BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
To reach Saturday's California Community College Athletic Association football title game, Bakersfield College had to knock off the five-time defending Southern California champion Mount San Antonio College Mounties, who have dominated the South since the mid-2000s.
To win the state championship, the Renegades will need to beat City College of San Francisco, a team that has dominated California JC football since the 1990s.
STATE TITLE GAME
Who: BC (10-2) vs. CC San Francisco (10-1)
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium
Tickets: $15 adults, $10 students, seniors and children under 12. Tickets are available at Kern Schools Credit Union locations, Luigi's Restaurant, The Padre Hotel, Frugatti's Restaurant, Covenant Coffee, Action Sports and the BC ticket office.
CCSF 2012 GAME LOG
Sept. 1: Beat Diablo Valley 48-41
Sept. 7: Won at Laney 38-6
Sept. 15: Beat West Hills 71-6
Sept. 22: Won at Fresno 35-31
Sept. 29: Won at Amer. River 52-33
Oct. 13: Won at De Anza 46-39
Oct. 20: Beat San Mateo 31-28
Oct. 27: Won at Foothill 51-13
Nov. 3: Beat Santa Rosa 35-7
Nov. 10: Lost to Butte 31-21
Nov. 24: Beat Amer. River 41-36
The Rams have won seven state titles -- six since the current playoff system was implemented in 1997. Twelve CCSF teams have won Northern California titles since 1997 and 10 since 2000. And this season, the Rams won their 20th NorCal Conference title in 22 seasons.
In the 23 seasons since 1990, the Rams are 239-25. Since CCSF beat BC 31-13 in the 2000 state title game, the Rams are 125-14.
CCSF coach George Rush, 65, is in his 36th season as Rams' head coach. His career record is 307-87-4.
"We've done a couple of things," Rush said in explaining the reasons for CCSF's dominance over more than 20 years, which is made even more impressive because of the constant player turnover in two-year JC programs.
"We've had a great staff," Rush said. "The coaching staff is wonderful. They like being here. They're dedicated to the players. ... We've had tremendous support from our administration and the board of trustees. We've been able to attract real quality players, players who come here who can develop their grades and their athletic skills.
"You put it all together. They play hard and do what we've asked and you have a chance to be a quality program."
Having that level of success brings a flood of inquiries from local and non-local players. The CCSF roster, like many teams throughout California, is dotted with out-of-area athletes. Twenty-three are from out-of-state, including four from Europe.
"Who am I to take football away from someone if they want to play and have some ability?" Rush said. "The last thing you want to do is cut that off from someone.
"But at the same time, you can only have so many on your squad.
"We try to define what their skills are. What do they bring to the team? Are there any special needs? Can they graduate?
"When players come here we want them to figure they're as important as a person as well as athletically.
"I probably get 20 to 25 emails a day making inquiries to come here. You can't take them all. You try to be polite, courteous. Maybe you refer them some place else if you can't take them."
The Rams have one loss this season -- 31-21 to Butte in the regular-season finale. CCSF had wrapped up its conference title before that game, Rush noted.
"We knew that coming into that game, that the worst thing for us was being co-champions," he said. "And if that happened, it wasn't going to change anything. We'd still be in the playoffs with home-field advantage.
"We didn't prepare as well as we should have and Butte is a fine football team that came in ready to play. We fiddled around and didn't get it done."
The Rams had plenty of challenges, holding off American River of Sacramento in the Northern California title game. The Rams won 41-36 after getting a scare: American River's go-ahead TD in the final seconds was nullified by a penalty.
On Sept. 29, the Rams beat American River, 52-33.
"It's hard playing people twice," Rush said. "The advantage goes to the person who lost the first time, making the assumption it's a good team that you don't overwhelm with sheer ability. And American River is a good team."
Rush said his team's success this season starts with the offense.
Quarterback Andrew Spivey is 197-for-336 passing for 2,657 yards and 31 touchdowns. Running back Kristoffer Olugbode has 1,636 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. Wide receivers Kyani Harris (63 catches, 761 yards) and J.J. Hudson (34 catches, 345 yards) have 10 touchdown receptions each and wideout Dezmon Epps (44 catches, 799 yards) has seven touchdown catches.
"We've been dynamic on offense," Rush said. "We're very well balanced. We run the ball well, our receivers are good and our punting and kickoff games have been outstanding. We can put people in the hole if we get into difficulty and our cover team is strong.
"I wouldn't say our defense is great but when we've needed to make big plays, we've made them."
Rush said he and BC coach Jeff Chudy each have "six or seven" game tapes of each other's contests this season.
"I've seen the Bakersfield and Mount SAC game," Rush said of BC's 30-21 win in the SoCal title game. "They deserved to win. I expect we'll need all hands on deck."
Rush declined to comment on what differences he sees in BC's most recent game and tapes of earlier games in the season.
"I'm not really in a position to critique what they're doing," Rush said. "They're extremely well coached. They have great athletes and they play within themselves. I find that impressive."
And Rush said there's another element to this game after recent years when CCSF and Mount SAC met almost yearly for the state title.
"What's fun about this game: Neither team has a history. We haven't played since 2000 and the only other time we played them was 1982 when Gerry Collis was the head coach."