Water polo ‘more than our win-loss record’

The Laney College Women’s Water Polo team saw plenty of improvement in their match at home against Merced College on Sept. 19, despite losing the match 16–2.

“We are so much more than our win- loss record,” said coach Beth Laberge.

During the match, and despite treading water for minutes at a time, the team was constantly yelling instructions to one another, either to ask for the ball or to tell someone to take a shot when they were open.

“We’re gonna be out-matched nearly every time this season, but that’s not the point,” Laberge said.

Instead, she stressed the importance of community and confidence that she sees as more of a focus for Laney’s team.

“Some of us need to gain some more confidence, we’re sorta timid,” she said. “When people have a chance to make a shot, then they need to know it’s their moment, yes, take it!”

Come watch the Laney Eagles Water Polo team has their next home match at 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, against Ohlone College.

The Laney College football team is now the top-ranked team in Northern California

The Laney College football team is now the top-ranked team in Northern California.

The Eagles moved up to No. 3 in the JC Athletic Bureau/California Community College football coaches poll after overwhelming mistake-prone West Hills College 77-12 on Sept. 21 in Oakland to improve their record to 4-0.

Laney now faces its toughest test of the nonconference portion of the season when it plays host to Butte College (3-1) of Oroville on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. The Roadrunners are coming off a big 42-21 home victory over City College of San Francisco on Sept. 22.

The Eagles blocked two punts and returned an interception for a touchdown as they scored the most points in the 53-year history of football program.

Quarterback Jordon Brookshire (Cardinal-Newman High School-Santa Rosa) completed 11 of 16 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jared Smart () for 1 and 30 yards respectively.

Running back John McDonald (Lincoln HS-Stockton) rushed for 125 yards and scored two touchdowns on runs of 8 and 11 yards.

The Eagles led 42-6 at the half and 70-6 at the end of three quarters. Running back Jerrell Alberty (McClymonds HS) rushed for 58 yards on five carries and scored on runs of 15 and 26 yards.

Quarterback Junior Diala (American HS) threw a 38-yard scoring pass to Angelo Garrett (MClymonds HS) and also scored on a 1-yard run.

The Lane defense held the Falcons to 171 yards of total offense and reached the end zone twice. Nahshon Wright (James Logan HS) scored on a 20-yard interception return and, after Damon Lynch (Manteca HS) blocked a punt, Jaelyn Thomas (Freedom HS) fell on the ball in the West Hills end zone for a touchdown.

Ryan Mackey (Rio Vista HS) scored the Eagles’ last touchdown on an 8-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, linebacker Armani Turner-Jenkins (Berkeley HS) had seven solo tackles—eight overall—and Laney defenders had six sacks and 12 tackles for losses, spread among 11 players.

By Scott A. Strain, Laney College Sports Information

Laney gets offensive in win over Feather River

Feather River may have struck first on Saturday night in Quincy, but it was all Laney from that point forward, as the Eagles rolled up over 700 yards of total offense during an explosive 55-24 victory to stay unbeaten.

Feather River drove 50 yards before settling for a field goal midway through the first quarter for a 3-0 advantage, but it was short-lived, as Laney quarterback Jordon Brookshire (Cardinal Newman) connected with Balewa Byrd (Swett) for a 74-yard touchdown and a 6-3 lead after one quarter.

The Eagles started to pull away in the second quarter, thanks to a pair of John McDonald (Lincoln-Stockton) touchdown runs, including a 58-yarder with under two minutes remaining in the first half. It appeared as if Laney would go into halftime up 20-3, but Feather River’s Antoine Patton broke loose for a 73-yard score on the next offensive play. The Eagles, however, refused to let that end the first-half scoring, as McDonald reached paydirt one more time, this time from 29 yards out, capping a five-play, 71-yard drive which took just 46 seconds.

Feather River closed the gap one more time on a short touchdown run by Patton to open the third quarter, but Brookshire connected with Quintus Hall and Angelo Garrett (McClymonds) to extend the lead, and fourth-quarter touchdown runs from Kerrion Hadnot and Josh Blocker (Berkeley) put the game away for good.

Brookshire finished the night 14-of-21 passing for 318 yards and three scores, while Byrd led the way with five catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. McDonald led the rushing attack with 127 yards, while Hadnot added 70 yards on just four carries, and Ledre McCullough (Amador Valley) had eight carries for 58 yards. The Laney defense notched 12 total stops behind the line of scrimmage, including three tackles for a loss from linebacker Cam Nathan (Antioch).

Patton was the lone standout for Feather River, carrying the ball 13 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns.

NorCal juco roundup: Laney storms past ARC, and more

In a marquee showdown this past Friday night between two of Northern California’s top junior college football programs, Laney College scored the final 28 points of the game against visiting American River to overcome a one-point deficit after the first quarter and roll to the 41-14 victory.

A 56-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Cruz to Nate Thomas gave ARC a 14-13 lead with 27 seconds left in the first quarter, but it was all Eagles from there, as a pair of short touchdown runs in the second quarter from quarterback Jordon Brookshire gave Laney a 27-14 halftime advantage and they continued to dominate play in the second half. The Eagles finished the night with a whopping 547 yards of total offense, while holding American River to just 213 total yards.

Brookshire, who was a league MVP at Cardinal Newman in Santa Rosa before sitting out last season, controlled the game with his arm and legs for Laney. The dual-threat signal-caller completed 17-of-23 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 46 yards and two scores. His effort was complemented by a big night on the ground from John McDonald, who ran for 122 yards and one touchdown each rushing and receiving.

