Posted: August 27, 2015 | Written by: Laura Tapia
The Riverside City College football season is here and the team has already begun preparations for its season opener against Bakersfield.
The Tigers’ held its first scrimmage of the season in the Arthur N. Wheelock Stadium Aug. 22 showing glimpses of trouble ahead.
Head coach Tom Craft noticed there were deficiencies in some aspects of their game that Saturday morning.
“I thought the defense played with some energy, but really we didn’t do much offensively. We weren’t very good up front, throwing the ball, our running game. We got a lot of work to do. That’s what happens when you have a group that hasn’t played together,” Craft said.
This year the team only has three returning players from 2014 with most of its players being transfers, bounce backs and straight out of high school.
Craft is entering his sixth season as the head coach for the RCC football team, as a winning head coach his expectations can be high especially coming of a 10-2 season in 2014 making it to the SCFA Championship game but losing 35-14 to Mount San Antonio. Mount San Antonio went on to win the CCCAA State Football Championship.
This season the Tigers are looking to fill the void left by transferring sophomores. One of those voids is in the quarterback position.
The two quarterbacks up for the starting position are Brett Hollingsworth, who is a transfer from Palomar. Hollingsworth had 747 passing yards, five touchdowns and 77 completions in the seven games he played last year with the Comets.
While Hollingsworth was with Citrus Hill High School he had 3,340 yards for 32 touchdowns and five interceptions, which helped the Hawks clinch the 2013 Eastern Division CIF Southern Section Championship.
The second quarterback is Ian Fieber a bounce back from San Jose State, he was only with the Spartans for the 2014 spring semester and was listed as a redshirt. He completed 2 of his 3 passes in the spring game for 13 yards and threw one interception, according to Mercury News.
Fieber is a former three-star athlete from Mission Viejo High School where he had 2,854 passing yards and 24 touchdowns; he was considered a national athlete by multiple sports media outlets such as ESPN.
Craft has said that although the Hollingsworth and Fieber are battling for the starting quarterback position that he will most likely start both in the season opener against Bakersfield and hopes to make the decision of who will be the starting quarterback this season within the next two weeks.
This year’s team is filled with bounce backs from other universities; one such athlete is Ron Robinson a defensive back from UCLA where he participated in their 2014 spring practice.
He started for Santiago High School three years in a row in which he made an interception, a sack and 53 tackles during his senior year alone. He was also named to the league all-academic team for three consecutive years.
Adding to the roster are returners AJ Hotchkins and Jajuan Thomas. Hotchkins is a linebacker who played 12 games with the Tigers last year totaling 101 tackles, two sacks, an interception and a return for touchdown.
VIDEO: Riverside City College’s AJ Hotchkins (@AreilHotchkins) is a JuCo LB to watch out for this year. pic.twitter.com/ulq6fbqnLy
— James H. Williams✏️ (@JHWreporter) August 28, 2015
Returner Jajuan Thomas is a wide receiver who had 15 receptions, one touchdown, and 173 yards in 5 games played with RCC.
With only three starting returners it is difficult to say the least to have any momentum from last season.
“This is like six years ago when I first came here taking over a new team,” Craft said. “We probably have less returning players with experience than at any time in the history that I have had this program. It is a whole new team.”
Among the new additions on the team include sophomore linebacker Shiloh Pritchard, who played with Mount San Antonio during its run to win the 2014 CCCAA State Championship. He played in all 12 games during the Mountie’s season. He had 31 total tackles, two forced fumbles and a sack.
Although Craft would not provide a timetable, he believes the team has high chances of being a good football team. Craft refers back to last year after the Tigers’ lone regular season loss against Grossmont, as the moment when his team got on the same page.
The early season loss to Grossmont early in the season turned into a learning experience and not to take any game for granted.
“I don’t believe in the calendar games, I don’t say hey that game is going to be tough. The next game is the most important game,” Craft said. “We have to (play) the next game like it’s our toughest game. (We just have to) keep trying to get better and build off that and we did. That got our attention and turned our season around,” Craft said.
The Tigers will open the season on the road against Bakersfield on Sept. 5 before a two-game home stand against Saddleback and Grossmont.