Last year the City College football team participated in a bowl game appearance and a 6-4 overall record and a 3-1-conference record.
This season returned two defensive and three offensive players from last year’s team, but that didn’t keep head coach Dannie Walker from saying, “I believe we can win our conference,” before their first conference game against Feather River College in October.
Unfortunately City College was unable to bring that goal to fruition by finishing this year 3-7 overall and 1-3 in the Mid-Empire Conference.
Tackling the passer has not been forgotten in defensive coordinator and special teams coach Tony Kehl’s defensive scheme, he said.
Marshall Lipke has had four sacks this season, second on the team only to Ethan Westbrook who led the team by sacking opposing quarterbacks 10.5 times for a combined loss of 78 yards.
The special teams has amassed over 1,000 kick return yards, with a long return of 84 yards for Jon Dunn and 91 yards for Keenan Williams.
Kehl’s style of defense helped the Panthers to wins, including the 28-21 victory over conference opponent College of the Siskiyous, according to Walker.
At least eight different athletes contributed an interception to accompany the team’s 27 sacks.
The City College secondary also returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the third quarter of their much-anticipated final conference game against rival American River College.
Although City College has no opportunity to move higher in the conference standings, the team looked forward to the chance to spoil the season of undefeated American River College in the final conference game, according to offensive coordinator Booker Guyton Jr.
“ARC is unbeaten this season so we’re looking to spoil their record,” Guyton said.
City College was unable to overcome American River taking a loss, 47-28.
Team captain Devian McKinnie was able to rush for two touchdowns, and showcase the rushing talent that freshman running back Tyrone Freeman, 19, said he believes is the team’s strongest point.
“Running the ball has been strong for us,” Freeman said. “The pass wasn’t as strong this year, but we have a lot of good running backs getting yards.”
The team’s 13 rushing touchdowns compared to its seven passing touchdowns this season.
The Panthers struggled to score points this season and averaged only 18 points a game while giving up 31.9 points a game to opponents, in part because of turnovers, according to Walker.
“It’s just the mental errors, that’s what has plagued us all year,” Walker said.
Quarterback Dominic Carmazzi threw 20 interceptions for the Panthers this season. He threw for over 1,200 yards and six touchdowns, while distributing the ball to allow six different receivers the catch over 100 yards on the season.
Freeman said he believes the team’s most memorable moment of the season was its 34-22 win over Sierra College.
“We didn’t beat Sierra in a long time, so it felt good to win that game for coach against a rival,’’ Freeman said.
The Panthers celebrated their All-Conference winners featuring defensive line Ethan Westbrook as Defensive MVP for the 2011 Mid-Empire All-Conference selections. For a complete list of athletes selected for awards visit the athletics webpage.
The team will look to come back stronger than ever next season according to Freeman, who said he has decided to return next year.
The team’s off-season conditioning routines and workouts will be the barometer for City College next season.
“We got to get in the gym, stay fit [and] stay in shape,” Freeman said. “[We need to] do the work on the field to learn. It’s not just one, you need both.”