By Nicho DellaValle, Riverside City College Sports Information
It is the matchup community college football fans have all been waiting for – the top-seeded and undefeated Fullerton College Hornets versus the second-seeded Riverside City College Tigers. Both teams own high-flying offenses with strengths that will put both stout defensive units to the test. This is a contest that will likely go all 12 rounds, so to speak, because it will undeniably be an old-school, bare knuckle brawl.
It won't be a game that either team can set to cruise control. Both teams will have to switch gears and make sure all aspects of their game are well-oiled in order to arrive at their desired destination – Hughes Stadium in Sacramento, CA for the state championship ballad.
It is the third time in the past five years that the Riverside City College Tigers have reached the SCFA Southern California Championship contest. The last time the Tigers won a state title was in 1982 and they look to end the over three-decade drought this year. First, they must defeat a formidable team in the Hornets.
The Tigers have played five top-25 teams and went 5-1. They recently reigned supreme in the SCFA Southern California Regional round one playoffs against Ventura. It was their second time defeating the Pirates. Fullerton has also experienced an equally difficult schedule by facing three teams in the top-25 and earning four wins – two against Saddleback.
Head Coach Tom Craft has led his team to a 10-1 record in his seventh season at the helm. Craft currently holds an overall record of 78-13 (.857 winning percentage).
Fullerton is a strong team on both sides of the pigskin. They limit opposing offenses while lighting up the scoreboard. They average 55.8 points-per-game that includes a total yard's average of 558.5. Additionally, they have limited teams to 61.9 rushing yards-per-contest. But the Hornets have only faced a set of teams that own a rusher that has totaled over 1,000 yards on the season.
In short, the Hornets have not encountered anything that compares to the likes of sophomore quarterback Vic Viramontes (Norco, CA).
The former Division I talent has amassed 1,336 yards on the ground which ranks third in the state. His 21 rushing touchdowns rank tied for first in the state and his 121.5 average rushing yards-per-game land him fifth in the state. The kid can chuck the pigskin as well. He owns an efficiency rating of 164.4 and has thrown for 1,575 yards leading to 20 touchdowns. Viramontes is coming off a career-high 332 yards passing to prove he is a true dual threat. So far this season, he has thrown for over 100 yards and has passed for over 100 yards in four games.
Viramontes relies on many strengths to lead his team to be successful. One of those strengths include an offensive line that is led by sophomore captain Tre Bland (Ontario, CA). The offensive line has assisted in leading the Tigers to 40 points-per-game and 473 yards-per-game (290.5 rushing & 182.5 passing). They have helped immensely in the red zone as the Tigers boast a red zone efficiency rating of 84% (first in state) that includes a 76% touchdown conversion rate (fifth in state).
The aerial strike has been an effective one with numerous weapons contributing. Sophomore Malik Holcomb (Chicago, IL) paces the team with 38 receptions and 577 yards receiving leading to six touchdowns. Freshman Tanarious Achan (Lafayette, LA) nips at his heals with 30 receptions for 496 yards and six touchdowns. Both players have been named the SCFA Central Offensive Players of the Week once on the season. Sophomore Cam Sutton (Moreno Valley, CA) has hauled in five touchdowns off of 11 grabs as well.
The Tiger defense has clawed Riverside out of some close contests that include strip sacks and timely interceptions in the final minutes to secure victories. It has been a no fly zone for the most part with sophomore defensive back Devanere Crenshaw (Riverside, CA) and freshman safety Eric Wilson (Oceanside, CA) manning the secondary. Each of them have recorded two interceptions with Crenshaw returning one pick to the house.
The line backing core has been equally as impressive as highlighted by freshman Jash Allen (Portland, OR). After making the transition from running back, Allen is fourth on the team in tackles with 41 and is tied for the team lead in sacks with 5.5. Sophomore defensive lineman Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei (Gold Coast, Australia) shares the top spot on the team is sacks with 5.5 as well.
*Saturday's Game Information*
Location: Whittier College Memorial Stadium
Time: 12 noon
Ticket Prices: $12 general admission, $8 students (with valid ID)
Parking: Free of charge