Potato Bowl bid on the line for ‘Gades in Saturday season finale

Leanne Cave

Everything is on the line for the Bakersfield College Renegades. Winning this Saturday is the only way that BC can stay in contention for a Potato Bowl invitation. A Potato Bowl victory would secure a state championship berth.

But when the ‘Gades step on the field of Memorial Stadium Saturday to take on the Santa Barbara Vaqueros, the team may resemble a bunch of war veterans to the BC fans. The ‘Gades have suffered injuries to key players while on the road the last two weeks.

The road trips proved to be costly to the ‘Gades in the injury column as well as in the win-loss column. The Owls of Citrus squeezed out a one-point win over BC by blocking a point after touchdown try that would have given the ‘Gades an edge in the conference standings over Glendale College.

BC did manage to come home with a 21-16 come from behind victory over the Vaqueros of Glendale, so BC and Glendale are now tied for the Western State Conference, Mountain Division lead.

If BC wins and Glendale loses, the ‘Gades will most likely receive the bid to the Potato Bowl. If they both win their last games, BC would still receive the bid because they beat the Vaqueros in head-to head competition.

This means a win against Santa Barbara is crucial if the ‘Gades hope to compete in postseason games. And the contest with Santa Barbara won’t be easy.

According to Santa Barbara head coach Carmen Dipoalo, the Vaqueros prepare all season for the game with BC.

“This is like our Super Bowl,” Dipoalo said. “It affects our pride. This is what we talk about all season long, playing a team like Bakersfield, who has class and tradition on their side. It’s always a pleasure to play against one of the best programs in the country in a place like Memorial Stadium.”

Even though a few of the injured will play for BC, starting players Robert Thomas, Russell Handy on offense and defensive back Randy Jordan will be missing in action for the final home game of the season.

The 14-13 overtime loss to Citrus College on Nov. 3, along with the high number of injuries, has left a sour taste in the mouth of head football coach Dallas Grider.

“Injuries do play a roll in key games,” he said. “These are tangibles that you have to deal with during the season.”

Since the ‘Gades have not captured the conference title outright, the outcome of the Santa Barbara game will affect the Commission on Athletics poll Sunday, which will decide who the Kern County Shriners will invite.

“It looks like they have a good chance,” said Ned Driggers, of the shrine club. “It depends on the final COA Poll which comes out Sunday. Having Bakersfield College in the Potato Bowl is a plus because the ‘Gades draw great community support, which in return is a bigger donation to the children in the hospital.”