Monday, November 14, 2016

These Aren't The Renegades Of Funk You're Facing, Long Beach...



There are times, where, I do admit, I am a bit too harsh on the athletic teams of my junior college alma mater, Long Beach City College. I generally don't admit these things until a long time after the fact. For a number of years, I did not bother going to their athletic events. Years ago, Nov. 6, 2010, to be exact, I was watching a game between LBCC's football team against the Panthers of Chaffey College at Veterans' Memorial Stadium, and in those days, Mike Reisbig (who I considered at the time to be a talentless hack milking off the legacy of his more successful brother Larry and who drove the program into the ground) was the head coach. I was verbally ripping apart the team for not defending the pass, for not generating enough offense to make up for the inept defending, and for simply not playing the game properly. I ended up getting ejected by security and even the police had to intervene.

Derek Oriee is a longtime employee of the college and is an alumnus of one of a number of men's social service clubs at the college, the Order of Tong International. At the college, I was an active member of Tong, Thane, Alpha Gamma Sigma - Kappa Chapter (an honor society), and the Associated Student Body Cabinet as their administrative assistant. After I was tossed, Derek was gracious enough to drive me all the way home because he didn't want the situation to escalate further. Recalling this event as I type this still drives me to tears because one thing I despise is teams I watched stealing my hard-earned money without giving me a victory.

That was six years ago. Viking football under Mike Reisbig, especially in 2012 was a disgrace. We did not have the players, the talent, the pipelines, and so on and so forth. We were losing games to Cerritos College on a routine basis. We were bad. We sucked. When I found out that Reisbig was let go in 2012 (he got a reprive for making a bowl game the following year, a bowl game we didn't deserve), I considered that to be one of the biggest victories in program history. You see, whenever a team just doesn't know how to play the game properly or even coach the game properly, when a team stains the good name of its college and its city, the athletic department can rebound by getting rid of the coach and its staff.

At a program as successful as Long Beach City, we have expectations. I'm being extremely straight-up with you. I don't earn six figures at my work so if I spend money on a team sporting event, the expectation is that my investment pays off with a win to the team I support. As a result of the Vikings not getting their act together, I stayed away until things changed.

So this guy by the name of Brett Peabody comes in.  Suddenly, the only real opponent that continues to have our number on a constant basis is Saddleback. The Gauchos are going to always be good. Nothing anyone out here can do about that, Mark McElroy will always get his players, that's out of our control. What we can control, on the other hand, is turning the tide on Cerritos. Last year, we finally got our act together against these Falcons and got back the Crosstown Cup, which my Tong brothers made.

Now, the Vikings's loss to Saddleback was avoidable. Not being able to manage games hurts, especially with all of college football catching up to Oregon's spread attack and uptempo style. Carries over to the junior college level. Again, the Vikings failed to manage the game late, and the Gauchos's long streak agains the Vikings continued. The one that really hurt was against Mt. San Antonio, or Mt. SAC. 34-3. That effort was reminiscent of the last time I watched these guys against Chaffey years ago. Even though the Vikings won the next four games, their overall record was inferior to Riverside, whose only loss, ironically, came against Long Beach.




So now, Long Beach is back in a bowl game, but not in the playoffs. They will be hosting the Western State Bowl this Saturday and I am planning to be there to do some filming. I had watched Avalon, they won. I had watched St. Anthony, they won. I had watched Azusa Pacific, they won too. I am so far 3-for-3 this year.

That said, this game between Long Beach and the Renegades of Bakersfield College is going to be the last football game I see live unless Woodrow Wilson Classical High School advances on Friday and hosts a CIF Southern Section Division Semifinal. Wilson are on the road against Saugus High. Logic suggests that, based on their performance against Pomona, it's straightforward. Even if St. Anthony beats Dos Pueblos of Goleta, I don't believe in seeing a team I already made a Quik film out of. Also, this is the last game of the season for both teams.

