By Leroy Orozco
Over the last few decades, Riverside City College football has established itself as a junior college powerhouse not only in the state, but in the country.
Up and down the roster, whether it be offense, defense or special teams, stars are born at Wheelock Stadium. Players come from all around seeking opportunity.
This year’s batch of transfers prove, yet again, that Tom Kraft and his elite coaching staff presents them with plenty of opportunities.
One of the players responsible for leading this past year’s team to the state championship game was freshman running back Dean Connors. Throughout the season, Connors shared the backfield with other running backs and posted 516 yards and seven touchdowns. In the middle of the year during the team’s bye week, Connors committed to Rice University.
Handing the ball off to Connors in the backfield was freshman quarterback Jordan Barton. Throwing for 2,400 yards and 19 touchdowns, Barton was awarded second team all-conference. Those numbers were enough to grant him an offer from University of Texas Permian Basin.
Offensive tackle Anthony LaFrance was the player protecting Barton’s blindside. LaFrance transferred to RCC from Weber State. And with the support of his position coach, Mustafa Johnson, the 6’5” product dominated the entire season. As a result, LaFrance received first team all-conference honors, as well as an offer to Fresno State. LaFrance signed with the Bulldogs on Feb. 2.
Joining LaFrance at Fresno State will be cornerback Carlton Johnson, who led the Tigers’ defense throughout the season. Johnson racked up 45 total tackles on the year and displayed his impressive ballhawk abilities with two interceptions, both returned for touchdowns.
Like LaFrance, Johnson received first team all-conference. Johnson also received offers from Brigham Young University, University of Massachusetts and University of Nevada Las Vegas.
The special teams were one of the strongest units. Leading them was kicker Ricardo Chavez. He was named first-team All-American, first-team All-California and first-team All-Conference. He also broke the school and state record twice, one of those kicks coming in the state championship. Now, Chavez will take his talents to the University of Idaho.
There were plenty of other key players who received transfer offers to continue their careers. Cornerback D’Avonte Davis-Smith went on to play for Davenport University. Defensive back Kylen Ross accepted an offer to play for the Sacramento State Hornets. Wide receiver Marquis Ashley committed to The University of Nevada in Reno . Defensive lineman Chris Ballard joined the Alcorn State Braves. Defensive lineman Deporess Schletty accepted a preferred walk-on offer to The Ohio State University.