“It always feel good to win, especially against a strong opponent, but that game is over now and we just need to be ready for the next one and take it one step at a time,” Brookshire said. “Even with my own performance, there were mistakes that I made, things for me to improve on and correct before the next game.”

McDonald’s 20-yard scoring run in the first quarter capped an opening statement by the Laney offense, a nine-play, 90-yard drive on the first possession of the game. After American River tied the game on a one-yard touchdown pass from Cruz to Logan Paulson, the Eagles regained the advantage on a 29-yard pass from Brookshire to Jared Smart (Dublin HS), who had eight catches for 153 yards.

Dior Walker (Deer Valley-Antioch) also had a big night receiving for Laney, with four catches for 70 yards. Linebacker Cameron Nathan (Antioch) led the defense with eight tackles, while Jahari Kay (San Leandro) made his presence felt with four tackles, including a tackle for a loss, and a sack. Armani Turner-Jenkins (Berkeley) had five total tackles, while Derrick Quesada (John Swett) rounded out a strong performance by the linebackers with another four tackles, including a tackle for a loss.

Laney improved to 2-0 with the win, while ARC fell to 1-1.

Laney Defeats American River College 41-14

Laney College quarterback Jordon Brookshire scored two touchdowns and wide receiver Jared Smart had eight receptions for 153 yards as the 10th-ranked Eagles defeated fourth-ranked American River College of Sacramento in impressive fashion, defeating the Beavers 41-14 on Sept. 7 in Oakland.

Laney (2-0) will travel to Quincy on Saturday, Sept. 15, to play Feather River College. Game time is 5 p.m. The Golden Eagles (1-1) lost at Diablo Valley College 29-21 on Sept. 7.

Laney and ARC combined for four touchdowns in the first quarter with the Beavers holding a 14-13 lead. John McDonald (Lincoln High School-Stockton) scored on a 20-yard run on the Eagles’ first drive of the game for a 7-0 lead.

After the Beavers tied the game, Brookshire (Cardinal Newman HS) threw a 29-yard scoring pass to Smart (Dublin HS).  

The Beavers scored again with 37 seconds left, but that was it for the visitors.

Laney took solid control of the game in the second quarter, scoring twice to take a 27-14 lead. Brookshire (12 carries 46 yards) scored twice on runs of 4 and 1 yards.

At the half, the Eagles had already rolled up 356 yards in total offense; they finished with 547 yards.

Brookshire threw his second touchdown pass when he connected with McDonald on a 1-yard toss with 5:44 left in the third quarter.

Freshman running back Aquantay Morris (Clark HS-Las Vegas) scored on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring.

For the game, Brookshire completed 17 of 23 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns. McDonald carried 15 times for 122 yards, his second straight game of over 100 yards rushing.

Defensively, linebacker Cameron Nathan (Antioch HS) had eight tackles (two solo). Levon Barnett (Dwyer HS-Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) and Rejzohn Wright (James Logan HS) had interceptions.

By Scott A. Strain, Laney College Sports Information

Laney Defeats Modesto Junior College 31-17 in their Season Opener

John McDonald ran for 121 yards, scored two touchdowns and a ferocious defense recorded 10 sacks as Laney College defeated Modesto Junior College 31-17 in the season opener for both teams on Sept. 1.

McDonald (Lincoln High School-Stockton) scored on runs of 29 and 23 yards for the Eagles (1-0), who open their home season on Friday, Sept. 7, against American River College of Sacramento. Game time is 7 p.m.

Linebacker Armani Turner-Jenkins (Berkeley HS), led a sterling effort with 11 solo tackles, two sacks (for 15 yards) and two tackles for losses (15 yards). Jordan Whittley (Castlemont HS) had 21/2 sacks and two TFL (Laney had 14 TFL overall). Defensive back Imani Moore (Dublin HS) had an interception.

The Eagles took the opening kickoff and drove to the Pirates’ 9-yard line, but the drive stalled. MJC drove 90 yards to take a 7-0 lead, but Laney answered back when quarterback Jordon Brookshire (Cardinal Newman HS-Santa Rosa) threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Angelo Garrett (McClymonds HS) and the Eagles tied the game at 7-7 with 2 minutes, 20 seconds left in the first quarter.

Laney took the lead for good when Brookshire threw 9 yards to El-Joshua Allen (Washington-Fremont) for 14-7 with 2:20 left in the second quarter. Brookshire finished 16-of-28 for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran 13 times for 43 yards.

Whittley sacked Modesto quarterback Jacob Perez for a 6-yard loss on a 4-and-5 play with 41 seconds left in the half. The Eagles managed to a jam in a six-play drive in the waning seconds, culminating with a KC Onwuemeka (Hercules HS) field goal of 43 yards with six seconds left for a 17-7 lead.

The Pirates cut the lead to 17-10 with a field goal in the third quarter, but McDonald his first touchdown on a 29-yard run with 9:15 left in the game to extend Laney’s margin to 24-10.

MJC scored again with 7:11 left, but McDonald answered back again with a 23-yard run with 4:02 remaining for the final score of the game.

By Scott A. Strain

Laney Sports Information

2018 Laney College Football Preview

The Laney College football team opens its 2018 season on Saturday, Sept. 1, with a road game at Modesto Junior College. Game time is 6 p.m.

The Eagles’ home opener is on Friday, Sept. 7, against American River College of Sacramento. Game time is 6 p.m.

Laney is coming off a stellar 2017 campaign, finishing the season with a 9-2 record, winning the National Valley Conference championship with a 5-0 mark and advancing to the Northern California state semifinals for the first time.

