It was a showdown of two undefeated goliaths in the 2019 California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championship game featuring the Riverside City College Tigers (12-0) and the College of San Mateo Bulldogs (12-0). Both teams featured a stout defense complimented by a potent offense. At times, both teams bent, but the Tigers did not break leading to their first state title in 30 years with a 31-14 victory over the Bulldogs.
Head Coach Tom Craft earned his first state championship with the Tigers following a year in which he surpassed the century mark in wins, reeled in a Southern Regional Championship and was named the SCFA Southern Division Coach of the Year. He accomplished this unscathed after piecing together a squad that was unbeatable in all aspects of the game – something that has not been accomplished since 2013.
Riverside forced San Mateo to cough up the rock four times (two interceptions and two fumbles) marking the 13th consecutive game the Tiger's defensive unit recorded at least one turnover. Of the four turnovers, Riverside capitalized and scored on three, thus aiding a 31-point outburst against a Bulldog team that allowed just 9.7 points-per-game entering into the championship game.
Offensively, the Tigers racked up 431 yards of total offense leading to a 5.5 yards-per-play mark. Despite a slow start, Riverside utilized a 21-point second quarter to highlight the efforts.
Freshman quarterback Jacob Barlage was named the game's Most Valuable Player after earning a 22-for-31 clip through the air leading to 286 yards and a touchdown. His lone touchdown pass landed in the hands of freshman wide receiver Reggie Retzlaff for a 29-yard connection. The score put the Tigers up by 10 points at the time.
Barlage's go-to weapon was sophomore slot receiver Dylan Laurent. Laurent was named the Offensive Player of the Game after reeling in seven catches for 124 yards. His most crucial grab came on a critical third down play with five yards to go. Barlage hit him on a streak down the near sideline for 44 yards eventually setting up the Tiger's first score.
The running game was bruising. Freshman Thomas Kinslow toted the ball 26 times for 103 yards and a touchdown. He was the first Riverside rusher to cross the goal line. He was followed by a down-right dominant run from freshman Cameron Bausley which landed him in the end zone on a physical one-yard scurry to close the first half. He broke numerous tackles to put the Tigers up 17 entering into the locker room.
While the offense did plenty to get the job done, it was the defense that acted as a conduit. Sophomore safety Isaiah Pao Poa forced the first turnover by stripping the Bulldog's running back and freshman linebacker Zach Burrola recovered the fumble. That set up the Tiger's first touchdown. Later in the second quarter, sophomore safety Shawn Dourseau rose up for his seventh interception of the game, setting up the score right before halftime.
The most impressive take away hammered the final nail in the San Mateo coffin. Riverside had the Bulldogs pinned inside their own 10-yard line and brought the house on a second down and 17 yards to go. San Mateo's quarterback, who was illusive all afternoon, escaped a potential sack in the end zone and located an open receiver. However, freshman corner back Rey Estes read him like a book, step in front, intercepted the pass and waltzed into the end zone for the score.
Sophomore linebacker and defensive captain Kobey Fitzgerald was named the game's Defensive Player of the Game. He finished with five tackles and a quarterback hurry. The most impressive feature to his game is him being an utter ball magnet, thus changing the course of numerous plays.
All photos compliments of Bobby R. Hester
Release by Nicho DellaValle, RCC Sports Information Director
Video by Dustin Le & Bryan Wilson, RCC Multimedia