Is the third time a charm for the Laney College football team?
The Eagles open their season on Saturday, Sept. 2, at City College of San Francisco and are looking to defeat the Rams for a third consecutive time. Game time is 1 p.m.
Last season, en route to a, 9-2 finish Laney, for the first (and only) time, defeated CCSF twice in one season. The Eagles stunned the Rams 18-13 in Oakland on Sept. 2, and then knocked them off again on their home field, 49-35, on Dec. 3 in the San Francisco Community College Bowl.
“Wining lets everybody know they can be beat. (Beating them twice) took a little luster off them,” Laney head coach John Beam said. “They can be beat. The coaches are confident, the players are confident and our fans are confident.”
It was a fitting end to a fine season. Question is: Can Laney do it again in a hostile environment against a team thirsting for revenge?
The answer is yes, probably. Despite losing six players to Division I schools, the Eagles return both quarterbacks from last season and the top two running backs from an offense that led the state in rushing yards per game.
Quarterback Noah Suszckiewicz threw for 257 yards and four touchdowns in the bowl victory over CCSF and Andrew Ve’e provided a dual threat at QB with his running and passing ability.
“He has really matured and is throwing the ball very well,” Beam said of Suszckiewicz. “Andrew has really been steady.” Both quarterbacks could see action against CCSF.
In 2016, Suszckiewicz completed 65 of 166 passes for 1,076 yards and nine touchdowns. Ve’e was 53 for 99, 778 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Also returning are running backs Marcel Dancy (162 carries, 961 yards, four touchdowns) and Ahmari Davis (95-684, seven touchdowns).
The top return receiver is Devond Blair Jr. (12 receptions, 232 yards, two touchdowns). Beam is evaluating a group of talented freshmen to fill the other spots. Jared Smart (5-11, 170) from Dublin High School and Angelo Garrett (5-9, 155) from McClymonds are two of the prospects.
Returning linebacker Joe Butler (6-foot-4, 215) leads the defense. Butler made the game-saving interception in the end zone in the first CCSF game. Erin Austin (6-3, 280, Heritage HS) anchors the defensive line. “He is as good as anybody in Northern California,” Beam said of Austin.
Defensive back Je’Vari Anderson (6-0, 220, De La Salle) comes from a wining program and is a “tremendous player,” Beam said.
“But this is community college football and you worry about depth, injuries and how life experiences affect players.”
NOTES—Laney is ranked 12th in the preseason JC Athletic Bureau poll, CCSF is 10th…The Eagles play three of the Top 25 schools: CCSF (10th), Butte (3rd) and Modesto Junior College (11th), the latter two at home…the last time Laney defeated CCSF two years in a row was in 1984-1985.