The Eagles have also been promoted to the top (and toughest) conference in Northern California, the National Bay 6 Conference. Besides Laney, the teams in the Bay 6 include rivals City College of San Francisco and Chabot College; Santa Rosa Junior College, College of San Mateo and Diablo Valley College.

The non-conference schedule (the first five games of the season) is also difficult. Besides playing at Modesto and at home to American River College, Laney also has home games against West Hills College (Sept. 21) and Butte College (Sept. 28). The Eagles also have a road game against Feather River College in Quincy (Sept. 15)

The Eagles also finished the 2016 season with a 9-2 record, giving John Beam, now in his seventh year as head coach (15 years overall), an 18-4 mark the last two years.

A handful of Laney players from last season received Division I scholarship offers and the Eagles will have to replace them.

“We have a long way to go,” Beam said, “but we’ve got a lot of young men who are working hard. Whether they mature and stay healthy—that’s the key.  It’s always about health.

“Our starters are pretty good, but we have to build more depth. I tell my players: ‘You don’t give up; you battle. You get things done and see what happens.’”

Top returners are: linebacker Cameron Nathan (Antioch High School), linebacker Armani Turner-Jenkins, running back John McDonald (Lincoln HS-Stockton), defensive back Imani Moore (Dublin HS), defensive lineman Jordan Whittley (Castlemont HS), punter Isaak Parada (Arroyo HS), kicker KC Onwuemeka (Hercules HS), defensive back Da’Meak Brandon (La Salle HS-Cincinnati).

Top newcomers are: quarterback Jordon Brookshire (Cardinal Newman HS, SRJC), defensive back Rejzohn Wright (James Logan HS), defensive back Nahshon Wright (James Logan HS), wide receiver Dior Walker (Deer Valley HS), quarterback Junior Diala (American HS), quarterback Ryan Mackey (Rio Vista HS).

By Scott Strain, Laney College Sports Information

Contributor: Eva Hannan, Laney Tower Sports Editor

For The Kids

Marcel Dancy seems to do all the right things.
 
Since taking his first reps with the California football team during training camp, the running back from Oakland has been impressing coaches and teammates.
 
Dancy is also wise beyond his years. He learned at a young age how important it is to stay on the right path if he really wanted to find success playing football.
 
After earning his spot with the Golden Bears – his dream school since he was a youngster growing up in Oakland – Dancy is determined to take advantage of his opportunity to be an inspiration for Oakland youth. He hopes to instill the same mindset of working hard and staying on the right path that he learned when he was their age.
 
"My motivation is to play in the NFL, but along that journey, I want to show kids how important it is to make the right decisions, not only in football but in life," Dancy said. "It's cool to go to school and I try to lead by example with that."
 
Before he snapped on a Cal helmet for the first time, Dancy played two seasons at Laney College in Oakland. During his time at Laney, he met Thirland Ross, head coach of the Oakland Dynamites Pop Warner football team. They met through Ross' son, Mekhi, who played on a flag football team with Dancy. After chatting with Dancy for a bit, Ross was impressed with his football knowledge and asked him if he would like to meet the kids he coaches and teach them more about the game of football.
 
Dancy jumped at the opportunity.
 
"He's great with the kids," Ross said. "The kids can relate to him because he had the same upbringing. Growing up in Oakland, you don't see a lot of people who give back the way he does. He teaches them that there's more to football besides what you do on the field. He tells them to make sure they're a student first and to make sure their grades are good. He tells them to respect their parents and give back when you can."
 
Dancy considers himself to be a big brother to the Dynamites. They can call him whenever they need anything, and he frequently checks in with Ross to see on how the team is doing.
 
Growing up, Dancy's family was instrumental in showing him the right path, and now he's trying to return the favor to kids he considers to be his younger brothers.
 
"I was lucky enough to have a lot of people looking out after me when I was a kid," Dancy said. "They made sure I stayed out of trouble and stayed focused on what I was trying to do. I'm trying to pay my family back by guiding everybody who looks up to me now."
 
Dancy's father, Daryl, said that while he's proud of how much his son cares about the kids, he isn't surprised.
 
"He is a really good man," Daryl said. "He cares about everybody and everything. That's rare coming from some of the places that people come from. He truly cares about people. It doesn't matter who you are or where you come from."
 
Growing up, Dancy attended a few Cal games and watched many more on TV. While he was attending West High School in Tracy, he participated in a Cal camp where he was coached by former Cal standout and current Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Not only did Goff and Dancy bond during that camp, but Goff was the one who told running backs coach Burl Toler III and the rest of the coaching staff that Dancy could be the real deal.

Toler remembers meeting Dancy at that camp and being very impressed with his talent and personality.
 
"It's funny because the guys who were at that camp in 2014 and are still here remember Marcel because he stood out that much," Toler said. "He was so determined and just got after it. He had the same mature personality back then and that also really stood out to me. I'm so happy to see things come to fruition for him with this opportunity and to see him take advantage of it."
 
Head coach Justin Wilcox has also taken notice of Dancy.
 
"He's a quick guy who makes powerful and decisive cuts," Wilcox said. "We're excited about what he's doing. He's got to continue to build off of what he's done so far. It's a competitive situation at running back, but he's going all-in on it. Every single day the guy brings it."

Dancy credits Kevin Parker – Cal's former director of player development – in being instrumental with him joining the Bears.  
 
A childhood inspiration on and off the field for Dancy was former Cal standout running back Marshawn Lynch. Dancy volunteers at Lynch's Fam1st camps and Lynch is a family friend of the Dancys.
 
