After a record-setting season, the postseason encore is set: SBCC will host College of the Desert at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 26, for the Beach Bowl at La Playa Stadium.
The Vaqueros, finishing a 9-1 season with a school-record nine consecutive victories, are excited about the chance to keep the momentum going against a team that, like them, lit up the scoreboard this season.
“They’re very talented,” SBCC head coach Craig Moropoulos said. “They’re extremely athletic, they score a lot of points, and they’ll be a real good challenge for us.”
The Roadrunners, from Palm Desert, are 8-2 overall and finished second in the American Mountain League at 4-1, behind Mt. San Jacinto’s 5-0. The Vaqueros won the American Pacific League in a sweep, 5-0.
SBCC and College of the Desert faced three common opponents, both beating Glendale, L.A. Valley and L.A. Southwest.
The Roadrunners scored an average of 37.5 points per game — compared to SBCC’s 45.5, good for a school-record 455 total points. College of the Desert has the edge in total offensive yards per game, 414 to 360, but that disparity might reflect the Vaqueros’ ability to score and get good field position from turnovers and special teams.
Helming the offense for College of the Desert is sophomore quarterback Cesar Vela from Rancho Mirage, who completed 146 passes out of 254 attempts this season, for 1,716 yards and 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.
“He’s very talented,” Moropoulos said. “He’s a lefty. They have a good running back, and some really good receivers, and a large offensive line.”
The Vaqueros also have a formidable offensive line, and a variety of receivers and running backs who have stepped up behind rushing leader Brandon Smith, who has 1,031 yards on 156 carries for a 6.6 average and 13 touchdowns, and reception leader Chase Wells.
Leading the offense is starting sophomore quarterback Alex Johnson, who in his eight games this season passed for 938 yards on 61 percent accuracy and nine touchdowns.
And the Vaqueros have a statistical edge in defense, giving up only 13.2 points a game to the Roadrunners’ 25.5.
Stats aside, the game is an exciting prospect for Moropoulos and his team.
“Oh absolutely,” the coach said. “We’re extremely excited about it. It’s a real accomplishment. But our guys want to finish this season. We always talk about finishing every play, well, we’re focusing on finishing the season.
“It’s going to take a great effort against a very good team, but I think our guys are up to it.”
And, he added, “no negatives about a bowl game, that’s for sure.”
Hosting that bowl game just adds to the excitement and school spirit. SBCC Director of Athletics LaDeane Hansten hopes to see a big home crowd.
“2022 has been an outstanding season under Head Coach Craig Moropolous and his staff,” Hansten said. “We are honored to have been chosen to host a bowl game by the Southern California Football Association and look forward to seeing the community turn out in big numbers to support this incredible team.
“The dedication of our student-athletes has given us this incredible opportunity to showcase their talent and our beautiful venue. Go Vaqs!”
Tickets and livestreaming information will be available on sbccvaqueros.com beginning November 20th.