The South Rebels are preparing for a hard earned home playoff game following a year unlike any in the program's history. It all began this summer when the football team lost their head coach. John Wren passed suddenly in his sleep at just 44 years of age. The community of Bakersfield and his football team were devastated.
“It didn't seem right,” senior tight end Alex Kramer said, “it seemed like there was a big piece of the puzzle missing.”
“We all came together as a team,” quarterback Eddie Perez told 23ABC, “we bonded really well. We have taken it with us each game because we know that's what coach Wren would want.”
“They've had lots of adversity,” now coach Cary Mills explained, “more than most teams have.”
On the heels of a summer that no one should have to go through, the rebels launched into a season that no one could predict.
The motto for their season was “Win for Wren”. An emotional pregame to week one was followed by an opening season victory, and then another and another.
“That first game was emotional,” coach Mills said, “we had Highland. After that, we had momentum.”
“The kids were playing well,” defensive line coach Tyson Jones said, “they were hot. That's the thing, we kind of got on a roll.”
“We started winning more games and it just started clicking,” Kramer said, “we got into our 6 game win streak and everything was going great.”
“We slipped up against Ridgeview,” coach Mills explained of his teams’ first loss of the season, “that being said, they're a good team, league champs. Valley champs.”
“At times it was pressure,” Perez said, “ut when it ended, we thought, we can't expect to be perfect. No one is perfect, we have to get better every game so that when it comes to playoffs we can be perfect.”
The team that could have been excused for a less than successful season wound up with an 8-2 record, the home playoff game that eluded them for over a decade and a share of their first league title since 1995.
But the final chapter in the “Win for Wren” South season has yet to be written.
“All things considered,” coach Mills explained, “I think they've done pretty well. But we've got to understand that it's just another game toward our goal.”
“Now we want to win it,” coach Jones said, “win a game. It's been a while since we won a playoff game.”
“That's what we want,” Eddie Perez said 24 hours before kickoff, “that's what and that's what we know coach Wren would want. That's what we're capable of. We're capable of winning this whole thing and so it wouldn't be a success if it ended.”