JUCO Games To Watch - California (Week 5)

The top matchup in the California JUCO ranks this weekend could be called the "Battle by the Bay" as American River travels to City College of San Francisco in a tilt between Northern California football titans. Here is a closer look at that game plus four others and some of the players to keep an eye on in each contest...

#12 American River at #4 City College of San Francisco - The best matchup of the weekend is in Northern California as two of the top three teams in that part of the state will face off in an early-season showdown. ARC is led by a strong defense and an offense that likes to grind things out behind an offensive line that features four players -- Zachary Heath, Bobby Keenan, Leonard Wood and Bob Roseberry – getting attention from four year programs. Over the past couple of weeks, freshman QB Jake Bist has come along, but the Beaver coaches rely heavily on the running game that is led by z Drake Tofi and Mark Jenkins. When they are on defense, keep an eye on LB Austin Paulhus and defensive ends Jordan Carrell and Karmah Yates. For City College, QB Turner Baty leads the way with his passing (55.4% completion percentage for 1,083 yards with 14 TDs and two INTs) and solid playmaking skills. When they want to run the ball, sophomore Daivon Ballard and freshman Jahray Hayes are a nice one-two punch and they have a very good line in front of them led by David Hedelin. On defense, the Rams have a great set of defensive ends in freshman Tavita Faaiu and David Tameilau who have combined for seven sacks while MLB Nick Holt and in the secondary, safeties Maurice Cannon and Shalom Luani along with CB Myles Holmes hold things down and are real ballhawks (six total interceptions between the three of them).

Prediction: CCSF 31 – American River 28

#14 Saddleback at Santa Ana - Saddleback comes off of their bye week hoping to get back on track after stumbling to an early 1-2 record. The hope is that WR Eric Lauderdale, who has missed the first three games with a groin injury, will be able to play and if he can, that should really open things up for the Gauchos' offense as he is definitely QB Tim Belman's favorite target. Leading the way for Saddleback along the offensive line is Naaman Butsko, a big, athletic tackle prospect. On defense, linebackers Rex Wasserbach and Gabriel Cerda are both solid leaders for the Gauchos while the secondary is held down by safeties Trevor Douglass and Duran Workman and ballhawking corner Laq Middleton who has three picks. The Dons have gotten off to a tough start as well, going 1-3 after losing a heart-breaker last week to Grossmont. On defense, the strength of Santa Ana is up front with Billy Tanuvasa, Leo Sasi and Arizona-bound Jeff Worthy all having solid seasons while S Allen Atkins holds things down in the secondary. When their offense is on the field, Santa Ana features a balanced running game with the likes of Roosevelt Monk and Brett Hurley, but they have struggled to find consistency at the quarterback spot and that has hampered their abilities to score.

Prediction: Saddleback 38 – Santa Ana 13

Bakersfield at College of the Canyons - If Bakersfield could find a quarterback, they have some talented receivers to get the ball to in Colin Spencer and Brock Martin, but they mostly rely on a running attack that features RB Preston Hodges who has carried the ball 81 times for 368 yards and four touchdowns. On defense, the Gades are led by MLB Grant Campbell who has 47 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles-for-loss in four games as well as S Chris Hannible who has two interceptions and ranks second on the team with 29 tackles. Canyons has been a pleasant surprise so far this season, getting off to a 3-1 start including a big early win over Saddleback. Their defense is allowing just under 15 points per game and they are led by Joey Cicoria (29 tackles, 2.5 sacks, four tackles-for-loss and one interception) and freshman LB Cory Harris who leads the team with four sacks to go along with 10 tackles, three tackles-for-loss and an interception. Along the front four, defensive tackles Antonio Guy and Loni Fonua are really tough to move, so they hold up well against the run and in the secondary, CB Anthony Adams has shown great ball skills in pulling down three interceptions to go along with 12 tackles.

Prediction: Canyons 27 – Bakersfield 17

Victor Valley at San Bernardino Valley- Like Canyons, Victor Valley has been a surprise and their young defense is led by Oregon bounceback LB Jimmy Musgrave who has 36 tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Offensively, freshman QB Tyler Dobbins (58.1% completion percentage for 1,167 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions) has been huge for the Rams and he is supported by two very good tailbacks in Daryon Mosley and Verrick Ponder who have combined for 516 yards and seven touchdowns. San Bernardino is always one of the better teams in So Cal and this year is no different. However, they are coming off their first loss of the season, a 41-20 drubbing at the hands of Southwestern, so we'll have to see how they rebound from that setback. On offense, the four-headed monster in the backfield of freshman tailbacks Steffan Kirkland and Kendrick Dorn as well as sophomores Jordan Mixon and Mike Martin (514 yards and five touchdowns) can make things hard on defenses. Outside, wideouts Darian Barrientos and Eric Shufford are both playmakers who can take it the distance if they get the chance. When the Wolverines are on defense, DE John Siliga provides the pressure off the edge (four sacks) while freshman Justin VanNatta crashes in from the other side (three sacks). MLB Jeremy Pele leads the way with 29 tackles and makes all the defensive calls.

Prediction: San Bernardino Valley 24 – Victor Valley 17

#5 Butte at Modesto - Butte features one of the best rushing attacks in the state as they are averaging 347 yards on the ground per game. Two freshmen, Kendall Williams (400 yards, three touchdowns) and Robert Frazier (393 yards, three touchdowns) are the headliners and they bring a "thunder and lightning" combo that can frustrate defenses. Even though they don't throw the ball much, keep an eye on TE Bo Brummel who leads the Roadrunners with nine receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown. On defense, Butte gets after it up front and DE Tyler Adair leads the way with four sacks while freshman DE Sie Doe also chips in with 2.5 sacks. MLB Brian Anderson is the leader and makes all of the defensive calls and CB Deonte Flemings has really started to play well over the past couple of weeks. When it comes to Modesto, their attack begins and ends with QB TeeJay Gordon, one of the more dynamic playmakers in the Golden State. Currently, Gordon is completing 64.1% of his passes for 928 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions and he's nimble enough to run for 216 yards and five more scores. Freshman tailbacks James Sams (209 yards, three touchdowns) and Anthony Cota (293 yards, four touchdowns) both do their best to keep defenses honest. The two names to remember on defense for the Pirates are DE Tyler Juncker (24 tackles, three tackles-for-loss) and DB Stephen Thayer who leads the team with 25 tackles.

Prediction: Butte 45 – Modesto 21
Other Games to Watch: Long Beach at #2 Riverside; College of the Sequoias at DeAnza; Laney at Hartnell; Palomar at #24 Golden West; #25 Fresno at Santa Rosa

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