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Volume 142, Issue #8




Sports

RAMS SPIKE THE PUNCH BOWL

BY MILES HARWELL
EDITOR

The Rams football team clinched their fourth consecutive NorCal Championship with a second win over Fresno City College.

MELISSA MA / GUARDSMAN

If City College Rams football team head coach George Rush’s comments are any indication, the Rams convincing 26-10 win against Fresno City College at the Hawaiian Punch Bowl had a lot to do with the resilience of quarterback Zac Lee.

“He’s the toughest guy on team except for me,” Rush said of Lee after the Dec 2 game.

On the down following Lee’s second sacking, he passed to receiver Kenny O’Neal for a 5-yard gain as the team drove from their own 12-yard line with a still tenuous 19-10 lead and nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

“I knew I had to do something big to get us over the hump,” O’Neal said. 

O’Neal darted through a wall of Fresno defenders, and then ran up the left sideline for 50 yards with receiver Deric Davis running alongside him as a blocker.

O’Neal crossed the field again to finish the 88-yard play in the right corner of the end zone, that gave the Rams a decisive 26-10 edge over Fresno. 

“I was trying to block for him, but when you have Kenny’s speed, sometimes you don’t need blocking,” Davis said.

“That’s the great thing about playing with Kenny — you pass to him for five yards and he gets 80,” Lee said.

Davis and O’Neal embraced seconds later on the Rams’ sideline, knowing the team was now a step closer to an eighth Commission on Athletics state championship, while improving to a 10-1 record overall.

“I am very pleased with this win. We played a great game overall,” head coach George Rush said.

Since their undefeated season in 2003, the Rams have dominated the Hawaiian Punch Bowl, going 3-0 as three-time defending NorCal champions. By defending this title for a fourth consecutive year, the Rams advanced to the state championship game on Dec. 9 against El Camino College.

“It’s one game — go hard or go home. All this has to add up to something,” said tight end Anthony Eustac.

Both teams met earlier in the season, in a 34-31 nail-biter that came down to the last minute before the outcome was decided by an interception made by cornerback Durrell Clark-James. Another closely fought contest was anticipated by players and coaches.

The Rams scored on the game’s opening possession, as Lee passed to O’Neal three times for 22 yards, which would open up tailback Tyreece Jacks rushing game. A 22-yard dash up the right sideline by Jacks helped set up a 1-yard sneak by Lee that put the Rams ahead 6-0.

Jacks, who finished with 93 yards on 22 carries, helped add to the Rams’ point total with a 2-yard dive into the end zone to begin the second quarter, giving the Rams a 12-0 lead with 13:29 remaining.  

“To play in this game for me is bigger than playing in the championship,” Jacks said. “You have to win here to get there.”

Fresno, who came into the game with an 8-2 record, attempted to utilize its ground attack, led by Cody Hobbs.

The 212-pound tailback’s bruising rushing style allowed Hobbs to pick up key first downs, frustrating the Rams’ defense.

Following Jacks’ score, Hobbs galloped to a 34-yard gain and later in the drive ran 4 yards into the end zone for a touchdown, making the score 12-7.

“We kept the ball on the ground a lot,” Hobbs said. “I just tried to put us on top.”

Two drives later, the Rams’ defense tightened and forced Hobbs to fumble after a 10-yard gain, with the ball being recovered by defensive tackle Julian James.

Fresno quarterback McKinson Soverain attempted to narrow the gap on the team’s last drive of the half but had a deep pass intercepted by Clark-James as time expired.

Hobbs noticed poor play selection and a lack of aggressiveness that was detrimental to his team’s offense, something that was not problematic when the team met earlier in the year.

“We were more aggressive in the first game,” he said. “Coach [Tony Caviglia] tried a lot of trickery plays that didn’t work out our way.”

The third quarter began with both teams forcing each other to punt, before Fresno managed to drive 59 yards en route to a field goal that brought them closer with the score 12-10. The Rams responded on the following possession, with Lee completing all three passes on a six-play drive that concluded with a 17-yard touchdown catch by Davis.

Lee finished with 304 yards on 23-for-33 passing with two touchdowns.

“It meant everything to me to win this game,” Lee said.

Following O’Neal’s score in the fourth quarter, Soverain tried to drive the Fresno offense toward the end zone once again, but had his day cut short after a devastating hit by Rams defensive end Brandonlee Williams. This would spell the end for Fresno, as Soverain was helped off the field by trainers.  

Rush commended the Rams defense’s ability to nullify the offensive firepower of Soverain, who was a non-factor in this game, snubbing his regular season achievement of running 341 yards with four touchdowns and 10 passing touchdowns.

“We took him out of the game,” Rush said of Soverain. “The defense did a great job controlling him.”

Rush expects the level of competition to increase when facing El Camino, as historically the SoCal champions have frustrated the Rams in past years.

“We expect to play a good team,” Rush said. “But hopefully we can put our best effort forward and get the win.”

E-mail:managingeditor@theguardsman.com


MUAY THAI CHAMP KICKS IT

BY JENNIFER LOPEZ
EDITOR

Michael Mananquil began training as a kickboxer after an encounter with the law and won the World Muay Thai championship at age 24.

