passes, forcing a fumble
and recovering two, including one he
returned for a touchdown to key
Liberty's huge win at Mission Viejo.
Mason Saba * Centennial
DB * 6-1, 190 * senior
One of the area's best on-ball defensive
backs, Saba made two interceptions among
his 10 passes defended. He also was a
physical presence in the running game
and was a big reason why the Golden
Hawks defense rarely gave up a big play.
Tyler Watters * Golden Valley
P * 6-3, 225 * junior
An impressive quarterback, Watters was
even better as a punter. He dropped 16
of his 33 kicks inside the opponent's
20-yard line and averaged 39.9 yards per
punt. As a QB, Watters completed 60.9
percent of his passes for 1,574 yards,
12 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
QB: Dalton Gallis, Kern Valley (6-3,
QB: Jordan Love, Liberty (6-3, 170, jr)
RB: Rolando Arrona, Kennedy (6-1, 191,
RB: Quincy Jountti, Liberty (5-11, 210,
RB: Isaiah Sharp, Frontier (6-0, 205, sr)
WR: Zach Balfanz, Bakersfield Christian
(5-8, 175, sr)
WR: Chad Gleason, Desert (5-9, 175, sr)
WR: Jachi Harrell, Golden Valley (5-9,
OL: Mason Grantz, Centennial (6-4, 265,
OL: Lino Medrano, South (6-0, 235, sr)
OL: Blake Pierce, Frontier (6-5, 275, sr)
OL: Rocky Radcliff, Tehachapi (6-1, 210,
OL: Oscar Rosette, Wasco (5-10, 300, sr)
OL: Daniel Schoene, Bakersfield (6-6,
Util: Andrew Hansen, Centennial (6-1,
Util: Ja'mar Moya, Ridgeview (5-10, 160,
Util: Jordan Wiley, Independence (6-4,
K: Coleman Olivas, Bakersfield (5-10,
DL: Kurtis Brown, Liberty (6-2, 250,
DL: Juan Garcia, South (5-11, 170, sr)
DL: Maxx Garris, Centennial (6-2, 265,
DL: Angel Garcia, Tehachapi (5-11, 245,
LB: Parker Holbrook, Centennial (6-0,
LB: Matt Hubble, Liberty (6-0, 195, jr)
LB: Brennen Medley, Kern Valley (6-4,
LB: Steve Rodriguez, Chavez (6-0, 175,
LB: Joe Rogers, North (5-9, 200, jr)
LB: Eddie Sanchez, Bakersfield (5-8,
DB: Josh Boyd, West (6-3, 175, jr)
DB: Cristion Brown, Ridgeview (5-9, 160,
DB: Daylyn Jackson, Frontier (6-2, 164,
DB: Chris Reyes, South (5-8, 160, sr)
DB: Jaron Stewart, Ridgeview (6-0, 155,
P: Alex Galland, Liberty (6-2, 175, sr)
Arvin: Derek Adams
Bakersfield: Dymon Ford, Deion Nobles,
Jakell Tomlin, Robert Trujillo
Bakersfield Christian: Nathan DeJager,
Stephen Figures, Tyler Lozano, Josh
Mantle, Matt Smith
Boron: Laron Cherry
Burroughs: Adan Pena
California City: Daville Walker
Centennial: Matthew Clendenen, Cole Duey,
Cole Hennen, Cole Nelson, Brandon Stout,
Chavez: Damin Avila, John Cabico, Mike
Cervantes, Eduardo Hernandez, Malcolm
Jordan, Michael Nava, Alex Tapia
ago, in the Golden Empire Youth Football league, there was a
feeling that there was something special going on.
There was a
handful of running backs making cuts and running over and
around the rest of the competition. The future seemed
tikes are now closing out their high school careers this
fall, and as impressive as they were as 10-year-olds,
they're even more of a sight to see now.
"little guys" -- Sheldon Croney, Marcus Bruce, Anthony
Mariscal, Isaiah Sharp and Matt Smith -- now are the leaders
of what is one of the best overall running back classes in
Kern County history.
