In case you might not have realized this, Tehachapi High School football season is right around the corner, as in next week. The Warriors played an inter-squad scrimmage this past Saturday. They’ll get a chance to hit someone not wearing green this Friday when they scrimmage at South. Then they open the season when it counts on Friday, Aug. 17 against Wasco.
You’re probably thinking that seems early. Well, you’re right. You’re probably also thinking that next week is Mountain Festival. You’d be correct there as well. Now you’re trying to remember a time when there was a home football game on a Mountain Festival weekend. Let me save you the trouble. There has never been one.
The reason for all of this is the fact that the Warriors will be playing regular-season football earlier than they ever have. Prior to this, the Warriors played on an Aug. 24 a few seasons ago. Apart from that, most of the seasons always start in late August or September. This is going all the way back to the 1930s. So, this year’s Warriors will be making history just by simply stepping on the field next Friday night, Aug. 17 at Coy Burnett Stadium against Wasco.
How did this happen? Why is the season starting so early? The answer is the California Interscholastic Federation has decided that since they now host state championship games and those games are stretching into December, they needed to make better use of the month of August. So, voila, the season will start in mid-August. This alleviates scheduling and player conflicts with basketball season and a few other issues tied to state championships.
There are pros and cons to this. The Central Section CIF schools are certainly not happy. Many coaches in the Central Valley worry about heat and player safety when it comes to scheduling practices and games. While the Warriors take that into consideration, our hottest days don’t exceed 100 degrees like our San Joaquin neighbors, so most practices in the summer are uncomfortable but not unsafe.
We might see some games Tehachapi plays on the road delayed as well with junior varsity games often being pushed back on extremely hot nights in Bakersfield. That means the varsity teams get a late kickoff on those muggy evenings. You can pretty much count on the fact that the Warriors' Aug. 24 game at BHS will not start at 7:30 as scheduled. Expect a late night.
The biggest disadvantage to Tehachapi is the home schedule. The Warriors are home twice in August (17 and 31), twice in September (7 and 28) and twice in October (5 and 26). There will not be any home regular season games in November, and the CIF playoffs will start much earlier, meaning any potential home field weather advantage will most likely not be in effect until the later rounds unless we get a nice late October cold snap.
Don’t get me wrong. If this old broke-down slow-foot lineman was still playing, I’d be ecstatic. School starts on Aug. 15 and two days later they get to be under the lights. Most teams historically have had to wait a week or two for opening night. Not the case with the 2018 squads, so good for them.
For the fans, it might be a little tougher, especially opening night with so much happening for Mountain Festival. Once again, though, I see an opportunity. We know plenty of former Warriors who return home for Mountain Festival, and now they get a football game as an option — decent deal if you ask me. Some alumni only return once a year, so if it is possible to make this a regular thing, I say we can start a new tradition. How great would it be if the Mountain Festival Parade ended at noon just in time for a Saturday kickoff to open the football season? One can dream, I guess.
So just a reminder, football season is here, as in right now. Good news is the Warrior Booster Club nearly sold out of reserved green seats during the scrimmage and as long as the seat holders remember the season is already here, attendance shouldn’t be a problem. While we might lose the cold as a home field advantage, there’s always the Tehachapi people who can easily make that up in attendance and volume.
See you next week at Coy Burnett Stadium.
Corey Costelloe has covered the NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides and works in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.