West Hills College football coach Cam Olson liked what his team accomplished in 2016.
The Falcons beat Shasta 20-14 in Redding for the Northern California Football Conference American Division Championship on Nov. 19 – their second bowl win in the past three seasons.
The first came under Robert Tucker, who left for Los Angeles Valley College ahead of 2015.
And now West Hills will endure another year of transition, as Olson and the school are parting ways.
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“They decided to go in a different direction,” Olson said this week. “But I’m really excited about what we accomplished here these past few years. I had a blast working with, and for, these kids here. And I’m excited for the possibilities that await me in the future.”
Olson, after one season as a Falcons assistant, was named interim coach following Tucker’s exit in June 2015 and directed the team to a 9-2 overall record and 6-0 mark in the Golden Coast Conference before losing to Shasta 51-14 in the American final.
The interim tag was lifted in March and the team went 8-3 and 5-1.
This season’s success was driven in part by Olson’s focus on recruiting within the central San Joaquin Valley.
Those attracted to the school included sophomore quarterback Vincent Espinoza (Madera) and freshman running back Joseph McDaniel (Hanford), who rushed 29 times for 76 yards and two touchdowns while being named the bowl’s MVP.
West Hills entered the bowl having suffered another drubbing at the hands of Shasta, this time 38-7, in the season opener in Coalinga.
“At the beginning of the year, I knew it would take some time for my roster to really develop,” Olson said. “We had an incredibly young team and I knew we faced, right out of the gate, a good, veteran Shasta team. I knew that would be a good growing up process for our kids to be exposed to.”
The Falcons lost the following week to Los Medanos before reeling off five consecutive victories and closing the season with a three-game streak.
“Every week we saw progress in this team and they just kept developing and believing what we were selling them,” Olson said. “Coaching staff did a really good job teaching these guys, and the longevity of the season we were able to put it together.”
Football awards announced – Sequoias defensive back Ron LaForce was named All-State. He led the team with 66 tackles and five interceptions and had 1.5 sacks.
Fresno City College defensive lineman Walter Segal and linebacker Tamarcus Russell were named to the NorCal Region I team.
Soccer accolades – The Fresno City College men’s soccer team finished the season ranked third in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. The Rams (19-1-5) fell to Mt. San Antonio in a shootout for the state title Dec. 4.
Fresno City sophomore defender Andres Rios and freshman forward Johnny Rodriguez were named All-Americans.
The Rams women (17-3-3) finished No. 15 nationally, and sophomore defender Oksana Reynoso made the All-America team.