"It's been a
while since we have seen that many come through at one
time," East coach David Fanucchi said. "This is really a
special time here for the fans."
have been fantastic individual seasons: Steve Wofford at
Bakersfield, the county's leader in career rushing yards
with 7,100 from 1992-1994; Ryan Mathews with his incredible
3,396-yard, 34-touchdown performance as a senior at West in
2006; and most recently, Cody Shirreffs' 2,317 yards for
Taft in 2009.
group, diverse and deep, is special, and the players are
enjoying the end of their impressive run here at home.
we all knew each other and have been around each other
playing Golden Empire," Bakersfield Christian senior Matt
Smith said. "We knew we were going to be that group."
imposing presence at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, has rushed for
at least 1,300 yards in each of his three seasons for the
Eagles, including 1,694 yards and 24 total touchdowns as
BCHS went to the CIF Division IV state championship game a
Croney, now at Ridgeview, has the best overall season of the
group after rushing for 2,377 yards and 28 scores for Garces
brought Croney back to his neighborhood school for his last
prep season. Looking back at the years playing against his
fellow seniors, Croney said it has been a blast to be a part
of this impressive group.
"We all knew
at a young age that we were all talented," Croney said. "We
knew it could pay off in the end."
was an all-state performer as a sophomore for Wasco in 2012.
His 2,317-yard, 34-touchdown performance helped lead the
Tigers to a 13-0 record. Injuries kept Sharp off the field
for half of last season, but he still managed 889 yards in
six games on an out-of-this-world 16.94 yard-per-carry
transferred to Frontier in the offseason. Titans coach Rich
Cornford was at the helm at West during Mathews' career when
the San Diego Chargers running back shined, and Cornford
says Sharp is "the best back I've coached since Ryan."
"Sharp has a
lot of the same attributes as Ryan," Cornford said. "He
doesn't waste time. He's a really good all-around player and
a very well-rounded young man."
numbers at Bakersfield aren't as shining as the other
seniors around the city, but his leadership and athleticism
has made him a third-year starter for the Drillers.
fellow senior Lameshio Hill, Bruce likes the fact that the
two get to battle it out daily in practice together for the
defending D-I state champions.
Lameshio, we get to go against each other every day in
practice," Bruce said. "Every play, it's either him or me.
We compete every day."
the only one of the bunch so far that has verbally committed
to play college football, might very well be the fastest of
the bunch, too.
Arizona as defensive back, Mariscal led Liberty a year ago
with 1,089 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. The toughness
and selfishness that Mariscal plays with was evident in the
final game last season. In a playoff loss to Clovis,
Mariscal couldn't play offense after dislocating his elbow.
But he still made an impact on defense, intercepting a pass,
and, with his left arm dangling to his side, zooming past
the Cougars for the score.
Mariscal sees a future for this group of backs: To finish
out their stellar prep careers and shine on the big stage at
Division I college programs.
"I know we
were all going to play in college," Mariscal said. "We have
always had the spotlight on us. This class is becoming the
name out of Bakersfield. We have some talent that no one has
seen. We are all capable of great things."
Croney have both been on the radar of many colleges, with
Smith pulling in offers from Colorado State, Utah State and
UC Davis while Croney has a Pac-12 offer from Oregon State
to go along with seven other offers.
As all of
Kern County football fields still boast the old-school grass
fields that the rest of California has stopped usingin
the last decade, it makes sense that the offenses here are
geared around a three-yard burst and a cloud of dust.
to the unreal talent of these backs, it's more like a
20-yard scamper with a juke, a stiff-arm and defenses left
in the rearview mirror.
"You have running backs that defenses have to try and stop
before they go another 70 yards," Bakersfield coach Paul
Golla said. "Those are things you can't coach."
L-R: Kern County Shrine Club president Don Pudiwitr,
Golden Empire Youth Tackle Football executive director
Ron White, and Kern County Shriner David Stevenson. The
youth football league donated proceeds from its recent
bowl-game event to the Shriners.
BY ESTEBAN RAMIREZ Special to The Californian
Over a half-century, the Shrine Potato Bowl provided
countless memories for football players and fans in
Bakersfield and a sizeable financial boost for the Shriners
Hospital for Children in Los Angeles.
When the annual community college game ended several years
ago, Golden Empire Youth Tackle Football executive director
Ron White decided to try to revive it, in a different
format, to continue to support the Shriners Hospital, and
provide a stage for youth football as well.
In early 2010, I just happened to be driving by the Kern
County Shrine Club and noticed the old Potato Bowl float in
the parking lot," said White. "It was pretty decrepit,
beat-up, and ... I realized how sad it was that the
community lost that event."
