Bakersfield College Football Preview

In Jeff Chudy's 4 year tenure as head coach of the Bakersfield College Renegades, his team has made the SoCal final twice, only to lose extremely close contests that have kept them out of the State final. Photo: Head Coach Jeff Chudy

Last year's edition was probably the best passing team the Gades have ever had, but they lost three D1 WRs and a D1 QB to graduation. Before Chudy took over the reins, the Renegades historically have been a physical, no nonsense team that straps it on and runs you over. Chudy still demands a hard hitting defense, with a solid running attack, but in recent years the Gades have opened up their offense thanks in large part to Offensive Coordinator Carl Dean. This season, with young receivers and a new QB, the Renegades will most likely rely on a ball control offense.

The Renegades entered this season highly rated, but many followers thought that they lost too many high caliber players to make another serious run at the title. Last weekend the Gades lost a close one to a very good Fresno team by way of a sloppy first half, but although Chudy doesn't like to lose any game, he sees a silver lining to the loss. "We just played poorly for whatever reason. Defensively we gave up 3rd and long conversions 7 times, and most of our mistakes were mental ones. But our offense played well with the exception of the one fumble near their goal line." The Gades are a young team, and Chudy stresses that each game be taken one at a time, and that you don't get any do overs once the season begins. Now they know what he meant, as they will undoubtedly slide down from #2 in the polls. But it's not where you're rated at the beginning that matters. "I don't like to ever say that a loss is a good thing, but I believe they will learn a lesson out of this one."

The Renegades will rely this season on an extremely potent ground game. Bruce Frieson, a preseason All-American will likely gain 1500 yards this season barring injury. He has tremendous cutting ability and uncanny strength for a 180 lb RB. When he gets tired, the Gades will bring on Freshman Andre Smith, who was leading the entire nation in high school rushing last season until he had to sit out three games due to injury. He averaged about 250 yards per game for a .500 ball club. Just to loosen up defenses. Veteran steamrollers Mat Peralta and Justin Jackson will wear down opponents. That rushing attack will be led by Offensive linemen Oscar Cuevas (6-2, 327), Robert Figueroa (6-3, 285), and Brock Mueller (6-3, 280) who make for the most experienced players on the team. The new QB has the unenviable task of following Jacob Bower, now at Tulsa, who broke most of Bakersfield's single season passing records. Nick Gauthier demonstrated a pretty good arm in the opener, but still needs some snaps to get used to the speed of college ball and the multiple coverages he will face. He will not have the talent at WR to throw to that Bower did, but William Randle showed some deep promise as he latched on to a deep post pass for a T.D. on the opening play of the second half Saturday. Jan Wollitz is a returner who will see time as well as Ryan Underwood. Zack Lewis brings experience to the Tight End position, as he made some key catches in big games last season.

On defense, the only returning starter at defensive back is Devin Pruett, but he is a good one. Pruett should get some D-1 attention with his size and speed. Bryce Chudy has experience at the Safety spot, and Yul Hawkins and Chuckie Covington will play corners. Covington is already reminding some people of Brandon Banks as a return man, with his jitterbug quickness. Banks is now lighting it up for Kansas State. James Williams and Rafique McNeil provide much needed depth. The defensive line will be led by Sophomores Jerry Loulusa (6-2, 317), and Junior SeSefo (6-3, 335). The Linebacking crew will feature Michael Smith, (6-1, 245) a solid performer and good D1 prospect. Joining him will be lanky Quentin Woods who at 6-7 and only 220 lbs, will be tough against the passing game. Freshman Jacob Cross (5-11, 220) had a very good debut Saturday.

Kicking will be a great asset this season. The Gades return punter Will Mahan who is capable of averaging over 40 yards per punt and has generated interest among D1 schools. The Gades will also have one of the most accurate kickers in California in Arturo Villa. Villa doesn't have quite the leg that former Gade Jose Martinez had, who is now at UTEP and a Lou Groza candidate, but he is extremely reliable and has the capacity to make 50+ yard kicks. Villa was 50-51 on PATs last season, with the lone miss being blocked. He also made 12-15 field goals.

Chudy joins the ranks of coaches who like the new conference alignments. "I think it's great. You're going to see some really tight races, and it's going to give some relief to some of the teams that have been taking it on the chin. Every week is going to be a meat grinder and every team will have earned that playoff spot." One thing for sure is that when you play the Renegades, whether they are rated high or not, you are in for a battle. This season will be no different, but a very tough schedule will have them battling every week once they get into league, and they won't get any breather games to get well on. But Chudy knows how to win as attested by his close to 80% winning percentage over his tenure. What he really wants is to get another State Title and potential national title like he did as Taft's head coach in 1990. Just to add a little topper to that championship, he also led the track team to a state title. I'm betting not too many coaches can claim they coached teams to State titles in two separate sports in the same year. Right now, Chudy just wants a win at LA Valley this weekend. He practices what he preaches. One game at a time boys, one game at a time.

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