By Dylan King
The Riverside City College Tigers remain undefeated at 8-0 after narrowly escaping El Camino College with a, 29-22, win Oct. 29 at Wheelock Stadium.
The Tigers were off to a great start after RCC tight-end Adrian Hughes made a nine-yard touchdown in the first minutes of the game. Quarterback Collyn Anderson was sacked by Warriors defense in the middle of the first quarter which resulted in him getting injured in his left non throwing hand. Back-up quarterback Ian Fieber replaced Anderson for the remainder of the game.
During the second quarter, the Tigers were able to prove themselves when kicker John Hilfer was able to make a 49-yard field goal. The Tigers led El Camino, 10-0, going into halftime.
The Tiger defense would start to lack power when El Camino’s running back Donovan Davis broke through and scored a 36-yard touchdown for the Warriors. El Camino would prove to the Tigers that their offense was finally in the game after they followed with another 36-yard touchdown. The score was 23-15 going into the fourth quarter.
RCC was able to rise up to the challenge of losing their starting quarterback in the first quarter by winning against El Camino.
Prior to the homecoming game against El Camino, RCC beat the L.A. Harbor Seahawks, 77-7, Oct. 22.
For the Tigers, dominating both sides of the ball has been their calling card this season, highlighted by a 45-7 win against Bakersfield Sept. 17 and a 59-0 drubbing of Chaffey College on Oct. 15. The team is averaging better than 47.1 points per game offensively, while managing to hold opponents to 14.2 points per game on defense.
A previous meeting against L.A. Harbor yielded a similar result, with RCC hammering the Seahawks 71-0, going up 44-0 after one quarter in Sept. 2013.
Head coach Tom Craft, one of only two coaches to lead his football team to an undefeated season at RCC (11-0), and winningest coach ever at RCC over a six-year stretch, believes his team has executed their game plan at a high level in recent weeks.
“We’ve always focused on ourselves, and not necessarily on the team we’re playing,” Craft said. “We want to get better every day, that’s always been our focus.”
One of the key contributors this season has been sophomore running back Seth Acda, whose 132-yards on 14 carries supplemented the RCC passing attack against a helpless Seahawk defense.
Acda’s relentless ground attack has placed him as the No. 1 running back for yards per game in the National Central League, according to the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA).
Acda leads the league with an average of 111.5 yards per game to go along with nine touchdowns this season, including a 49-yard touchdown run against L.A. Harbor that ignited cheers of excitement from the crowd in attendance.
“There’s always room for improvement each game,” Acda said regarding his performance against L.A. Harbor. “Each week, the offensive line starts to figure it out…we have to (continue) to get a feel for it. I don’t think I’ve had my best game yet. It’ll come.”
Sophomore quarterback Collyn Anderson had one of his best games this season, going 18-25 for 262 yards and five touchdowns in a game that saw RCC run the score up to 70-0 after three quarters.
“Collyn (really wants) to improve. As he gets more games under his belt and gets more comfortable with what we’re doing, I think he could develop into one of the better quarterbacks we’ve had at RCC,” Craft said.
The aerial show demonstrated by the Tigers’ offense was spearheaded by sophomore wideouts Malik Yoakum and Darius Hunter, who combined for 10 receptions and four touchdowns against the Seahawks defense. Craft expressed his view of Yoakum’s maturity as a player and a leader.
“He’s a valuable guy because of his work ethic,” Craft said. “He’s a good teammate, a great role model, and he’s one of the smartest guys we have.”
Acda also spoke to Yoakum’s offensive influence having an impact on the team overall.
“You can just see he’s open every time,” Acda said. “He always finds a way to get open, he’s an amazing kid.”
The well oiled machine that is the Tiger offense has plenty of defensive bite to support the scoring bark that has been displayed in recent weeks, and sophomore defensive back L’Daryl Mosley thinks the secondary deserves some credit.
“When we play as a team, it gets ugly,” Mosley said. “We practice hard. Coach pushes us in practice Monday through Saturday, so it’s an everyday thing (for us).”
Mosley also talked about the team’s relationship with the coaching staff this season.
“Coach Craft is very cool, he teaches us discipline,” Mosley said. “Since I’ve been here, everybody has been friendly. It’s like a family.”
Craft’s realistic approach has kept the team motivated despite the margin of victories or the threat of injuries that accompany the sport of football on all levels.
“Somebody is going to win, somebody is going to lose,” Craft said. “From the first couple of weeks until now, we’re a different team. We’re just trying to get better and bring the guys along that we think can help us and help the starters so they don’t have to do it all.”
As the regular season nears its finish, the Tigers are at the top of league standings, and according to Craft, the plan will remain the same, regardless of the outcome.
“We focus on preparation, not winning,” Craft said.
RCC will be on the road when they play against No. 6 Long Beach City College Vikings on Nov. 5 at Veterans Stadium at 6 p.m.
Paola Palacios contributed to this article.