Dancy shares the same goal as Lynch of trying to make positive change in as many lives as possible. He hopes to follow in his role model's footsteps into the NFL and earn the opportunity to teach and inspire on a larger scale.
 
"When you get a platform like that, you have two options – you can just worry about yourself and take care of yourself, or you can take as many people as you can with you, and that's what I'm trying to do," Dancy said. "I'm trying to help put as many of these kids as I can in a position to succeed."
 
While there will be a lot of kids rooting for Dancy on the football field, he will be rooting for them in life.

Ahmari Davis is Good, Young Talent for Lobo Football

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - Lobo football fans might hear the name Ahmari Davis a lot in 2018. The talented running back will experience his first season in Lobos cherry and silver. "Ahmari Davis is as talented as any back we have if you just put the ball in his hands and say run with the ball," said UNM head football coach Bob Davie. "That's the good news and really the bottom line, that's great news."

Davis is a red shirt junior who is getting adjusted to division one football at New Mexico. "The difference is everyone is fast," said Davis. "You have to be more efficient with your reads, you cuts, especially as a running back." Davis transferred to New Mexico from Laney College in Oakland, California. The school is known for having good talent. "They play a high, high level of football," said Davie.

Davie also acknowledged there still was a learning curve from junior college to division one football. Davis is coming along fine. He has put a lot of time in the game, starting from an early age. "I was seven years old when I started playing football," said Davis. "I knew I wanted to be a running back because I was always faster than a lot of people. I was always that type of person, just try to get away. Give me the ball and I would just take off running and that's how I kind of knew. I kind of wanted to play quarterback too, but running back just stuck with me ever since."

Coach Davie believes it can take his young running back a long way. He controls his destiny because he does have that kind of talent level," said Davie. "We've been pushing him pretty hard on all the little things." The Lobos open the season when they host Incarnate Word September 1.

Cal QB Ross Bowers Sure to Start, but Backups Look Strong

After providing zero indication of a legitimate “open competition” for Cal’s starting quarterback spot during training camp’s first 13 practices, backups Brandon McIlwain and Chase Garbers made strong pitches in Saturday’s camp-closing scrimmage.

There’s still little doubt that incumbent Ross Bowers, who consistently shows the best command of the offense, will be the starter. However, the next two weeks could prove a little more interesting than expected.

Bowers completed 12 of 19 passes for 94 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the situational scrimmage. His most impressive series came during a two-minute drill, when he drove the Bears 66 yards in 90 seconds and found Kanawai Noa for a 12-yard score on a fourth down.

“For him, he was OK today,” head coach Justin Wilcox said of Bowers, a perfectionist who says he hasn’t consistently played “elite” for the past week. “… We expect him to play better and better, and I think he’ll take all of this and grow from it.”

Save for a period early in camp, when Bowers was disciplining himself for an errant fade pass by running the stadium steps, the junior had taken every first-team snap until Saturday.

After starting a drive from the 43-yard line midway through the scrimmage, Bowers was replaced for a few plays by McIlwain. Bowers returned to finish the series, which was capped with a 50-yard field goal by Greg Thomas.

When asked about the unique substitution, Wilcox offered only a refrain he’s repeated from time to time since declaring the quarterback competition open prior to spring drills: “Everything is kind of on the table.”

Cal will have 11 practices in the two weeks remaining before the season-opener against North Carolina on Sept. 1. The team’s workouts will be moved from the mornings to the afternoons after classes start Wednesday.

It’s unclear how many chances McIlwain or Garbers will get as training camp shifts into regular-season practices, so they made the most of Saturday’s repetitions. McIlwain completed 3 of 8 passes for 53 yards and ran five times for 62 yards and two scores. Garbers completed 13 of 22 passes for 177 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and ran four times for 70 yards and a score.

McIlwain came up hobbling after being dragged down from behind at the tail end of a 30-yard touchdown run, but he stayed in to hold the extra-point attempt and didn’t appear to be limping after practice.

“He’s tough to tackle. That’s the thing that jumps out,” Wilcox said. “He can run some of the option game and can throw the football. Being comfortable in the offense and with his decision-making, all those things need to continue to improve. But he’s a really good athlete. I think you saw the burst that he has. When he has the ball in his hands, he’s a lot like a running back.

New Mexico's Offense Has Big Plays in First Scrimmage

The new look New Mexico offense had its first scrimmage under its new offensive coordinator, Calvin Magee. The offense will not be all that different so expect a lot of running plays and option sets for this Lobos attack.

Of course, Magee says the players are ahead of schedule in learning the offense.

“We’ve probably got more in during the first year at this point than any other place I’ve been,” Magee said via the Albuquerque Journal. “It’s nice now to go back and keep (practicing) those same plays, and adding just a little bit to go with it. I’m very pleased with where we are.”

The big moment for this offense is finding out who the quarterback will be, and it is currently a three-player race, but four saw action over the weekend.

Tevaka TuiotiColtin Gerhart and Sheriron Jones are in contention but freshman Trae Hall saw a few reps and head coach Bob Davie liked what he saw among that group. Jones did leave the scrimmage early with a hamstring injury.

In addition to quarterback, running back has been a position that has taken a step back over the past few years.

This Lobos offensive attack needs at least one running back that can make plays and break off big chunks of yards.

New Mexico still has Tyrone Owens but a second back is needed and they may have found that.

JUCO transfer Ahmari Davis who spent the past two years at Laney College in the Bay Area ran off a few big plays, including one the coaches only described as “long.”

