Saturday’s 45-10 drubbing of the Stags took CLU football past the halfway point of the season.
The Kingsmen may be on their way to another SCIAC championship, as they improved their record to 3-0 in conference play and 4-1 overall.
Looking back on the first half of the season, head coach Ben McEnroe has seen a lot of positives.
“We’ve been very pleased with our quarterback play thus far. Kevin Ramay has played three very good games for us and has command of the offense,” said McEnroe.
According to McEnroe, Ramay has 901 yards passing in four games along with eight touchdowns and a completion percentage of 60.5 percent.
McEnroe also said that an injury to Ramay in the second quarter of the Redlands game, has sidelined him ever since. This has given senior quarterback Zach Shultis an opportunity to take hold of the reigns as the starter.
There seemed to be no missteps with the new QB since Shultis had one of the all-time storybook finishes in California Lutheran University history against Redlands the previous week.
McEnroe is very pleased with the offensive line, highlighting that they might be the best that CLU has had in the Division III era. What has also stood out to him is the defensive secondary, who is very good in coverage. Although it’s not a surprise to see Eric Rogers excelling on the field, McEnroe is surprised at how defenses are trying to stop him, and doing it unsuccessfully.
The senior All-American leads the team in receptions (44), all-purpose yards (702), receiving yards (652) and total touchdowns (9).
“Eric Rogers is having a great season that is drawing a lot of attention from NFL scouts,” said McEnroe.
This success for Rogers didn’t happen over night. He’s worked hard to get to this point in his career.
“I worked hard over the summer with coach Pat Holmberg, including extra workouts on my own. Route running with the quarterbacks, as well as my teammates believing in me, sometimes more than I do myself, have been very influential this season,” said Rogers.
This being Rogers’ senior season, he is only expected to lead the team in the stat book, but also off the field.
“As a senior and a team captain I’m looked upon to hold guys accountable, make sure we practice at championship level and to show young guys how to carry themselves,” said Rogers.
One of the people he looks after is running back Romello Goodman.
The true freshmen came in and earned the starting job as the Kingsmen head ball carrier.
Goodman leads CLU in all rushing categories including 579 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Being 5’5” he didn’t get as many looks from other schools as he should have, but that’s why he chose to come to CLU.
“I honestly expected to come in and get a fair chance. That’s why I chose CLU over schools like Redlands and Linfield, because they told me they were going give me a chance and opportunity to start,” said Goodman. “I’m honestly thankful for everything that has happened this year.”
Goodman is part of a freshmen class that has been a pleasant surprise for McEnroe.
“I’m a little surprised with how good our freshman class is. In that class, we have started five freshmen at times on the offensive side and several on defense,” said McEnroe.
Without the strong leadership from the senior class, Goodman said his success and the success of the other underclassmen would not be possible.
Another leader on the field is senior Broc Galbreth who is a part of that secondary for the Kingsmen.
The safety has 26 tackles on the season and leads the team in interceptions with two. But along with Rogers, he also knows his role is more than just playing on the field.
“As a senior I now have the responsibility to help lead the team by example, the way the past seniors have done for me. But fortunately for me we have a great group of guys that make things easier on us captains,” said Galbreth.
Although the Kingsmen are undefeated in SCIAC, they know that they have things to improve on if they want to proceed to the next level.
“We are always looking to improve,” said Galbreth. “Coach always says it’s the little things that we must get better on like protecting the ball, spending time in the film room, and taking care of ourselves. If we can focus on those little things everything else will take care of itself.”
McEnroe also points to some areas that need some fixing for the Kingsmen to make a deep run.
“I think we need to continue to improve in our run defense. Redlands exposed some issues that we are working on to get fixed in the weeks ahead. Field goal and PAT kicking has been very inconsistent as well,” said McEnroe.
Even if these adjustments seem minor, it’s what needs to happen in order for CLU to win a conference championship and move on to the NCAA tournament.
“To make it deep into the tournament, you have to get to the tournament. For us, that means winning the SCIAC outright or bust. We have lost most of the tiebreaker scenarios due to our recent success, so we have to take each week like a playoff game to even get there. Look for teams like Whittier, LaVerne and Chapman to be similar to Redlands in the level of competition. Our focus is pretty limited here. When we take things one rep at a time, one practice at a time, for one game at a time, we’re pretty good,” said McEnroe.
Rogers and Galbreth both share the mindset of their head coach.
“Our goal is to win SCIAC,” said Rogers.
“If we do that, to make it deep in the NCAA tournament we will have to be disciplined because we have a talented team to play with. Not a lot of teams can beat us unless we beat ourselves.”
Galbreth says that to win SCIAC and get to the next level they need to minimize mistakes and close out big games.
“We’ve proven we can play with anybody in the nation, we just have to be able to get the job done when it matters,” said Galbreth.
With the team correcting their mistakes, improving every game, and the players’ mindset being where it is, the sky is the limit for the second half of the 2012 season.
“It will be up to our team and their approach to determine what happens the rest of the way,” said McEnroe.
Published Oct. 17, 2012