Over the past 12 years Kern County football seniors have gotten the thrill of playing in one final high school football game in a different type of style and environment.
Taft High quarterback Vaughn Richardson and Matua Iakopo got a taste of that Friday night when they took part in the Black team’s 68-48 win over the gold team in the U.S. Army Arena Bowl at Rabobank Arena.
“It was real fun,” said Iakopo. “It was the most fun game I ever had.”
“It was real special,” Richardson, who threw nine touchdowns, said of being named MVP. “I am really happy and blessed its me.”
The MVP was the icing on the cake for Richardson after he was one of four captains on the Black team and was the quarterback for the team through the entire game.
Despite the way the night went, it got off to a rocky beginning when a couple of passes by Richardson went incomplete. However, on third down of the opening series, Richardson threw a 13-yard touchdown pass.
“It just started coming to me,” said Richardson.
While Richardson was starting out at quarterback, Iakopo started the game on kickoff and on defense. Iakopo played most of the game except for early in the third quarter.
On the second drive, Richardson capped the drive down the field with a quarterback sneak for the touchdown with 6:29 to go in the first quarter.
Gold got on the scoreboard when Ridgeview’s Kamari Cotton Moya returned the kickoff for 52 yards for a touchdown.
However, Richardson and the Black team had one final say in the quarter when he found Liberty’s Corbin Jountii for a 15-yard touchdown pass.
The black squad continued their run in the second quarter with Richardson completes a 5-yard pass to Centennial’s Andrew Daughtery while Independence’s Preston Hodges ran for a touchdown to up the lead to 35-7.
Gold finally added to their lead with Bakersfield High School’s Parker Campbell run for a touchdown with 4:55 to go.
The Black team responded when Richardson completed a 29-yard pass to Frontier’s Justin Cash on third down for a touchdown with 54 seconds remaining. All totaled, Richardson had five touchdowns in the first half.
Iakopo had one of his highlights at the end of the first half when he sacked the gold quarterback to end the half.
“It was great,” Iakopo said of the tackle.” I felt like it was my freshman year all over again.”
Page 2 of 2 - With a switching of the quarterbacks, the Gold team bounced back in the second half, when Garces’ Cruise Adams completed a 38-yard pass to Davis for a touchdown. The teams traded touchdowns the rest of the quarter.
The touchdowns by the Black team came on Michael Pope’s (NW Christian) catch and run for the score and Richardson’s 30-yard pass to Daughtery on the first play of the drive.
The teams traded touchdowns again in the fourth quarter with the Black team scoring their points on Richardson’s touchdown pass to Liberty’s Gabe Flippo on the first play of the quarter and Richardson’s 10-yard pass to Preston for the final touchdown for the black team.
Now that their high school football career is over, Richardson will go to play for the Bakersfield College Renegades next year while Iakopo will go to Taft College with the hopes of possibly going to San Jose or Hawaii.