East County Sports

Mesa hosts Cerritos in bowl on Saturday

2021 COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOOTBALL
By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer 

KEARNY MESA —- The California Community College Athletics Association (CCCAA) announced this season’s participants to the state football playoffs and bowl games, with San Diego Mesa College earning its second consecutive bowl berth.

However, it won’t be a “trip” to a bowl game — the CCCAA designated the Olympians as the host team school the Western State Bowl, to be held at Merrill Douglas Stadium.Mesa will entertain Cerritos (5-5) in the Western State Bowl, slated for this Saturday (Nov. 27), starting at 6 p.m.

The Olympians (7-3) finished in a deadlock for second place in the National Conference’s South Division with Fullerton. However, by virtue of a solid 31-16 triumph over the Hornets over the weekend in the regular-season finale, the Olympians gain preferential treatment in the pairings.

Meanwhile, Fullerton (5-4) barely slipped into postseason action and will advance to the Patriotic Bowl against host Mt. San Antonio (7-3) in Walnut (next to Cal Poly Pomona).

For Mesa, it’s the school’s second consecutive bowl appearance. In 2019, they met El Camino in the Beach Bowl, falling to host El Camino in a wild 54-45 shootout.

A similar result in not expected this time, with Mesa being led by a defense that allowed just 17 points (14 in one game, 3 in the other nine outings) in the third quarter all season.

The Olympians are coached by former All-East County selection Gary Watkins, who helped Monte Vista High to a pair of CIF appearances.

Watkins then served as an assistant coach for Monarchs coach Ed Carberry — who now guides Southwestern College — serving as the quarterbacks coach, offensive line coach, and passing game coordinator.

Watkins moved on to Citrus College, helping the Owl gains their first bowl triumph in more than a decade.

In 2017 while serving as Mesa’s offensive coordinator, Watkins helped lead a program-changing season that saw the team complete a 9-2 season and the first bowl championship in over 20 years. He took over as head coach for the 2018 campaign.

Mesa is the lone San Diego County school to be awarded a bowl berth. However, Grossmont participated in a de facto postseason tie-breaker contest at Pasadena to help break a three-way deadlock for first place in the conference.

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