by Larry Ham
It’s traditional after the final game of the season to write a sort of “postmortem” on the season, and highlight the good moments and maybe the bad. In this case, there were far more bad moments in a one win season, but there were some good moments as well.
The Tiger’s lone win came in week four, when wide-out Will Hanford made a tremendous catch in the end zone for a come from behind win over Sacramento City College. There was the line-drive-off-the-coconut-on-side-kick against Laney in week nine. There were other good moments as well, and the guys who stayed with it should be proud of their efforts, but the issue of the guys who DIDN’T stay with it is one of the bad aspects of this past season.
The injury bug was especially unkind to the Tigers this year, but too many players simply quit the team when things got tough, or they didn’t feel they were playing enough. There were sixty-nine players on the roster for the first game, and only thirty-four were dressed for the final game. This is inexcusable. I haven’t talked to any of them, and if there were extenuating circumstances for any player, then I apologize. But playing sports in college (or anywhere else, for that matter), is a commitment that should be followed through on, whether you’re winning or not; whether you’re playing or not. One of the plagues on our society now is a lack of responsibility when it comes to following through on commitments. I totally understand frustration with playing time. I was the twelfth man on an eleven man basketball team in high school. But commitment and loyalty are an important part of life.
The antithesis of those who chose to quit is a player like Tevin Jackson. Tevin is a 5’11”’ freshman wide receiver from Caruthers. He’s too small to play college football, right? He’s probably heard that a few times. And he didn’t play at all for the first two thirds of the season. Did he mope? Nope. Did he quit? Nope. And when attrition required him to play in the final two games of the season, he was ready, he stepped in and did a fine job.
There were others as well. Quarterback Trey Mitchell was benched in the middle of the season. But when his replacement, Devin Knudsen, went down with a concussion, Trey stepped right back in and played hard the rest of the way.
Josh Bulware, a sophomore linebacker, suffered a back sprain and a cracked rib in the middle of the season. But he vowed to return, and he did, missing just one game. And fittingly, he scored the Tigers’ final touchdown of the season, scooping up a fumble and running it into the end zone against Chabot.
Whether there are changes forthcoming for the Tiger Football program is unknown. I am a big fan of head coach Randy Whited and his staff of assistants. But several below average seasons in a row often cause changes to be made. My suggestion would be to retain the coaching staff, who never gave up and worked their butts off, and recruit a few more players like Tevin Jackson, Trey Mitchell and Josh Bulware.