Though they did not make the playoffs, players on the American River College football team are glad that they will be together on the field for one last game.
The team will host San Joaquin Delta College in the Gridiron Classic Bowl on Saturday at 1 p.m., the last game for everyone on the team this season and the last for the 19 sophomores at ARC.
“The thought of not being able to play with these guys again next year strikes a chord, but the goal is to transfer,” said Jihad Vercher, the team’s starting quarterback. “I know they want to see me go on.”
Vercher, however, added that the tone and attitude of team is on a positive note heading into the last game.
“It’s more a feeling of appreciation than being sorry,” Vercher said.
Vercher had his best game of the season in the team’s win against Sacramento City College, finishing the game 23 of 34 for 357 yards and two touchdowns, both to wide receiver Jonathan Lopez.
Lopez, also a sophomore on the team, has been one of Vercher’s top receiving targets throughout the season, and said the two built a connection early.
“During the offseason, we linked up when he first came here and I was able to run a few routes for him,” Lopez said. “You can see that paying off in games like this one.”
Lopez finished the game with 49 yards on five receptions.
Head coach Jon Osterhout expressed disappointment that the team won’t compete in the playoffs.
The team lost at Butte College on Nov. 7 on a last-second hail Mary, which at the time severely dimmed and ultimately did end its playoff hopes, despite finishing tied with Butte as the NorCal League co-champions.
“I just know we beat (City College of San Francisco). We beat the No. 1 team in the state. We beat the No. 1 team in the north,” Osterhout said after the win over Sac City. “I thought it was a great regular season.”
Osterhout also praised the team’s mentality and how mature the players were despite the minimal number of sophomore players.
“This is a smart, tough, dependable group of guys,” Osterhout said “Regardless of what happens, I’m really going to love playing another game with this football team.”
ARC defeated SJDC 44-24 earlier this season on Sept. 19, a win that at the time got the team over the .500 mark.
Running back Armand Shyne, who was the primary back early in the season and made all the team’s rushes against Sac City, said that he is ready for one more go-round to finish the season out.
“I feel great (going into next week),” Shyne said. “I have faith in my line, in my dogs, so we’re just going to finish this season out strong.”