If this New Mexico attack has found a playmaker at running back then that will go a long way in making this team competitive. Still finding a signal-caller is a must with how this offense works with all of the timing is a must.

The final note on the offense is that maybe, just maybe, we can monitor #ThrowBos because freshman wide receiver Cedric Patterson III and junior Elijah Lilly made some big plays from Gerhart.

It is just one scrimmage so expectations should not be too high but things look to be coming together for New Mexico.

Dinner will honor football stars

Some people have it all — athleticism, brains, drive, and initiative. Student-athletes at Laney College are in this category.

From the 3.0 GPA and on-field achievements of current players, to acceptance at four-year institutions and life’s work of the alumni, it’s clear that playing for the Eagles helps many students be able to make the best choices for themselves.

In honor of these ongoing achievements for Laney football, the annual Wall of Fame dinner will be held from 4:30–8:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 5, in the Laney Athletic Field House.

Dinner will be served at 6:15 p.m. and the cost is $30. The date to RSVP is past, but anyone who would like to attend may purchase tickets at the door.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the honorary dinner for new inductees to the Wall of Fame, which is located in the Student Center.

The tradition began in 1998, with then-head coach Stan Peter’s idea to honor outstanding players, coaches, and support staff for their acheivements at Laney.

A $10,000 gift from former Washington Redskins linebacker and Laney alum Ken Harvey made the wall possible.

This year, former defensive back Tavis Campbell (1997–98), wide receiver Lester Gill (1998–99), running back Joe Cannon (1997–98), and longtime athletic trainer Greg Smith will be honored.

Former inductees can also provide inspiration to current athletes for their larger educational and life goals.

“You’re gonna be able to pursue your future,” said head football coach and Athletic Director John Beam, who was named the 2017 Bay Valley Conference Coach of the Year.

“Everybody’s goal is to keep playing and keep going to school,” he said. “They don’t come here unless they want to transfer.”

The Laney Athletics Department boasts a 90 percent transfer rate to four-year colleges and universities, and many of the students get opportunities to go to school for free on an athletic scholarship, he said.

“If you don’t get into the school of your choice out of high school,” Beam said, “you can come to Laney and have way better chances.”

In addition, many of the student-athletes will do so for free. The athletic department helps students find scholarships, although not always to a school they have heard of.

“There’s a place, somewhere in this country, that will pay you to go to school and play football. It may not be UCLA, but it’s free.”

Two Eagles players did commit to University of California schools this year. Running back Marcel Dancy is headed to Cal Berkeley, and defensive back Je’Vari Anderson will be attending UCLA this fall.

“Football is just a blip on the radar of life,” Beam said. “We tell them to find the school that’s got the major you want and will give you an opportunity to succeed academically.”

The inductees featured in this year’s ceremony represent some of the possibilities that are available to student-athletes after their time at Laney.

Smith worked as Laney’s athletic trainer for nearly 40 years and will be inducted as a “Cornerstone” to the Wall of Fame.

Campbell played for the University of Hawai’i after Laney and is now “very involved with the community,” Beam said.

Cannon is the author of several books about personal training, nutrition, and the dangers of over-exercising, and Lester Gill is “big in the IT business,” Beam said.

At the dinner, current players will get a chance to see and hear about former Laney athletes who went on to develop their skills and careers after football.

Thanks to the hard work of Beam and the other coaches, hundreds of student-athletes come to Laney every year to train and play for the Eagles for two seasons before they transfer or go on to other achievements.

“The bulk want to continue to play football,” Beam said, “but there are some that come to transfer because they want to be a firefighter or serve in law enforcement. One came and wanted to get into digital media.”

The ongoing health and safety of the players is a huge concern to the coaches as well.

“We’ve been really lucky,” Beam said. “The college has some funding that faculty can ask for. Every time we’ve asked for safety stuff, it’s been approved.”

Getting the funds to conduct the day-to-day-business of the football team can be a struggle, however.

“With all the funding cuts, it’s harder and harder to help these guys out,” Beam said. “When we have to play a game, they’re supposed to be fed, but we don’t always have the money. We’ve had to fight for the money to feed them.”

Eva Hannan is sports editor and writer for the Laney Tower

Running back takes his talent to Cal

Watching Marcel Dancy play running back for the Laney College Eagles is like following an object caught in a rushing stream as it careens down a mountainside.

In highlight film footage, the moments, just before he is seen running down the line to the end zone, are difficult to decipher. Like Harry Houdini escaping from a suit of locks and chains, the viewer cannot determine exactly how it is done, even after closely examining the motions.

He bobs. He weaves. He runs sideways or circles back, taunting the defensive line before him. He disappears for a moment in the crush of bodies, and the play seems finished until he emerges on the other side of the field, running down the line and nimbly evading the defensive players left standing.

Dancy had 1,033 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns, 22 receptions, and 241 receiving yards in the 2017 season. He was ranked seventh in the state with 6.8 yards per rush by the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA).

CCCAA also unanimously named him to the All-Academic and First All-State Teams this year for Laney.

Dancy will graduate from Laney with high honors on May 25. He graduated in 2016 from Merrill F. West High School in Tracy.

In two seasons at Laney, he had a combined 1,994 rushing yards, 19 touchdowns, 27 receptions, and 292 receiving yards in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Along with fellow All-American running back Ahmari Davis, Dancy helped the Eagles go 9–2 in both 2016 and 2017, and in 2017 they went 5–0 in the National Valley Conference to advance to the NorCal Regional for the first time.

That year, Dancy and Davis became the first two running backs in Eagle history to rush over 1,000 yards each.

