Football season draws to a close for Contra Costa Community College, but the Comets still have one last thing to accomplish this season: win their bowl game.
The Comets were 8-3 during the regular season, and would have gone undefeated in league play were it not for a loss to Los Medanos College last week, in the final game of the regular season. Still, CC took first place in the Bay Valley Conference and now turns its attention to the postseason. The Comets will play in the Living Breath Foundation Bowl on Saturday, a stage they are quite familiar with, having won it last season.
The recent success of the Contra Costa program begins and ends with one man: head coach Alonzo Carter, who in five seasons has taken the Comets from a 1-19 program to a regular contender.
“We did good, we improved,” Carter said, reflecting on the season. “We lost thee games, by six, three and seven [points, respectively]. I told my guys, ‘6-3-7. That’s how close every game we lost. That’s difference between you being a 10-0 team.’”
With that in mind, he expects his team to go into this game hungry for a big victory.
“I think it motivates them, is something we can improve on going into this bowl game.”
And the Comets will need all the motivation it the players can get.
They face the Hartnell College Panthers (Salinas, Calif.), one of the top junior college football programs in California. Hartnell beat Contra Costa during the preseason, 37-34, so this bowl game presents the Comets with an opportunity to get revenge.
But payback won’t come easy.
Hartnell features a talented running back in Deandre Mann, the best junior college running back in the state. He’s fast, and he gave the Contra Costa defense fits the last time these teams played.
“Our biggest challenge will be stopping the run,” said defensive back Dominique Harrison. “Last time we played them, Mann put up Madden yards on us. It was crazy.”
Mann ccounted for 341 yards and three touchdowns. If Contra Costa intends to win this time around, containing him will be the first priority.
“They know they beat us last time running the ball, so hopefully we come stronger this time,” Harrison said.
The sophomore defensive back also has something to personally prove in this bowl game, before he heads off to the University of Oregon next spring.
“I’m just trying to make a lot of plays because a lot of people will be looking at this game,” Harrison said. “I just got named the Defensive Player of the Year, and people are shocked. So I am ready to put a stamp on it before I leave, trying to have a show out game like that.”
The Comets also have Devante Sapp-Lynch, the younger brother of NFL star Marshawn Lynch. He’s been named the Bay Conference Offensive Player of the Year, so the clash between he and Mann, the Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year, is shaping up to be a thriller.
Contra Costa is surely in for a challenge, but Coach Carter’s players are ready for it.
“I’m looking forward to playing against a team that I have never beat,” said DeAndre Haynes, a sophomore offensive lineman. “I’m excited that we have a chance to finally beat them.”
“Your chance never comes when you want it to, but it’s always on time. So you gotta be ready for it. I think we’re ready.”
Hartnell and Contra Costa will face each other at Cabrillo College in Aptos, Calif. for the Living Breath Foundation Bowl, which will kickoff at 1 p.m.