The dog days of summer are here and while NFL, high school and college football players are partaking in wind-sprints, tackling drills and two-a-day practices, the North Bay Rattlers semi-pro football team is preparing for a championship game on Saturday.
The No. 7-ranked Rattlers (11-1) will travel to the Denver metro area to play the No. 2-ranked Grand Junction (CO) Gladiators (12-0) at Shea Stadium in Littleton, Colo., at 6 p.m. Pacific Time in the Far West Football Association’s (FWFA) first year of sanctioning the AAA Spring title game, capping a season of football that began in February.
The Rattlers, who practice at Elsie Allen High School and play their games at Santa Rosa High, are a team made up of guys who love to play football and are mostly homegrown players.
North Bay Rattlers
Approximately 80 percent of the Rattlers played high school football in the Redwood Empire according to Rattlers offensive line coach Mike Ervin, who also estimates that at least 50 percent of the Rattlers played at Santa Rosa Junior College.
“We have players from all over the North Bay — Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Lake Counties,” Ervin said. “Our guys just enjoy the game of football. They really enjoy each other.”
A few of the Rattlers played for major Division I football programs, including Kansas State, Texas Christian and Wyoming.
It’s been a great year for the Rattlers, who have dominated their initial year in the 13-team minor league AAA Pacific Coast Football League (PCFL). The Rattlers won the league with a perfect 10-0 record. Despite a 26-21 loss on June 14 in the PCFL playoffs to the Capital City Fury the Rattlers are going to the title game by virtue of their league record. The Rattlers defeated the Fury 31-0 in the regular season.
“We had an off day in the rematch,” third-year Rattlers head coach Jim Curoso said of the loss to the Fury.
There is no doubt that the Rattler players are dedicated to the team as evidenced by their willingness to get to the game.
Caruso said half the team is taking the bus to cut down on costs, and the other half is flying to Colorado for Saturday’s game.