COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOOTBALL ’95 / Mission Conference : Holmes Battles to Keep Trouble on Sidelines : Football: Rancho Santiago defensive back doesn’t want to let a prior conviction trip him up.


Defensive backs are always one step from disaster and Rancho Santiago’s Andre Holmes is no different.

But in his case, the penalty is far worse than a wide receiver getting loose for a touchdown.

The stakes in Holmes’ personal life are much higher and it frightens him.

Holmes’ trouble started last spring when he and his then-girlfriend started having troubles. They shared an apartment and eventually got into a fight. Holmes went to jail for nearly two months for assault and battery.


The experience left Holmes with time to think about his life and future and he said the experience changed him. His first positive step was passing his classes last spring, making him eligible for this season.

“I’m walking a thin line right now,” Holmes, 20, said. “If I do anything wrong I automatically get a year [in jail]. I’m pretty much scared to go outside. I’m trying not to get into any trouble at all. I just can’t wait for the season to get started. My life is just school and football.”

Rancho Santiago Coach Dave Ogas has spent much of the summer working with Holmes and believes the athlete is headed in a positive direction.

“He’s had a lot of ups and downs as far as his personal life,” Ogas said. “He and I have had a lot of long talks and I think he’s going to have another big year.”

Despite the personal problems, Holmes always has excelled in football. He was the Mission Conference’s most valuable player last season, an honor rarely accorded to freshmen.

But Holmes’ body of work was too hard to ignore. He was in on 61 tackles, 22 unassisted, as Rancho Santiago went 9-2 and won the Mission Conference Central Division title. His safety position is almost like another outside linebacker in Rancho Santiago’s defensive scheme.


He had three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He also blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown.

But he also had his troubles, violating team policy and having to sit out a game.

“I’m not that fast,” Holmes said. “I’m not known as a hitter. I’m just known for making tackles. It’s not that hard. You just grab somebody and don’t let go no matter what.”

In a key game against Fullerton that decided the division title, Holmes had his biggest game of the season, blocking three kicks as Rancho Santiago’s defense stopped Fullerton cold in a 34-7 victory.

“That was great night,” Holmes said. “I loved that game.”

Holmes also had some outstanding games as a senior at Orange High. But his high school days were hardly carefree.

He was born in Pocola, a one-stoplight town in Oklahoma, near the Arkansas border. Soon after being born, his parents gave him to his grandmother--Lulu Holmes--to be raised. Andre Holmes tries to get back home as often as possible and did twice this summer, to visit his grandmother and help her around the house.

Holmes said his father passed away about three years and he has no idea where his mother is.


He first came to Orange to live with his aunt when he was in the third grade and stayed three years. He went back to live with his grandmother until he was 16. He came back to Orange as a high school student.

Near the end of his senior year, Holmes moved out over a disagreement with relatives. He started sleeping at the homes of friends until school was out.

Since then he has lived in apartments or with friends and teammates.

“It kind of messed me up,” Holmes said. “People trip out about my situation, but if I think about it too much I would be one depressed guy. But that’s not the kind of person I am. I think I’m OK because my grandmother prays for me all the time.”


1994 / IN REVIEW



Division Overall College W L T W L T Rancho Santiago 6 0 0 9 2 0 Fullerton 5 1 0 7 3 1 Riverside 3 3 0 4 6 0 Golden West 2 3 1 2 6 2 Orange Coast 2 4 0 2 8 0 Saddleback 1 3 2 1 7 2 Southwestern 0 5 1 0 9 1



Rancho Santiago lost its season opener to El Camino, then rolled to nine consecutive victories and the Central Division title. The Dons, who finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in Southern California and sixth in the J.C. Grid-Wire national poll, advanced to the Orange County Bowl and lost to Los Angeles Valley, 36-28. Simon Fuentes passed for a Rancho Santiago single-season record 20 touchdowns and was selected the division’s most valuable offensive player. Andre Holmes, a freshman defensive back from Rancho Santiago, was the defensive MVP. Fullerton finished second and capped the season with a 38-33 victory over Allan Hancock in the K-Swiss Bowl. Quarterback Marc O’Brien set a Fullerton single-season record for completions with 191 and also had 15 touchdown passes. Orange Coast’s Jeff Clayton rushed for 1,065 yards and finished his career with an Orange Coast record 2,500 yards. But it also was a year of goodbys. Two days before the start of the season, Golden West announced it would be Coach Ray Shackleford’s final campaign. He left with a mark of 157-119-11 in 29 years. Saddleback’s Ken Swearingen stepped down after the Gauchos’ final game. He left as the winningest community college coach. He had a record of 247-80-8, with two national championships (1985 and ‘92), and 14 conference titles in 33 seasons.