Life on Earth was supposed to be annihilated in 2012, but SWC football players are ecstatic that Armageddon has been delayed long enough to play the 2013 season. It was the Jaguars who did the annihilating this year, romping to a 9-2 record and a smashing 34-23 Patriotic Bowl win over San Bernardino Valley College.
“It was an incredible success,” said coach Ed Carberry. “The biggest success will be figured out when we see how many guys transfer to universities. That will be the ultimate success of this team, but it’s the winningest sophomore class in the history of the school. It is the first time in the history of the school that we’ve won back-to-back bowl games, so we’re certainly going to celebrate all of that.”
Carberry’s super sophomores end their community college careers with an 18-3 record, a mark matched by only three of the other 69 football programs in the California Community College Athletic Association over the last two years. Linebackers Khaalid Abdullah and Jeremy Burgos started both seasons.
“We’re done here,” said Burgos, his Chicago accent making it difficult to picture him anywhere but behind the wheel of the Bluesmobile. “From what last year told us and this year, me and him are probably one of the best combos to ever play here.”
Abdullah, the Joliet Jake to Burgos’s Elwood, was named Defensive Player of the Game.
“I was hoping to get it, that’s what I was working for,” he said. “I mean, I wasn’t actively working for it, but just play as hard as you can and good things will come to you, and that’s what I did, just bust my ass every single play. Go hard, 100 percent every time.”
Abdullah certainly had his work cut out for him. San Bernardino Valley quarterback Collin Willis earned the Offensive Player of the Game award behind a 263-yard, two touchdown performance. Despite Willis’s individual success, the Wolverines conference-best offense was held 13 points below their conference-leading 36.1 points per game.
“[The Jags] are a fast team,” Willis said. “I think we had a difficult time blocking them because their speed was throwing us off. But they’re a great team. I want to beat them. I haven’t beaten ‘em yet. I give credit to their defense, they work hard for it. Congratulations to them.”
SWC had pulled away early, taking a 14-3 lead into the half. Penalties and mistakes, however, let SBVC creep back within three at 20-17 score in the fourth quarter. Both of Willis’s touchdown runs followed pass interference penalties, one of which negated a Kiman Edwards interception. In fact, there was as much yellow on the field as a farmer’s market banana display. The teams had 32 combined penalties for 301 yards, constantly interrupting the flow of the game, according to Burgos and his fellow Soul Man Abdullah.
“You lose momentum right away,” said Burgos. “You get an interception, you get the ball back to your offense and then a flag comes and you’re thinking in your head ‘are you kidding me?’ We were just right off the field, we see the flag…”
“It’s pretty demoralizing,” Abdullah chimed in.
Burgos and Abdullah make quite the pair. Their chemistry, along with defensive tackle Alfonso Hampton’s mentality, are big reasons why the Jags finished the year with one of California’s top 10 defenses in points allowed per game, yards allowed per game and sacks.
“I feel like I don’t allow much to get through my gap or even my other d-tackle’s gap,” said Hampton. “If he can’t be there to make it, I’m going to do the best I can to get there and stop that run.”
SWC’s defense regained its first half form after allowing the Wolverines to come within three points. An interception by Kiman Edwards was book-ended by wide receiver Cameron Lee’s two fourth quarter touchdowns. Lee, winner of the game’s MVP award, also had a first quarter score. He was on the receiving end of 151 of quarterback Frank Foster’s 321 passing yards and three of his touchdown throws. Wide receiver Jason Gaines caught Foster’s other touchdown pass.
Foster said he was excited about the win, but the previous week’s loss against Chaffey was still in the back of his mind.
“We obviously (did not want) to lose those two games,” he said, “but it was great coming off of that conference loss last week and bouncing back. What we did overall, nine wins, is pretty impressive.”
The End of Days may not be near, but at least for the sophomores their Mayan Hall calendar ended with a bowl victory.