By Cameron Winston
There is an unheralded superstar in the making who has had the Tigers rolling through what has been, so far, an undefeated season.
Riverside City College football is known around the California Community College Athletic Association as a “ground and pound” football team, and that credit can go to their freshman starting quarterback, Vic Viramontes.
Viramontes attended Norco High School from 2012 to 2016 and was a diverse athlete, playing basketball and football. He had a successful high school football career, throwing for 4,680 passing yards, 42 touchdowns and only 15 interceptions. He also showed his value in the run game, rushing for 4,190 yards and a total of 53 touchdowns on the ground, a number surpassing most running backs in the state at the time.
Numbers like that brought attention to the impressive fourstar athlete from schools across the country. He had originally committed to the University of Michigan but later chose to decommit from Michigan and take an offer from UC Berkley. He chose to stay for only one year, as he had gained a redshirt status his freshman year and was one of two quarterbacks to leave the school for the upcoming 2017 season which led to his arrival at RCC.
“We had a coaching change (at UC Berkley), and I thought it was a better opportunity for me to come to RCC,” said Viramontes. “It was close to home they have a good program here, and so I thought it was the best fit.”
As he arrived at RCC in the middle of the summer due to the transfer process, he had to play some catch up to learn the playbook and style of the team. His late arrival slotted him as the third quarterback on the depth chart coming into the season, behind Travis Jonsen and Matt Struck.
Viramontes proved his case becoming the starter for the Tigers after a week two performance Sept. 9 against Golden West College. That game saw quarterbacks Jonsen and Struck struggling to garner consistent momentum for the Tigers’ offense. Asked to take the helm at the start of the third quarter, Viramontes helped the Tigers achieve three straight scoring drives, which led to a 21-13 victory for the Tigers. He ended that night throwing one touchdown pass and rushing for 123 yards along with a rushing touchdown to boot. This became the beginning of a Tiger takeover.
Viramontes’ running prowess was immediately noticed. To see a quarterback run more yards than the opposing teams running back is certainly beyond the realm of normalcy that you see in most football games.
“Growing up, I’ve always been fast runner, ” said Viramontes. “When I grew up playing football, if plays weren’t there my coaches would tell me to extend with my legs. If my reads aren’t there or I don’t see something, and if I don’t want to force the ball I can always use my legs.”
Ever since that week two victory, Viramontes has been the starting quarterback, and each week he shows why this is his team. The Tigers have gone on to win the all four games he has started, earning them a 6-0 record and moving them to the No. 2 team in the CCCAA rankings. His season totals so far have looked like video game numbers as he has accounted for a total of 1,530 total yards and 20 touchdowns. Averaging nearly five touchdowns a game since starting.
“He’s a physical strong runner” said coach Tom Craft. “He’s got great acceleration and he makes good decisions as a runner.”
Coaches know how unstoppable he is running the ball, but they also would like to see him improve in the passing game. They saw the progression of that improvement in a week four game against Ventura College on Sept. 23. RCC took a 42-34 victory in a back and forth game that saw Viramontes throw for 284 yards and 5 touchdowns, while also adding 224 rushing yards.
The position of starting quarterback is never an easy task to take on. It is constant pressure as it is your job to carry and lead the team, analyze the defense and remember all the plays and routes. One bad game can cost you your position. When your job is constantly on the line, most tend to ignore that pressure and show up each and every week ready and determined to give it their best. However, Viramontes embraces said pressure.
“As a kid growing up, I liked the pressure” said Viramontes. “I’ve been doing this my whole life. At Norco, we’d be in a lot of close games and I just loved that type of feeling. That feeling that the game is on the line. I loved it.”
But, like his favorite player Tom Brady, one thing Viramontes knows is that he must keep his poise, stay calm and continue to improve his game overall.
“I can get better at everything,” Viramontes said. “No matter what, there’s always something someone could do to get better and succeed.”