Dancy received a scholarship to UC Berkeley and will start training with the Bears May 28.

Davis also received a scholarship, to play running back for the University of New Mexico.

Coming from East Oakland, Dancy said this opportunity fulfills a childhood dream that has been realized because of God and sacrifices his family made.

“My family always saw I had a gift to play the game,” he said. “They made sure I stayed out of trouble and just did the right things.”

Dancy played other sports, including baseball and basketball, before he started playing football as a running back.

At times, his zigzag style looks like it could be at home on the soccer field, and his multi-sport approach is no accident. He currently practices with the Eagles track team, working with coaches Kevin Craddock and Ray Stewart to improve his speed and overall game.

Craddock said Dancy’s “strong and aggressive” approach to a goal is “a recipe for greatness. He focuses on track as if he’s gonna step on and do a race this weekend.”

Stewart said that Dancy’s performance and stamina remind him of Khalfani Muhammad, a former Cal running back who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans.

Attention to detail and a commitment to fully learning his trade has made an impression on Eagles defensive coach Derrick Gardner.

“One thing I think that sets Marcel apart is his ability to see the landscape and understand a setup,” Gardner said. “He’s anticipating their reaction.”

For Dancy, it’s all about getting ahead and doing the unexpected on the football field. His versatility allows his success as an occasional receiver.

“What the game is actually about is like chess,” he said — and yes, he plays that too.

Dancy thinks about future moves for his education as well. His major is business, with a focus on sports and money management.

“I have a lot of different reasons for what I do,” he said. “Opportunity is all I need to handle my business.”

Dancy also makes a point to give back to the community. He currently serves as an assistant coach to the Oakland Dynamites, a Pop Warner football team comprised of youths ages 5–13.

Helping young players realize their dreams and stay out of trouble is important to Dancy. He said he hopes to have an impact, “not just by words, but by actions.”

Eva Hannan is the sports editor of the Laney Tower.

Clutch moves from overseas

The road to baseball glory is paved with clutch hits.

Laney’s Masayuki Eguchi, batting first in the bottom of the sixth inning against Los Medanos College on April 17, ripped a ground single into right field to start the rally that would beat the Mustangs 4–1 and knock LMC out of first place in the Bay Valley Conference.

It also brought an end to Mustang pitcher Dominic Arias’ perfect game.

After allowing the single, Arias walked Laney catcher Jesus Manzo.

LMC put in left-hander Scott Meylan to face left-fielder Kameron Proctor with nobody out and runners on first and second.

Proctor’s successful sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third.

Then, lead-off hitter Kevin Whitaker crushed a three-run homer over the left-field fence.

More stellar batting and base-running followed, with the Eagles scoring again that inning.

It all started with Eguchi’s clutch single to right.

Eguchi, 19, came 4,892 miles from snowy Aomori at the northern end of Japan to play baseball for Laney.

Yuki Kano flew even further — 5,142 miles from Tokyo, Japan.

He is a middle-inning relief pitcher for the Eagles.

“He has talent,” head coach Francisco Zapata said, “and a pretty good split-finger fastball in the low 80’s.”

Kano, 25, has appeared in 7–1/3 innings in nine games.

Hitters have a .200 batting average against him.

“It’s been up and down for him, but it’s been better as of late,” Zapata said.

Kano has also given up five walks and hit seven batters.

The American baseball emphasis on statistics was noted by Kano.

“Here, everything is data,” he said. “How many pitches, inside or outside, everything is put in the computer. We don’t do that in Japan.”

Focus on the field is different in other ways too, Eguchi said.

“In defense, Japanese coaches want certainty [that the play will be made]. Here, speed is praised,” he said.

Eguchi shows off his ability to do both at second base.

He has played 16 games with a fielding percentage of .935 while racking up 17 put outs and 26 assists.

These Japanese students aren’t the first from another country to contribute to the baseball team.

Laney baseball players have come from Columbia and The Netherlands as well, Zapata said.

There are over 500 students from other countries attending school in the Peralta district, Athletics Director John Beam said, although most of them are not athletes as well.

“I had to try out to play baseball,” Kano said, “so I went to Seattle and Oregon, and then I decided to come here. The school is a good location, close to San Francisco, and they have good coaches. I like it here.”

Both students are enrolled in ESL classes.

“They do their best and have a great attitude,” Zapata said.

The language barrier is the biggest challenge these players face, he said.

Eguchi and Kano are finishing up their freshman year, so they will be back to play for Laney in the 2019 season.

During the summer, they both plan to visit their homes in Japan.

Eva Hannan is a Tower staff writer

Track and field gets up to speed

The Laney Track and Field team burst around the track again and again over the course of the afternoon practice, pushing themselves to approach every pounding step with consistency.

Team members cheer while coaches yell pointers as the runners round the curves. After they collapse, breathing heavily at the end of their races, they are sure to get some high fives and words of encouragement.

The team practices six days a week to perfect their running form and improve personal records for best time in individual races, relays, hurdles, and jumps.

Head coach Kevin Craddock is in his second year with the Eagles. His approach focuses on maintaining proper form in order to achieve excellence during the races.

“Technique wins out every single time. When everybody else falls apart, generally you win by holding it together,” he said.

His approach is paying off. Each member of the 11-person team is consistently improving their times each week, he said. A team of new runners usually does better as a second-year team, but the season is already looking good for these freshmen.

“They’re well on their way to hitting qualifying numbers to state championships,” Craddock said. “They all get to come back next year, and with our track record, the second is the year of domination for the girls.”

One reason the team may have an edge on the competition is because their schedule pits them against many Division I University teams.

