By Jeff Evans
It will be a prep football fan’s dream:
Four programs with big aspirations for 2013 opening their seasons at the same venue in a single-admission doubleheader.
The Kern High School District and Bakersfield College on Friday jointly announced the return of high school football to BC’s Memorial Stadium on Aug. 29.
The doubleheader begins at 6 p.m. when Ridgeview (8-6 last season) faces Frontier (4-6), followed at 8:30 p.m. by Bakersfield High (13-2, Div. I state champion) facing Westlake Village-Oaks Christian (8-3) in a rematch of last year’s season-opener in the L.A. area won by Oaks Christian 51-50.
The Ridgeview-Frontier game is also a rematch of last season’s opener, won by Frontier 42-21.
“What a great opportunity,” BHS coach Paul Golla said at a press conference in Memorial Stadium announcing the two games. “Hopefully the city will come out and embrace this.”
“It’s just a great opportunity and obviously the doubleheader factor of it adds to it, too,” said Frontier coach Rich Cornford. “You want to give your kids the best experience possible. We’re playing a great football team. Let’s let as many people see that as possible.”
Ridgeview coach Dennis Manning knows all about playing at Memorial Stadium. He was on BC’s 1982 and 1983 teams.
“It’s a great place to play and for me, it brings back great memories,” Manning said. “Coach (Gerry) Collis and (Duane) Damron and all those guys who are legends at Bakersfield College. It’s going to be a great night.”
The doubleheader will be the first high school games played at BC since Oct. 6, 2006, when West — which was coached by Cornford that season — beat Ridgeview 61-27 behind seven touchdowns and 374 rushing yards by current San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews.
Stan Greene, who was BC’s starting quarterback in 1987 and 1988, said talks to return high school football to Memorial Stadium began three years ago after he was contacted by then-BC athletic director Ryan Beckwith.
Greene is the KHSD’s director of school support services and oversees all district athletics and activities.
“Ryan Beckwith and I started talking about the concept,” Greene said. “Like anything, you have to plan it out and spend a lot of time on it. The devil’s in the details on this type of stuff.”
Greene said talks intensified last spring when he was invited to a meeting with BC head coach Jeff Chudy, interim athletic director Sandi Taylor and Zav Dadabhoy, BC’s vice president of student affairs.
“We met in May and we’ve worked throughout the summer,” Greene said. “There were a lot of hurdles to overcome. ... It was touch and go many times but it was a very good collaborative team effort to make this happen.”
Greene said Kern Schools Federal Credit Union has agreed to sponsor the doubleheader. “And that helped the Kern High School District tremendously,” he said.
The KHSD will not receiver any concessions revenue but will receive ticket revenue. Tickets will be $10 for adults and $5 for students.
The KHSD will also pay “fair rental” to BC that Greene estimated will fall between $5,000 and $10,000, depending on the number of tickets sold.
BC officials would like additional high school football games in Memorial Stadium. Greene said whether that happens depends on the success of the Aug. 29 event.
“If we have 5,000 people, we probably won’t do it again,” Greene said. “Seven thousand? We’re getting there. Anything above 7,000 would be a great thing.
“You know this stadium. If you don’t have more than 5,000 people it’s not that packed.”
Bakersfield and Frontier are losing true home games, but both programs are OK with that, Golla and Cornford said.
“That doesn’t bother me at all,” Cornford said. “Anytime, anyplace, right?”
Said Golla: “I don’t think it’s neutral. We’re still in Bakersfield and not just in Bakersfield but in a beautiful Bakersfield landmark.
“This is a special place and for us to be able to come up and play in a facility like this is fun.”
Moving the doubleheader to Saturday to avoid conflicts with other high school football openers was not seriously considered.
“My OC’s (offensive coordinator Mike Lewis) anniversary is that Saturday so that was respectfully out of the question,” Cornford said.
“We never really talked about Saturday,” Golla said. “I like it on Friday, because if we play it (Saturday), Sunday we’ve got to break down film. We lose a day of film breaking. ... A Saturday game high school-wise is not the best.”
Manning said he would be more agreeable to a Saturday game in this instance than if it was later in the season.
“I would’ve been OK with Saturday because it’s still preseason,” Manning said. “Now if you’re in league or postseason, it’s a little bit different. But that’s out of my circle of control.”
Greene said: “Everyone had to make some concessions. ‘I’m going to give up a little bit here, I’m going to give up a little bit there. I don’t want to play on Saturday but I will play on Friday. I don’t want to play on Thursday but I will play on Friday.’
“We were able to come to something that was agreeable to all parties involved.”