Returning sophomore Jon-Kaeo Mariciel of Hawaii, left, and freshman Kamani McRae from New York face each other during FRC’s football camp Aug. 10. The Eagles’ coaching staff recruited far and wide to assemble a team they believe will take the conference and possibly more. Photo by James Wilson
It’s a whole new ball game. This is the Feather River College football coaching staff’s mentality for the 2013 season. Last year the team got off to a rough start due to multiple injuries. The Eagles began last season starting their third string quarterback, for example. At one point the team ran its fifth string.
“We ended up having 18 knee injuries last year,” explained FRC’s head coach, J.D. Johnson. “I’m not trying to make excuses, but that’s the most I’ve heard of in my 17 years of coaching.”
In all, the Eagles finished their season last year with a 3-7 record. With new recruits, a changed game plan and a new philosophy, the Eagles have high hopes for change this season.
“We need to make sure the next man is ready to step up and do his job,” continued Johnson. “We’ve tried to get more well-rounded student-athletes, not just a football player, but someone who can do right in class and in the community.”
The FRC coaching staff went after athletes who were captains and leaders of their former teams. Nearly every one of the 53 freshmen helped lead their high school teams.
“We also went after players from winning programs,” expanded Johnson. “These guys know what it takes to win. They know the sacrifices and how to set themselves to the side and think of the greater good: their team.”
The team’s new motto exemplifies its new mindset; “Don’t talk, just act. Don’t say, just show. Don’t promise, just prove.” The motto exemplifies the levels of accountability, appreciation and achievement the coaching staff expects from the players.
“We tell our players to under-promise and over-deliver,” said Johnson. “We want our guys to stay humble, work hard and let their actions speak for themselves.”
After coming out of a losing season, the opposition isn’t expecting much from Feather River. When asked if he thought the other teams will be surprised at the level of play out of FRC, Johnson replied, “That’s the plan.”
Thirty-six sophomores are on this year’s team. Wide receiver Lavon Pearson and outside linebacker Kyle Newsom will lead the team this season.
Pearson is known for his speed and ability to catch under pressure. Newsom was named All-American and is a force to be reckoned with on the field.
Newcomers Ja’Quay Garmon and Safee Fisher are both top picks for this year’s starting quarterback. In their high schools, both were named all-conference and all-region.
The Eagles begin their season at home Sep. 7 against Butte College at 6 p.m.
The week before, however, the Eagles plan to hold a kickoff fundraiser dinner. The dinner will start at the fitness center where a social hour including beer, wine, appetizers and a silent auction will take place.
A bus will come pick all the guests up and take them to the end zone where they will dine on a tri-tip dinner with all the fixings. The entire team will be there, meeting and greeting interested guests from the community.
Tickets are $40 and include a season pass to all home games. Space is limited to the first 100 ticket buyers. Those interested in purchasing a ticket can contact Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 283-0202, ext. 326.