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December 4, 2023

Gavilan Football: Rams look to replace key pieces

GILROY—Though football season may seem far off in the distance, Gavilan coach Spencer Gilford is wasting no time preparing his team—and there is a lot of work to be done.
The Rams lost several crucial pieces this offseason as players moved on to four-year institutions. Players like standout quarterback Nate Ellis, his backup Brandon Pickens, the explosive all around offensive threat Jakari Johnson, Coast Conference Defensive MVP and two time All-Conference and All-Region defensive linemen William Lee as well All-Conference, All-Region O-linemen Kevin Taylor—just to name a few—have left for their new teams. But that’s life at the junior college level, every two years brings an incomplete puzzle and it’s up to Gilford and his staff to fill in the pieces.
The Rams are already hard at work, running drills during the spring football session in addition to hitting the recruiting trail—hard. They have already landed well known area players like Christopher’s quarterback Sterling Montgomery, offensive linemen Mark Riffle and runningback/strong safety Rayshon Mills as well as Gilroy’s Jorge Jimenez to replace those who have moved on.
“We’re excited about the local guys coming in to help us continue on our road to a championship,” Gilford said.
But it’s not just the new faces that have Gilford excited. The Rams are returning a strong group of receivers like Trevin Kelley and Jesse Barker who had 48 and 41 catches last season, respectively, and combined for 976 yards.
With runningbacks like Johnson and Donovan Weatherspoon gone, there will greater opportunities for players like Miguel Redmond, who graduated from Sobrato in 2013, and Dexter Braziel to get carries. Gavilan has also brought in a new offensive coordinator, Michael Dovenberg, who joins the staff after two years at Kansas Wesleyan University where he was the wide receivers coach. Helping the Rams produce offensively will be key as they regroup from the loss of Ellis, who had 2,040 yards in the air last season in addition to 165 on the ground with 25 total touchdowns.
The already tough rough to a championship gets that much harder this season as Gavilan deals with the league realignment that occured in the offseason. The Golden Coast League went from six teams to seven in the North California realignment and condenses the three-division format down to two. The change was made to match the Southern California playoff system and features two divisions, Northern—made up of the Bay 6, Nor Cal and Valley leagues—and the American— comprised of the Golden Coast and Pacific 7 Leagues.
Cabrillo, Hartnell and Monterey all remain in Gavilan’s league, while Merced, West Hills and Reedly join it.
“Our side of the league has increased in a lot of the upper level teams that we’re brought in are on our side of the league,” Gilford said. “It’s going to be very competitive every week which we’re excited about because that’s how we’ll gauge how good we can be is to compete against those better teams.”
Regardless of the new league, the Rams still have their eyes on the prize. As far as they’re concerned, one team stands between them and a championship.
“It’s always Hartnell because they’ve been the champions,” Gilford said. “They’re still in our league, so we’ve got to beat the champs in order to be the champs.”

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