It got White to thinking.
"Myself and a few other people approached the Shriners about
the idea of bringing it back, and they were in agreement,"
"We wanted to make sure that the Shriner's Hospital for
Children would continue to receive funding from the
Bakersfield community like it had always."
The Shrine Potato Bowl started in 1948 as the first junior
college football bowl game. It was consistently a big draw,
including a crowd of 20,963 in 1990. In 2002, the Shriners
Club chose to withdraw its sponsorship of the event because
of increased fees by the state Commission on Athletics.
The name of the event was changed to the Golden Empire Youth
Shrine Potato Bowl when it was brought back in 2010 and has
been going ever since. The event consists of four to five
games between youth teams from Bakersfield and Santa
Clarita, including a final game between all-area youth teams
from both cities. It has been held at Garces and
Independence high schools. Since 2010, the bowl has raised
nearly $25,000, including $8,000 this past year to the
Shriners Hospital for Children.
"It's very personal to me because as a young man I attended
those games, I took my son to those games and you never want
to see a staple of the community go away like that, so on a
personal level it has meant the world to me," White said of
helping the Shriners Hospital.
David Stevenson, chairman for the Kern County Shriners Club
Youth Potato Bowl Committee, felt it was a good union from
the start "because it does nothing but help kids all around.
Whether it's the kids getting to learn the skills in
football or the kids in the hospital that are benefitting
from the donations.
"So how can it not be a win-win situation all around?"
"Golden Empire Alumni
Making a Big Impact on
a Big Stage"
2013 Valley Champions
and Golden Empire Alumni Quarterbacks Brandon Jones -
BCHS EAGLES & Asani
Rufus - BHS DRILLERS lead their teams featuring multiple
Ridgeview quarterback Kamari Cotton-moya runs with the ball during the game
many fans of high school football and college football, following recruiting
has become a way of life, and the first Wednesday in February has become
tomorrow: National Signing Day, the first day of the period in which high
school football players can sign binding national letters of intent to
attend a specific college. For many of the top recruits around the country,
it's a day of drama, with different hats on tables and hidden T-shirts and
even pets and tattoos.
offensive lineman Keoni Taylor (75) is expected to sign Wednesday with San
Jose State as part of National Signing Day. In all, six Kern County football
players are expected to sign with Division I schools Wednesday.
in Kern County, though, National Signing Day has been less theatrical and
more ceremonial. Even when a recruit changes his mind - like Ridgeview DB
Shannon Edwards did last year, moving from UCLA to Fresno State - news is
out before signing day. The most heralded recruit to come out of Bakersfield
in the past decade was QB Cody Kessler, and he had to come back from USC to
join his Centennial teammates at a "signing" party.
doesn't mean tomorrow is insignificant, of course; it's just that we know
what to expect. Four schools are holding signing ceremonies tomorrow, and
all of them include at least one Division I football player. In addition,
talented Stockdale running back D.J. Martin is expected to sign with Eastern
Washington tomorrow, though Stockdale typically honors all of its Division I
athletes at the end of the school year in one event.
are the Division I football signees expected to sign tomorrow:
Ridgeview DB Kamari Cotton-Moya, Iowa State
Centennial WR Andrew Daughtery, Air Force
Liberty RB Corbin Jountti, Northern Arizona
Stockdale RB D.J. Martin, Eastern Washington
Liberty OL/LS Cole Mazza, Alabama
Garces OL Keoni Taylor, San Jose State
addition, several former Kern County prep athletes signed with teams out of
junior colleges: QB Brian Burrell (Fresno State), TE Mike Dunn (Fresno
State) and DB Mercy Maston (Boise State) out of Bakersfield College; and QB
Tyler Ferguson (Penn State) out of College of the Sequoias.
Jacob Stephen Varner of
the United States celebrates during the
victory ceremony after winning the gold
medal in 96-kg freestyle wrestling at
the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug.
12, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Paul
LONDON -- Bakersfield's Jake Varner is an Olympic
On the final day of competition at the 2012
London Olympic Games, the Bakersfield High
graduate claimed the gold medal in the
96-kilogram division with a comprehensive
victory over Ukrainian Valerii Andriitsev.
