As the football season inches closer with each passing day, the anticipation around Bakersfield College also begins to grow.
Last season, the Renegades finished with a 5-5 record and this upcoming season the schedule doesn’t get any easier.
“We’re facing two playoff teams right off the bat,” said head coach Jeff Chudy.
“It’s a great schedule and arguably, this is as strong a schedule as anyone.”
The Renegades have a brutal start to the schedule. Three of the first five opponents that BC faces – Riverside, Golden West and Canyons – were state playoff qualifiers from Southern California just a year ago and overall BC faces six teams that qualified for the postseason.
To better prepare his players for the start on the season, Chudy and the football team have been conditioning every morning Monday through Friday with Wednesday an off day.
“There’s a commitment level, we start at 6:30 a.m., were not easing into it. When 6:30 a.m. hits were rolling,” Chudy said.
“It’s a test for who’s committed, who’s not and who the guys can count on. It really helps with the team chemistry as well.”
Players aren’t allowed to practice in full gear until Aug. 16, so conditioning is more about keeping players in shape and adding muscle before full-padded practices start.
“As coaches collectively were happy with the commitment level shown. Players are working hard, putting muscle on, getting fit and that’s good. We’re happy with what we’re seeing,” Chudy said.
After losing about 60 percent of his team due to transfer or graduation, Chudy knows that there are areas on both sides of the ball that need work.
On the offensive side of the ball, Chudy says that the quarterback position is a wide-open competitive battle.
The wide receiver position is one main area that the coach believes needs work before the start of the season.
Protecting the quarterback is the offensive line and with the incoming freshman class and the players returning, Chudy feels comfortable about how the line will shape up.
The running back position is considered to be solid by the coach.
On defense, there is some experience with the returning players.
Last season in the secondary, some players were lost due to injuries. Now that those players have recovered, they are the ones the coach will look for to pick up the pace and provide leadership for the freshman.
Both the kicker and punter are returning for special teams, which should provide some stability in the kicking game for the Renegades, which helps give Chudy some relief.
“It’s a huge advantage, to have experienced guys in those areas. Those little things might tip the balance of the scale as to who is on the winning side at the end,” he said.
After conditioning ends and when full practices start, that’s when player roles will begin to fall in place. That’s when Chudy and his assistant coaches can start teaching the players how to reach the high bars that have been set for them.
“We have a high standard we expect, the bar is extremely high and we have a lot of traditions and history in this program that we have to live up to. It’s important who we are and where we come from,” Chudy said.
The same high bar can be said of the playing surface at Memorial Stadium.
Currently there is talk to renovate the playing surface, which has really bad soil underneath the playing field and is causing the grass to die.
Community members are working with the college and it looks like the field should be renovated before the first home game in September.
With over three months to go before opening night, both the football team and playing surface have plenty of time to fix those areas of concern.
After the final rosters are submitted and once the football team is ready to play, Chudy knows one thing for sure.
“It says Bakersfield College on our chest,” he said. “We’re not playing for ourselves, we’re playing for our community as well.”