College of San Mateo Bulldogs must run conference gauntlet 

The 2010 season was a roller coaster ride for the College of San Mateo Bulldogs — one that was fun, had fans sick to their stomach and feeling better after it was all said and done.

CSM was sitting at 6-0, primed to make a return trip to the California State Championship.

Click on the picture for the Bulldogs' schedule.

But then a three-game trek in the tough NorCal Conference against rivals Foothill, City College of San Francisco and Butte derailed the Bulldogs’ plans and squelched any hopes of returning to the state championship.

“The NorCal Conference is the toughest in the state, I don’t care what people in Southern California [say],” San Mateo coach Bret Pollack said. “The margin of error in this [conference] is very slight. It was a very tumultuous, difficult stretch for us.”

The Bulldogs finished their season with two straight victories, capping the year off with a 27-20 victory over College of the Sequoias in the Bulldog Bowl.

“6-0 expectations are high, 0-3 expectations are gone and now you’re finished,” Pollack said. “I was impressed with our character more than anything. We turned it around and finished our season strong, winning our bowl game.”

Pollack hopes last season’s experience will catapult into a big 2011 for the Bulldogs, including a defense, led by defensive back Ron Fields, that returns eight players from a season ago.

Quarterback Miles Freeman is back after seeing limited action last season and is being pushed by Blake Plattsmier and Jonathan Willis.

Running back Vaughn Smith also returns, and he’ll be joined in the backfield with incoming freshman Chris Adams, who comes from North Bay prep powerhouse Marin Catholic.

CSM loses All-American wide receiver Rahsaan Vaughn, who is now lacing up his cleats for the Oregon Ducks.  Even though they return three starters on the offensive line, they lose All-Conference left guard Jeremy Galten, now at the Southern Cal.

“Having difference-makers like that gone, of course they’ll be tough to replace,” Pollack said. “The good thing though is we have a lot of kids who got valuable playing time a season ago.”

The season kicks off for the Bulldogs on Sept. 10 when they travel down to Fresno City College. However, Pollack knows his team fate will come down to who wins the NorCal Conference, which has become an annual dogfight between his Bulldogs, CCSF, Butte and Foothill.

CSM will play Foothill, CCSF and Butte, all in that order, in a three-week stretch starting on Oct. 22.

“That’s where you find out where your team stands,” Pollack said. “The games before that [stretch] are important, but not critical because if you win our conference, you play for the state championship.”

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Bonta Hill

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