By Joe Davidson
With defense the trademark, state-ranked No. 5 American River College belted national powerhouse and state. No. 1 San Francisco City College 34-13 on Saturday afternoon in the Bay Area, scoring one for every underdog program in the land that had been itching to topple a giant.
"We got one for the little people," ARC coach Jerry Haflich cracked on a jubilant bus ride home. "It's a really big win. This is what we've been working for. It's a pecking order, and a lot of work. San Francisco has been on top for a long time. I'm as proud as I can be. It was one of those victories where you just go, 'Wow!'"
The Beavers (5-0) delivered a "wow" first half, storming to a 31-6 lead to stun the 4-0 Rams, who topped the Beavers 41-36 in the Northern California Community College championship game last December, a contest that ended in controversy.
That unsettling 2012 finish was ancient history heading home on Saturday, though it surely motivated the Beavers heading in.
Jake Bist hit Adonis Griffin for a 17-yard touchdown to give ARC a 14-3 lead and he found Tyler Trosin for a 5-yard touchdown to make it 28-6. Matthew Rashad returned a fumble 39 yards for ARC to make it 21-3 for the Beavers, who also received a 37-yard touchdown run by Drake Tofi.
Malcolm Scott had two of ARC's interceptions. Jordan Carrell and Jacoby Carter also had interceptions for the Beavers, whose defense has been superb all season and recorded six sacks of the Rams.
ARC opened the season with a 40-2 victory over Monterey Peninsula and followed with wins over Sacramento City (34-7), Chabot (33-13) and Santa Rosa (55-21).
In his 14th year with the Beavers and seventh as head coach, the tireless Haflich has steadily improved his team's fortunes. There was the school-record best 11-0 showing n 2011 with a No. 7 final national finish. That followed the 2010 season in which the Beavers went 10-1.
But Saturday marked the breakthrough milestone Haflich and his crew had been aiming for. The key, the coach said, is maintaining the momentum ARC has a bye before entering Valley Conference play.
How storied is San Francisco? The Rams have won six state championships since 1999 and finished No. 1 in the country nine times total with 12 NorCal titles since 1997.
The teams could face off again in the NorCal title game, only this time, the Beavers know for certain they can beat anyone.
2012 file photo by Paul Kitagaki Jr.: Veteran American River College coach Jerry Haflich called Saturday's win over national power San Francisco a "wow" moment.
- Joe Davidson
- On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD