“It’s like the kids like to say, their language, we just ‘grinded,’” Macy said after his team beat host Bakersfield Christian 31-7 on Saturday for the CIF Division 4AA state title. “They were just grinding away.”
Jacob Westphal passed for 188 yards and two touchdowns, John Torchio intercepted two passes and caught another for a touchdown and the Cougars (12-3) forced four Bakersfield Christian turnovers.
Three of those takeaways came in the second half, when Campolindo out-scored the Eagles 21-0.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s awesome. It’s once in a lifetime,” said Torchio, who was a freshman when the Cougars won the CIF Division III state title in 2014.
“That is a great football team,” said BCHS coach Darren Carr, older brother of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. “Their first snap looks like their last snap. They went out there and took advantage of our fumbles, our interceptions, man. They didn’t shoot themselves in the foot. They kicked our butt.”
Torchio was key for a Campolindo defense that held a vaunted Bakersfield Christian passing attack in check. BCHS quarterback Braden Wingle entered with more than 4,000 passing yards but was just 11 of 22 for 155 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. His top target, 1,600-yard receiver Jeremiah Foster, was held to two catches for 36 yards.
“We knew they passed the ball really well, and we worked all week on covering the pass,” Torchio said. “Coach Macy, his game-planning is ridiculous.”
Macy’s top priority was to get pressure on Wingle, which the Cougars had noticed on film led to the quarterback dropping his eyes. To that end, a defensive end crew led by Joey Berzins forced Wingle to scramble all night and sacked him three times.
“We didn’t think we could run with them, so we knew we’d have to bring pressure on them, and the kids off the edge did enough,” said Macy, who also mentioned Jonathan Cirelli and Justin Ehrenberger as key pass rushers.
Bakersfield Christian (13-2) also helped the Cougars’ cause. The Eagles’ Brock Holloway rushed for 95 yards but also lost a fumble on the team’s first offensive play. Campolindo didn’t directly capitalize, but the turnover flipped field position and led to the game’s first touchdown on the next drive, a 4-yard pass from Westphal to Kannah Cruickshank.
BCHS also missed a field goal, ended another drive with a bad snap, fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half and threw two late interceptions.
Each time, Campolindo was there to pounce.
“We all felt this was the football gods saying it was our chance,” Berzins said. “We needed to capitalize, and we did.”
By the time Matthew Ringquist ran for a 36-yard touchdown deep into the fourth quarter, it was all over but the celebrating.
The Cougars gathered as one for a photo, fitting for a team that lost several key players from last year’s roster but still returned to a state championship — and this time emerged victorious.
“We’re sort of an unknown story all year,” Macy said. “We sort of liked it that way. This was a team that just didn’t have marquee names. If you look at us, we’re small linemen, just kind of a small team. Joey Berzins stands out, but other than that we’re just kind of anonymous. We just compete, we fight.
“This game is emblematic of what they’ve been about all year, so maybe it’s the perfect ending.”
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