“They’ve been getting a lot more exposure than previous teams,” said former hurdler Nia Vance. “When they do run against junior colleges, it will be a lot easier because they’ve been running against those bigger schools.”

The fierce competition provides motivation for the team to work their hardest.

“Six days a week, rain or shine, tired or not, broken leg or not, you’re practicing,” said Stephanie Blackmore, who runs the 200-meter and 400-meter races for Laney.

The team focuses on their core strength as well as running technique. They incorporate yoga stretches into their routine on the field, Craddock said.

Last year was a small team, former team member Mariama Hilburn, who ran individual and relay races, said.

“We had five people on the team. Two hurdlers and jumpers, one 400-meter runner, one 800-meter runner, and a 100-meter runner. We all had a good year,” she said.

The year went so well that all five received a full scholarship to a four-year institution.

Some of those who have moved on to other schools regularly return to Laney’s campus to catch up and encourage their former teammates, said Blackmore.

The camaraderie and team atmosphere helps the runners stay focused in their studies as well, she said.

“Even when we’re not at practice we’re usually together.”

Eva Hannan is a writer and sports editor for The Laney Tower

Herd TE Armani Levias is more comfortable this spring

HUNTINGTON - Last year, Marshall University tight end Armani Levias arrived in Huntington as a junior college football prospect from Laney Community College in his hometown of Pittsburg, Calif.

Levias knew he was going to be in new territory - literally and figuratively - when he joined the Thundering Herd football program as a mid-year enrollee in Jan. 2017. The 6-foot-4, 246-pound tight end was more than 2,500 miles from home and, at the time, he didn't exactly know what it took to be a football player at the NCAA Division I level.

As is the case with many junior college players, the increase in speed of the game consumed Levias at times last spring as he made the adjustment.

"Last year, I was the new kid on the block and I couldn't get the plays down," Levias said. "My head was hurting, my eyes were big. I just had to learn how to practice."

For Levias, it was about listening and taking in everything around him, which included hearing the coaching of former position coach Bill Legg and especially learning on the field from senior leader Ryan Yurachek.

Levias credited Yurachek for getting him through when times became tough last season.

"If I didn't know my assignment on my job, I asked him and he pointed out what I needed to do," Levias said. "When you have a good example, it's easy to just do what he does. He might not have been as vocal as some, but he was a great leader for us. He made sure we stayed on our game if we messed up. I appreciate him for that."

Now, the charge of Levias and the other Marshall tight ends is to step in to fill the role of Yurachek, who contributed 490 yards while leading the team with 10 touchdown receptions.

Yurachek was the latest in a long lineage of successful tight ends at Marshall, meaning the onus is on Levias, Cody Mitchell, Xavier Gaines and Devin Miller to continue the trend beginning with this spring's practice sessions.

"From the Cody Slates and Lee Smiths, all the way through the Gator Hoskins to Emanuel Byrds to Ryan Yuracheks and the Eric Frohnapfels, there is a great history and tradition here," Marshall tight ends coach Todd Goebbel said. "You've got four great, young men that are willing to step up to the challenge and meet the standard and expectation of the position. From what I've seen in four practices, I think we've got a chance."

With Yurachek a three-year starter, there weren't many other players who got in two-deep repetitions last season.

And we're not just talking games, either.

"Not one guy in my (position) room, other than Cody Mitchell, has had a live practice rep, a meaningful rep - before this week," Goebbel said.

Levias said while there aren't many repetitions between them, there is a confidence about each guy, thanks to the work put in during offseason conditioning with head strength coach Luke Day and his staff.

"It means a lot because if I'm not 100 percent in shape, that means I can't give it my all," Levias said. "All the strength coaches, they've done a great job with me. There's a big improvement from since I came here and I'm just enjoying the process of getting better as a player."

The proof has been in Levias' execution and tempo on the field.

Last season at this time, Levias was slowed as he was trying to process what he was supposed to do before reacting on a particular play.

Now, he's moving at a better pace, which is vital for the offense under new coordinator Tim Cramsey.

"When we come out here, I'm not trying to focus on being perfect because I know when I start thinking a lot I don't go 100 percent," Levias said. "Now, I'm trying to think fast and go 100 miles per hour. It's my second go-round so I'm more comfortable and more relaxed. I don't have to think as much. I'm ready to play."

Levias and the Herd take part in their fifth practice of spring Thursday afternoon before getting set for Saturday's practice, which will feature live-ball situations.

Sophomores honored at last game

The Laney Eagles women’s basketball team, led by head coach Ron Williams, played their last game of the season at home on Feb. 16 against Solano College, losing 65–44. The Eagles ended their season with a winning record of 10–6 in the Bay Valley Conference. Overall, their record was 12–13.

“It was hard for us to buy into everything we’re supposed to do. And it was hard for us to not lose focus,” Laney guard Jassemine Johnson said, reflecting on the season.

The team’s roster was comprised of six freshmen and only two sophomores. For many on the team, the season was a learning experience. “When we first came in, we were all a group of strong personalities, so it took us a minute to really click,” guard Sydney Hills said. Over the course of the season, the players got to know one another and value the relationships that formed, she said.

The Solano game was also Sophomore Night. Xaria Thompson and Sydney Hills were honored in a ceremony at halftime for their achievements on and off the court.

During the game, Williams was not afraid to be vocal to the referees. He shouted and cajoled, yelled encouragement, or groaned his displeasure whenever he thought the referees missed a call. His self-expression has been costly at times.

