BY BONTA HILL
Since the early 90s, expectations are high for the 2008 City College Rams football team. Being ranked number one in the nation only adds to the pressure of being the defending national champions, and having a bull’s-eye on its back.
With 2008’s schedule being one of the toughest the Rams have encountered, this year’s City College team is not looking ahead, nor listening to the expectations that have been placed on them.
“ Overall, this year’s team has a lot of great athletes, and were faster overall than last year on offense and defense,” says Head Football Coach George Rush, who is entering his 32nd season coaching the Rams football here at City College. “ It is way, way too early to look ahead. We have a lot of improving to do,” Rush said.
This year’s squad includes a lot of young kids, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The offensive line is big, athletic, yet inexperienced with right tackle Dwayne Barton being the only returning starter. The receiving core is deep, fast and talented with Michael Hill, and redshirt freshman Darius Wright leading the group.
“We’re young, and there is a lot of hype on us,” says Hill. “Were hoping we can go out there and score a lot of points, and let the defense relax. I believe we can get the job done,” says Hill.
With last season’s talented quarterback Jeremiah Masoli moving on to Oregon, the keys to the Rams high powered attacked have been given to sophomore quarterback Chris Forni. That pressure doesn’t seem to be getting to Forni, as he is focused on getting better with each play.
“I’ve been just taking it one practice at a time, and that’s been the best way for me to block out the pressure,” says Forni. “With the schedule we have this year, and with us being a young team, we have to take it one practice at a time,” Forni added.
At running back, Andre Patterson leads a slew of running backs. Patterson came off the bench last season to help the Rams bring home the championship by rushing for 145 yards, and a touchdown in the title clincher.
On the defensive side of the football, the Rams bring back their entire secondary from last season including defensive championship game MVP, cornerback D.J. Gomes. Returning defensive lineman Edwin Herbert anchors a big defensive line. The linebacker’s unit is young and inexperienced, but is fast and athletic.
“Last year we were probably further along as far as our progress, but we’ll get to where we want to be,” says Gomes.
Rush also added, “ I’m a little concerned about the physicality so far in our team. We have to get a little more physical, but with a lot of young guys getting adapted to the college game, we’ll get there.”