CCSF gears up to put disappointing 2013 behind 

After missing out appearing in the state championship game for the first time since 2008, City College of San Francisco hopes to build on an eight-win season a year ago. - JESSICA CHRISTIAN/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Jessica Christian/Special to the S.F. Examiner
  • After missing out appearing in the state championship game for the first time since 2008, City College of San Francisco hopes to build on an eight-win season a year ago.
Last season was abnormal for the City College of San Francisco football team as the Rams failed to reach the state championship game for the first time since 2008, and lost three games in a season for only the second time in 24 years.

But coach George Rush — now in his 38th season at CCSF — is moving around in his office swiftly and spry, and with the end of a long coaching tenure near, he’s confident — as he is every year — in his team’s ability to compete for a state championship.

CCSF did cap its year off with a 59-31 victory over Sierra in the San Francisco Community College Bowl, but no one in Rams paraphernalia will be boasting about their 8-3 record a season ago.

However, making the state championship will be more difficult this season due to the Northern California Football Association realigning the conferences. There will now be a four-team playoff (similar to Southern California) and three leagues (Bay 6, NorCal and Valley) in the National Division. The three league winners will get an automatic bid to the playoffs. There will also be a wild-card team from the three leagues that will complete the four-team playoff with the winner advancing to the state championship.

“When you get into the playoffs, it’s certainly a different dynamic because you may have to play somebody you beat or lost to,” said Rush, whose Rams open the season ranked fourth in the state. “It used to be you play the winner of the Valley, win that game and go straight to the state championship game. Now there is one more level to get there and it’s in consecutive weeks.”

Although he isn’t the biggest advocate of the new playoff format, Rush added, “Just tell us where, when, what time and we’ll be there.”

This season, the strength of the Rams is their offensive line, with four starters back from a year ago, highlighted by 6-foot-8, 280-pound right tackle Dominic DeSouza (Terra Nova High School), who Rush says is receiving at least 25 offers from Division I schools.

Sophomore Jahray Hayes, who led CCSF in rushing a year ago with 657 yards and 12 touchdowns (nine rushing, three receiving). Joining him in the backfield vying for caries is former Lincoln High School star Tyree Marzetta and 5-11, 185-pound Hawaii sprint champion Thomas Buntenbah-Leong.

At wide receiver, Rush feels that position has improved dramatically, freshman Maurice McSwain (Beaverton, Ore.). Who will be throwing to McSwain has yet to be determined, as sophomore Tony Rodriguez and a familiar name, Zach Masoli (Riordan High School), are competing for the starting quarterback job.

“We’re in a real good place when it comes to our offensive line, and we believe we improved dramatically at the wide receiver position,” Rush said. “Our running back situation also is in a better place. I feel good about those areas.”

Defensively, where the Rams gave up uncharacteristic 20 points a game in 2013, have six starters back from a season ago, and that includes 6-1, 200-pound Shalom Luani, who led Northern California with seven interceptions a year ago. Rush says Luani is “one the greatest safeties” he has ever coached.

Trevor Trammell (6-1, 280 pounds, Castro Valley High School) will anchor a deep defensive line, a unit that will surely take pressure off the linebackers, a unit that lost their starters from a year ago.

“I thought our secondary was real good last year, and we have three of those starters back,” Rush said. “We’re in a pretty good spot even though we lost our linebackers from a season ago. But we have six that we feel good about, and our overall depth is good on that side of the ball.”

Rams breakdown

Last season: 8-3 overall, 3-2 in NorCal Conference (beat Sierra 59-31 in the San Francisco Community College Bowl)

Three things to watch:

- Who will step up at the linebacker position will be vital. There are six players competing for playing time.

- The quarterback competition between Tony Rodriquez and Zach Masoli. The winner will have a slew of weapons to work with in the Rams’ loaded offense.

- The Nov. 15 meeting against rival CSM could potentially be for the top seed in the NorCal playoffs.

CCSF schedule

Saturday vs. Sierra 1 p.m.

Sept. 12 at Laney College 7 p.m.

Sept. 20 vs Fresno City 1 p.m.

Sept. 27 at American River 6 p.m.

Oct. 4 vs Modesto 1 p.m.

Oct. 18 at Foothill 1 p.m.

Oct. 25 vs Santa Rosa 1 p.m.

Oct. 31 at Diablo Valley 7 p.m.

Nov. 8 at De Anza 1 p.m.

Nov. 15 vs College of San Mateo 1 p.m

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Bonta Hill

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