By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
To hear Asauni Rufus tell it, the entire Bakersfield High School football team was responsible for the team’s success this year — success that culminated in a CIF state Division I championship last month.
The Drillers’ senior quarterback, honored this week as BVarsity All-Area Football Player of the Year, said “everyone deserves credit” during his appearance Monday on “First Look with Scott Cox.”
It seems clear Rufus believes it. The entire team trains together, sweats together, “bleeds” together, he said.
Californian Executive Editor Robert Price told Rufus that one of the coaches informed him this weekend that Rufus brought more than mere athleticism to the team: He had a way of making everyone feel like they were vital to the team’s success, no matter how much playing they saw.
Rufus realizes that the state title has brought him a measure of local fame. Asked about his recognizability, he confessed that he’s walked through the mall or gone to the movies and heard people whisper, “that’s him.”
Rufus plans to sign with Nevada on Feb. 5 and play for the Wolfpack. Like many gifted young athletes, he has his sights on the NFL — but he’s also planning to study mechanical engineering.
He said his father works for Chevron and was a Driller too — a quarterback who, like Asauni, wore No. 4. Of BHS Coach Paul Golla, Rufus said, “He’s pretty much taught me how to be a leader on the field,” adding that his mom and dad have taught him how to be a leader off the field.
Rufus said his reaction time in the pocket has improved over his years of playing football.
“I try to soak it in and do the best that I can,” Rufus said.
At Nevada, Rufus plans to play safety. Price raised a point that even his college coaches will have to consider: After completing 22 of 25 passes in three playoff games, with four touchdowns and no interceptions (in addition to equally dominating numbers as a runner) shouldn’t he be a candidate for quarterback when he gets to Reno?
“They want me to play safety, that’s what I’ll play,” Rufus said. He noted he played safety for several games his sophomore year.
Simulcast host Scott Cox noted that it’s beneficial for a safety to have played quarterback because they’re more likely to how quarterbacks think.
Price asked Rufus what he was thinking as he went into the Drillers’ second round playoff game against San Marcos-Mission Hills. Rufus said BHS didn’t know a lot about them, so the team focused what it does best, no matter who the opponent — and knew that if they did what they were trained to do, they’d be fine.
Both hosts seemed to come away impressed.
Cox said, “I’m telling you right now. This kid is going to do just fine in whatever he wants to do.”
The Drillers will be hard pressed to repeat as state champs, but Rufus said to expect another speedy and talented team.