"Every time I step on the mat I expect to win,"
said the 26-year-old, moments after having the
gold medal draped around his neck and then
listening to his national anthem. "But I think I
smiled more than I usually do. It's just cool to
have (this medal). It's so crazy."
He said he planned to celebrate the
fulfillment of his lifelong dream by "going out
for some chocolate milk" with his parents,
girlfriend and a few close friends who came to
"I just want be around the people I love
right now -- just enjoy it as long as I can.
It's exciting to have my family with me and I
can go out spend the night with them," said
Varner, whose father, Steve, a wrestling coach,
got him involved in the sport..
He added that all the support he has received
from Bakersfield has meant a lot to him.
"Bakersfield's awesome. I guess this puts it
on the map, but it's a great place to be. I'm
glad I'm from there."
Varner, who was a two-time national champion
at Iowa State, also became a lot wealthier with
his victory. He collected a $250,000 bonus from
the Living the Dream Medal Fund that supports
Coming off a bronze medal at last year's
world championship, Varner came into these Games
with a laser-like focus on the gold medal --
insisting that everything else about the Olympic
experience was of minimal importance to him. And
he had to wait until the very end of the
two-week Olympiad for his chance to shine..
Still, there were quality opponents for
Varner to battle, starting in the first round
with veteran Kurban Kurbanov, the Asian champion
After a scoreless first round, tiebreaking
protocol was followed with a red ball and a blue
ball placed in a bag. Varner had to choose. He
got red, which put him in an advantageous leg
clinch position. Kurbanov had to defend for 30
seconds to win the round, but Varner threw him
out of the ring for a point within seconds.
Kurbanov won the second round on a slippery
maneuver but Varner got a quick takedown in the
third and defended the rest of the way to
advance to the quarterfinals.
Sanderson said he was particularly pleased
with how Varner won by sticking with their game
plan and not panicking..
"We wanted to push the pace and make
conditioning a factor and I think he was able to
do that," said Sanderson, who won gold at the
2004 Athens Olympics and went 159-0 wrestling at
Iowa State for four years.
The semifinal was dramatic against George
Gogshelidze of Georgia -- a 32-year-old former
world champion and bronze medalist from Beijing.
Varner was dominated by his opponent in the
first round, losing 2-0. The second round was
scoreless, meaning another random choice of red
or blue ball with Varner's Olympic Games hanging
in the balance.
Once again, luck was on his side as his
opponent grabbed blue, putting Varner in charge..
"It came out blue and luckily that was my
color. I know how to score so I just went in
there and did what I could do," said Varner,
about the good fortune of the random ball grab
going his way..
Sanderson said it was a "huge win" for
"Jake's very good at adjusting and figuring
out what the guy was trying to do, slowing him
down, grabbing his shoe hand and he did a nice
job and it was a little bit closer than we hoped
but that was good," he said. "You don't want to
go to a ball grab in the second period down by
one. But he did an awesome job. It's do or die
and you want to be a gold medalist that's the
time to shine and he did it."
After Varner made the final, the Iranian
powerhouse Yazdani went down with a serious knee
injury and could barely stand up against
Andriitsev, who beat him easily. Yazdani was
taken away in a wheelchair and the path was
clear for Varner to face Andriitsev, who was
second in the European Championships this year
and is a former junior world champion.
"He won dominantly," said Sanderson of the
championship match, noting how Varner won using
his special ankle pick over the Eastern
European. "He was controlling the periods and
the tie-ups. He's awesome. He just likes to
compete. He's the same whether it's the Olympic
finals or any match. And that's one of the
reasons he's so good.
"He just has great composure. That and just
living the lifestyle for a long time. He's the
man. He's been dedicated this whole trip. He's
just been sitting in his room resting and doing
what it takes to win and that's why he won."
U.S. Olympic team coach John Smith was also
effusive in his praise for Varner.
"Varner's tough whether he's ahead or behind.
It doesn't matter. He's the Olympic champ. But
when he is in the lead, he's got great
short-time defense. He's great at being in the
blocking position. You can't get to his legs."
As for his wrestling future, Varner said he
has yet to think about it.
"We'll see. Just going to enjoy the moment
right now and make plans later."
BY ZACH EWING
Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Harvey Hall listed the accomplishment's of
this year's Mayor's Trophy recipient Wednesday
night in the Harvey Auditorium at Bakersfield
High, Silas Nacita sat up in his chair.
