Casey Taylor is weary, par for the course when your football season stretches into a 16th week.
But the tank isn’t close to empty for the veteran Del Oro High School football coach with the finish line and winner’s circle so tantalizingly close.
“I still have a lot of energy,” Taylor said Monday. “We can go another week. No complaints here. We’re excited. We met as a staff Sunday to prepare for our biggest game, and knowing it’s our last week makes it even more exciting.”
Taylor spoke from Carson, where five CIF State Championship Bowl games will be played this weekend at the StubHub Center. The Friday night marquee game features Del Oro (13-2) against Bakersfield (12-2) for the Division I title.
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This is Del Oro’s second CIF bowl trip in three seasons, and it is the sixth consecutive season the Sacramento region has sent a team to a state bowl, following Grant (2008), Rocklin (2009), Folsom (2010), Del Oro (2011) and Granite Bay (2012).
Taylor, Del Oro athletic director Justin Cutts and principal Dan Gayaldo toured the StubHub facility – the field and locker rooms – and returned to Placer County on Monday afternoon. They also talked about the challenge of competing against Bakersfield, which won six state championships in the 1920s before the CIF stopped state playoffs. They returned in 2006 after a 79-year layoff.
Bakersfield has won a state-record 36 section championships, including four in the past nine years under coach Paul Golla.
Del Oro has won 12 consecutive games since losing to four-time defending state Open champion De La Salle. Bakersfield has won 10 in a row since falling to Long Beach Poly. Bakersfield has rushed for 4,489 yards out of its triple-option attack, including 1,647 and 29 touchdowns from Nevada-bound quarterback Asauni Rufus.
Del Oro is balanced behind running back Dylan Kainrath and quarterback Michael Moore. The Golden Eagles topped Serra of San Mateo 28-20 to win the NorCal D-I Regional to improve its postseason mark to 5-0 this season.
“(Del Oro is) a fantastic football team,” Golla told the Bakersfield Californian. “They’re as good as anyone we’ve seen.”
Said Taylor of Bakersfield: “They’re very good, very athletic, very scary. Defensively, they have no defensive linemen with their hands in the dirt. They run and attack. It’s something new. If we tackle well and take care of the ball, we’ll have a chance.”
• Folsom slipped three spots to No. 6 in Cal-Hi Sports’ state rankings, though the Bulldogs remain No. 2 in Northern California. Folsom (14-1) lost to state No. 1 De La Salle 45-17 in the NorCal Open game. Del Oro is ranked No. 11 in the state, a spot behind Bakersfield.
• Saturday’s CIF Open game pits De La Salle (14-0) against state No. 2 St. John Bosco of Bellflower (15-0). That contest could feature as many as 20 Division I scholarship players. De La Salle seeks its sixth title in the eight years the CIF has held this event.
• Enterprise of Redding is the second Northern Section team to make a CIF Bowl (Hamilton of Hamilton City went in 2008) after beating Manteca 27-21 in the D-II NorCal Regional.
DEL ORO (13-2) VS. BAKERSFIELD (12-2)
• What: CIF State Division I Bowl game
• When: Friday, 8 p.m.
• Where: StubHub Center, Carson
• TV: CSNBA
• Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for high school students (with valid ASB card), seniors and children; available at ticketmaster.com
OTHER CIF STATE BOWLS
All games at StubHub Center,
• Open: De La Salle (14-0)
vs. St. John Bosco (15-0),
Saturday, 8 p.m.
• Division II: Enterprise (13-0) vs. Chaminade (13-2),
Saturday, 4 p.m.
• Division III: Sacred Heart Prep (13-1) vs. Corona del Mar (15-0), Saturday, noon
• Division IV: Central Catholic (14-1) vs. Bakersfield Christian (12-2), Friday, 4 p.m.