Sean Lynch: Like losses, nicks, bumps mount for Merced College

September 29, 2010 

Linebacker Tim Tisdale looked like he didn't have the use of one of his arms following a tackle up the middle.

Offensive lineman Lawrence Martin could barely go consecutive plays without wincing at the pain in his lower back.

Nearly every Blue Devil that left the field last Saturday night, came to the sideline with one nick or another.

Eventually, Fresno City College took advantage of the depleted defense an ran away with a 44-14 victory.

For a time, though, the Blue Devils gave the Rams all they could handle.

MC turned in an almost 15-minute run -- spanning the end of the first quarter and the start of the second -- that gave the fans who'd made the trip to Fresno a brief glimpse of what the team was capable of.

Down 14-0 with just under 7 minutes to play in the first quarter, MC's offense began to find a rhythm.

Starting at its own 32-yard line, a Blue Devil unit that had yet to produce a first down, marched.

Quarterback Adam Ragsdale connected on a 25-yard pass play with Montory Bellamy that gave the Blue Devils a first-and-goal.

MC moved the ball to the Ram 2-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs when Ragsdale was hit for a 9-yard loss on a botched play.

The Rams needed just five plays to go 89 yards and make it a 20-0 game.

The 13-point swing could have been demoralizing for MC, but instead of hanging their heads, Bob Casey's kids simply responded.

The Blue Devils scored on consecutive drives with the MC defense forcing a fumble in between.

Ragsdale tossed a pair of touchdown passes, and just like that, the former Central Valley Conference rivals were in for a dogfight.

The comeback came at a price, though.

The Blue Devils entered the contest already banged up across the board and a few more names were added to the list.

Fresno was big and physical and they punished an already beat up MC squad.

Not that MC didn't dish out as much as it took.

Sophomore safety Bernard Bolden had three monsters hits in one series alone.

Unfortunately, Fresno and some of the other nonconference powers the Blue Devils are squaring off against, are blessed with a little more depth.

I'm not making excuses.

Injuries are every bit as common in football as handoffs, and now is usually the time of year when they start to creep up.

But after seeing that glimpse of Blue Devil potential last Saturday, I'm more than a little concerned they may never get the opportunity to realize it.

Beat up as MC is, it's only at the halfway point of nonconference gauntlet.

The schedule makers did Casey and company no favors, and it's obviously taking a toll.

After games with with NorCal No. 9 San Joaquin Delta (2-1) and No. 7 Fresno City (2-1), the Blue Devils still have to travel to No. 20 College of the Sequoias (1-2) and then host No. 12 Modesto (2-1).

Don't let the record or the rank fool you, either.

Sequoias is one of the biggest and fastest teams in the state.

Loaded with Division I prospects on both sides of the ball, COS's losses came against two of the top eight teams in the state.

And NorCal No. 4 Foothill only managed to escape on a Hail Mary as time expired.

Sequoias boasts lines that make Fresno City's look average sized, and with six starters out of the lineup, dropped 63 points on Gavilan last week.

Should the Blue Devils manage to come out of the matchup unscathed, a rivalry game with MJC still awaits them before the start of Golden Gate Conference play.

Casey's plan has produced improved results each week, and you have to believe that development will continue if the parts can remain in place.

Right now that seems like a big if.

The end of the gauntlet is in sight, you just hope MC can reach it relatively intact.

Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at slynch@mercedsun-star.com.

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