College Football: Raiders to make fifth bowl trip in 7 years
What's a Fighting Artichoke? The Central Lakes College Raiders are about to find out when they play the Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes Dec. 5 in the Valley of the Sun Bowl at Scottsdale, Ariz. Bowl games are becoming a Raiders t...
What's a Fighting Artichoke?
The Central Lakes College Raiders are about to find out when they play the Scottsdale Community College Fighting Artichokes Dec. 5 in the Valley of the Sun Bowl at Scottsdale, Ariz.
Bowl games are becoming a Raiders tradition. This will be CLC's fifth bowl game since Medeck became head coach in 2007. CLC is 78-21 in his tenure but will be seeking its first bowl victory during that span. His Raider teams have won two state championships and finished second four times.
Valley of the Sun Bowl
Who: Central Lakes College vs. Scottsdale Community College
Where: Scottsdale, Ariz.
When: 1 p.m. Dec. 5
CLC is ranked 11th in this week's NJCAA football poll while the Fighting Artichokes (6-4) are unranked.
The Valley of the Sun Bowl, founded in 1981, is the NJCAA's oldest continuous bowl game. It's sponsored by the Maricopa Community College District which includes four community colleges that play football: Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix and Scottsdale. The host college is the team with the best record in the Western States Football League.
In 2014, sixth-ranked and unbeaten Nassau Community College defeated No. 7 Scottsdale 34-27 in the Valley of the Sun Bowl.
Raiders coach Greg Medeck believes bowl games are a crucial part of his program.
"It speaks to the mission and philosophy of our program - to provide the best football and student-athlete experience that we can," he said. "I would love to win every single (state) championship but I don't think that's reality. If I can provide the best experience that I can, to each of our student-athletes, I feel like I've accomplished my task, my mission."
CLC went 7-1 in the regular season and is 8-2 after losing to 13th-ranked North Dakota State College of Science 39-35 in the MCAC state semifinals. CLC's only other loss was 43-40 to eventual state champion and second-ranked Rochester.
Medeck was thankful a bowl invitation was extended on a season's body of work rather than based on how far his team went in the state playoffs.
"We've had a terrific season," he said. "In a lot of ways, it was a record-setting season in so many categories. We have such a great group of kids. Unfortunately in two games we fell short by a combined total of seven points to two nationally ranked teams. We've had a tremendous year.
"We had higher aspirations than to finish the way we did with a loss in the (state) semifinals. But that doesn't define our body of work because our entire season was a success and this exemplifies that. This is an opportunity to continue to play in a nationally recognized bowl game, one of the premier bowl games I truly believe. The chance to compete there is special. Hopefully this will be what will define this season rather than that last loss."
Medeck said he had a pretty good inkling that CLC would receive a bowl bid. The Raiders haven't played since Oct. 31 but players have been fundraising to pay for the trip which will not be funded by the college.
"A lot of really good people in our program and in this community supported this financially," Medeck said. "Resources to make something like this happen are not easy to come by. A lot of credit goes to our players, their families and community members to step up and help fund this.
"(Funding) is not coming from our college. It comes on the backs of our players and their fundraising efforts. I'm really proud we could create this opportunity and fund this opportunity through a lot of hard work and investment in this program.
"I'm grateful to a lot of individuals, way too many to address. A lot of people contributed to make this thing happen."
Medeck said the Raiders practiced outside last week in anticipation that they would go bowling and they are practicing this week outside. CLC will practice a few days next week before excusing players to visit their families for Thanksgiving. The Raiders will depart Dec. 2 for Arizona.
"Until our field is in a condition that we can't work on it, we will try to get outside," Medeck said. "In years past, we utilized Forestview (Middle School in Baxter) at odd times where we can get some space.
"Football is a game meant to be played outside. It's just tough to work in those indoor conditions. It's challenging with rain and snow but it's even more so in an indoor environment. We will try everything we can to get outside as much as we possibly can."
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or 218-855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .