As the Tehachapi Warriors embark on the 2019 season, preparation is underway to ensure that not only does this season end in far better fashion than last year’s 2-8 campaign, but also the team reacquires something it lost a year ago.
“Our mentality is to just get back that edge,” said head coach Doug DeGeer. “Last year we were trying to do some new things and we focused too much on the scheme itself and not the little things like discipline, fundamentals and things that you have to do regardless of what scheme you’re running football-wise.”
After a few seasons searching, DeGeer believes he’s found the right scheme, one that blends the athletic ability of the Warriors with a modern-football approach. To do that he’s called upon new offensive coordinator and former Rosamond head coach Kris Krempien, who instituted a new playbook for Tehachapi. Krempien’s move up the Mountain means while Tehachapi’s offense will fundamentally remain run-first, there are several new wrinkles, formations and passing plays that bring the Warriors into the next generation of football.
DeGeer is the first to admit that Tehachapi has tried bringing in a similar scheme the last few years, but he didn’t feel like he knew exactly how to make it happen. After calling Krempien, he believes he has found the answer.
“He’s brought it in a way that’s simplified, and he gives us an edge on a number of different levels,” DeGeer said. “We want to bring that high-tempo, high-paced scheme to what we’re doing ... but it’s not about the scheme itself, it’s about the little things, the discipline, the habits that you form and the attitude that you create within what you’re doing at practice.”
Krempien takes advantage of some of the best skilled position players the Warriors have arguably seen in years, led by junior quarterback Jacob Tye, who will run the offense in 2019. Tye led the junior varsity team last year and has already shown the ability to throw the ball at a very high level as evident by a pair of touchdown passes in Friday’s scrimmage against South. He’ll operate with targets like Trent Adams, Braden Batson and Max Meza, all quality receivers and threats for the new-look Warriors.
“Jake’s done a great job so far and he’s had some varsity experience with baseball, and he’s handled that pressure,” DeGeer said. “We’re looking to see him grow and mature as a player ... we definitely think he can get the job done.”
“In our skilled positions it’s been awhile since we’ve been able to say that we have some really quality athletes on the outside that we can really lean on and look to,” he said.
Tehachapi’s running back position will include a stable of options as well with Zack King, Andrew Blatt, Jake Smith and Rory Bishop all expected to see plenty of carries for the Warriors this season as Tehachapi continues to use the running game to control the pace of the game and the clock.
King will also see plenty of time on defense as will many of his teammates, an old-school iron-man approach with a roster of fewer than 40 players. This new reality and lessons learned from a season ago shaped the focus in off-season workouts and preseason practices.
“Everyone has to be ready to be called on both sides of the ball,” DeGeer said. “It really fits our style with what we’re trying to do tempo-wise; those guys have to be ready for it, their bodies have to be ready, they have to be mentally tough to handle it so we’re looking to incorporate that mentality into every aspect of our play this year.”
Weightlifting, durability, injury prevention and conditioning took priority during the preparation for this season. The Warriors not only will play a more up-tempo style of offense, but many will have to put in a similar effort on defense trying to stop teams that are doing the same.
“We set the tone and said that this is where we need to be because many of you won’t be coming off the field and you have to be ready to handle that,” DeGeer said. “We’ve had our good days and our bad days with that, but we hope it is going to band those kids together and help create that mentality that we’re looking to lean on this year.”
The Warriors open the 2019 season on the road at Wasco this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Tehachapi opens their home schedule on Aug. 30, hosting Bakersfield High School. It marks the first time the Warriors and Drillers have played in Tehachapi. That game will also kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Coy Burnett Stadium.