Football: Cerritos ends season with 21-9 bowl win

The Falcon football team celebrates their Southern California Bowl win
The Falcon football team celebrates their Southern California Bowl win

Facing Golden West College in the Southern California Bowl, the Cerritos College football team capped off their year with a 21-9 win. The inaugural season for head coach Dean Grosfeld was one of ups and down, but the one constant for the Falcons was the play of sophomore running back Rhamondre Stevenson (Centennial, NV HS). The greatest running back in school history concluded his Cerritos career with 230 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns and was named the game's Most Valuable Player. In the third quarter, Stevenson became the first running back in the state to eclipse 2,000 yards in a season since 2012 and finished the year with 2,111 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Rhamondre Stevenson holds his Southern California Bowl MVP award *In 2012, Cameron Artis-Payne of Allan Hancock College rushed for 2,048 yards in 10 games, while the all-time state record for 10 games is held by Giorgio Usai of Yuba College, who rushed for 2,171 yards in 1998. The only other backs to break the 2000-yard barrier were Jonathan Smith of Pasadena City College (2,049 in 2001), Maurice Morris of Fresno City College (2,085 in 1998) and Alonzo Washington of Gavilan College (2,038 in 1986). It wasn't until 2001 that post-season games were allowed to be added to a season total, which makes Stevenson's 2,111 yards the second most in the history of California Community College football. What makes his accomplishment so amazing was that it was done on only 222 carries (9.5 average), while Usai and Morris needed over 300 carries to reach 2,000 yards.

Trailing 3-0 in the first quarter, the Falcons put the next 14 points in the board before the end of the quarter. On the first drive after the Golden West field goal, Cerritos got the ball deep in Rustler territory after David Atencio tried to return a punt but fumbled, with Nate Walker (Cabrillo HS) there to cover the ball at the Golden West nine-yard line. Stevenson took the first handoff and powered his way into the end zone. A blocked extra point made it a 6-3 game.

Faced with a third-and-eight on their next possession, Stevenson (pictured, above left) took a two-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Isaiah Bravo (West Covina HS) and turned it into a 34-yard gain, as he broke a pair of tackles and raced down the field. Freshman Jovohn Tucker (St. John Bosco HS) then pulled down a 30-yard reception on the next play for a touchdown. On the two-point conversion, sophomore wide receiver Jacob Gasser (Los Alamitos HS) took a pitch on a reverse and lofted a pass to Bravo for a successful two-point conversion.

Both teams traded turnovers deep in each other's territory, with sophomore linebacker Tyson Reed (Independence HS) falling on a fumble at the Falcons five-yard line after a mishandled snap. Cerritos then went on a time-consuming 15-play drive that included a reception by Stevenson on third down and a fourth down conversion on a run by Stevenson. Later in the drive, Stevenson raced for 22 yards on a third-and-nine, which put the ball at the Rustler nine-yard line. However, a fumble ended that drive at the Golden West five-yard line.

Freshman strong safety Noah Guzman (Bishop Amat HS) got the ball back for Cerritos when he picked off Beau Kalbacher. The Falcons ran out the clock in the first half when they couldn't get close than the Rustlers 25-yard line.

Tishawn Barnaby was named the game's Defensive Most Valuable Player Golden West took the first drive of the second half and was stopped three times by Defensive Most Valuable Player Tishawn Barnaby (Centennial, NV HS), which included a quarterback sack. They would score their lone touchdown of the game after a blocked punt put them at the Falcons 39-yard line. Kalbacher, the game's Offensive Most Valuable Player struck on the first play when he found Brailon Mouton open on the ride sideline for a touchdown.

Early in the fourth quarter, Stevenson would cap off the scoring with a beautiful six-yard run, where his cut move at the line of scrimmage opened a path into the end zone. The scoring drive came on the first possession after the Golden West touchdown.

With the Rustlers deep in Falcon territory early in the fourth quarter, it was Barnaby (10 tackles; pictured, right) once again that kept them out of the end zone. He stopped Juwain Roper short of the end zone on first and goal and then stuffed V.J. Malo at the line of scrimmage on the next play. Along with Latrell Stearns (Gahr HS), Cerritos limited Golden West to 19 rushing yards. In the secondary, sophomore Dior Denson (Gahr HS) and freshman Noah Peterson (Villa Park HS) combined for 10 stops, while sophomore defensive end Jordan Thomas (Norwalk HS) posted four tackles, with two for loss and one sack.

2,171 (10 Games) Giorgio Usai - Yuba College (1998) 342 6.3 16
2,111 (11 Games) Rhamondre Stevenson - Cerritos (2018) 222 9.5 16
2,085 (10 Games) Maurice Morris, Jr. - Fresno City (1998) 328 6.4 26
2049 (11 Games) Jonathan Smith - Pasadena City (2001) 223 9.2 22
2,048 (10 Games) Cameron Artis-Payne - Allan Hancock (2012) 261 7.8 25
2,038 (10 Games) Alonzo Washington - Gavilan (1986) 322 6.3 10

*Research provided by John Czimbal

Photos by Daryl Peterson