The first year playing in the Valley Conference, American River College won the division title but ended their season against City College of San Francisco in the Northern California Community College Championship game with a 41-36 loss. CCSF went on to play for the California Community College State Championship.
American River saw several players from last year’s team advance to new homes. There were 10 offensive players who transferred to four-year universities led by center Nicholas Kelly, who went to Arizona State University. The Beavers also lost All-American running back Devontae Booker. Linebacker Samson Faifili, University of Kansas, would leave along with eight other defensive players.
“Of the 80-plus guys on the team roster probably 60 of them are new to the program, so it’s a lot of new faces,” head coach Jerry Haflich said.
The Beavers are only returning two defensive starters Ewing Simmons and Trevor Jones. Even with the influx of new players, coach Haflich is upbeat about the defense.
ARC has high hopes for the season and all eyes are on a championship.
“To go 12-0, with a state title,” Jones said. “We want to be the first ARC team to not only go undefeated, but to go to Nor-Cal and unlike last year go to state and win state.”
The defense will be key to the Beavers making it deep in the playoffs.
“That group [defense] will define themselves,” Haflich said. “As we begin to play, they will develop their own identity.”
One of the players, Sione Umufuke, actually played for American River several years ago before taking time off from playing, but now he is back.
“I think we’re going to be one of the best defenses that have been here in a long time,” Haflich said.
Not only did the team add so many new players to the program, they also added six new coaches to the nine coach staff as well. The Beavers also promoted a new offensive coordinator, Jon Osterhout, who had previously coached the offensive line at ARC.
Offensively the Beavers are returning quarterbacks “Magic” Mike Hicks and Jonathan Kodama. Slot receiver Tyler Trosin – who lead the team last season with six receiving touchdowns – wide receiver Dan Thomas and wide receiver Ferrance Lang who is currently battling an injury, among others.
“I think they are very explosive, as was last year’s team,” Haflich said.
ARC started the season on the road versus Monterey Peninsula College, before playing back-to-back home games against Sacramento City College and Chabot College. The Beavers will get a chance to avenge last season’s playoff loss to City College of San Francisco when they travel there Saturday, October 5.
The Beavers are looking to go to the State Championship for only the second time in school history.
“We’re trying to win State this year,” Trosin said.