‘Gades go for gold in Potato Bowl

Leanne Cave

The Bakersfield College Renegades will host the Antelope Valley Marauders in the 50th Annual Invitational Shrine Potato Bowl on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The ‘Gades have participated in 25 previous Spud Bowls and have recorded 16 victories.

“This is a prime sporting event,” said Frank Blua, assistant coach for the Marauders. “I would like to acknowledge the Kern County Shrine Club for all the work they do. It’s legendary.”

While both teams are hoping to notch a victory in the record books, the true victors will be the children at the Los Angeles Shriners Hospital. The proceeds from the game provide free medical care to children who are in need of attention.

Monica Hernandez, who is the 2001 Potato Bowl queen, has had 15 surgeries through the Shriners.

“Without the help of the Shriners, I wouldn’t be able to walk,” Hernandez said. “I have met a lot of nice people.”

Even though the winning team receives a trophy and the glory, coaches and players from both teams agree that it is the children who inspire and make the game worthwhile.

BC assistant coach Scott Douglas said that a tour of a Shriners Hospital had an impact on his life.

“I played in the 1979 Potato Bowl. I hope the players have an appreciation for what the Shriners have put into this,” he said. “It is tradition to play in the Shrine Potato Bowl and it is our top goal every year. Antelope Valley will be a very formidable opponent. But in the end it’s the children who benefit.”

The Kern County Shrine Club is one of the most active as far as locating patients to take down to the Los Angeles Shriners Hospital for Children, said Shrine Club member Ned Driggers.

“We locate about 75 patients a year to take to the hospital,” Driggers said.

BC’s strong safety James McGill, who earned Western State Conference Mountain Division Player of the Year and JC Grid-Wire’s junior college All-American football team, said playing in a game of this magnitude in front of the hometown fans makes it fun.

“It’s fun to put on a show for the kids,” McGill said.

This Potato Bowl promises to be exciting, as the Marauders will bring an explosive offense to the table. The BC defense will have to step up and play stellar defense against a team that has broken 24 school records this season.

The Marauders also will field an awesome “D” with impressive secondary players such as Jaime Manor and Anthony Diggs.

Manor, safety, said the game will be an exciting experience for the Marauder players.

“It’s one of the biggest games and we are liking the excitement that surrounds it,” he said. “We have to be ready and hit ’em hard. It should be a good game.”

Pre-game activities begin Saturday at 12:15 p.m. Tickets are $12.00 and can be purchased at the gate. Proceeds from the Potato Bowl are presented to the Los Angeles Shriners Hospital which are then put into an Investment Program which disburses money to 22 hospitals and burns centers across the country.