Hard-hitting, rough and dirty play are what define many good rivalries in football.
When American River College’s football team faced off against City College of San Francisco on Saturday, the closeness of the game showed how serious this matchup was to each team.
The game had 26 penalties between the two teams, including five personal fouls and two on the game’s final drive.
Wide receiver Marc Ellis, who played a key role during the game-winning drive converting a third down, said that ARC wasn’t phased by the rough play and, in fact, it’s how they like to play.
“We’re us to this kind of environment,” said Ellis. “This is how we play football.”
“If they punch us in the mouth, we’re going to punch them back,” he continued.
ARC head coach Jon Osterhout shared a similar sentiment regarding his team’s ability to play in a rough situation.
“We don’t flinch,” said Osterhout. “We can play in these type of environments. It’s a culture that’s been built at our program.”
Starting quarterback Jihad Vercher said that CCSF players were trying to rattle them and try to rattle ARC with big hits throughout the game.
“The whole game,” said Vercher. “Mainly them trying to get us out of our game.”
He added that, before the final play of the game, CCSF’s special teams were taunting kicker Sam Kiel in an effort to try to get him to miss the kick.
“Just kept calling his name, like ‘Hey Sam!,’” said Vercher. “(They were) taunting him, stuff like that.”
Vercher was hit hard and appeared hobbled during a pass attempt late in the game during a play where he almost completed a go-ahead touchdown pass to wide receiver Zack Suarez.
“(The hit) rung my bell a little bit, it was a good solid hit by that (CCSF defender),” said Vercher. “I can’t really say much about it … had to stay in the game, finish the game out.”
CCSF offensive lineman Jean Eason was also injured, hurting his ankle in the third quarter and staying on the trainer’s table for the rest of the game.
ARC starting running back Armand Shyne, who had a 63-yard touchdown run in the game, said that the team’s togetherness helps it win tough and dirty games like this one.
“It’s cause we’re a family, man,” said Shyne. “We work for each other. That’s it.”
He added that the atmosphere of the game has him excited moving forward.
“I’m hungry,” said Shyne. “ I want more.”
Ellis said that when a team tries to play ARC tough, it responds by playing harder.