Football Earns Top Seed in South, Hosts Fourth-Seeded Foe Mt. SAC

Photos by Bobby R. Hester
Photos by Bobby R. Hester

The Tigers have not lost a regular season game in the past two years. The last time they faltered in a regular season game was in 2017 against the Mt. San Antonio College Mounties. Low and behold, the fourth-seeded Mounties will roll into town to face off against the top-seeded Tigers in the Southern California Football Association (SCFA) Southern Regional Semifinal game this Saturday, November 23 at home in Arthur N. Wheelock Stadium at 6 p.m.

Per the CCCAA constitution, the cost of general admission is $12 and $8 for students and staff with valid identification. No regular season passes will be accepted at the gate. These passes include, but are not limited to, regular season RCC football passes, affiliate membership cards or Tiger Backer Membership cards.  A parking enforcement fee of $5 remains in effect, which is mandated by the RCCD police.

Live streaming will be available on the Riverside Athletics YouTube channel free of charge. The stream will be provided by the RiversideTV production crew.

The last time these two squads faced off on the gridiron, the Mounties reigned supreme by the final score of 24-17. They got off to a strong start despite a late Riverside surge.  Since then, the Mounties have not reached the Southern playoffs since winning a state championship in 2014.

It has been all business for the Tigers throughout the season as they have orchestrated a lethal game plan on both sides of the ball. The offense has produced 49.8 points-per-game and 506.5 yards-per-game. While the passing game dominated the offensive blueprint early on, the running game has come on strong in the second half of the season. They have averaged 327.2 passing-yards-per-game and 179.3 rushing yards-per-game.

No particular player stands out on the offensive side due a well-spread attack. Two quarterbacks have thrown for over 1,000 yards, six wide receivers have caught at least three touchdowns, four wide receivers have earned over 300 yards and two running backs have found the end zone five times.

Defensively, the Tigers have been nothing but stout. They have halted teams to an average of 18 points-per-game and have not let any offense exceed 37 points. Even when the Tigers did allowed 37 points in a win over San Bernardino, the offense etched 58 points on the board to counteract the spread.

Freshman quarterback Jacob Barlage has emerged as the go-to guy under center. After starting the past two games, the local talent has thrown 23 touchdowns and amassed 1,819 yards through the air. Furthermore, her has tallied a 69.6 completion percentage (133-for-191) and is averaging 181 yards-per-game. In his past two starts, Barlage has thrown 12 touchdowns and 773 yards. He also leads his team with six rushing touchdowns after carrying the ball 33 times for 107 yards.

Barlage benefits from what seems to be a bottomless pit of weapons. A total of 10 players have recorded at least one receiving touchdown with six wide outs taking on a large roll.

Freshman Giovanni Sanders leads the team with 44 receptions leading to 662 yards and seven touchdowns. He has scored in six of the Tiger's games. Sophomore Dylan Laurent has been a consistent slot presence with 39 grabs for 479 yards and six touchdowns, while freshman Reggie Retzlaff follows with 29 grabs and 457 yards leading to four touchdowns.

A powerful backfield tandem featuring freshman Thomas Kinslow and sophomore Jamon McGlory have come on strong in the second half of the campaign. Kinslow, who leads his squad with 68 rushing attempts and 491 yards, is coming off a career game where he carted the rock 23 times for 174 yards and two touchdowns. McGlory has found the end zone five times on the year after running the ball 42 times for 256 yards.

The defensive unit is almost being lost in the offensive fog. However, a trio of linebackers have made it a point to give the Tigers some defensive swag and recognition.

Sophomore linebacker and defensive captain Kobey Fitzgerald leads his team with 45 tackles and is tied for second with two total sacks. He recently sat down with Riverside TV's Geoff Gorham to discuss the Tigers outlook on this match up.

Sophomore tandem Zechariah Holifield and Kue Olotoa join K. Fitzgerald in the middle of the defense with Holifield recording 41 stops and Olotoa following with 37. Holifield leads his team in tackles for a loss with six, while Olotoa has forced a fumble and notched 3.5 tackles for a loss.

The Tigers have been a takeaway machine as they have recorded at least one turnover in every contest this season. Freshman safety Shawn Dourseau leads the team with five interceptions, while freshman corners Rey Estes and Kylen Ross have picked off three potential passes.  

The special teams game has been one of the most effective in the state with freshman return man Rolandiss Whitener Jr. leading the way. He has returned 12 kicks for 323 yards highlighted by a 92-yard punt return to the house.