Mission Hills assistant Coach Thomas Altieri celebrates with his players.
Thomas Altieri, offensive line coach at Mission Hills, looked at film of the Bakersfield High defense and gasped.
"I'd never seen anything like it," said Altieri, a first-team All-CIF player at Vista and a starting center for three years at Arizona State. "I didn't know what I was watching."
What Altieri and the Mission Hills coaches saw was a Drillers defense that runs a modified, Rocky Long, San Diego State, 3-3-5 defense. But none of the front six defenders play with a hand in the dirt.
That film kept the Grizzlies coaches up late Sunday and Monday night, "but we've put together a plan that I feel pretty good about," Altieri said.
Bakersfield (11-2), the Central Section Division I champion, meets Mission Hills (12-1), the San Diego Section Open Division champion in the Southern California Division I Regional playoff game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Mission Hills.
"Everything we do is based on quickness," said Bakersfield coach Paul Golla. "The Mission Hills quarterback (Connor Wynn) is fantastic. He throws a beautiful ball, and he's accurate.
"Plus, they do a great job with their power running game."
Bakersfield, one of the winningest programs in the state with more than 700 victories, has won nine games in a row.
The Drillers raced through their section playoffs, outscoring three opponents 149-48, playing with a running clock all three games, beating Clovis North 60-21 in the title game.
The only losses were 51-50 to Oaks Christian and 27-7 to Long Beach Poly, teams that were able to match the Drillers' quickness.
"Defensively, what they run is nothing we've seen," said Mission Hills head coach Chris Hauser. "They run through the gaps and get after the passer.
"But we've had success protecting the passer.
"Offensively, they run a high-powered option. San Pasqual runs the option, but what Bakersfield runs is nothing like San Pasqual."
Golla described the Drillers offense as a flexbone, similar to what Air Force and Navy run.
It features a triple option with a quarterback, fullback, two slots and two wide receivers.
Quarterback Asauni Rufus, who has committed to Nevada as a defensive back, leads the offense.
He has completed 77-of-117 passes for 1,280 yards and 10 touchdowns with only one interception.
He's also the team's leading rusher with 190 carries for 1,568 yards and 28 TDs. He averages 8.25 yards per rush.
"This offense suits our personnel," said Golla, who has won four Central Section titles in nine seasons at Bakersfield. "We're a smaller team, so we want to play fast."
Bakersfield's offensive tackles weight about 200 pounds, the guards are 220. The center checks in at 250.
"This should be a fantastic game," Golla said. "I'm sure they're as excited to play as we are.
"It's nerve wracking, but it's going to be fun."