SRJC heads into conference season undefeated


Albert Gregory

SRJC defensive back Keith Benjamin intercepts a pass and returns it 47 yards for a touchdown on Oct. 1.

Albert Gregory, Sports Editor


No. 1 Santa Rosa Junior College’s football team’s expectations are high after finishing their non-conference season 5-0 and plan to take it one game at a time until they complete their ultimate goal: win a state championship.

The team had a bye week this past weekend before starting their conference schedule.

SRJC is ranked first overall in the Northern California Football Conference poll and third in the statewide poll of all community colleges.

The defense has been the strongest aspect of the team this season, allowing an average of just 293.2 yards and 11.4 points per game, the second lowest in the state.

“Our defense is always really stellar,” said sophomore quarterback Mitch Hood. “They’ve kind of been carrying us.”

The team’s pass defense has been especially impressive. Led by twin brothers defensive backs Keith and Keilan Benjamin, the defense allowed less than 200 yards through the air and are top five in interceptions in the state, with 10 picks already this season.

In most of SRJC’s games this season the offense has struggled to score, but in the Bear Cubs’ most recent game against Sierra College on Oct. 1 the offense came alive, putting up 55 points while the defense shut them out.

“I think we played well as a team; we all gelled,” said sophomore wide receiver Ivan Hudson. “Even some of our backups got a chance to come out and perform and they performed well.”

In three games SRJC has only been able to score 17 points and has had to rely on defense and special teams.

“You got to have a few games with some adversity and still be able to get the win,” Keith Benjamin said. “It’s just a reminder of how hard we’ve been working.”

In two games the team was able to score 40-plus points and now finds itself ranked amongst the top 20 offenses in the state, despite their struggles.

The team will spend the time getting some well deserved rest on their bye week while preparing for the conference schedule.

“We give them a couple of days off and then go pretty light Monday, Tuesday [and] Wednesday,” said head coach Lenny Wagner.

After the bye week the team will start their conference season by facing Contra Costa College.

“As far as the regular season goal I would say that our main goal, besides keeping our guys healthy, is to win every league game,” said running back coach Christian Mello.

While the team is focused on winning every game, the unspoken goal amongst the team is to beat the San Francisco City College Rams. The Bear Cubs have lost to the Rams for at least the last five years, including a 70-0 drubbing in 2014. But SFCC will not be the teams toughest opponent.

“Our mindset right now is that every game we have is our toughest,” Mello said. “We’re going to each game knowing that there is minimal room for error, especially in this league. You lose one game and may not make playoffs.”

SRJC faces Contra Costa at 5 p.m. Oct. 15 at Bailey Field.