Jon Osterhout remembers the play, the jubilation and the burst of the bus driver.
The American River College football coach was reflecting on the 2012 Northern California championship game at City College of San Francisco and how cruel this sport can be. An 11-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone as time ran out seemed to give the Beavers a victory over the Rams, resulting in a wild celebration headed by the bus driver, who raced from the sideline and into the dog pile.
But the celebration soon ended when ARC realized it had been penalized for lining up in the neutral zone on the play, leaving the Beavers stunned with a 41-36 loss.
“We rushed the field, bus driver and all, and then we were crushed,” Osterhout said. “Long bus ride home.”
Humility, Osterhout reminds his players regularly, is paramount to appreciating the climb to the top. In navigating its way toward the upper echelon of community college football, ARC had its promising 2013 season end with a decided dud. The Beavers went to San Mateo for the Bulldog Bowl and were throttled 75-9.
ARC hasn’t lost since. The Beavers are ranked No. 1 in the state by the JC Athletic Bureau for the first time. Their 6-0 start has included some sweet-revenge efforts over San Francisco (13-0) and then-No. 1 San Mateo (24-14). On Saturday, the Beavers busedto Weed and beat College of the Siskiyous 33-31.
“We’ve found a way,” Osterhout said.
Osterhout has had success recruiting from area high schools and securing bounce-back scholarship players from four-year programs.
ARC has seized the market, much like Sacramento City College in the early 1980s with two national No. 1 finishes and Sierra last decade with community college winning streak records. The Beavers have players from their extended neighborhood and from Placer County, Elk Grove, Folsom and beyond. Sierra and Sac City coaches acknowledge the Beavers’ progress and vow to do something about it. Sierra hosts ARC on Nov. 1 and Sac City hosts ARC in a NorCal Football Conference finale on Nov. 15.
No prep star expects to land at a community college. Many players are surprised at the talent and speed in community college football, a haven for the overlooked, undersized or those shoring up academics.
“Way better talent than I expected,” said 5-foot-8 Folsom High graduate Troy Knox, the most prolific prep receiver in Northern California history. “I hoped to play at a four-year school, and I will someday, but it’s a blast here.”
Osterhout, who had assistant-coaching stints at Sacramento State and Nebraska, said he appreciates the purity of the two-year level.
“There are no bands here, like in high school games, no cheerleaders,” Osterhout said. “You don’t have a letterman’s jacket, don’t get your picture in the yearbook, don’t have a girlfriend in the stands wearing your jersey. It’s as simple as it gets. And we like to think we’re running it at a D-I college level with a JC budget, and then you just go out and grind. We’ve done that.”
ARC is led by quarterback Tanner Trosin, a sophomore transfer from Cal Poly and Folsom High enjoying an All-America type of season. Running backs Deon Ransom and Wadus Parker are from Elk Grove. Trosin’s backup, Peyton Wilfley, a Bee All-Metro pick last fall from Casa Roble, could start at most community colleges but remains patient.
“Trosin’s unbelievable,” Osterhout said. “He has a tremendous competitive fire from his toes to the top of his head. Tremendous leadership qualities. And we have a guy who could start anywhere in Wilfley, who rotates in because he’s got that “it” about him, too. A lot of our guys do.”
Jeff Tisdel, who coached Sierra to titles before retiring, saw ARC beat San Mateo and was impressed.
“Trosin was the best player on the field. And in JC football, if you have a quarterback and a stout defense, then you’ve got a super chance,” Tisdel said.
Et cetera – Passing for 317 yards and three touchdowns, Ryan Shields from Oakmont led Bemidji State of Minnesota to a 31-17 win over Minot State, a North Dakota school quarterbacked by an old friend and rival from back home.
Minot State is led by former Roseville High star Zac Cunha, who threw for 164 yards and a touchdown.
▪ Former UC Davis softball coach Karen Yoder has been named the coach at Napa High School.
▪ Quarterback Jordan Rodgers, the younger brother of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, has signed with the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. The Chico native played at Butte College of Oroville and Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.