The Merced College football team’s offense had shown flashes.
Little displays of flawless execution that hinted at the unit’s potential if it could ever get on the same page.
The Blue Devils are hopeful that they finally have after turning in their two best offensive showings in back-to-back wins. Merced racked up a season-high 438 yards and passed for a season-high 335 in a victory at Hartnell. MC followed it up with 410 total yards and a season-high 251 rushing yards in a win over Reedley a week ago.
Finally getting an offensive contribution to match the sound defensive effort the Blue Devils have received all season, they outscored their opponents 92-10 in the two wins. Bob Casey’s squad hopes to continue building on that success during a trip to Gavilan today. Kickoff is a set for 1 p.m.
“Everybody is settling in. Everybody realizes what’s at stake and possibly a bowl game being there,” wide receiver Nick Cook said. “So everybody is just settling in and being confident in what they are doing and trusting each other to do their job.
“We were on a three-game skid, so those two games we just won, especially against Hartnell, are big. So I think confidence is high right now.”
MC (4-2, 2-2 Golden Coast Conference) knows that unless a handful of unforeseen scenarios play out the last three weeks, it likely won’t finish higher than third in the league. While historically just the top two teams in each of the NorCal American Divisions has gone to a bowl game, Casey pointed out that a fifth deserving team had been placed in a bowl two years ago.
We were on a three-game skid, so those two games we just won, especially against Hartnell, are big. So I think confidence is high right now.
Nick Cook, Merced College wide receiver
For now, all the Blue Devils can do is try and make its case by winning out their last three games. At the very least, Merced has the opportunity to achieve something that only a handful of its players were even alive the last time it happened, and produce the first winning season since 1998.
The first step toward that goal is knocking off an improved Gavilan squad. The Rams already have as many wins as they’d achieved in the last two seasons combined
Gavilan (4-3, 1-2) doesn’t have any stats that jump off the page, but has proven adept in tight ballgames, with an average margin of victory of just five points.
“You look at our common opponents, and obviously we’ve had the better showings,” Casey said. “The one thing they’ve shown is that they can grind out a game. If you allow them to hang around, they’ve done a good job winning close games.
“The biggest difference for us the last two weeks is that we’ve been way more physical than our opponents on both sides of the ball. If we go out and continue that, there isn’t anyone left on the schedule that can match us. If we revert back to our play the few games before that, we could be in for some tough contests.”