It's Rams vs. Rams in ‘déjà vu I,' on Dec. 1; or, more commonly, CCSF's Hawaiian Punch Bowl XII
We've been here before. As in Dec. 2, 2000 when the state's top-ranked City College of San Francisco Rams topped the No. 2 ranked Fresno City College Rams 41-7 in Hawaiian Punch Bowl XI. CCSF went on to win a state and national championship the following week by defeating Bakersfield 31-13 in Visalia.
On Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., like last year, both teams of Rams, again 10-0, will meet for the Northern California championship at CCSF. FCC's Tony Caviglia, who has coached his Rams to back-to-back 10-0 regular seasons, is glad to be back. "I think it's great that we've been able to do this two years in-a-row. It's a credit to our sophomore leadership and the staff. As coaches, we've been together three years and it's that stability that equals success on and off the field," Caviglia said.
FCC has done some record-setting as a team this season. The offense is the most prolific, scoring-wise, in school history. The Rams have scored 474 points, an average of 47.4 per game. The previous best was the 1994 team which scored 411 in eleven games, so the 2001 team has sole possession of those records. The 10-0 record ties last year's team and the 1973 team for the second-longest winning streak is school history.
Individually, freshman quarterback Mark Hetherington (Buchanan High), voted the Valley Conference's offensive "most valuable player," tossed his way into the record book by breaking the single season record of 24 touchdown passes set in 1969 by Mike Rasmussen (Fresno). Hetherington threw 30 in 10 games. In throwing 6 in the 77-6 win over San José, he broke Doug Gaynor's (Roosevelt) record of 5 set in 1981. He also set the record for most passing yards when he racked up 404 in the 51-0 whitewash at College of the Siskiyous.
Freshman wide receiver Willie Johnson (Edison) snared 11 TD passes and broke the record of 10 set by Rasmussen's primary 1969 target, Chuck Davidian (Fresno). Johnson has caught 24 passes for 423 yards. LaMonte Jones (Fresno) leads all FCC wide receivers with 35 catches, 654 yards, 6 TDs. Highly-regarded All-VC soph wide receiver Maurice Washington (McClymonds, Oakland) caught 25 passes for 487 yards, 9 TDs.
ALL-VC tight end Aaron Austin (Dos Palos), who has the potential to follow in the NFL footsteps of former FCC tight ends Ryan Wetnight (Hoover) and David Sloan (Sierra), was second to Jones with 29 catches, 419 yards, 9 TDs.
Freshman running back Earl Charles (Canarsie, New York City) became the 12th Ram in school history to gain over one thousand yards. He totaled 1,035 on 129 carries and scored 12 TDs. He averages 8.02 yards per carry and is also an All-VC pick.
All-VC placekicker Ron Anderson (Hoover) made an amazing transition from a great two-year career on the FCC men's soccer team. He scored 90 points, the most ever in a season by a FCC kicker, and his kickoffs were consistently inside the 10-yard line or in the endzone. He's expected back for a sophomore season.
Sophomore linebacker Max Steward (Redwood, Visalia), who was voted the VC's defensive "most valuable player," led the Rams defense. He was joined on the VC defensive team by linemen Loa Emmsley (Kealoa, Hawaii) and Fernando Yanez (San Joaquin Memorial). Defensive backs Matt Giordano (Buchanan), Rodney Woods (Littlerock) and Jesus Wright (Bakersfield) were also All-VC picks.
FCC has been riding at No. 2 in the state and NorCal rankings for the season. In the latest JC Grid-Wire poll, FCC is No. 3 behind Kilgore College of Texas and CCSF. Last year, the Rams were No. 4 in the Grid-Wire poll before playing CCSF.
Caviglia and his FCC Rams face another set of Rams who have a 34-game winning streak. CCSF's last loss was to the Palomar College "Comets" in the 1998 state championship game played in Sacramento. CCSF has its sights set on a three-peat.
If CCSF extends the winning streak to 35 games and then wins the state championship in Visalia on Dec. 8 for the third straight year, they're in great shape to parlay a third consecutive JC Grid-Wire national championship.
FCC and CCSF had five common opponents: CCSF shutout Siskiyous 42-0; FCC visited Butte and won 48-26 while at CCSF, Butte lost 50-13; Foothill was blanked at FCC 52-0 and CCSF won in Los Altos Hills 24-7; FCC outlasted Modesto 21-19 at Ratcliffe Stadium after CCSF won in Modesto 41-21; San José was hammered at Fresno 77-6 in game three and 58-7 by CCSF in the regular season finale. FCC outscored these opponents 249-51 while CCSF outpointed them 215-48.
It promises to be a superb matchup between two highly-ranked, highly-talented, head-butting sets of Rams.
Note: If the FCC Rams advance to the state championship, it has been a long time since they played either of the possible Southern opponents. The Rams beat Palomar College 47-0 in 1951 and lost to Chaffey College 21-7 in 1961.