When City College of San Francisco quarterback Jeremiah Masoli scans the field on a passing play and finds his first receiving option blanketed by coverage, hitting the panic button is probably the last thing on his mind.
That’s because Masoli can rest easy knowing there isn’t one first receiving option for the Rams — there are four. And that will be pretty important Saturday, when the NorCal champion Rams (10-1) face SoCal winner Mount San Antonio College (10-2) in the state title game in Fresno.
Sophomores Deric Davis, Adrian Hilburn, Carlton Sanders and Andre Wells form one of the most daunting wide receiving corps in all of junior-college football and what makes the group especially deadly is that they don’t care who gets touches — as long as the Rams win.
“We’ve all had a game when we caught seven balls and we’ve all had a game when we caught just one,” said Hilburn, a Tyler, Texas, native. “It all comes down to situations and coverage and we know that. Some games you’re gonna get the ball a lot, some games you’re not.”
They share nearly identical season statistics. Davis leads the team with 61 catches for 824 yards, followed by Wells (47 catches, 809 yards), Sanders (47, 696) and Hilburn (44, 555). Led by Sanders’ nine touchdowns, the quartet has combined to catch 25 of Masoli’s 28 scoring tosses.
The dynamic receiving combo hopes to have the defensive coordinator at Mount SAC scratching his head. The Rams collected their 10th NorCal title in 11 years with a 24-10 victory over Sierra last week.
When asked, the quartet had similar answers regarding each other’s strongest asset — Hilburn is the versatile one, capable of pulling in short and long-range bombs; Wells and Davis run the most meticulous routes; and Sanders possesses the best jets on the team.
“Carlton is a fast dude,” said Davis, a Pittsburg High School graduate. “He is definitely our team’s best deep threat. Defenses don’t know what to do with him when he’s out on the field.”
Unlike his three teammates, Sanders played for Mesabi Range (Minn.) as a freshman, but he said he felt a connection with his receiving brethren immediately upon enrolling at CCSF in the spring.
“We hit it off right away,” said Sanders, who hails from Pompano Beach, Fla. “As soon as we could, we we’re out there in the offseason all through the summer, practicing each day, catching passes from Jeremiah. It was a real easy transition to join this team.”
Sanders threw himself into the group’s grueling offseason workout regimen, instantly feeding off his teammates’ motivation to avenge the 49-35 loss to underdog El Camino in the state title game.