Corsairs aim to capture first bowl game victory after four year victory streak
The Santa Monica College Corsairs once again stand alone above the rest as four-time consecutive American Pacific Conference champions.
But although they’re in the midst of a dynasty, there is one crowning achievement missing from their resume: a bowl game victory.
The Corsairs were ineligible to play in a bowl game last year, but this year is a different story. Finishing undefeated in conference play, and with only three losses overall, the Corsairs will have the opportunity to finally add that elusive bowl victory to their list of achievements.
But, before anyone starts clearing shelf space for that glorious trophy, they might want to check who the Corsairs are scheduled to play this Saturday. Not only are the Corsairs going up against one of their opponents from the 2014 season, but that team just so happened to hand the Corsairs their biggest loss of the year, the Southwestern College Jaguars.
“We know that Southwestern is an outstanding football team. But we're competitors. We're excited about another opportunity to face those guys,” SMC head coach Gifford Lindheim.
Southwestern College finished the season 9-1, with their only loss coming against Victor Valley College, the American Mountain Conference champions.
Although Southwestern could not get the job done against their American Mountain Conference rivals, they lost by a field goal. With three points separating Southwestern from winning the conference championship, they will definitely be looking to prove themselves once again against SMC this Saturday.
If the Corsairs are going to avenge their 52-27 loss against Southwestern, they will have to reach into their bag of tricks. One adjustment that helped the Corsairs turn the corner earlier in the season, and finish on a 5 game win streak, was the implementation of a two-quarterback attack featuring Christian Smith, and Steven Hamm.
“Southwestern is a talented, well coached organization. We're 0-2 against them. If you recall, we lost in the Bowl Game to them several years back. So we have a ton of respect for them,” said Lindheim. "I think we're a different team now than we were in Week 2 of the season. We've been through some wars since then, and I think we've grown, matured, and improved as a team. It should be an exciting game.”
If the Corsairs are going to upset the powerhouse Jaguars, they’re going to have to play their best game of the year.
“This is a tall order. It's a long trip down to Chula Vista for us, they're 9-1 and an outstanding team," Lindheim said.
Luckily, the Corsairs have truly hit their stride in the last month, returning to championship form, while firing on all cylinders.
Southwestern is very similar to the Corsairs in all facets of the game. They have a two-prong quarterback attack which averages over 300 yards passing, and features Luis Perez, and Isaraelu Paopao with each completing over 60% of their passes on the season. Perez has thrown for 1556 passing yards on the season, while Paopao has thrown for 1342.
The two headed attack is complimented by a rushing attack that averages about 140 yards per game.
The Southwestern defense is also just as stingy as SMC’s, giving up only 23.7 points per game on average.
But the Corsairs do have the advantage of already seeing their opponent in action, which makes all the difference. If SMC sticks to the routine that helped them capture their fourth consecutive conference championship, it could be fiesta time in Chula Vista.
“Our goal all season was to improve each week and keep battling until the last play, of the last game of the season. Our process will be the same. We're not going to coach them during the week any less intensely,” said Lindheim. “We're treating this as a Championship Game. We're pleased to have the opportunity to play in a bowl game. However, we're not just satisfied to be in the game. We want to win it.”
The Corsairs will travel to Chula Vista this Saturday as they attempt to win their first bowl game in their illustrious four consecutive conference championship run. Kickoff is at 6 pm.