By Patrick Cochran
City College football only has one goal for the 2014 season, conquering another state championship and adding to the legacy of winning at City College.
Football is a team sport, but it is undeniable the quarterback is one of the most important positions on a team.
Last season the Rams were led by Turner Baty, who is now playing at University of California-Davis. Finding a good replacement for Baty is crucial for the Rams this season.
The race to replace Turner Baty at quarterback during the spring football practices seemed to be a two-man competition between Anthony Rodriguez and Jeremiah Peralta, but now it appears that a new competitor has entered the race.
Zach Masoli, a freshman who played at nearby Archbishop Riordan High School and is the younger brother of former City College star player Jeremiah Masoli, could end up starting for the Rams.
The coaching staff is still undecided about who be under center for the season opener.
Head coach George Rush still hasn’t made up his mind on who’ll be the Rams’ starting quarterback when they play their first game against Sierra College on Sept. 6.
“We have had some good competition at the quarterback position so far,” Rush said. “Anthony has the most experience, and has a good arm. Zach is a great athlete and can throw the ball.”
During the spring it looked as though Rush would have to decide between Rodriguez and Peralta, but Masoli’s enrollment at City College has given him another option.
“We are close to the family. When Zach didn’t get the offers he wanted we had him come here,” said offensive coordinator Dan Hayes.
Jeremiah Masoli played at City College in 2007 and he helped lead City College to a state and national championship. After that season Masoli was a highly recruited junior college quarterback and he went on to be the starting quarterback for the University of Oregon, going all the way to the 2009 Rose Bowl. But prior to the 2010 season Masoli was kicked off the Oregon football team for the season because he was convicted of second-degree burglary.
One of the key returning players for the Rams is running back Jahray Hayes. The sophomore is the leading returning rusher, and the coaches are happy to see Hayes in such great shape.
“Hayes came in at 220 pounds. He is looking really strong out on the field,” Rush said. “We expect him to have a big season.”
Hayes will be running behind a veteran offensive line unit. Coach Hayes said that the line is one of the strongest parts of the team.
“We have three or four Division 1 prospects on our offensive line. I really believe this group will be better than a year ago, and last year we had three guys go D-1,” coach Hayes said.
The team is hopeful the defense will be as good as last years if not better. The team has a number of returning starters, led by Oregon State commit Shalom Luani. The unit has coach Rush excited.
“Our front seven is real good. Shalom Luani is as good of a safety to ever play at City. Top two or three safety. He is the crazy glue that holds this team together,” Rush said.
Luani is a superior athlete who helps out the team in defending both the run and pass. He is the type of player just as likely to stuff a running back behind the line of scrimmage as he is to pick off an opposing quarterback.
On top of being a playmaker, Luani is also an important team leader. After team practices Luani can be seen giving advice to other members of the defense.
“We’ve been working hard all off-season. We’re learning some new things for both sides of the ball, but also a lot of just getting better at the things we already do,” Luani said. “We only have one goal this year and that is to add another title to the board.”
Working extra hard to overcome last year’s shortfall seems to be a common goal throughout the 2014 team. For a program accustomed to winning state and national championships, finishing the season 8-3 was seen as a failure.
“Everyone on the team is using that as motivation,” Rodriguez said. “We know 8-3 is not enough, and that we have to win.”
Rush couldn’t agree more.
“You only play for one trophy, and that is the one they give to winners,” he said. “You won’t see any runner-up trophies in our case.”