Rams open Valley Conference play Oct. 20 versus West Hills
There's a lot at stake as the Fresno City College football team opens defense of its Valley Conference title this Saturday afternoon Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. in Coalinga against the West Hills College "Falcons" (2-3).
The Rams (5-0) are currently ranked No. 2 in the nation by JC Grid-Wire as well as No. 2 in California and No. 2 in Northern California by the JC Athletic Bureau. FCC is well-rested coming off a bye week and a convincing 48-26 win at Butte College on Oct. 6. The Rams hold the top spot in the state's team offense stats (520.6 yds. per game) and are No. 3 in team defense (216.0 ypg).
FCC's high-octane offense has been fueled by the arm of freshman quarterback Mark Hetherington (Buchanan High) and the hands and feet of a corps of talented, speedy receivers. Thirteen Rams have caught passes. Toss in the combined running of freshman Earl Charles (Canarsie, New York), 56 attempts, 492 yards and 6 TDs, along with sophomore Rodney Davis (Dos Palos), 27-224-1, and you have a complete package. Both are averaging over 8 yards per carry.
Hetherington is 78-of-126 in passing with 1,411 yards and 22 touchdowns, two shy of tying Mike Rasmussen's (Fresno) single season record of 24 set in 1969.
The offense is augmented by the kicking of freshman Ron Anderson (Hoover) who is giving football a try after two outstanding seasons on the FCC soccer team. So far, Anderson is 33-of-34 in point-after kicks and 4-of-6 in field goal attempts for 45 points. His total is second to freshman wide receiver Willie Johnson's (Edison) 48 points.
While the offense has been prolific, the defense has been penurious, especially against the run, allowing only 256 rushing yards in 5 games. The Rams third-year head coach, Tony Caviglia, doubles as the defensive coordinator. He has blended sophomore veterans with new freshman talent to succeed last year's group of solid sophomores who have moved on to the four-year level.
FCC defenders have intercepted 6 passes in 5 games and returned them for a total of 124 yards. Sophomore linebacker Max Steward (Redwood, Visalia) returned his pick 39 yards for a TD against Foothill on Sept. 29. Darrell Carlton's (Sylmar) 51-yard scamper against College of the Siskiyous is the Rams' longest interception return so far this season. Ironically, FCC won that game, 51-0.
Saturday's game shapes up as an excellent curtain-raiser for the Valley Conference. West Hills is the only team to beat the Rams in a VC game, 18-16 in 1999, since Caviglia began coaching at FCC. Caviglia's record as the Rams head coach to date is 24-3.