By Nick Peralta
Another season looms as the Riverside City College Tigers prepare for another momentous season.
Fresh off the 2017 season that saw the team finish with a 10-2 record and reach the Southern California Football Association Championship game, RCC is primed for a glorious return to the gridiron.
The Tigers are to enter the 2018 campaign ranked eighth in the national preseason rankings per the 2018 College Football Association, a large leap in standings prior to last year’s 2017 season.
Despite the high standing upon the rankings ladder, the Tigers will look to play ahead as if it is any other season.
“Whatever happened last season, happened last season,” head coach Tom Craft said. “We don’t care how we did last season. We just have to look forward to what we do this season.”
Craft will be returning to the helm for his ninth consecutive season after being honored with the SCFA 2017 Coach of the Year award. He looks to haul in his sixth straight conference title and appear in his ninth consecutive bowl game.
“It isn’t surprising to me at all. The way he coaches, he makes you work for it,” freshman wide receiver Malik Jackson said. “You don’t go home not having learned something and he’s clearly a guy that cares about the success of everyone on this team that is willing to work hard and show that they want this.”
Along with their impeccable growth in league standing, RCC is the second highest ranked team in California behind the defending state champions, the Fullerton College Hornets.
The Hornets seemingly remain a mainstay rival to the Tigers after eliminating them from the SCFA Championship game last year in a dominant display, winning 75-16. The Hornets themselves are ranked second in the entire nation. However, the potential for any different sway of determination in playing the Hornets will not be considered if coach Craft has his way.
“(The Hornets) are not a rival. Mt. SAC is not a rival. Long Beach isn’t a rival,” Craft said. “The next team we play is the only rival. We’ve had a great clean program. We are the winningest program in Southern California over the last eight years. We have the best win percentage. It is because of what we’ve done in the past.”
The Tigers will start their season off at home in a scrimmage matchup against Palomar College on Aug. 23. They will soon after follow with the official season opener on the road against the El Camino College Warriors on Sept. 1. They will then host the Hornets on Sept. 8 in hopes of claiming immediate momentum to start the season.
One of the most notable new changes to the Southern California Football Association is the establishment of a newly constructed conference, which in turn produces an entirely new schedule.
RCC is now a member of the National Southern League comprised of Saddleback College, Southwestern College, Grossmont College, Orange Coast College and Golden West College.
The new set of teams that RCC will now play brings about a new bit of excitement for the Tigers as it will lead to a new set of opposition for Craft and his squad.
“We’re familiar with all the schools but there is a couple of schools that we’ve never played before that we’re going to get to play,” said Craft. “Orange Coast we’ll play for the first time, a couple others. But it’s the next man up, it’s the next game. Like always we don’t look ahead of anybody. We try not to overlook anybody for that purpose and while it may sound cliché, we can’t sleep on anybody on this schedule.”