On Nov. 12, 2017 Laney was forced to forfeit a game in the first quarter when Williams was assessed two technical fouls and ejected for arguing with the referees. To some players, Williams’ commentary was evidence of the coach’s dedication to them.

“Not a lot of coaches will fight for you like they should. You can seriously get hurt out there,” Hills said. “He’s looking out for our health and our best interests.”

Eva Hannan sports editor of the Laney Tower.

Eagles’ Anderson is Bruin-bound

In the Laney athletics field house, nobody knows where he is right now, but everybody knows who he is and where he’ll be next month.

The assignment: find Je’Vari Anderson, Laney College’s standout defensive back. He’s heading to UCLA to play for the Bruins in the 2018 season.

In his career as an Eagles safety he played in 21 games with 32 solo tackles, 10 assisted tackles, and three interceptions. Last season, Anderson was named a Region I All-Conference and All-National Valley Conference player.

He signed on to UCLA Feb. 6 with a scholarship to play as a linebacker. This is the first time a Laney student has gone on to play football for UCLA, Anderson said.

“He’s violent,” head coach John Beam said. “He understands the game. He’s explosive when he comes to make a play. People like that.”

Anderson is “football smart,” as Beam puts it, and he’s capable of much more than an impressive approach to playing the sport.

“They see this football player but he’s actually much deeper than that off the field. He’s introspective, he thinks things through and he’s a good human being,” Beam said.

Strength and conditioning coach Antuan Webb broke down what he saw as the story of Anderson’s success. “He came into the Laney program and has been a great citizen,” Webb said.

“Hard work in the classroom, hard work in the weight room, and on Friday and Saturday nights, he received an ‘A’ on the football field.”

After a false start out of football powerhouse De la Salle High School, Anderson now feels as though he knows how to stay focused. “I took school really seriously this time,” he said. “Laney’s been a great experience. The teachers and staff are great, and the coaches here are very organized.”

The shift from linebacker at Laney to safety at UCLA should be an easy one for Anderson. “He’s a bigger, thicker guy than he was,” Beam said, “so he’s changing into more of what we call a ‘down-the-box player’. He’s moving to the front end, and he’ll start five yards closer to the ball.”

Anderson’s versatility on the field is an advantage, and one that is still relatively new to football.

“Right now it’s not as common as it should be, but it’s definitely moving that way. Kids are built differently, and they can compete in multiple positions,” Anderson said.

He is aiming to get his graduate degree in neuropsychology, but he isn’t looking too far ahead. “I’m concentrating on my undergrad and excelling in my football season,” he said.

Anderson feels as though he learned the skills at Laney that he needed to make the grade at UCLA. “[Coach] Beam took academics really seriously here,” he said. “He makes time for it cause that’s what we’re here for anyway, right? A second chance.”

Anderson will be leaving behind many friends and admirers at Laney College. “The other day I programmed him in my phone as Mr. Anderson, because when I think of ‘mister’, I think of someone I really respect,” Webb said.

Goodbye, Mr. Anderson, you’ll be missed.

Eva Hannan is sports editor for the Laney Tower.

Swim team focuses more on growth than competition

The Laney Women’s Swimming and Diving team’s competitive season began in January. Unlike past years, the team’s focus is more on individual swimmer’s growth than winning competitions, said coach Sarah Stretch.

The team is operating at half-strength after several members quit early in the semester. Swimming and diving teams usually have 12 or more members. This season, Laney’s current roster of seven includes two second-year students.

Stretch recognizes that student-athletes can face challenges that limit their ability to compete. “Sometimes life gets in the way,” she said. “We lost more than usual this year.”

For some, she said, work schedules conflicted with practice and swim meets, where swimmers race individually and as a team over two or more days. The competitions take place one weekend per month during the season and can involve several hours of travel time.

The meets are run in an invitational format and typically feature five schools competing in timed individual and team relay races. Times are then ranked and points are awarded to each swimmer or team. Having a larger team is beneficial, since everyone who competes earns points.

“The more people you have, generally the more points you’re gonna score whether they’re [swimming] strong or not,” Stretch said.

Laney will probably not be able to amass enough points to compete with other schools for overall score, in the Bay Valley Conference Championship she said, especially since the relays count for twice as many points as the individual races.

“It won’t be as strong of a showing for the team but the girls will still be improving and progressing and having their individual goals,” Stretch said.

In the individual races, each swimmer races for best time, and the top 24 swimmers continue to the second round.

“A lot of our girls will get a second swim even if they’re at beginner level or intermediate level,” Stretch said. The extra time in the water should help each swimmer hone her competitive skills.

Some swimmers, such as Amanda Chai, also compete with the Laney women’s water polo team in fall semester.

Chai was “an outstanding water polo player this year,” Stretch said. “I’d like to see her drop some time and do well and maybe score in the top eight.”

Stretch hopes to see everyone on the team score as many points as they can and improve their times as the season progresses.

Many members of the team come from a background in competitive swimming, but unlike most community college sports, beginners without competitive experience can join the team and learn to race.

Beginners learn how to pace themselves and improve their speed. People of a wide range of ages and experience have joined the team in years past.

“Some of the girls come in swimming for schools or recreationally,” Stretch said. “There’s others who know the basics but we develop and work on technique, turns, and even diving.”

The team is hoping to talk more to local high schools to get the word out about the available summer concurrent enrollment in their water polo and swimming classes for potential participants.

Laney’s next meet is March 31-April 1, at the Solano College Swimming and Diving Invitational. The start time each day is 10 a.m. The San Mateo meet on March 14 has been cancelled.

Eva Hannan is sports editor for the Laney Tower.