By The Bakersfield Californian
Stockdale High didn't have a dominant golfer this season, just a bunch of good players.
That's all the Mustangs needed to win a Central Section title.
Jim Keene, in his 10th and final season as the Mustangs' coach, is The Californian's Boys Golf Coach of the Year after leading Stockdale to its fourth section title during his tenure.
It was all about depth from players 1-7, Keene said. No player's stroke average was below 76 and none higher than 81. "There were times when we had some low rounds -- 71, 72, 73 -- and we played seven guys all year long," Keene said. "Any one of those seven could finish in the 6 spot or the 1 spot. Many times my 6 man had the low score."
Stockdale lost only once this season, to Clovis West in the Mustangs' invitational tourney early in the season.
"We knew Clovis West would be our competition," he said. "When they beat us at our own invitational, it was a motivation factor for our kids. They didn't like that. They didn't perform at their highest level that day. It was a wake-up call for them."
At the section meet at Porterville's River Island Golf Club, Stockdale beat Clovis West by five strokes.
"Five of my seven were seniors," Keene said. "They were all returners. We knew we had a chance. We liked our chances.
"Right off the bat this season they talked about winning the Valley championship and we started talking about what it takes to do that.
"We made extra trips to River Island. Before we won Area we had gone up there (to practice). That golf course is tricky. You can have a great season, but if you're not prepared and you play a course like that, it can wipe you out."
Keene added: "We had a bunch of guys who worked hard and bought into the team concept and rose to the occasion. The tougher the competition, the better they played."
Keene has taken over as Stockdale's athletic director. Former baseball coach Dan Lemon is Keene's successor as boys golf coach.
"Building character is what this is all about," Keene said. "Teaching them some life lessons through enjoying the game of golf.
"I've had a great time and have had super, super players. I've made great friends for life."
-- JEFF EVANS