By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Two Santa Rosa JC football players from Sonoma County — Garrett Guanella and Chris Smith — have been named to the NorCal Conference all-league team.
Guanella, a 6-foot-6 freshman defensive lineman, played his high school ball at Cardinal Newman. The 295-pound Smith, also a freshman defensive lineman, came to the Bear Cubs from Santa Rosa High.
Also selected to the all-conference team were quarterback Bryscon King and wide receiver Marquis Fruge.
Guanella finished the 10-game season with 34 solo tackles, 18 assists, five sacks and two interceptions. Smith had 15 solo tackles, 14 assists and 6½ sacks.
King, a freshman from Aztec, N.M., began the year as a second-stringer. When given his chance in the third game of the season, he made the most of it. He completed 63 percent of his passes, 12 of those for touchdowns.
Fruge, a sophomore from Houston, caught eight TD passes and returned two kickoffs for scores.
Four other Bear Cubs received honorable mention: wide receivers Ryan Blum (Sonoma Valley) and Javoris Bryant (Atlanta), linebacker Jack Goodwin (Clackamas, Ore.) and offensive lineman Ricky Garcia (Whittier).
The Bear Cubs finished the year 5-5, which is remarkable considering they lost 17 starters or top reserves to season-ending injuries during the season.
Among the injured were Austin Shull (Montgomery) and Mike Tuaua (Rancho Cotate). The top two defensive players on the team suffered leg injuries in the opening game of the season.
Orion Kamins (Napa), the squad’s leading rusher, fractured his leg in the team’s fifth game.
“In all the years years I’ve coached, I’ve never had a team suffer so many serious injuries,” coach Keith Simons said. “It was unbelievable. By contrast, San Francisco (City College) won our league and went undefeated. They didn’t lose one starter to a season-ending injury.”
Santa Rosa nearly knocked off San Francisco in the last game of the season. The Bear Cubs trailed 40-38 in the final minute and had the ball first-and-goal on the Rams’ 3-yard line. On a controversial third-down play, running back Sandro Jean-Baptist was stripped of the ball. Many observers thought he’d crossed the goal line by then and the whistle had blown ending the play.
It turned out that play had postseason ramifications. Despite being bowl eligible, the No.23 ranked Bear Cubs were passed over by the selection committee. Several unranked teams received bowl game invitations, according to Simons.