When it comes to community college football in Reedley, nobody is perfect.
Foothill College came into Sal Gonzalez Field on Saturday with a 10-0 record. They left for Los Altos Hills with a 10-1 record after the 10-1 Reedley College Tigers recorded a 23-14 victory in the Northern California Football Association American Division Championship Game.
Last year, it was Reedley College that came into the same contest with a 10-0 record and left with a 10-1 record after a 42-41 loss to the DeAnza College Dons.
This year, it was the Tigers' turn to celebrate after a second straight 10-1 season.
"Going 10-0 and losing the championship, I would rather do it this way," said Tiger head coach Eric Marty after the final gun sounded. "It is hard to beat a team twice. The other thing, when you catch that loss, you are so much hungrier that a team that is 10-0. I think we had some variables in our favor there. We just knew it was about us competing with and competing harder than we did the first time against them. Our staff, our kids believe in what we do. They believe in the program and believe in what we do schematically. If we just trust one another, we are going to be OK. With those variables, we just know that it is about us and how hard we are going to compete and how we are going to focus. That's what we did time and that's why the outcome was different."
Both teams lost their starting quarterback in the first half due to injuries although Foothill signal Cam Rottler returned in the second half.
"Drew Zaubi came in and played great," said Marty. "That's an unbelievable job by a guy stepping in. Drew hasn't played that much but he and Bubba's (Hickson) efficiency rating are both among the top ten in the state as far as their completion percentage and touchdowns."
Tiger tight end Daniel Baca was named the Player of the Game. Reedley kicker Jorge Rosales was selected as the Offensive Player of the Game after kicking three field goals that resulted in the Tigers' 9-point winning margin. Foothill defensive end Jordan Levu was selected the Defensive Player of the Game after recording two quarterback sacks and forcing a fumble.
Both teams had 100-yard rushers. Foothill's Derje Banks ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns while Reedley's Jamon Chambers finished with 125 yards on 22 attempts.
Reedley took a 10-7 lead into the halftime intermission on a 33-yard field goal by Rosales. The go-ahead field goal came eight plays after Cameron Lockridge intercepted a Cam Rottler pass. A penalty forced the Tigers to start the drive at their own 28.
Foothill opened the scoring with a 52-yard drive on their first possession, capped by a 29-yard touchdown run by Derje Banks.
With just under 10 minutes left in the opening quarter, Reedley lost starting quarterback Bubba Hickson with an apparent ankle injury after being sacked by Kaelin Myles.
Drew Zaubi took over and engineered a 73-yard scoring drive in six plays. The touchdown came on an 18-yard pass to Daniel Baca. The extra point kick by Rosales tied the game. On the scoring drive, Zaubi was 4-of-4 passing for 57 yards.
Rosales kicked field goals of 22 and 25 yards for the only scoring in the third quarter.
Blanks' short touchdown run made it 16-14 with a little over 10 minutes left before Jonathan Perryman's 4-yard touchdown and a Rosales extra point closed out the scoring with five minutes and 22 seconds left in the game.
It appears that a 20-2 record over the last two seasons will move the Tigers back into the top tier of Northern California Community College football and could return Reedley into the Central Valley Conference. That will mean 2020 games against natural rivals Fresno City College and the College of the Sequoias again.
According to Reedley College Athletic Director Dr. David Santesteban, an official decision will be announced in December.
"That's the plan," said Coach Marty. "We would like to move up. It is going to take a big effort from everybody, from the top of the administration on down to compete against the big boys. But that's where we feel like we should be.we are excited to move up and get back in that division."
By: Will Goldbeck.