Santa Rosa Junior College officials canceled the football team’s final regular-season game against Diablo Valley College on Saturday due to the smoky air from the Camp fire in Butte County.
The game was originally supposed to be played at Santa Rosa High School as the junior college remodels its field, but the poor air quality forced officials to move the Bear Cubs’ last home game to Diablo Valley’s Pleasant Hill campus.
However, the air wasn’t much better in the East Bay, which forced officials to cancel the game, according to SRJC athletic director Matt Markovich.
“It’s pretty crappy. It sucks, but I think we’re going to get a bowl game,” Santa Rosa running back Kenneth Fitzgerald said after learning the game was canceled. “We were excited to play DVC; we could’ve done our thing.”
With the playoffs out of reach for Santa Rosa (5-4 overall, 1-3 Bay 6), the Bear Cubs were looking for a win over the Vikings in order to earn a bowl game and keep their season alive for at least one more exhibition.
But it seems the team may have performed just well enough this fall to earn that bowl game, although nothing has been officially announced yet.
Although Santa Rosa didn’t quite have the success the coaches hoped for this season, there have been several highlights.
Freshman quarterback Jake Simmons has established himself as a strong starter who can not only thrive in the passing game but is also a threat running the ball.
Simmons proved himself in games like the win over Chabot College two weeks ago, when he threw for 546 yards and four touchdowns.
A large part of the team’s success in the passing game was the play of sophomore wide receiver Lucas Triplett, walked away with more than 300 receiving yards and four touchdowns in the Chabot game.
“Our chemistry together and our bond is great; it’s a special group,” Fitzgerald said of his teammates.
Triplett leads the Bay 6 Conference with 113.6 receiving yards per game, 62 receptions and 11 receiving touchdowns.
The kicking game has been another bright spot for Santa Rosa in 2018, as punter Seth Vernon’s powerful boot has looked on par with some of the pros at points in the season.
Also, kicker Keven Nguyen — a former professional soccer player — has looked impressive, especially in the second half of the season. He made seven out of his final eight field goal attempts and all 10 of his extra points in conference play.
If Santa Rosa does a bowl game the Bear Cubs will look to finish strong. Then it’s right on to preparations for next year, gearing up for a new season with a lot of returning players out of this year’s freshmen class that made up a majority of the team.
“I’m looking forward to the recruiting that we do,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s coach Vic (Amick’s) first year as the OC, so I feel like we’re going to get some guys in next year and we’re going to start rolling.”