The University of Redlands football team travels to Occidental College on Saturday for a 7:05 p.m. Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown against the Tigers. In Head Coach Mike Maynard's 31st game against Occidental, the Bulldogs work to defend their conference championship with a solid, complete-game performance in Eagle Rock.
After Occidental canceled its home-opener against Pacific University (OR) on September 9, there are plenty of questions circulating about this Saturday's contest at Jack Kemp Stadium. Nonetheless, Maynard expects his team to go out and execute with a high level of Bulldog football.
"This is about us. We've got to control our controllables. We have respect for Oxy and what they have done. But it's not who we play but how we play," Maynard commented.
The Tigers and the Bulldogs have accounted for 20 of the last 30 SCIAC championships, with Redlands owning 12 of them.
Last time out, Redlands dropped a frustrating 10-13 loss to George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. Despite the collection of errors that impacted the team's ability to score, the Maroon and Gray's defense impressed with solid numbers and quality implementation.
"We're right where we want to be with regards to our defense. I've got to give props to our coaches. You put Joey Mariani, David Lord, Bill Brown, Skip Fazio, and Colin Spencer in a room together, they are going to come up with a great defensive plan. They [know how to] develop the plan, coach the plan, and execute it on Saturday," Maynard stated.
Senior defensive back Daniel Gonzales (Mentone, CA) came up big time against the Bruins on September 16 by hauling in three interceptions, including a pick-six for Redlands' only touchdown. In addition, Maynard complimented the effective contributions of sophomore defensive back Chad Virgil (Menifee, CA), junior linebacker Nick Castro (La Verne, CA), senior linebacker Mitch Shepherd (Seattle, WA), and junior defensive lineman Joe Munroe (Costa Mesa, CA).
"They are tremendous people who are living up to their potential and I expect more from them this season."
On the other side of the ball, Redlands hopes its hard work and determined effort will pay off against the Tigers. The team has attacked training with repetition over the past two weeks in order to work out the kinks in the process of execution, especially in the red zone.
"We like our schemes and our personnel," he added. "We added some plays and simplified some others. Hopefully, that will make a difference."
The Bulldogs view the Tigers' 6-61 loss to the University of Puget Sound (WA) as the benchmark for what to expect but realize it is now three weeks removed. Offensively, Ian Bone and Carlton O'Neal lead the Oxy offense with a combined 113 yards receiving in their opener, while Chris Garcia spearheads the defense with a team-best 11 tackles against the Loggers. Furthermore, O'Neal brings versatility and athleticism to multiple positions on the field.
Equipped with a seven-year winning streak against Occidental, Redlands is eager to return to competition this weekend, with a healthy and talented squad that offers incredible depth against the Tigers.