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Merced College football enjoying bowl game notoriety

Time:2016-11-18 22:02Shoes websites Click:

football College game Merced enjoying

Bob Casey said little five-minute trips to the supermarket are things of the past.

The Merced College football coach is being stopped regularly these days as people offer congratulations or want to talk about the Blue Devils’ success this season. It’s a problem Casey is happy to have.

There hasn’t been a lot of positive buzz surrounding the program during his tenure or in the last 18 years, for that matter.

Merced College went 7-3 in its first winning season since 1997. The Blue Devils will also play in their first bowl game since that year when they host Hartnell on Friday night in the inaugural Stadium ’76 Bowl. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and seniors with no passes accepted.

“People are definitely excited and want to talk about the season,” Casey said. “Kids are getting congratulated by their professors in class and people when they’re out on the street. That’s great. They deserve the attention for the hard work they’ve put in this season.

“Just like any year, we’ve gone through more than our share of adversity. This group has done a great job of making sure none of those things have been made into bigger deals than they actually are. We’ve had some great individual players the last few years, but it’s the team approach that’s made this group special. Throughout the season, key guys have missed a game or two because of injury and the next guy up has stepped in and gotten the job down. They believe in each other because of that.”

The Stadium ’76 Bowl sets up a rematch of a Golden Coast Conference game that the Blue Devils won 41-10 on the road.

It was the start of MC five-game winning streak to close the season. The Blue Devils outscored opponents 213-44 during that span.

Hartnell (6-4) is on a two-game losing streak.

“I guess (Harnell’s running back) was hurt in the first quarter our last game; I guess he’s back,” sophomore kicker Noah Croninger said. “It’s not so much about what they do, it’s about how we play. If we play our game, I have confidence we’re going to come out on top.

“This game means a ton because we were so close so many times last year. I remember every week there was talk of, ‘We’re going to get this win and get back on track.’ And then to have that kind of letdown each week. This year we started kind of the same way and then we rose above it.”

Merced College dominated the first meeting, forcing five turnovers and passing for a season-high 335 yards. Merced College quarterback Frank Cocio passed for three touchdowns and ran for another in his first start of the season.

Hartnell is led by 1,000-yard back Sherrod Hawkes and has an opportunistic defense that’s forced 33 turnovers.

“I’m sure they’re going to be fired up and hoping to get some revenge after the first matchup,” Casey said. “We got out on them and the momentum swung our way and we rode the momentum. I’ve tried telling these guys that they aren’t going to get the same team or same effort they saw the first time. It could be a total flip flop of the first meeting if we don’t come ready to play.

“The main thing I’ve told these guys is to just make sure they enjoy this moment. There’s only a handful of teams still playing around the state and we’ve earned the right to be one of them.”

Sean Lynch: 209-385-2476, @MSSsports


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