Losing hurts, especially after you’ve won 21 straight games. But City College of San Francisco can’t wallow in remorse; it still has a state title to bring home.
Despite losing the last game of the regular season, the Rams (9-1) captured their 28th NorCal Conference football title this year and they’re gearing up to win their 13th Northern California championship against American River in the San Francisco Community College Bowl at Rams Stadium this Saturday.
“We should be embarrassed about our loss. We didn’t play well,” coach George Rush said. “But the upside of it is, we’re in the same place would have been in anyway.”
The Rams’ 21-game winning streak was snapped on Nov. 10 when Butte humbled them with a 31-21 loss, the team’s first defeat since the 2010 state title game. Rush’s squad finished the season in a three-way tie for first place in the NorCal standings with Butte and De Anza, but they captured their ninth conference championship in 10 years by virtue of their strength of schedule.
The loss was particularly unsettling because the Rams were outgained 409-85 on the ground. But Rush said he expects his team to rebound this week.
“You’d hope we come out with more determination, more grit,” he said.
The Rams are familiar with this week’s opponent, the Valley Conference champion Beavers. They beat American River 52-33 in Sacramento on Sept. 29.
The Beavers had the edge in passing yards (226-180), rushing yards (275-266) and time of possession (34:12-25:48) that day, but they spoiled the effort by committing five turnovers.
The Rams also received a breakout performance from running back Kristoffer Olugbode, who gashed the Beavers defense for 216 yards and five touchdowns.
The Beavers run an Oregon Ducks style of offense, stretching the field with sideline passes and a vertical rushing attack. Like the Ducks, they play up-tempo game to catch defenses on their heels and the quarterback has several options with each snap.
American River led the Valley Conference in total offense, picking up 509.8 yards per game while scoring an average of 41.3 points per outing.
But Rush said he doesn’t expect his team to be caught off guard.
“I’m sure that like any team they’ve improved,” he said. “But everyone’s showing up with the same guys they had last time.”
The Rams offense will still feature the conference’s top rusher, Olugbode, and receiver, Kyani Harris, and its most efficient passer, Andrew Spivey.
They’ll try to slow down the Beavers’ attack with the conference’s No. 2 ranked defense (361.8 yards per game).
Rush said the key to the game is just playing Rams football.
“If we do the things we’re capable of doing we’ll win the game, there’s no question of that,” he said. “If we fiddle around, anything can happen.”