Photo by Ed Beyer
SANTA BARBARA - Marauder quarterback Armani Edden said this is a must-win for his team.
Maybe he's right.
In fact, Edden said each game from here on out are must-wins for his Marauder football team which enters Saturday afternoon's game against Santa Barbara City College on the road with a 1-0 conference record.
"In order for us to be in the position we want to be in, we have to win," the freshman quarterback from Florida said.
The position is a potential conference championship as well as a post season bowl game.
In order for that to happen, AVC (3-3, 1-0) must dispose of a tough Vaqueros (3-3, 0-1) team looking for their first conference victory. Last week Santa Barbara, entering Saturday's game with a two-game losing streak, was embarrassed by Allan Hancock College (4-2, 1-0) at home in which the Vaqueros could only muster 204 yards of total offense, including 83 yards passing and a second quarter field goal.
In that game Santa Barbara was only 3-of-14 on third down conversions. Still the Vaqueros are averaging 31 points per game and have a balanced offensive attack, averaging 175 rushing yards and 173 passing yards.
"They're a good football team. They always seem to play hard all four quarters, no matter what the score is, and they're very well coached," AVC head coach Perry Jehlicka said. "But right now we control our own destiny and that's the way we want it. The nice thing right now is we're tied for first place and from here on out we're playing for first place. We can hand them their second (conference) loss and make it hard for them, but at the same time they can knock off an undefeated (conference) team. In all sports you'd rather control your own destiny."
The Marauders must forget about the aesthetically pleasing sights that Santa Barbara has to offer and remain focused, which Jehlicka said his team is.
"I thought we had a really good week of practice. We took some early non-conference losses (against San Diego Mesa College and College of the Desert) which we didn't like, but this could be the reason we're playing late in the season. We've learned from those losses," he said. "You see aspects of us getting better. We're better than we were three weeks ago."
Jehlicka said his offense is better and "has to continue to grow."
Last week, against a tough Citrus College defense, the Marauder only put up 13 points in their victory over the Owls. However, the defense only held Citrus to a pair of field goals.
AVC's defense, minus a few hiccups most notably against College of the Desert in which the Marauders squandered a 22-point third quarter lead, has been among one of the best in the state. In its last two games, AVC's defense led by this week's conference Defensive Player of the Week, Noah Hopper, has allowed a total of only 13 points. The Vaqueros, which are averaging 52 points per game in their three victories are only averaging 10 points per game in their three losses.
So must must the Marauders do to get going against Santa Barbara?
"I have to give my play makers the ball early so we can get in a rhythm," Edden said. "We know what we have to do. I feel very confident this week. All of the freshmen on this team don't even consider ourselves freshmen anymore. We know this is one of our biggest games of the season. We came in with a different focus this week."
AVC's offense only totaled 192 yards of offense against what Jehlicka called "one of the best defensive fronts" his team has seen in Citrus. Santa Barbara has allowed a total of 700 yards in its last two losses against College of the Desert and Allan Hancock.