Might Mite receiver Brandon Banks accounted for 13 catches for 228 yds and two TDS. But if you pay too much attention to Banks, you've also got to contend with Attrail Snipes on the other side, who was the 100, 200, and 400 meter Washington State High School Track champion. In the end, the Gades held off a young but talented Tiger team 35-23.
When long time Head Coach Michael White of the Tigers was asked if his defensive backfield was up to the task of containing the Gades speed he joked, "Well, I left a couple at home because they missed their study table hours, so can I tell you afterwards?" Coach White also has a very young group of kids who's debut was against one of the better teams in the nation. The defense, led by MLB Andrew Dove started only 3 sophomores and showed signs of being your typical hard hitting Tiger unit.
On offense, it took him a while to figure out what he had. "We started a little slow at QB because we had so many to sift through, but we settled on on Darius Reynolds. He's very athletic, and you'll see him run the ball." And run he did. I can honestly say he is one of the most elusive QBs I've seen, and is not only fast, he's just hard to get a helmet on.
Bower established himself early on by completing 8 straight passes. He hit Brandon Banks on the sideline, and Banks juked two DBs who both ended up on their butts, then put a spin move on a third defender to take it to the house, giving the Gades a 7-0 lead with 11:20 to go in the first. On the kickoff Kevin Eldridge showed the Gades aren't just speed when he put a tremendous hit on the Tiger returner.
Reynolds had a tough start as he fumbled on the first Reedley possession, then was picked off by DL Larry Lalusa on a screen play. But the Gades kicker, Arturo Villa, missed a 29 yard field goal and the Tigers dodged a bullet. In the second quarter it was Bowers to Banks again over the middle, on a 60 yard connection to give the Gades a 14-0 lead with 14:07 to go in the half.
The Gades were pinned back at their own three yard line when the Tigers got their first taste of blood in the 2007 season, when Andrew Dove dropped Renegade RB Ben Estill for a safety to close out the first half scoring at 14-2.
Although the Gades more or less dominated the first half, the 3,000 BC fans got a little nervous when Free Safety Maurice Harvey picked off Bower on the sideline and raced unmolested 85 yards for a score, keeping the Tigers in striking distance at 14-9 with 7:17 to go in the third. After a low scoring 3 quarters, the action picked up in the 4th. Another Villa field goal attempt was blocked, but the Renegade running game picked it up when RB Pat Patterson pushed one in with 8:17 to go giving Bakersfield a 21-9 lead.
But the pesky Tiger unit started to find a passing game of their own. Reynolds found Jahmeel Hobson on a broken coverage over the middle for a 76 yard TD, cutting the lead to 21-16. It took the Gades on play to get it back when Bower found Snipes deep to make it 28-16. But with 6 minutes to go, Reynolds went deep again, this time to Calvin Sapp on a 50 yard strike, and the Tigers would not be tamed down only 28-23. The Renegade then mixed it up on a nice drive culminating in a Ben Estill TD to end the scoring at 35-23.
The Tiger are young, but they have the talent. They will still be a force in the Valley Conference. Fresno was expected to have one of their best teams, but their talented QB left them hanging when he walked out on the team. COS will be a tough task for Reedley this year, but you can never count out a Michael White coached team. RB Jeremy Mims is a very tough runner who will have a lot of success this season. You'll hear a lot more about Darius Reynolds who makes Brent Shaeffer look like an ordinary running QB. This kid is extremely elusive and has a strong arm.
The Renegades are very balanced. They have a very good defense led by DLs Aaron King and Daniel Calvin, along with LB Darren Mackey. On offense, you can tell that Bower is a BYU trained QB. He is excellent in the pocket and although he missed a few wide open receivers, ended up 28 for 36 passing. The Gades also have three hard running RBs who rarely get negative yardage. The Gade offense rolled up 618 total yards. Gade Head Coach Jeff Chudy's take on the game was, for the most part, positive. "We've got some lessons to learn on the turnovers, and penalites in the red zone, but you've also got to give the Tigers credit for playing us well." On playing in 105 degree humid weather, Chudy credited the hard work of his players in helping them maintain the pace. "Those 6 am workouts really helped us out. We've got and exciting team, and I think we'll get better and better."
They better get better because next week the defending State Champion El Camino Warriors, led by another elusive stong armed QB in Boo Jackson, come to Bakersfield in a rematch of their thrilling overtime SoCal final. The Warriors also rolled up 600 yards of offense against the always tough Grossmont Griffins. That game will be the National game of the week between JC Gridwire #1 team Elco and #5 Bakersfield. This is jc football of the highest order.