BORON - It might be the biggest regular-season high school football game in the East Kern area since who knows when.
"Not much I can say," Mojave head coach Larry Satterfield said. "It's the biggest game of the year certainly - two undefeated teams playing for the league title."
On Thursday, Nov. 10, Mojave takes its unblemished record into Boron for the season finale for both teams. Since both are undefeated in the Desert Mountain League, the game will determine the league champion.
Last year, there were three co-champions of the league. This year, there will be one.
And both are coming off impressive performances. On Friday, Nov. 4, Boron defeated Silver Valley at home, 57-0, and Mojave traveled to Tranquility for a non-league game, winning 55-0.
Quarterbacks Austyn Fink of Boron and Matt Carder of Mojave each threw four touchdowns passes, all in the first half, as neither team gave hint of any weakness going into the finale.
While both Boron and Mojave are guaranteed CIF Division 13 playoff berths, the league title will be crucial when it comes time to decide seeding and playoff matchups, which will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 13.
Just ask Boron head coach Todd Fink, whose team went into the playoffs last season as a wild-card despite being one of the three DML co-champions.
"We had to play four league champions in four weeks in the postseason, and we don't want to have to do that again," Fink said.
Despite the tough road, Boron went to the division title game last year, only to lose to Bishop.
Boron beat Mojave 52-8 in the 2010 regular season finale, but that was a very different Mojave team. Led by the likes of Carder, twin brothers Kevin and Kelvin Nelims, Ricky Hill, Jaquinn Tatum and Michael Phillips, Mojave burns more pure speed than any team in the area.
"They're the fastest team I've ever seen," Fink said.
Both teams boast mobile, aggressive defenses. With four shut outs, Mojave has allowed an average of just 6 points per game in league this year. Boron had three shut outs and averages 6.75 points-against in the DML.
Against common opponents this season, the two teams also match up well. For example, Boron beat Mammoth 50-6; Mojave beat Mammoth 46-6. Boron beat Desert Christian 36-20; Mojave beat Desert Christian 20-15.
With a bye week and a forfeit victory over Lucerne Valley, Boron went into the Silver Valley game with two weeks off. There was some rust on the gears, but it was obvious the Bobcats shook it off early.
"One week off is bad. Two can be a disaster," the Boron coach said. "We had to get our starters some reps, so we had to keep them in the game a little longer."
Austyn Fink completed 8 of 13 passes for 231 yards and the four TDs for Boron, then rested in the second half. Jadrian Wiser caught two of the scoring passes, and Derrick Thomas gained 85 of Boron's 238 yards rushing.
Carder completed 6 of 9 passes for 142 yards and four TDs, two to Trey Cummings. Tatum had 41 yards rushing, and Hill had 40 in Mojave's balanced running attack.
If Mojave has the edge in speed, Boron sees at least one physical mismatch it will try to exploit.
"We have two 6-foot-3 wide receivers," Todd Fink said. Both Allen Ratliffe and Wiser will be at least a half a foot taller than the Mojave corners. Mojave has been at a size disadvantage against almost every team it's faced this season but doesn't usually face wide receivers of this caliber.
Boron also will have the home field advantage.
"I think it has an effect on the level of confidence of our kids," Todd Fink said. "We're a dramatically different team when we're wearing black and gold. Pride factors in."
If Boron has had a great deal of success at home, Satterfield believes there's a simple explanation.
"They've been a good team," he said. "They've been pretty successful everywhere."