Wade Payne/APStanford pitching coach Rusty Filter

CSM focused on bowl game despite missing state playoffs

The College of San Mateo football team may be the No. 2-ranked team in Northern California, but instead of playing for a possible NorCal and state title, the Bulldogs will face off against American River College on Saturday in the Bothman Bulldogs Bowl.

CSM (9-1) lost its only game of the season to Butte, which went undefeated and is ranked No. 1 in the state, and coach Brett Pollack said his team is not disappointed to be denied the bigger opportunity.

“From Day 1, the guys understood the rules,” he said. “They understood that we had to win our league, and we didn’t win our league. So Butte beat us, and Butte goes. That’s what we were in control of and that’s all we ever focused on, and we lost that game. The guys are not disappointed like that, we had our chance and we didn’t get it done. We’re having a great year, a tremendous season.”

CSM will try to finish the team’s best season since 2009 on a high note in front of its home fans, as American River (8-2) will travel to San Mateo to face the Bulldogs on CSM’s turf.

Pollack said the game will come down to who prepares the best, but that his team’s run-heavy style is designed to give his team an advantage in that department.

“Well that’s part of the master plan to do something different, be a contrarian,” he said. “It’ll be interesting if they’re able to prepare this week and get ready for it. If they struggle in their preparation, we’ll probably have success, because the athletes are equal.

“That’s part of the plan is to make them prepare for something that they’re not used to seeing, a style that they’re not used to seeing, in a week.”

The team’s running game has peaked of late, piling up a mind-blowing 503 rushing yards in a 54-20 win over Santa Rosa in the final regular-season game Saturday, somehow surpassing the 449 gained on the ground the previous week in a 52-28 win over De Anza.

Clearly the loss to Butte on Nov. 2 didn’t affect the team’s confidence.

Pollack said his team has been carried by the evolution of sophomore quarterback Casey Wichman, who often calls an audible to the same play the coach himself was hoping from the sidelines he would call for without having to be told.

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