Nacita had no idea
he was about to become the 36th winner of the
award, given annually to Bakersfield's top
senior student-athlete as measured by athletic,
academic, leadership and community service
By Michael Fagans / The
BHS' Silas Nacita asks mayor
Harvey Hall for permission to
touch the Mayor's Award trophy
after being named the 2012
recipient of the honor during
the PEAAK Awards ceremony held
at Harvey Auditorium on
running back and defensive back on Bakersfield
High's varsity team for three years, helping the
Drillers to a 2010 Central Section runner-up
finish and the 2011 Division I championship.
He also was a
two-time state medalist in wrestling, including
the 170-pound silver medal this year.
He was first-team
All-Area twice in each sport and also picked up
diving on a whim last month with three weeks
left in the season: He narrowly missed
qualifying for the section finals.
"I did it to get a
tan," Nacita said. "Just kidding. I'm just not
the type of person to not be doing anything. I
had to pick up something else."
Nacita also was the
BHS senior class vice president, the school's
Fellowship of Christian Athletes president and a
two-year captain in both football and wrestling;
he'll play football at Cornell University..
for a number of community organizations,
including the Special Olympics, Relay for Life,
Great American Clean-Up, Bakersfield Homeless
Shelter and Jesus Shack.
Other finalists for
the award were: Patrick Farley, Garces; Matthew
Huckaby, Bakersfield Christian; Lucy LaFranchise,
Liberty; Harmandeep Manku, South; Cameron
Miller, Stockdale; Ka'ylee Moyer, North; and
Adrianna Salazar, West.
The Mayor's Trophy
was presented at the beginning of the second
PEAAK (Promoting Excellence in Athletics and
Activities in Kern) Awards ceremony at BHS.
winners included Best Male Athlete Chris
Hannible, BHS; Best Female Athlete, Meghan Shain,
Frontier; Best Sportsmanship, Isaac Lopez,
Ridgeview; Play of the Year, Javier Kirksey,
Ridgeview; Best Male Student-Athlete, Ryan
O'Leary, Highland; Best Female Student-Athlete,
Brooke Dickens, Stockdale.
"Golden Empire Making an Impact
at the Next Level"
Bakersfield High quarterback Chris
Hannible is The Bakersfield
Californian Football Player of the
High quarterback Chris Hannible is The
Bakersfield Californian Football Player of
Pressure, Chris Hannible
has discovered, is nothing when mixed with talent and a
lot of preperation..
Sure, Hannible had the
unenviable task of replacing three-year starter Brian
Burrell as Bakersfield High's quarterback. But it didn't
take him long to realize he could make it work.
"Yeah, there was a little
pressure, coming in with a team so young, first year
starting at quarterback," Hannible said. "But it's been
a dream of mine to live up to those big standards, and I
was very excited to take charge."
Did he ever. In
Bakersfield's triple-option offense, Hannible threw for
1,541 yards, 20 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions, and
he ran for 1,239 yards and 22 touchdowns. Most
important, he led the Drillers to a 13-0 season -- the
legendary program's first unbeaten run since 2001 -- and
their record 35th Central Section championship.
For that, Hannible is
The Californian's All-Area Football Player of the
"He did an unbelievable job
of managing the game when it needed to be managed,"
Bakersfield coach Paul Golla said. "For a first-year
starter, that's pretty special."
Of course, Golla had more
than an inkling his offense would be OK with Hannible
taking over. Rewind back to the 2010 section playoffs,
when Hannible would stay after practice and zip around
passes for the scout team, doing a passable
impersonation of Centennial's All-American quarterback,
"He's explosive, he's
strong, he works hard in the weightroom," Golla said.
"He's really developed himself in those areas. But he's
always been a team guy. You tell him to play whatever
position, and he'll do it. He just wants to compete.
Even as a scout-team quarterback, he's yelling at our
guys. He's special in that way."
And the Drillers needed
that quality during several sticky spots during their
unbeaten run. First, at Frontier, the host Titans erased
a big deficit to tie the game 35-35 late. Bakersfield's
Kevin Elijah -- The Californian's Defensive
Player of the Year -- made an interception with less
than two minutes left, and Hannible did the rest,
running the ball in for the winning touchdown.
More notably, with
Bakersfield facing a 42-21 deficit and the premature end
of its season in the section quarterfinals against
Centennial, Hannible went to work.
