City College of San Francisco can look at Saturday's Hawaiian Punch Bowl game against San Joaquin Delta College at CCSF in two ways.
Being in Saturday's 1 p.m. game is a disappointment because it is not part of the playoff series leading to the state championship, which is the only prize the Rams seek every year.
But it's a success because midway through the season, it appeared the Rams would be out of the postseason altogether and hosting a game involving two outsiders.
"It's not the game we wanted to be in," coach George Rush said. "It's the location we wanted, but not the prize. But this team has been through a lot of adversity and came through it. And for a while, it looked like we wouldn't be anywhere."
The Rams started 3-3, the first time since 1989 they lost more than two games in a season, then won their final four games to finish 7-3 and earn a berth against Delta, a Stockton school that is also 7-3. If the Rams had won the Nor Cal Conference title, the Hawaiian Punch Bowl would have been a state semifinal game. But if the Rams had lost another game, the Hawaiian Punch Bowl still would have been played at CCSF, but with two other teams involved.
The Rams played their best football down the stretch, and the running back duo of sophomore Andre Patterson and freshman David Henderson, who went to San Francisco's Lincoln High School, have been a major reason.
"There's really a difference in David from early in the season," Rush said. "He's really matured."
Henderson has rushed for 396 yards, averaging 6.4 yards a carry, and caught 13 passes, including three for touchdowns.
Anthony Burrell is CCSF's top wide receiver, and Michael Blue (Oakland's Fremont High) is second, and Kevin Vye, who went to Oak Grove High School in San Jose, has brought a toughness since he became quarterback.
Defense is the Rams' strong suit, led by linebacker Josh Tatum, a former USC and McClymonds High player who has 10.5 tackles for loss, and safety Jarrell Harrison.
The improvement of strong safety Elliott Dorsey, who attended Berkeley High School, has completed a strong secondary that includes cornerbacks Dejon Gomes, a graduate of Union City's Logan High who has four interceptions, and Devin Mays.
They will be tested by Delta's all-conference quarterback Pete Murdaca, who is expected to play after missing the Mustangs' final regular-season game with a knee injury.
Edwin Herbert (Armijo High in Fairfield) has been a stalwart on the Rams' defensive line.
The seasons of CCSF and Delta have run along parallel lines. They scrimmaged each other during preseason, and both lost to Sierra and Butte during the regular season.
Hawaiian Punch Bowl