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Warriors end season on a promising note

Xs and Arrows

Tehachapi Warriors football ended their season in the CIF Central Section Division IV playoffs in a second-round loss at metro-Fresno's Roosevelt High School. While the new computerized playoff seeding had some advantages for the Warriors, playing a school twice our size with three-times the number of players seemed a little out of order, but it is what it is.

The Warriors defeated their old rival Bishop 28-14 in the first round of the playoffs, ending the number two seeded Broncos season and taking an all-time series lead with the former league rival 25-24. It was a memorable night with four touchdowns scored in the final seven minutes. Tehachapi fans showed up, numbering nearly half the fans on the home side, and the Warriors showing true grit and determination to win their first playoff game in four years.

Tehachapi ended their season at 5-6 overall. Honestly a 6-6 season was most likely the result after an almost certainly winnable game against Ridgeview was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols coming out of the Wolfpack camp. As previously mentioned, the Warriors were playing two opponents every week this season: one they could scout on film and prepare for, while the other was the oftentimes nonsensical COVID-19 "exposure" protocols that sidelined players on a regular basis. There was no scouting report for this opponent and the rules from the higher-ups changed regularly – credit to first year head coach Kris Krempien and staff for managing this every week and still fielding a team.

As for Coach Krempien, he managed to take a team that was unable to play in 2020, was denied any spring practice time in 2021, and won more games than the 2018 and 2019 seasons combined. He also oversaw the program's 600th all-time win, and put our team back in the playoffs while reigniting the buzz around Tehachapi football. He did this with a sophomore-heavy squad, and while he is losing several key seniors, the experience his underclassmen received this season will pay off in the next few seasons to come.

"Reset" was the theme he adopted this season, after a couple of losing seasons and the 2020 cancelation, he needed to hit that figurative reset button and guide the program back on the right path. He and his coaching staff not only printed that on the back of t-shirts, but they managed to get the players to buy in and produce results in the face of unprecedented challenges. As a community member, fan, supporter and vice president of the Warrior Booster Club, I am proud of what these kids managed to pull off this season – they got us excited about Mountain Football once again and reaffirmed what it means to be a Warrior.

On that note, this team will go down in history as infamous Warriors, those that accomplished something while facing the challenge of COVID and the rules that came with it. Not since World War II have Tehachapi athletes dealt with such an overwhelming burden on their lives. They are in fact Warriors in every facet of the definition. These words from motivational speaker Dr. Billy Alsbrooks capture the perfect mindset of this team, this program and what it means to be a Tehachapi Warrior moving forward:

The flesh of the warrior is mortal and vulnerable with weaknesses but the mind and spirit inside of the champion is a savage force of undeniable will that is fierce and violent to anything that threatens its ambition. Scarred and wounded, the warrior is not deterred, he remains steadfast in unwavering faith to the God that lives within him. Alone he fights, blinded by darkness but still he moves forward, outflanking every maneuver that hell intends to conquer him with. He gets bolder and more aggressive with every step he takes toward greatness, sucker punched by life, knocked down to the mat several times, but he stretches for the ropes to climb out of the mouth of defeat.

Thank you 2021 Warriors for your fortitude. I cannot wait for 2022.

Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. He can be reached at [email protected]. Read more content at http://www.CostelloeMedia.com.