He was 6-of-7 for 154 yards
and two passing TDs and ran the ball six times for 42
yards and a touchown in Bakersfield's frantic comeback,
including two perfectly placed deep balls to Kevin Hayes
for the tying and winning touchdowns in a 49-42 victory.
"We just said, 'Heck yeah,'
which to us means not to get down, just go forward, stay
calm and do your technique," Hannible said. "That was a
huge down, but we had to keep our heads up."
Hannible was more of a game
manager in a semifinal victory against Clovis -- the
Cougars took away his lane to run in the option, so he
handed off to fullback Silas Nacita 16 times for 153
yards -- but he was back to his explosive self against
Bullard, throwing for 154 yards and running for 98.
"It was crazy how it's all
worked out," said Hannible, who started on defense as a
sophomore and junior. "My sophomore year we lost in the
semifinals. Last year, we lost in Valley, and my senior
year we made it back and won it. All in order."
Hannible, who has moved
around Bakersfield with relatives because of an unstable
family situation, is waiting on first-semester grades to
come in before he's certain he'll qualify academically
to play in Division I college ball.
"Football has been
everything to me," Hannible said. "I've played since I
was 8 years old, and it helps me a lot.
If Hannible does continue
his career at a four-year school, there is plenty of
interest from Fresno State (as a safety) and Nevada
(possibly as a quarterback). If that route doesn't work,
he'll likely play at a junior college near you.
"It really doesn't matter;
I'll play anywhere," Hannible said.
Wherever he lands, be
assured that Hannible plans on making an impact.
"He wants to compete, and
when he understands what he's supposed to do, he's going
to get it done," Golla said. "He's a lot like (Fresno
State standout safety and former Driller) Phillip
Thomas. He's extremely intelligent and he understands
"He's a gift."
Featured Team of the Week: Golden Empire Youth Football & Cheer
With Golden Empire Youth Football & Cheer, Athletes Excel On and Off the Field.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (CSD) – Golden Empire Youth Football and Cheer is a home-grown organization. And has it ever grown!
The program was launched in 1998 by current Executive Director Ron White and 14 other board members, and it now includes 2,300 football players and cheerleaders, plus 400 coaches and countless volunteers.
“We’re one of the largest high school feeder programs in the state,” said White, a former East Bakersfield High School player who went on to play at Porterville Junior College. “High school coaches see us as a huge benefit for them because we develop these young men and women, and use the high school’s philosophies, fundamentals and techniques.
“When a 7-year-old starts in our program, by the time he gets to the high school level, he already has seven years of experience in the same system that his high school football program uses. Golden Empire uses the same play-calling systems as many of the local high schools, but modified to meet the age and ability of youth football players.”
Golden Empire Youth Football games are played on local regulation high school and collegiate fields. Currently, the organization has 15 geographic programs inclusive of four divisions: freshman level (ages 7-9), sophomore (10-12), junior varsity (11-13) and varsity (12-14), with rosters of approximately 30 players each.
Each team plays a minimum of seven regular-season games, followed by playoffs that are similar to the structure used by the NFL.
“We’ve had some great young athletes advance through our program, and some have gone on to play at colleges including USC, UCLA, Nebraska, Colorado State and Fresno State,” White said. “And last month, Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews, who played in our organization, was drafted by the San Diego Chargers with the 12th overall pick.”
In recent years, Golden Empire Youth Football and Cheer has been represented by 10 teams that have earned championships, including three last year, at the National Youth Football Championships in Las Vegas.
White said that Golden Empire Youth Football and Cheer would not exist were it not for the tireless work done by volunteers.
“The strength of our organization is volunteer coaches,” White said. “We also have 22 men and women on our board who are professionals in the community, and they give much of their time to make this work, including some as coaches. We coach a lot of at-risk kids and give them the type of structure they need in their lives. And for families that are struggling financially, we offer the Community Athletic Scholarship Program.
“First and foremost with our group is sportsmanship. What we teach goes way beyond the X’s and O’s of football. We train these young people in how to conduct themselves, how to display sportsmanship and how to provide community service.”
Tryouts are held in early March and full-contact practices begin in July. The season runs from early September through mid-November.
Those interested in learning more about Golden Empire Youth Football & Cheer may visit www.geyf.org or call 661-837-GEYF.
