Yuba College had a disappointing start to the season, loosing their first match-up of the season to Feather River College. In a close battle, away, Feather River beat Yuba by 3 points. Yuba College players attribute their 30-27 loss to excessive penalties. However, they are confident that they have worked out those kinks and are ready to combat the College of Sequoias this week.
Defensive lineman, John Pollard (5’9″, 275) said “We basically beat ourselves with penalties, but I think we did a lot of corrections in practice, and we’re going to be ready and focused for this week.” Defensive back, James Fulton (5’10”) also feels that adjustments needed to be made during this week’s practice. He said, “I didn’t play as well as I could have. This week there were a lot of improvements to be made, so I improved.”
The Yuba College football team is not ready to let problems in their first game ruin an entire season. They are still expecting this season to be a pay-off from last year’s conditioning, training and experience. Last year’s 2-8 team was a disappointment to many who thought the team, consisting largely of sophomores, would have a guaranteed shot at a bowl game. However, due to changes in the conference ranking system, it became evident early that the 2002 Yuba team would struggle in competing with the much larger schools they would be forced to play. Knowing this, Yuba College head coach, Ted Hoal, took the opportunity to give the freshman of the 2002 season an opportunity for elevated playing time. Due to the skill that those freshmen gained, Hoal feels that the current sophomores are “seasoned and experienced.”
He said, “I see a lot of maturity this year. We have a lot of kids who played before, and we consist of more sophomores than last year. We brought in and played a lot of young kids last year, setting ourselves up for this season.”
The 2003 Yuba College football team is benefiting from the skills of eight returning offensive players, along with seven returning defensive players. While the team is a little young in the defensive backfield, Hoal is expecting a strong defensive line led by Soloni Taumalolo (6’0″, 265 lbs.) Hoal said, “(Taumalolo) is a good player; he was with us last year.”
Hoal has also predicted running backs, Va’a Fonoti (5’10”, 220 lbs.) and Norm Freeman (5’7″, 190 lbs.) along with quarterback Brian Botts (6’1″, 175 lbs.) to be exciting prospects that could lead the team to this week’s victory.
Hoal feels that with that the knowledge and maturity of this year’s team, they are better suited to break the fight-for-every-yard, running play tradition of the Mid-Empire Conference and agrees that any team that can perfect their throwing game has a good shot at a conference championship. He said, “If you throw the ball, then it softens the defense and the game is no longer one dimensional. Last year we had to run the ball more than we wanted to early in the season.”
Hoal believes that this year’s team can quickly change that due to a knowledgeable quarterback and the skills of the other returning players. He said, “We are all a year older, and we have some returning players that are very mature. We also have a quarterback [Botts] with some good experience, who makes smart decisions.”
Although the College of the Sequoias beat San Jose Saturday September 6 in a 28-14 victory, Yuba feels that they are ready to steal the glory from them this week. Full-back, Vercell Jones (5’9″, 235) said, “I think that we are going to do pretty good this week as we are edging out our mistakes from last Saturday.”