Any thought of a conference championship or playoff appearance ended weeks ago for the Glendale Community College football team, which lost its first seven games of the season.
One would hardly know that by the way the Vaqueros have continued to grind away over the past several weeks, a span that has seen the team collect its first win, 38-17, on Oct. 22 at Santa Barbara before giving Pacific Conference American Division frontrunner Santa Monica all it could handle in a 47-41 shootout loss at home on Saturday. Glendale then spent the past week hard at work preparing for its season finale tonight at 7 p.m. at Sartoris Field against L.A. Southwest.
For Glendale Coach John Rome and his team (1-8, 1-4 in conference), there's still plenty on the line, including the chance to surpass last year's win total and potentially move up as high as a three-way tie for fourth place in the final conference standings if they beat L.A. Southwest and L.A. Pierce loses to L.A. Valley tonight.
"We would like to continue to demonstrate that we are a good football team," Rome said. "Offensively, we would like to continue to move the football like we've been doing. Defensively, we would like to continue to get better.
"The players will come away feeling good about it [if we win] and [the feeling of] the victory lasts longer for them [than the losses]."
The last time the Vaqueros faced the Cougars, they had cause to celebrate, as a 42-27 road victory on Nov. 13 allowed Glendale to avoid going winless on the 2010 season. L.A. Southwest comes into this year's meeting at 3-6, 2-3 in conference, having lost three of its last four, including Saturday's 35-32 road loss to L.A. Valley.
"We think they're a good football team and when you look at them athletically, you go, 'Wow, they have great, great talent,'" Rome said. "We're just going to have to literally do the best we can to stay with them."
Both teams are in the upper echelon of Southern California in terms of rushing offense, with the Vaqueros ranked fifth with an average of 205.9 yards per game and the Cougars ninth with 186.8 yards per game. How the teams go about it differs, though, as Glendale favors a traditional power running game with a committee of backs led by Joe Wiggan, while the Cougars mix it up a bit more with quarterback Shashaun Alexander, who averages 158.7 yards per game in the air and 52.4 on the ground, and running back Ezekiel Graham, who has just over 1,000 yards rushing on the year.
"They throw a little bit more than us, their run really comes off of an option," Rome said. "They'll throw, throw, throw and then they'll run the spread option. We're just going to try to hang with it."
Rome said his team never splintered under the weight of a second consecutive losing campaign and hopes the reward for the Vaqueros' persistence comes in the form of another win to end the season.
"These are great kids to coach," Rome said. "They like their teammates and they're sad this season is coming to an end. They wish they could play 10 more games."