Bakersfield are 6-4 and are on a two-game losing streak. They were demolished by Riverside on the road 45-7, lost a 30-27 overtime heartbreaker away to Moorpark, were blown out of the water by Ventura 49-21 and ended the regular season with a 14-10 defeat at home to Canyons, who the Vikings demolished at home, 41-14. Long Beach defeated Moorpark 43-29 and also this year, I mentioned Chaffey and this year, LBCC routed them, 48-14. On the grounds of this hotstreak, I am compelled to see this team again.

In the past, when I started doing sportswriting, I started out covering junior college football. It was after the site I work for went defunct that I switched to writing about soccer, which I continue to do so today. The main reason why I chose to watch Long Beach City College this weekend instead of St. Anthony is because of watching, in its entirety, Last Chance U. Now if you don't know what that is, it's the story of East Mississippi Community College, which was transformed under Buddy Stephens as a refuge for disgraced NCAA Division I FBS players who got into trouble at their four-year school and ended up playing in Scooba, Miss. to get out of Scooba, Miss. and get back in the major college grind. The series is on Netflix but you can get it for free on Ten Yard Tracker (just make sure to seed after you're done).

Seeing the stories of these disgraced athletes who lost their way and needed salvation in terms of their future and finally being successful despite adversity did a few things to me. 1. EMCC is now my sentimental favorite in terms of quality and newfound notoriety thanks to Netflix's reach. 2. Last Chance U got me to rethink and reassess my attitude towards the quality of football at my own junior college, LBCC. LBCC has won five national championships, a mark that will most likely stay untouched due to the league we play in and the fact that we are not under the NJCAA auspices. EMCC has three and they have all been in this decade alone. If the pollsters are nice, they will have a shot at No. 4.

But back to point No. 2. I have to actually applaud the players on this Long Beach team. Our quality is back, our swagger is back, our form is back. Under Peabody, the Vikings were 4-6 in 2013, 9-2 in 2014, 10-2 in 2015 and 8-2 this season. If you count the numbers right, that is 31-10, going on 32-10. Three straight winning seasons.

And that leads us back to poor Mike Reisbig. On the list of coaches, Mike is listed as an assistant coach on the offensive line...and the academics coordinator. Basically he is doing the same job Brittany Wagner is doing at EMCC. Cue the redemption card. And the lesson to be learned is this: if I can't hack it as a head coach but still possess valuable knowledge about the local high school landscape and drawing the area talent here— in this case, bringing the ones not making the grade but can still play to LBCC—sometimes I am miles better off serving as an assistant. (No, I am not referring to Les Miles, seriously. He's bad. He sucks.)

With a 31-10 mark under Brett, yeah, if I'm Mike, I settle into this role permanently cause life is good if you support Viking football and I don't want to rock the boat. (Boat, not Vote. As a voter who has jumped ship to the Libertarians following Election Day, I am gleefully looking forward to Donald Trump ass-slapping the cruel mistress that is American politics. Getcha popcorn hour ready.) Hotter than hell, sweeter than sex, we are the Beach, send us the check, cha-ching, cha-ching.

So, I am looking forward to what should be a 9-2 season and a 32-10 mark for Brett Peabody heading into next year. The last time we faced Bakersfield was back in 2015 and...it was at home. They were routed, 38 to 7. This is the first meeting for both teams in exactly 14 months. I probably will do what I did the last time and simply film warmups, snaps, crowd shots, maybe my trip to the campus... I mean, this game isn't even nationally televised, and it's only campus TV showing this and this game might be archived on YouTube and that's it. So I cannot imagine the police bothering me. I won't say anything; I'll just film, take photos, same approach as the other games.

But I wouldn't go past these guys stuffing up against Bakersfield. It's happened before. A long time ago. Back when this team was bad. The last time the Renegades beat the Vikings was in 2004 and the year prior was the last time Bakersfield won in Long Beach. Since then, we have returned the favor under Peabody, winning at Bakersfield 31-19 in 2014 and routing them last year at home. The last thing I need...is these rubes stealing my money like they did six years ago. I never forgive, I never forget, so now I'll head back without any regrets.

To close this entry, somehow, Bakersfield College comes to mind...when I play this song. Sports.

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