MELISSA MA / GUARDSMAN

When Michael Mananquil was 15 years old he had a mild run-in with the law. As a result, the San Francisco Police Department suggested that he enroll in Muay Thai, a form of Thai kickboxing, to keep out of trouble.

“It was the best thing that could’ve happened to me,” Mananquil said.

He began training at the World Muay Thai Team USA gym on Ocean Avenue with trainer Kru Sam Phimsoutham.

Ten years later, Mananquil is a world champion and has defeated six-time champion Danny Steele for a second time this September at the World Championship Muay Thai in North Hollywood, California

“He wanted a rematch. I worked hard on my technique and was able to finish the fight quicker than the first time,” Mananquil said proudly.

Mananquil was born and raised in San Bruno and attended Burlingame High School. He has been working on his general studies at City College, but took this semester off as he faced five fights in a four-month period, including the championship fight.

Since childhood, Mananquil knew he wanted to be a fighter.

At nine years old, he declared he wanted to be “champion of the world,” he said.

He grew up watching fighters like Steele and knew he wanted to be like them. He also credits his older brother for preparing him for his fighting career.

“I definitely had to dodge the towel whip,” Mananquil said.

The 5-foot-10-inch, 147-pound fighter spends most of his days training and teaching at the World Muay Thai Team USA gym, a large space with mirrors lining the left side and punching bags on the right. In the right corner sits a boxing ring with championship belts hanging over it.

“I think he’s a great fighter. He’s technical, fast and real strong,” Antoinette Lozada, a receptionist at the gym, said.

“He’s also a great teacher.”

Mananquil teaches children, juniors and adults power conditioning. It is a tough workout that consists of drills, calisthenics, bag work and lots of cardiovascular exercise.

In his spare time he trains outside the gym, watches movies and hangs out with his friends.

Mananquil said he never eats junk food; he especially loves to eat Thai food and bananas and has no trouble maintaining his weight.

His next fight will be against high-ranking Canadian fighter Shane Campbell. As is tradition, before his match trainer Kru Sam Phimsoutham will take him to the Thai temple to be blessed. Mananquil is not Buddhist, but finds it very relaxing.

He will enter the ring playing rock music over the speakers, possibly by his favorite group Panic at the Disco.

Now that Mananquil has proven to be a true champion in the fighting world and now plans to knock out the academic world.

In the near future, the fighter plans on transferring to San Francisco State University to study business and perhaps kinesiology.

“I’ve been thinking about the future a lot,” Mananquil said. “I know when I transfer I will have to take some time off from training to concentrate on school and getting my degree.”

E-mail: sports@theguardsman.com


MEN'S SOCCER SEASON CUT SHORT BY DE ANZA IN PLAYOFFS

BY JOSE GUTIERREZ
STAFF WRITER

First Round Exit: Forward Chris Deal attempts to pass a De Anza defender during the Rams' first round playoff game on Nov. 18. Despite improving to 15-5-3 overall, they were unable to advance.

ANNABELLE DAY / GUARDSMAN

The Rams men’s soccer team fell to De Anza College 0-1 on Nov.18 in the first round of the north region playoffs.

“We played a good game, we were evenly matched,” head coach Adam Lucarelli said.

After 75 minutes, De Anza scored on a penalty kick to take the lead.

Then with two minutes left, Rams forward Chris Deal missed a penalty kick — something the team had not done all season.

“We were just unlucky. If it wasn’t for (Deal) we wouldn’t have made the playoffs,” Lucarelli said.

Although the Rams were eliminated from the playoffs, they had a season to remember. They finished 15-5-3 and were second in their conference, scored a huge upset against Santa Rosa Junior College — shutting them out 3-0 — and in September, they had a seven-game undefeated streak going 5-0-2.

The team was also ranked fourth in the state and second in their conference in goals scored.

“We all connected and we’re all on the same page,” said center defender Justin Nolley.

“We attack from everywhere,” forward Stephen Cordova added.

Attacking their opponents is what the Rams did all season — primarily forwards Deal and Cordova, who were ranked third and fifth, respectively, statewide in goals scored.

Many players on this team contributed to its success; every game seemed to exhibit a different set of playmakers.

One surprise of the season was Christopher Posada, who emerged as a key starter late in the season after warming the bench.

“It’s a privilege to play for this team. I’m learning and I’ve stepped up my game,” Posada said.

The Rams’ success this season did not come easy — they had their fair share of challenges.

Key players suffered injuries and the team had to work hard at practice early in the season to build the right chemistry.

Another obstacle the team faced was not being able to practice on a soccer field, due to construction.  Instead, the Rams practiced on the football field and played their home games at Balboa Park.

“It was a huge challenge practicing on a surface you don’t play your games on,” Lucarelli said.

The coaches take great pride in seeing players transfer to four-year college teams.

Goal keeper Kazuomi Suzuki will go on to San Francisco State University, Justin Nolley will play for Notre Dame de Namur University and Chris Deal will play for University of California, Berkeley.

“It’s sad to leave, but I’ll only be across the bridge” Deal said.

Coach Lucarelli wants his players not only to succeed on the soccer field, but also in life.

“I really enjoyed being around this team,” he said.

“I made my guys promise to me to either get an AA degree or transfer.”

E-mail:jgutierrez@theguardsman.com