Bullard High has an upset victory over top-ranked Edison, a County/Metro Athletic Conference championship, a six-game winning streak when you really want one -- in November -- and is the focus of a burning question:
Where to seed the Knights for the Central Section Division I playoffs?
They made life a bit more difficult for section commissioner Jim Crichlow and his five-man seeding committee after stuffing previously unbeaten Edison 24-14 Friday night before a near-capacity crowd of more than 5,000 at Sunnyside Stadium.
Isaiah Justice did it all as a quarterback, safety and punter as No. 8 Bullard (9-1, 5-0) turned the tables on the committee, which had a pretty obvious 1-2-3 in Edison, Bakersfield and Liberty-Bakersfield before Friday night.
Before Bullard denied a 9-0 Tigers team that was also No. 12 in the state -- and had been a state bowl contender. No more.
Also, before No. 7 Clovis throttled No. 4 Clovis West 28-0 at Lamonica Stadium.
Clovis West, you say?
The team that beat Bullard 27-14 nearly two months ago?
The team that tied for third in the Tri-River Athletic Conference?
How Crichlow's boys treat that Knights loss remains to be seen.
Chances are, the D-I seeding now will go: 1, Bakersfield; 2, Liberty-Bakersfield; 3, Central; 4, Clovis North; and, 5, Bullard.
Clovis North (8-2, 4-1) and Central (7-3, 4-1) shared the TRAC title, but the Grizzlies won 30-14 head-to-head.
Does Bullard's outright CMAC crown trump that?
What's known for certain is this: The Knights have one of the section's elite players in Justice. The senior ran for a touchdown and passed for two more, part of a remarkable season that has seen him account for 2,408 total yards and 35 scores.
It was his 38-yard TD pass to Jackson Ahart that gave Bullard a 21-14 lead with 1 minute and 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
But he had help -- acrobatically -- from Ahart, who secured the ball with a twisting, tumbling effort in the end zone.
The Knights then closed the scoring on Emil Tilghman's 29-yard field goal with 7:15 remaining.
And he also had help -- athletically -- from Zac Barnard, who extended to snag a high snap before placing the ball properly to give Tilghman a chance.
Bullard's Dejonte Oneal rushed for 122 yards and Trelani Johnson added 70.
And, finally, not to be forgotten was Bullard's defense, which stoned an Edison offense that had been averaging 36.8 points a game. And it all began up front with lineman Josh King.
Edison supported its section and state rankings for the first 3:30 of the game -- that's it.
That's how long it took the Tigers to march 76 yards in 10 plays following the opening kickoff, with Blake Wright mashing 2 yards up the middle for the score on a night he would rush for 149 yards. Carlos Tapetillo's kick made it 7-0.
Bullard, confident for a month that it could win this game, made a statement by answering with an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
It was launched with Oneal's 16-yard dash and closed with a 12-yard scamper to the left corner of the end zone by Justice. Tilghman's kick tied it, 7-7, with 5:33 left in the first quarter and one had to wonder: Would this follow the path of the 2011 epic CMAC showcase won 52-50 by Edison.
It wouldn't, primarily because Bullard's defense held the Tigers to 61 yards for the rest of the half.
One play after Justice's TD, Edison running back Khai Williams fumbled on his first carry of the game, and Knights lineman Josh Newman recovered.
Normally wearing jersey No. 28, Newman on this night borrowed the No. 55 of Troy Murphy, a 2012 Bee All-Star and CMAC Outstanding Lineman, who missed his second straight game with a knee injury. His status for the playoffs is uncertain.
Bullard converted on the turnover, methodically driving 52 yards in 10 plays, with Justice, on a play-action fake, connecting with tight end Darian Duchett for a 2-yard TD pass on fourth-and-2 and a 14-7 lead with 2:34 remaining in the first quarter.
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