By Stephen Peltz
Riverside City College defeated Saddleback College 56-25 to secure their second consecutive National Southern Division Championship.
The first few drives of the game seemed to make everyone believe they would be watching a shootout between Saddleback and RCC.
Drives consisting of deep touchdown passes started the game off strong but then RCC’s defense started slowing down Saddleback’s quick scoring drives into lengthier drives that ended in punts.
“This was a great game tonight and we played well in all phases. We just had the one punt block but our defense did a good job of containing the quarterback” said head coach Tom Craft about the Tigers defense turning the tide of the game.
This kept RCC from having to combat Saddleback’s high powered long pass offense and move to focus on the run game early on. The Tigers then established “ground and pound” style offense, only throwing the ball when they had to after the first quarter.
“Coach Craft wants us to run the ball in the first half and then try and pound the ball the second half,” said running back Thomas Kinslow, scored two rushing touchdowns during the game. “But … coming out we saw the different fronts and the stacks that they had to try and attack the ball and attack the line of scrimmage”
Quarterback Jacob Barlage became the starter after Mike Irwin seemed to have suffered some kind of knee injury during the Southwestern game on Nov. 2. Since then Barlage has played nearly every minute except during the final few drives against Saddleback and Orange Coast.
“I feel like I’ve improved a lot,” Barlage said. “I feel like coach Craft is … coaching me up. You know, getting more reps in practice and just getting able to see it a lot better and just improving every single day.”
Barlage praised the win against Saddleback but immediately moved his mind to next week’s game.
“It’s amazing,” Barlage said. “when you get all three like that so we just gotta have a great week of practice and come and ball out next week”