The Yuba College Football team begins a new season with four non-conference games before coming home to play Feather River College the in the Bay Valley Conference opener on October 12, 2013.The 49ers should benefit from the experience and be ready by then for a strong showing at home in conference play. This year’s team is young with two new quarterbacks. The running game will, as always, be the focal point of the 49er offense. Elbert Shannon is featured as tailback and should carry the ball upwards of twenty times per game as a short passing attack compliments a ball control offense. The 49ers plan to use a rotation at quarterback with two freshman players, Luke Stephens sharing time Dometrius Long. The rotation should help both players learn the offense. Hoal said, “Both quarterbacks are healthy and have practiced well.” Turnover free football will be crucial to 49er success, along with tough defense.
According to Coach Ted Hoal,“The defense, although young, will be ready to start the season.” The linebacking core looks exceptional in practice and must play well for the defense to execute successfully. Last year the 49ers defense was strong up the middle with Tyrone Grove at nose guard. Grove has graduated, going to play Division II football. Ben Iremia will be the starter in the middle this year and will be counted on to stop the run and provide pressure on the quarterback.
Linebacker Billy Sparks has practiced well and should see plenty of playing time. This may help cushion the loss of Max Flores, an outside linebacker with excellent ball hawking skills, who created many turnovers last season. Flores was also lost to graduation. Replacing these two players seems to be a daunting task. Hoal plans to depend on his crew of “strong linebackers, using safety support to stop the run.” Practicing every day of the week in a tough summer heat without letup, the 49ers have come together with a lethal combination of mental and physical toughness.
On Saturday night, September 7, the Yuba College 49ers played their opening game of the season against the Gavilan College Rams. The 49er fans were anticipating the unveiling of Coach Ted Hoal’s new look defense. They were not to be disappointed. Despite being on the field most of the first half as the offense was unable to move the football, the defense held the 49ers in the game. Gavilan was unable to rush the ball, scoring just once for a 7-0 halftime lead.
The defensive tone continued in the second half as Yuba came out of the locker room fired up and ready to go. Continuing to stop the rush, the 49ers put heavy pressure on the Rams quarterback, forcing four second half turnovers, including two interceptions by cornerback Tony Wright. Both interceptions gave the 49ers good field position, setting up two second half touchdowns, as the offense came alive scoring 14 points off turnovers. The 49ers held a 14-7 lead until the last play of the game, when the desperate Gavilan offense finally put the ball in the end zone to tie the game.
The offense opened up the field with the pass in the second half, as wide receiver DaTwon Melvin took the heat off the 49er quarterback catching balls all over the field and helped set up both scores, including one TD catch of his own. Melvin was able to get open frequently, running good patterns, gaining yardage after the catch. He is a player to watch, an offensive star ready to blossom. Hoal was able to give new quarterbacks, Luke Stephens and Dometrius Long a chance to learn the offense by passing the ball in the fourth quarter when he could have run the ball and the clock. Confidence in his defense allowed this luxury. This coaching foresight should allow the offense and young quarterbacks to grow in the system, not just relying on a one dimensional running attack.
In overtime the defense once again, prevailed, stopping the Rams on fourth and thirteen at the 28 yard line to force a field goal. On the 49ers first offensive possession they quickly moved the ball inside the ten, where Hoal opted to kick a field goal on second and goal from the seven yard line. He called on freshman kicker, Braaton Sills from Nevada Union High School to win the game. Sills kick split the uprights for a 17-14 49er win.
The offense came alive in the second half as wide receiver DaTwon Melvin took the heat off the 49er quarterback catching balls all over the field and helped set up both scores. Melvin was able to get open frequently, running good patterns, gaining yardage after the catch. He is a player to watch, an offensive star ready to blossom. Hoal was able to give new quarterbacks, Luke Stephens and Dometrius Long a chance to learn the offense by passing the ball in the fourth quarter when he could have run the ball and the clock. Confidence in his defense allowed this luxury. This coaching foresight should allow the offense and young quarterbacks to grow in the system, not just relying on a one dimensional running attack.
I spoke with several of the players after the thrilling victory. Defensive tackle, Ben Eremia said,”The defensive effort was strong tonight, we made our assignments, but we are not satisfied, we will keep getting better.” Antonio Stuckey, a sophomore cornerback, said,” the defensive secondary is well prepared and will once again come out ready for next week’s game.” Hoal believes his team will improve off this effort,saying, ”The team is young and we need to cleanup some of the mistakes but the defense and special teams played well.”
The 49ers (1-0) played their second game of the 2013 season against the Owls of Foothill College in Los Altos. Falling behind 17-0 at the half, Yuba was unable to recover, scoring late to ma49erke the final score 24-7. Foothill came into the contest (0-1), having lost to Contra Costa the previous week 35-28. Contra Costa, the favorite to win the Bay Valley Conference crown this year, is always tough to beat. So, playing Foothill on the road was not to be an easy game. The defense allowed two first quarter scores to this vertical passing team but tightened up in the second half. Holding the Owls to just seven points in the last three quarters was encouraging for the 49er defense. Tomas Rodriguez, the defensive coordinator, said, “This game gave us an opportunity to compete.” For a young team still looking to find an identity on offense, the competitive spirit should carry over to the next game. Yuba College will have a bye week before facing West Valley in Saratoga.
Contra Costa is perennially the 49ers toughest opponent. If Yuba College is to make a run at the conference title and ultimately a spot in the sectionals, they must be ready for a big game against them. Strong defense and solid kicking are a good platform to build upon for a young team trying to reach playoff contention in a tough Bay Valley Conference in 2013-14. The 49ers should be tough against Contra Costa on the road. There is a great deal for fans to get excited about this year at Yuba College Football!
Yuba College has been very successful at graduating players, placing many of them going on to Division I or Division II schools. The transfer rate by the Athletic Department is still one of the highest at any other department at the college, stands at a very commendable 53%. This also ranks well compared with other community colleges in California. Many players come from other areas other areas in and out of state because of the integrity of the program here at Yuba College.The strict training regimen and strong disciplinary tone set by Coach Ted Hoal may be the reason for this success. Keep up the good work!