After nearly two calendar years since the American River College football team lost a game, the Beavers 22-game win streak finally came to an end.
ARC lost 52-33 to reigning state and national champions City College of San Francisco on Sept. 29, ending the nation’s longest active win streak.
“We are good enough to win a lot of football games the rest of the way,” ARC Head Coach Jerry Haflich said. “We knew we were going to be tested every week, and we didn’t pass that test (Saturday).”
The loss came after a difficult week for the team, which included dealing with the recent shooting deaths of two people connected to a birthday party for Beaver cornerback Rozale Byrd.
Byrd played on Saturday, recording five tackles while forcing and recovering a fumble.
“I think it’s big for him and for us for him to get back,” Haflich said of Byrd after he missed two practices this week. “I hope we can help him heal.”
Down by four at halftime, the Beavers offense imploded, giving up the ball five times and the loss of starting running back Devontae Booker nearly brought the offense to a halt.
Booker injured his ankle after just one rush in the second half. The leading scorer in the state (22.5 points per game) was limited to just 13 carries and 90 yards. Backups freshman Drake Tofi and Antonio Bumpers played well in Booker’s absence, but quarterback Jonathan Kodama was picked off three times, one in the third quarter that was returned for a touchdown—and the Beavers could never climb back.
“We are ready for this type of situation just in case,” Tofi said. “We prepare all the same and stay in that mindset that if one of us goes down, another one is ready to step up. Booker going down is a terrible thing for us, but we rally around.”
Saturday was the first game of the season for Tofi after sitting out the first four games with a dislocated collarbone. The freshman from Monterey Trail High School finished with 40 yards rushing and a late touchdown for the Beavers.
Haflich said Booker should be at full strength in two weeks when the Beavers head to Stockton to play the Valley Conference opener at San Joaquin Delta College on Oct. 13.
During the fourth quarter in the press box on Saturday, ARC Athletic Director Greg Warzecka was not ashamed of the loss, instead acknowledging this as just one of ten regular season game—and a non-conference game at that.
“We are very proud of our team and what they have accomplished this season,” Warzecka said. “It really just represents one game in the season. The schedule is so different. Nobody ever thought we would run the table and go 10-0. The schedule is just too tough.”
This season’s team hopes to restart like the 2010 team did after losing an early season game.
“We can either hang our heads and walk away or we can reload and come back and make a run at the Valley Conference,” Haflich said. “We’ve got a lot of football left and a lot to play for. We have a tremendous group of players. I love my football team.”
The Beavers still have a solid chance at a rematch against SFCC in the postseason. The winner of the Valley Conference which the Beavers are in, plays the winner of the Rams conference (NorCal) to play for the right at the state title game. If both teams win out, a rematch would happen.
On Saturday, players were more open to realize how the loss can put what has happened over the last 22 games in perspective.
“Sometimes you have to take a tough loss to realize that there is someone who is better than you,” Tofi said. “We always try to fight for that top spot. It’s a great thing for us that even though we lost, it will keep us humble and we are not a perfect team.”