The College of San Mateo will be hoping for a bit of “beginners luck” in its first state championship appearance in school history, against Southern California football powerhouse Mt. San Antonio College on Saturday.
CSM (10-1) will host Mt. SAC (12-1), which will be making its third consecutive trip to the title game. The Mounties lost both prior title matches to the City College of San Francisco and Butte College, respectively.
“We’re hoping the third time will be the charm,” Mt. SAC coach Robert Jastrab said.
CSM advanced to the title game by defeating Reedley College in the Bulldog Bowl on Nov. 21, while
Mt. SAC has played two extra games in the eight-team Southern California playoffs.
Both coaches acknowledged that there could be advantages to each playoff situation, but denied any potential effect once the game begins.
“It is what it is,” CSM coach Bret Pollack said. “It’s a break and that’s what it is. We’re gonna take that break and use it to our advantage and take as many positives we can get out of it.”
Jastrab echoed Pollack’s sentiment.
“It’s a tough road,” Jastrab said. “It could be an advantage or a disadvantage. They can get healthy and strong, while we’re still icing our wounds. It is what it is. None of that really matters. We’re both playing for a state championship. Let the best team win.”
Mt. SAC outscored opponents by an average of 28.3 points in its three playoff games, capped by their 27-2 victory over Palomar College in the Southern California final on Saturday.
“They are athletic at every position,” Pollack said of the Mounties. “They’re well coached and have no assignment errors. That is the recipe for success.”
Mt. SAC is the top ranked team in the state, while CSM was ranked second in the final poll.
“By far, they’re the best team we’ve played all year,” Jastrob said.
Ultimately, the key to the game may be the Bulldogs’ triple-option running game, which averages a state-high 293.5 rushing yards per game.
“We run the option because no one else does,” Pollack said. “We see that as an advantage, because teams don’t see it every week and have to practice for it.”
Mt. SAC was ranked fourth in the state at stopping the run in the regular season, allowing only 71.7 rushing yards per game, and only allowed an average of 77.7 rushing yards in their three playoff games.
“We don’t see a lot of the option football they run,” Jastrob said. “It gives us problems. They have a lot of weapons and its given us lots of difficulties.”