Yuba College lost their second home game of the season to Butte College on Saturday September 20 bringing the Yuba record down to 1-2. However, Yuba is hoping that the 29-20 loss against a tough Butte team does not affect the momentum that they gained the previous week’s game.
Yuba College triumphed in their first home game of the season in a match-up against the College of the Sequoias, ending in a 7-6 win. Yuba College came out of the first half ahead, with a score of 7-0. The highly defensive game kept that score locked until a brief falling away in the fourth quarter when the 49ers fumbled the ball near their own end zone. This resulted in the College of the Sequoias scoring their only touchdown of the game, but losing their extra point attempt to a bad field goal snap. Yuba continued their defensive efforts throughout the rest of the quarter, ensuring a 49er victory.
Yuba had a disappointing start of the season, losing 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. Defensive lineman John Pollard (5’9″, 275 lbs.) 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 from now on.”
Yuba College is 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 season’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.”
Yuba College will travel to Eureka on Saturday, September 27, to play the College of the Redwoods. Yuba College linebacker James Kaopuiki (5’10”, 195lbs.) is expecting to see great things from this week’s game. He said, “The defense is going to do a lot this week. If we can stick together as a family, we can accomplish anything.”
However, many of the teammates agree that one thing that the team needs is encouragement from the sidelines. Yuba College tight end Junior Toa (6’2″, 255 lbs.) said, “We need more fans. We need support from the school and from the community.”