The Mt. San Antonio College football program won the Dirty 30 title in both 2009 and 2010, and starts the season as the team to beat as JCGridiron.com releases its annual Pre-Season Dirty 30 Rankings. East Mississippi College, the 2011 champion, comes in at No. 4 on the list.
The 2012 season is less than eight weeks away, and after another off-season of unwatchable NBA basketball, endless baseball games and another attempt to understand the world-wide passion for soccer, JCGridiron.com once again celebrates the birth of our nation with the birth of another junior college football...one that always includes its traditional release of its pre-season Dirty 30 Rankings.
A quick look at the top-5 starts out in Walnut, California, where Mt. San Antonio starts out on top and looks like the most complete team on paper to start the 2012 campaign. The Mounties enticed Joe's kid (Nick Montana) to come in and guide the offense, and has crazy talent up front to protect him in Edward Fusi, Patrick Kim, David Maka, Antonio Woods-Johnson and Christian Orduno. The defense is scary across the board, with a ton of speed on the back end and powerful forces in the trenches. The biggest obstacle for Mt. SAC will be a schedule that includes a who's-who of opponents, starting out in week one when they travel to No. 17 Saddleback, who always plays the Mounties tough. The following two weeks they face No. 38 Bakersfield and No. 19 Cerritos before they head into conference play where they will face both No. 6 El Camino and No. 7 Riverside to finish the regular season.
Arizona Western College starts the season at No. 2 in the country and was an eyelash away from winning the national title a season ago. The Matadors played a terrible first half against East Mississippi in the NJCAA title game, but made things interesting in the end. Arizona Western returns a ton of talent from a team that was very close a season ago, and what they didn't have returning they replaced with D1 talent. Kent State bounce back Cedric McCloud is the likely starter under center, and has weapons all over the field with the addition of former D1 wide receivers Markeith Ambles (USC) and Ted Meline (Tennessee). The back seven on defense should be as talented as any in the country, with tremendous athletes such as d'Vante Henry, Nate Willis, Khambrel Garland (who transferred in from Hutchinson) and former Tennessee Volunteer Pat Martin. Arizona Western will start the season with an interesting neutral site battle against Midwest Football Conference program Ellsworth College in Pueblo, Colorado, on September 1.
City College of San Francisco started the season at No. 1 a season ago, but finished at No. 2 despite an undefeated campaign in 2011. The Rams come in at No. 3 to start the season and should have one of the more dominant defensive lines in the country with Isaiah Clark, Tamasamoa Taua'i and Anthony Naser returning and the addition of Cal and Florida bounce back Chris Martin. Much of the pressure will turn to quarterback Andrew Spivey, but with a solid returning crew up front in Sean McDonald, Alexander Beglinger and Ngalu Fusimalohi and some solid weapons around him, San Francisco should once again be the team to beat in Northern California in 2012. The largest obstacle the Rams face every season is a funky playoff system that often times leaves then shorthanded of quality wins. At some point, the coaches up north will figure out that having only 12-of-33 programs eligible for the playoffs on day one of the season sends message to the general public that the rest of them are playing intramurals.
The 2011 East Mississippi program was the greatest team I have ever seen assembled at this level, but the Lions have a lot to replace and many of them are at key positions on the field which has them entering the season at No. 4 on the list. Quarterback Bo Wallace is now gone to Ole Miss along with his 4,604 yards and 53 touchdowns, and the defensive line is almost new after losing two to the SEC and one to the Big 12. Have no fear, however, as East Mississippi has reloaded up front on defense with Za'Darius Smith and Lauren Jackson returning and early North Carolina commit Jarran Reed inserted into the middle after a season at Hargrave Military. Joining him from Hargrave was inside linebacker Christian Russell, and the offense still has running back Rodriguez Moore returning after finishing with nearly 1,800 yards of total offense as a freshman. The offensive game-plan could change a bit given the loss of Wallace, but the main obstacle for an East Mississippi repeat performance will be a brutal schedule, playing in a state with arguably the most NFL-ready talent in the nation.
Blinn College was a young football program in 2011 and hopefully learned some valuable lessons along the way, including some from a disastrous 46-17 thumping by Mississippi Gulf Coast in the Mississippi Bowl. Fortunately, they have a lot returning and a bitter taste in their mouths from their showing in December, and should be alright with key players returning at key positions. Quarterback Eric Mathews should be one of the more exciting players in the country and returns to the lineup after throwing for 20 touchdowns through the air while scoring another 13 on the ground. The pressure should be taken off of him as wide receiver Kyle Aubuchon and running back Brelyn Sorrells both return to give them some solid options on offense. The defense returns a ton of talent all over the field, including Logan David in the middle of the defensive front and Tevin Broussard in the secondary. We will find out quickly which way the Buccaneers will go after their big loss to finish the season, as they open the 2012 campaign against Jayhawk power Butler County on the road. The Grizzlies open the season at No. 12 in the JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 Rankings and will be smelling blood in the water to start the season.
To view the entire JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 Rankings, click on the link in the above grey box. Let the criticism begin!