By Roman Delara
COD football team at a recent practice Photo by Luis Castellanos
College of the Desert football has elevated its game by winning the Mountain Foothill Championship in two consecutive seasons. Led by fourth year Head Coach Jack Steptoe, the Roadrunners will look for a three peat for the first time since 1979.
“Its exciting, I have a great feeling about it.”, said sophomore linebacker and captain of the defense Aaron Lamboy.” I don’t have a doubt in my mind that my team and I can do it. We just have to continue getting better each week.”
Last year, the Roadrunners had a record of 6-5 with a record of 4-1 in their conference. They also made their first bowl game since 2004, which was the Patriotic Bowl that resulted in a 63-37 loss to East Los Angeles.
Lamboy describes the atmosphere of the bowl game as “what athletes dream about.” On top of that, Lamboy and his team is setting the same sights this season. “We hope to get back to a bowl game this year,” said Lamboy.
Some players to watch for this season are freshman running back Tony Williams Jr., sophomore running back Kamone Best, and who has been already mentioned, sophomore linebacker Aaron Lomboy.
Tony Williams Jr. in his 2-year varsity career with Shadow Hills allocated 2,956 rushing yards, along with 40 rushing touchdowns.
However, in Williams’ debut as a Roadrunner he only had five carries for 15 yards.
Kamone Best had few carries in the Roadrunners season opener since he is recovering from an injury. Best had 683 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns last season with the Roadrunners. Both stats were 2nd most on the team.
Lamboy finished with 46 tackles and three sacks last year for COD. He is expected to be a starter and leader of the defense.
With the abundance of additions added to the Roadrunners, there are key departures that may affect the team going into the season.
This includes quarterbacks De’Abrie Smith and Darius Hulsey. Both started six games and combined for 1,908 yards with 16 passing touchdowns. In addition, lead team rusher Anthony Ellison with 814 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
On the defensive side, defensive end Romello Hamilton had an impressive season with a team leading 12 sacks and 78 tackles. His teammate and cornerback Corey Dalton was a ballhawk as he caught his way into 10 interceptions.
What made the Roadrunners a good football team last season was the overwhelming weapons they had on the offensive side. With the dynamic running back duo of Anthony Ellison and Kamone Best that contributed to the best attribute of the COD offense: The run game.
Last year the Roadrunners rushing game averaged 174 rushing yards per game overall and 217 in their conference.
Other featured weapons included tall jump-ball receiver Myles Goulbourne and speedy receiver Reginald Macon. They combined for over 1,000 yards but it was Goulbourne who had the load of touchdowns with eight.
Where the flaws lie is within the defense. They allowed over 30 points last season and over 370 of total offensive yardage.
Some foundations to be a good defense is applying pressure to the QB and creating turnovers. This certainly was not the case last season as, besides Romello Hamilton, no other COD defender could surpass five sacks.
As far as turnovers go, the roadrunners had 21 interceptions which is just under two per game. As well as recovered eight out of the nine fumbles they forced. In total they had over two turnovers per game which is poor for any defense.
Despite one game already under the Roadrunner’s belt. There is still not a fair sample size to determine what are the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s team.
Although we could get a great evaluation of them when they face their first conference team. Which will be on Oct. 14, when they visit Mt. San Jacinto.
Lamboy is also preparing with his team for their next game by fixing what went wrong “Watch what mistakes we made on the game film and work on fixing those mistakes.”