The College of San Mateo hit the stretch run of its football season last year in an incredibly strong position.
There were three games to go and the Bulldogs were only one game behind City College of San Francisco for first place in the NorCal Conference.
But then a heartbreaking 17-14 loss to CCSF was the first of back-to-back losses, which dropped the Bulldogs into third place and effectively took them out of the championship picture.
“That was two good teams on the field cutting it loose. We came up a bit short,” CSM assistant coach Tim Tulloch said. “You use that as motivation.”
The Bulldogs finished seventh in the California Community College Athletic Association Northern California poll after an 8-3 season, two games behind eventual state champion CCSF. That experience has carried CSM into this season and has expectations set very high, even in a conference that Tulloch compared to the Southeastern Conference in the NCAA.
“Every opponent on our schedule is going to be a tough one,” Tulloch said. “Our guys have looked at that schedule.
The team goal is to win the state title. They know how physical this conference this is. Whoever wins the NorCal Conference is in position to win state.”
Sophomore running back Jarrell Brown, who led the team in rushing last season, returns as part of the wealth of experience CSM brings back this season. But there will be an adjustment period at the quarterback spot. Miles Freeman, who was the starter for much of last season, is gone and a battle ensues between Jonathan Willis and Blake Plattsmier for the starting job.
Both quarterbacks saw playing time last season with Willis starting the last two games of the season, including the 62-24 drubbing of Diablo Valley in the Bulldog Bowl.
“We love the play from both quarterbacks,” Tulloch said. “[Coach Bret Pollack] does a very good job evaluating them. He looks at the cumulative quarterback rating. The good thing is we have two guys, two starting quarterbacks.”
With the return of Brown and the play of Plattsmier and Willis, the Bulldogs like their chances of having a more balanced offense than a year ago, Tulloch said.
Defensive backs Bryant Hayes and Nate Jackson, who combined for seven interceptions, return to anchor the secondary.
Sophomore outside linebacker Sione Sina makes his return and will be part of a defensive unit that placed an emphasis on improving the run and red-zone defenses. Sina had a team-high four sacks last season.
“The focus is how great we can make our team,” Tulloch said. “We’re trying to do what we need to do to get better every week.”
|Sept. 1||vs. Laney||1 p.m.|
|Sept. 8||at Chabot||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 15||vs. Diablo Valley||1 p.m.|
|Sept. 22||at Modesto||6 p.m.|
|Sept. 29||vs. Delta||1 p.m.|
|Oct. 13||vs. Foothill||1 p.m.|
|Oct. 20||at CCSF||1 p.m.|
|Oct. 27||vs. Butte||1 p.m.|
|Nov. 3||at DeAnza||1 p.m.|
|Nov. 10||at Santa Rosa||1 p.m.|