Riverside Advances to Southern California Championship Ballad for Second-Straight Season

Photo by Bobby R. Hester
Photo by Bobby R. Hester

It was a week one rematch on a crisp Saturday night in the hostile confines of Wheelock Stadium as the second-seeded Riverside City College Tigers hosted the third-seeded El Camino College Warriors in the first round of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern California Regional playoffs. Riverside dismantled the Warriors behind 622 total yards of offense leading to an authoritative 63-24 victory.

It was all Riverside from the get go and the Warriors showed no signs of life from the opening snap. Riverside throttled El Camino in all facets of the game highlighted by the Tigers recording 335 yards passing and 287 yards rushing. In three fewer plays than the Warriors, the Tigers averaged 12.4 yards-per-pass and 5.9 yards-per-rush leading to an 8.2 yards-per-play mark. They punted just three times as nine of their drives ended in the end zone.

Sophomore quarterback Stone Smartt repeated his dominating offensive performance against El Camino with ease as he accounted for seven of Riverside's nine touchdowns. He rushed for three scores while tossing four touchdowns to three different receivers.

Two of his rushing touchdowns came in the first half with his first rushing touchdown coming on a 13-yard scamper to the end zone. He then followed with a six-yard scamper in the second quarter that gave Riverside a 28-point advantage. He was not satisfied with two rushing scores as he continued on in the third quarter by high stepping into the end zone for a seven-yard scurry past the goal line. He finished the night with nine carries for a total of 45 yards.

Smartt's free running room was just a small sample of what he offered throughout the night. While finding creases in the ground game, he diced up the Warrior's secondary at will. He dropped back 27 times on the night and complete 20 of his passes for a career-high 335 yards. It is the first time this season Smartt has tossed for over three bills.

He tossed his first touchdown pass early in the second quarter to freshman wide receiver Tyler Kennedy that went for 40 yards to put the Tigers up by three scores at the time.

The Smartt-Kennedy connection remained intact late in the second quarter on a 57-yard touchdown connection on what may have been the most highlight-worthy play of the season and, without a doubt, the night. On an all-out blitz from El Camino on third down, it looked like Smartt was caught dead in the water for a sack. However, Smartt rolled out left towards the near sideline and dropped the ball into Kennedy's bread basket who was streaking down the near sideline. Kennedy hauled in the pass and ignited the burners for the house call.

Smartt followed with two more touchdown tosses in the third quarter on consecutive drives. He linked up with the streaking freshman wide receiver Jammal Houston for a 54-yard touchdown pass. He capped his night with a 20-yard toss to freshman running back Erick Buchanan who tip-toed the sideline and found himself in the end zone.

It would not have been a playoff win without a rushing touchdown from sophomore red zone quarterback Vic Viramontes. He began the game with a rushing touchdown on the Tiger's opening drive to etch the opening points on the board. Freshman running back Jamon McGlory scored his first-career touchdown in the fourth quarter on a four-yard scamper thus leading to a 63-24 win.

Smartt was named the game's Most Valuable Player after his offensive outpouring. He topped career highs in passing yards (335), passing touchdowns (4), and rushing touchdowns (3). Kennedy was named Riverside's Player of the Game as he hauled in five snags for 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Sophomore running back Quincy Wimbish paced the ground attack by carting the ball eight times for 72 yards, while sophomore running back Malik Walker earned 11 carries for 58 yards.

The Riverside defense was downright stout as they recorded a combined five sacks and 10 tackles for a loss that resulted in El Camino losing more than half of a football field worth of yardage.

Freshman linebacker Jose Ramirez recorded 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss leading to a total of five stops. Freshman linebacker Kue Olotoa led the team in stops with eight, while Viramontes backed him with six.

Freshman safety Christian Swint manned the secondary with three pass break ups which nearly led to a pair of interceptions. He recorded three solo tackles as well.

Riverside (11-0, 5-0 NSL, 1-0 Playoffs) will face off against the fourth-seeded Ventura College Pirates after they pulled off the upset over the top-seeded and former unbeaten College of the Canyons Cougars. The Tiger will host the SoCal Championship contest on Saturday, November 24 at 6 p.m. at Wheelock Stadium.