Blue Devils chasing greatness

By Sean LynchSeptember 11, 2012 

Don Quixote sought a world of chivalry. Captain Ahab chased after his elusive white whale.

Bob Casey and the Merced College football team's quest may not be quite as epic as some of the world's most famous fictional characters, but that marquee victory the school covets remains just as frustratingly out of reach.

Last weekend's 47-38 loss to Fresno City College is the most recent painful reminder.

The Blue Devils have subtly been on the rise the last few years. The wins haven't been as bountiful as some would like, but there's been a fundamental change in the program.

They've started competing game in and game out and even flirted with a couple big upsets along the way, including last year's 17-3 victory over College of the Sequoias.

But flirt as MC might, you never had the feeling it was capable of really pulling off the big win.

All that changed against the Rams.

The Blue Devils made believers of myself and the 1,200 in attendance at Stadium '76, absolutely taking it to Fresno City for a little over three quarters.

There was nothing fluky about the 38-28 lead MC held with just over eight minutes to go. It wasn't a case of the Rams being shorthanded and the Blue Devils simply rising to the occasion.

For that evening at least, they were flat out the better team.

That makes the way Merced lost the game in the final seven minutes all the more heartbreaking.

It was the kind of implosion a Hollywood screen writer would have been hard pressed to dream up.

The lead was erased in a span of 15 seconds, a shot to the jaw that MC never recovered from.

The team and its head coach were understandably emotional after yet another eye-opening victory slipped through its fingers.

The question is, can they get over it?

MC was eight points away from an undefeated Golden Gate Conference title a year ago. It was a group on the cusp of something special.

With over 30 members of that squad returned and a year of experience under their belts, the Blue Devils announced on Saturday they're a team ready to take the next step.

So will they?

The opportunity is there. The next two weeks provide teams (San Jose (0-2) and Feather River (1-1)) that are solid, but by no means in the class of MC's first two opponents.

The same holds true for the entire GGC, which is a collective 0-10 through the first two weeks.

They'll get their chance at another big-name victory when Diablo Valley College pays a visit on Sept. 29, but until then MC needs to feast on lesser opponents.

The Blue Devils can't afford to take any steps backward in the next couple weeks and need to build some momentum before they get into conference play.

It's been 13 years since MC last had a winning football season and, unfortunately, after gifting away Saturday's win, it has eight remaining games to earn those six victories and the bowl game that will come with it.

If any Blue Devil team assembled in recent memory is capable of achieving those goals, it's this one.

But where they go from here is up to them.

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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