Thursday, Dec 12 2013 11:24 PM

Few similarities between Bakersfield, Mission Hills

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    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Bakersfield junior running back Lameshio Hill celebrates the Driller victory over Clovis North on the sideline as the game ends.

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    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    BHS quarterback Asauni Rufus races for a Driller first down on a keeper in the Central Section Division I Championship game against Clovis North. BHS won 60-21.

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    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Kevin Hayes of BHS and Clovis North defensive back Arnold Lopez go for a fourth quarter pass which would fall incomplete.

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer

Both Bakersfield High and Mission Hills will presumably wear helmets and pads and use 11 players at a time in tonight's CIF Southern California Division I regional bowl game.

Past that, finding similarities will be tough when the game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Mission Hills and on Brighthouse Channel 11.

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Brighthouse Networks will air live coverage of the Bakersfield-Mission Hills game at 7:30 tonight on Channel 11. The game originally was only to be broadcast live on SoCal 101, a channel only available in Time Warner Cable's Southern California markets.

Neither of tonight's local games is available live if your provider is DirecTV, Dish Network or AT&T UVerse. Both will air on tape delay on Time Warner Cable SportsNet (the Lakers channel): View Park-Bakersfield Christian game will air at 9 a.m. Saturday, and Bakersfield-Mission Hills airs at 6 p.m. Sunday.

-- Mission Hills is a 10-year old school that just won its first section title, a 36-14 rout of rival Oceanside in the San Diego Section Open Division final at Qualcomm Stadium. Bakersfield is a 120-year old school that has a state-record 36 section titles, including a 60-21 throttling of Clovis North in last week's D-I section final.

"We have kind of changed the DNA of this program," Mission Hills coach Chris Hauser said. "We don't have that 100-year history. Winning a (section) championship was kind of our prize."

-- Bakersfield (11-2) runs an option offense with dual-threat quarterback Asauni Rufus and a hyperactive 3-3-5 defense that thrives behind no-name players. Mission Hills (12-1) is more traditional, running a pro-style offense and a defense with three big-time recruits: Senior linebackers Fred Warner (committed to BYU) and Ricky Liuchan (Oregon State) and junior cornerback Dechaun Holiday.

"They have guys that fly around and make plays," Rufus said.

-- And even motivation appears to be on a different scale: Bakersfield's players say that as soon as they found out they had a chance at the school's seventh state title (but first since 1927, after which the state didn't crown another champ for 79 years), their focus shifted.

"In many ways, this is more important than Valley," Rufus said. "We're trying to do something no BHS team has done in more than 80 years."

Meanwhile, it has been a full 11 days since Mission Hills won its section title.

"Time went by, and all of a sudden, we've got to turn the volume back up," Hauser said. "It's a little more challenging to get geeked up again."

At stake is a berth in the Division I state bowl championship next Friday.

"This 2013 team isn't the only team that got us to this point," said Golla, who started at BHS in 2005. "It started with (section champions) in 2005, 2007, 2011. Our school has a great name for ourselves. Now we get the opportunity to be in this thing."

Bakersfield could play its state championship game next Friday immediately after Bakersfield Christian. The Eagles (11-2) play L.A.-View Park Prep (12-0) at 7:30 tonight at Centennial.

"We're really looking forward to it," BCHS receiver Josh Jackson said. "It's definitely a blessing and a great opportunity to show California what we can do."

BCHS got here by erasing a 20-0 deficit at Mission Oak and winning 35-34 last week in the Division IV Central Section final. Now, a team that started 0-2 is two wins shy of a small-school state title.

"If we win, we're champions of all of Southern California," BCHS coach Jerald Pierucci said. "I say that, and I kind of have to giggle."

View Park is undefeated against a soft schedule that includes just four teams with winning records.

But the Knights do boast athletes. Cameron Griffin, a whirlwind running back/linebacker verbally committed to UCLA, has averaged more than 10 yards per carry on offense, and his defensive numbers are astounding: 146 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 3 interceptions (2 returned for touchdowns), 2 fumble recoveries, 3 forced fumbles and a blocked punt.

"We're not sure what we're going to get because they're undefeated, but we don't know who they've played," Pierucci said. "But those athletes -- it's scary, no matter what."

This is the eighth year of the CIF bowl system. No local team was selected until this year. Now there are two. And the magnitude of the moment isn't lost on the Eagles and Drillers.

"Bakersfield Christian is behind us, we're behind them, and everybody is behind both of us," BHS senior Kevin Hayes said. "We love that."

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