FORMER GOLDEN EMPIRE PLAYER
POISED TO TAKE OVER FOR L.T.
Former GEYF Tomahawk player and West High Grad Ryan Mathews was recently selected by the San Diego Chargers in the First Round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Ryan is poised to take over for future NFL Hall of Fame Running Back& Ladanian Tomlinson. Ryan is a perfect example of what hard work and dedication can bring to those who dream of one day playing football at its highest level.
We are all very proud of Ryan as well as the GEYF Tomahawk coaching staff that helped develop such a fine young man.
"IF YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN ACHIEVE"
"2009 GEYF Freedom Players will compete
on a "National Stage"
Colton Foster, Anthony Mariscal, and
Justin Nieto have been selected to represent Golden
Empire's Far west Freedom Football Program in the 2009
FBU U.S. ARMY YOUTH ALL AMERICAN BOWL. The game
will be played in the Alamodome in San Antonio Texas on
Sunday January 10, 2010.
Colton, Anthony, and Justin were selected
as three of the top youth football players in the
nation.It is quite an honor to have these three fine
young men represent not only Golden Empire Youth Tackle
Football, but our Bakersfield Community as a whole.
The following Photos of the U.S.
ARMY ALL AMERICAN SELECTIONS, GEYF Board
Members, and Coaches.were taken during the U.S.
ARMY BOWL SELECTION PRESENTATION Press
Conference held at Kern Security on Tuesday 12,15,2009.
( Photos taken by Action
Digital Photography )
Congratulations to all who made this
possible, and a special thanks to our Community for the
continuing support of Golden Empire Youth Tackle
Football and Cheer...
Football team shows
support by wearing pink
national teams to those
at the club level,
athletes around the
country are wearing pink
and recognizing Breast
Cancer Awareness Month.
plays for a Golden
Empire Youth Football
team, Freedom’s Freshman
team, and after practice
one evening he
approached me with some
pink shoelaces. He
explained to me that a
parent donated them to
the team, to be worn for
the next few games. I
knew why and this gave
me an opportunity to
explain to my son why.
Throughout October, NFL
athletes have been
wearing pink during
games. Brett Favre,
Larry Fitzgerald, Drew
Brees and many other NFL
stars will wear pink
cleats and other
pink-colored gear during
games this weekend as
the league supports
Breast Cancer Awareness
Ramirez, a Freshmen
Freedom football parent,
may have seen the NFL
players doing it on the
field and thought what a
great idea for our
football team to do as
well. She invested in
pink shoelaces and
donated them to the
laces have been proudly
worn by the Freshmen
Freedom football team
during the month of
This has been a
great way to educate
our youth and get
our families have been
affected by breast
cancer and many people
know someone who has
been affected by it.
Freedom football has
something in common with
the NFL and now breast
cancer awareness. This
is a really cool idea to
unite the nation’s
sports and it’s
athletes, at all levels
of the playing field,
and bring awareness to
wonderful for our area's
youth athletes, as well
as national athletes, to
support awareness for
such a worthy cause.
Empire Southeast Varsity Wolverine, Steven
Roberson, represents the United States in the
Global Callenge Bowl held in Kawasaki, Japan
Every once in awhile a player
comes along that is destined for greatness, both
as an athlete and a human being. That
individual is Steven Roberson. I
had the distinct pleasure of coaching Steven as
a member of the 2005 Golden Empire
Conference Championship Team. To be honest
I'm sure I actually learned more from Steven
than I was ever able to teach him. As an
extremely humble, unassuming and hard working
player, I could think of no one better to not
only represent Golden Empire, but the United
States in this international competition.
Ron L White
Varsity Wolverine Head Coach
1999 to 2006
Former Golden Empire Southeast Varsity
(Christian Taylor and Jake Peterson)
Help bring home a Valley Title
Jake Peterson and Christian Taylor are
outstanding young men both on and off the
football field. It was really a blessing to have
the opportunity to coach and help mold these
young athletes. Both Jake and Christian led the
2004 Varsity Wolverines to the Conference
Championship Game and went on to help bring
Bakersfield Christian High a Valley
Championship. Jake and Christian proudly
represents not only Golden Empire and
Bakersfield Christian, but the whole Kern County
Community. We look forward to big things from
both these young men in the near future.
