High expectations for THS Warriors
Xs and Arrows
December 3, 2022
The Tehachapi Warriors football season ended a couple of weeks ago, capping a remarkable campaign with a 10-2 record and a second-round appearance in the CIF Central Section Division III playoffs. The season included the Warriors winning the South Yosemite Mountain League Championship in the first season of the new league's existence. Tehachapi posted a perfect 4-0 mark during that league campaign bringing home the program's 31st league championship and the first outright title since 2011.
The season accolades are starting to roll in with running back AJ Anderson receiving "offensive player of the year" honors for the SYML and linebacker Wyatt Richie receiving the "defensive player of the year" award. Both young men made marks on the THS record books. Head coach Kris Krempien was named "Coach of the Year" by KGET TV-17 and their "Friday Football Xtra" show. My only issue with that show was their insistence on referring to Tehachapi as a "Cinderella" team all season. Maybe it is the fact that the hosts just flew in from a smaller TV market and into Kern County, but Tehachapi is far from a Cinderella story. That moniker is reserved for the squads that have never been to the pinnacle and may never see glory again. Not sure who needs to hear this, but the Tehachapi Warriors football program has more championships than some newer Kern County schools have wins. We have been doing this since 1930 and we have a stack of trophies to size of one of those wind turbines on the hill that says we ain't no "Cinderella," so maybe next year's script writers can put a little respect on our name when they throw it on the Teleprompter.
There were a few teams that did underestimate the Warriors this season and they left the game following a swift proverbial punch in the mouth and a new respect for Mountain Football. I do not recall Cinderella pulling that off in her fairytale story. Sure, we had a few down years in 2018 and 2019 with a combined three wins during that stretch, then the fateful COVID cancellation in 2020, but last season under Krempien they hit the reset button and went 5-6 with a second-round playoff appearance as well. This year the result was to be expected and with many of their impact players returning next season, the expectations are even higher. Again, we aren't a Cinderella program, our expectations include championships and playoff appearances. You can save that fairytale stuff for those with lesser expectations.
Our expectations are high, but they should also be reasonable. It is tough to explain to some supporters and fans who are used to bringing home CIF Championship trophies on a regular basis that the Central Section football landscape has changed. Tehachapi for the most part will always be in playoff divisions against large metro Bakersfield and Fresno schools. That's not to say we cannot compete, we just have to realize that level of competition requires a special group of kids to reach the penultimate level of success, and it is not getting any easier. We grow slowly into these new surroundings but have done so while gaining a new respect and understanding of our competition. We will meet those requirements as we mature as a program.
Factor in an unbeaten junior varsity season which also included a league championship and Tehachapi has the makings for something special in 2023. We have been able to maximize the impact of a very supportive community and a group of parents that have a vested interest in the success of this program and what it brings to the community. While our facility issues continue to be one of concern, there is some progress on the horizon for repairs and potential improvements to the game day experience. I know yours truly will be spending much of the football off-season as the squeaky wheel with the intention of opening night 2023 being much better than this year's.
There were some bumps, there were some letdowns, but I believe most everyone in the community was happy with this year's football resurgence and the impact it had in our community. While we cannot agree on everything, we can agree the Warriors are our football team, and we are happy Mountain Football is once again putting a respectable product on the field and causing fits for opponents from one side of the Central Section to the other.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter, broadcaster and athletics administrator. He advocates for the value of athletic competition and serves as the President of the Tehachapi Warriors Booster Club. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.