Paul Golla doesn't want to hear it, but it's indisputable: In Central Section Division I football -- again -- it's Bakersfield High in the penthouse and everyone else several floors below.
"A lot of people say that, but I don't," the Drillers' eight-year coach says.
Interesting. Let's examine.
--Bakersfield, starting seven sophomores and a freshman, closed a 13-0 season in 2011 with a 38-3 pummeling of Bullard for the section Division I title -- the Drillers' state-record 35th.
--They've started this season 2-0 with a combined 92-46 score against teams -- Ventura and Cactus of Glendale, Ariz. -- that went 22-3 in 2011.
--Top-ranked in the section and No. 5 in the state, Bakersfield is starting only six seniors.
"It's always scary to listen to where everybody says you are as opposed to where you want to be," Golla says. "And, for us, we're not where we want to be; we're not there yet. Too many turnovers; too many penalties. We've got to clean it up."
Maybe, but understand, Golla's a different cat.
Every game -- from 100 degrees in August to 40 in December -- he wears shorts.
Not a Drillers defender begins a play with his hand in the dirt; nary a three-point stance.
And players on the sideline bounce like a masse pogo-stick exhibition.
All this in the latest chapter of the state's winningest all-time program.
"It's the Drillers, man, it's tradition," Bullard coach Donnie Arax says.
Clearly, it's not going away, given this team's exceptional youth.
Junior quarterback Asauni Rufus, in a seamless replacement of Chris Hannible -- the 2011 Bakersfield Californian Player of the Year -- has the option offense averaging 539 yards, including 462 rushing.
A slew of running backs have motored behind an offensive line that, Golla allows, has been "fantastic."
And, defensively, it begins with Shaq Garrett, a 6-foot, 265-pound senior nose guard.
"He's as dominating a player we've had since I've been here," says Golla, 74-17 (.813) with three section titles.
Mighty words at 1241 G Street in the heart of Bakersfield.
"Yes," Golla says, "huge words for our program."
One of the state's prized prep cathedrals, Griffith Stadium, promises to be rocking Friday, when an overflow crowd of around 7,000 is expected to arrive at the 89-year-old venue for the Drillers' intracity blowout with the section's No. 5 Garces.
The Drillers will follow that one by visiting Long Beach Poly on Sept. 14 in one of the state's most highly anticipated games in years. Poly ranks second to Bakersfield in state career wins.
And to follow that will be a trip to Clovis for an intrasection biggie against Buchanan at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
This is all part of a Drillers road map to the state Open Division bowl championship.
"That," Golla says, "is the ultimate goal."