Ron L. White
Varsity Wolverine Head Coach
1998 to 2006
Mark Forrest -
Ex-Fighting Irish Player
Oak Grove football standouts
Mark Forrest and Aaron Huck made oral
commitments to attend
on Wednesday night.
The pair have been friends
since before grade school - their fathers Mark
Forrest and Rick Huck, an Oak Grove assistant
coach, played football together at
"At the beginning of the
season we talked and said 'Whoever is recruiting
us - we have to tell them it's a package deal,'"
said Forrest, a 6-foot-7, 205-pound linebacker,
who is expected to move to defensive line in
Right tackle Huck took his
recruiting trip to the Reno campus last weekend
with his father.
"I just thought it was a good
fit. Nevada has a great young quarterback with
freshman Colin Kaepernick. And the linemen are
older, so I should get a chance to play soon,"
said the 6-foot-3, 290-pound Huck, who paved the
way for a pair of 2,000-yard rushing seasons by
Eagles running back Nevin Gardiner. "The team
has been to Bowl games for three years in a row,
it's a program on the rise."
Forrest, who is also a
standout basketball player, underwent two knee
surgeries during his sophomore year and decided
football was his best bet in college. He also
received scholarship offers from
FresnoState and Wyoming.
"My knees just couldn't
handle all the jumping in basketball, so
football was actually easier on them," said
Forrest, who had 13 sacks and 65 tackles this
Huck and Forrest were both
key in the Eagles' run to the Open Division
title this year
Nathan Mantle was a member of the GEYF Varsity Freedom
Championship Team in 2001. Nathan also was elected to
the GEYF All Area Varsity Team that finished 2nd in the
2001 National Youth Football Championships in Las
Vegas. As an Ohio State Buckeye "True Freshmen"
Nathan is playing on a national stage and represents
Golden Empire and the
Bakersfield Community proudly.
City of Shafter Honors the Gladiators with
a display in the Town Plaza
Ten years in, Golden Empire Youth Football one of
state's largest leagues
The Bakersfield Californian |
Monday, Jun 23 2008 9:43 PM
Last Updated: Wednesday, Jun 25 2008 9:27 AM
The Golden Empire Youth Football League, which has
grown to 1,700 players on 56 teams with 350 coaches
and 500 cheer participants Ă˘â‚¬â€ť one of the
largest independent youth football and cheer
organizations in the state andť will be
celebrating its 10th season this year.
were in March, many teams are still accepting
players. The season will get jump-started in August
with the "Kickoff Classic," festive,
carnival-like day at Garces High that will include
The following is
an informational background of Golden Empire Youth
Football League, which was founded in 1998.
Freshmen Division -- Ages 7-9
Sophomore Division -- Ages 10-11
Junior Varsity Division -- Ages 12-13
Varsity Division -- Ages 13-14
-- Arvin, Bakersfield, Shafter, Tehachapi, Wasco
Team tryouts - March
(Some teams are still accepting
Instructional football camp -- June
Kick Off Classic (all-day
carnival-type event, with scrimmages) -- August
Regular season -- September-November
Postseason -- November
-- GEYF offers the Community Athletic Scholarship
Program. Participants who need assistance to
participate in the league may apply for help with
registration costs. Golden Empire never turns a
player away in need of financial assistance.
* GEYF mission: To provide a competitive youth
tackle football and non-competitive youth cheer
program for local elementary and junior high school
students. The primary goal of this organization is
to provide a training ground for the basic
fundamentals of youth football and cheer, to develop
sound mind, body, and character and first and
foremost to have fun.
* Executive director
Ron White says: "One of the reasons we opened this
league ... is that we saw a need for a more
competitve football organization. There was really
no venue or forum for a competitive league with
* Structure -- GEYF is governed by a volunteer board
of directors comprised of 22 local men and women.
Awards -- GEYF just received a 10 year Commitment To
Youth Award from the Kern County Superintendent of
Gladiator Honored by Shafter Chamber of
Courtesy of the
Shafter Press/ Reed Print Inc.
Shafter Youth Football program was the
recipient of the Youth Development Award at the 60th
Annual Shafter Chamber of Commerce Awards dinner.
This award was given in part for the positive
impact that this program has had in the community. Operating
on program fees and donations, over 115 young people are given the
opportunity to play football yearly. The countless hours of
volunteer time put in by the Board and Coaches was recognized also.