The American River College football team rallied behind each other to have a great season.

The team reached the Northern California Football Conference Championship game


American River College football team photo (Photo courtesy of Jon Osterhout)

The American River College football team had a great season and made it to the Northern California Football Conference Championship game on Dec. 3, which would end in a loss. 

The team has good reasons to be proud of its season. It won the National NorCal Conference Title on Nov. 5 against its rival Sierra college in a 35-10 victory. 

According to Jon Osterhout, ARC’s head coach, the team building work began last January.

“I like where we’re at,” Osterhout said. “Just across the board in regards to the continuity of the team, the brotherhood that’s been evolved and developed.”

Osterhout says it requires team bonding and building events to bring 50-60 new student athletes into the program and have everyone understand the message of the program.  

“It’s a delicate balance with bringing in a lot of newcomers to the program,” Osterhout said. “Students come from all walks of life and it’s important to build that bond.”

The season began on Sept. 3, with an exhilarating 50-yard field goal at home that gave them the win, then ARC had three straight losses. 

Osterhout believes this helped the team get stronger. The players leaned on each other.

“[We] found a way to win and [by] week five, we were at 2-3 and we knew we had a very good football team,” Osterhout said. 

ARC didn’t lose another game for the rest of the season. It finished the season at 8-3, and headed to the playoffs. 

Quarterback Kenneth Lueth had 104 completions out of 179 attempts, with 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and a total of 1229 passing yards.

Lueth says the bond in the team is what made the difference this year and the communication within each other made the team strong. There is a lot of support given to each other. 

“We’re really connected as a group,” Lueth said. “We know each other so well. We know how to calm each other down.”

Lueth believes trust and connection is key, it gives them the ability to communicate and builds the bond between teammates. This made the difference when the losses happened.

“We found ourselves as a team,” Lueth said. “We figured out what we did [well] and what we didn’t and adapted to that.”

The defense did its job. It had five interceptions, six fumble recoveries and 27 sacks for the season and defensive player of the year. 

“Dominic Spence is our safety and won defensive player of the year,” Osterhout said. “You don’t get to this position without having great players on both sides.”

The defense feels as though it was a team effort that made the team unique. 

Michael Sullivan, defensive tackle, remembers the 50-yard field goal making the statement. 

“Special teams were like, ‘we’re here and going to come help,’” Sullivan said. “[During the] San Mateo game, ‘defense we’re gonna help you guys out,’ and then [during] Shasta, offense scored every time.”

Sullivan says that the 5 a.m. spring workouts made the difference in the team. The team ran the parking garage together.

“Through the season I think we figured it out and that we have that belief in everybody,” Sullivan said. “That’s an important part.”

According to linebacker Luke Afato the team continued to get better each week.

“[The] week we lost, we didn’t lose sight of the goal,” Afato said. “We just keep working towards it and getting better.”

Everyone on the team speaks of a bond they built together that made it a brotherhood. 

“We knew whether we won or lost we had each other’s back,” Afato said. 

According to Osterhout there are moments that make a team special and give it a uniqueness. ARC football players and the coach say there is a brotherhood and a bond that was formed this season.