Raiders are hoping sun shines brightly on them
For Glendale (Ariz.) Community College it will be routine.
In the case of the Central Lakes College Raiders, playing in Saturday's Valley of the Sun Bowl in Arizona after 5-plus inches of snow hit Brainerd should seem like an early Christmas present.
But the Raiders don't want a repeat of what happened the last time they played in a bowl game - a 64-7 loss to Ellsworth Community College in 2009.
The Glendale Gauchos qualified to host the Valley of the Sun Bowl by virtue of having the best Western States Football League record among the four Maricopa County Colleges with football programs.
This is the second straight appearance for Glendale in the game and its 17th overall in the bowl's 29-year history.
"They're a good team," said CLC coach Greg Medeck. "They are solid all the way around. They have good size and speed. It looks like they have their fundamentals down.
"Matching up speed-wise is always a concern. We have a lot of great team speed, more so than we did last year. That hopefully will equal things out for us."
The Raiders finished the season 10-1, their only loss coming in the MCAC state title game to Rochester. CLC ended the year ranked 15th in the NJCAA Division III poll.
Glendale is ranked 19th with a 7-3 mark.
One concern for the Raiders will be the long layoff. CLC last played Nov. 6.
"It's hard to say how that will affect us," Medeck said. "I'm hoping the long layoff gave us a chance to get over some of the nagging injuries and stresses of the season. Those things do take a toll on you so hopefully we are rested and rejuvenated and motivated.
"We took two weeks off because we didn't know about this game, then came back and tried to make the best of our accommodations for practice. Forestview (Middle School in Baxter) has been fantastic to us as far as getting some indoor work done. It won't be like practicing in Arizona."
Medeck said he's mostly concerned with blocking and tackling fundamentals, but the Raiders will get two days of practice in Arizona before the game.
Nick Grewe led the Raiders with 598 yards and five touchdowns on 101 carries. He's taking a leave of absence from the basketball team to play in the bowl game. Grewe was followed by Michael Iverson with 453 yards rushing and three touchdowns and quarterback Dominique Corder's 381 yards on 84 carries.
Corder hit 53.47 percent of his passes for 1,777 yards and 21 touchdowns with just eight interceptions.
Tyler Erickson caught 37 of those passes for 634 yards and eight TDs. Barett Powell scored seven times on 22 catches and Ryan Fay and Ryan Tri both caught 16 passes. Fay scored three times, Tri twice.
Defense is the Raiders' trademark and the team held opponents to 179.7 yards per game, or 1,707 total yards in 10 games.
Teams struggled to run against CLC, which held opponents to just 70 yards per game.
Gauchos quarterback Kevin Yost completed 56 percent of his passes for 2,176 yards and 13 touchdowns. He threw eight picks in 10 games.
Yost's top targets include Demetrius Wilson (29 catches, 733 yards, 4 touchdowns).
Michael Vaughn caught 26 passes for 290 yards and two scores out of the backfield. Jared Beebe caught 23 passes for 196 yards and two TDs. Jimmy Goad finished with 22 catches for 405 yards and two scores.
Vaughn leads Glendale with 536 yards rushing on 146 carries. Davon Jones is averaging 7.0 yards per rush as he as accumulated 420 yards on 71 carries.
As a team, Glendale gained 3,522 yards with 1,162 yards coming on the ground and 2,360 through the air.
Defensively, teams managed just 2,918 yards against the Gauchos.
"They are a run-oriented offense," said Medeck. "They do a lot of 2-back, power-I stuff and like to use their backs in the short passing game. They are a ball control, grind it out type of team that likes to take advantage of what the defense is giving them. Hopefully our defense matches up with them.
"We've done well against the run. Where we have faltered has been against the big play. Again, if we can go in and do the things we do well, and control the line of scrimmage and read our keys and keep away from the big, explosive play, we will be in this game."
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.