The Orange Coast College football team (1-4) looks to reclaim the victory bell for the first time since 2015 as it takes on rival Golden West College in the 52nd annual Battle of the Bell game.
Attempting to secure its second win of the season, Coast will be considerable underdogs, the team must rally around one another and use the rivalry as fuel for motivation.
The Rustlers (2-3) has had an average start to its season, but its offense has been dynamic, averaging 28.8 points per game this season — significantly better than Coast’s 11.0 points per game.
Coast — who fell to Bakersfield College 28-3 in its last outing — will have to change something to compete with a Rustlers team that fended off Bakersfield 20-19 a week before.
Since the team’s win on Sept. 21, the Pirate offense has been limited to three points in every game due to the OCC rushing game being inefficient.
Head coach Joel “Bubba” Gonzalez is eager to claim his first victory bell in charge of the Pirates, and it is his opportunity to showcase how the team has grown over the first half of the season.
“It’s not just an ordinary game, because the emotions are going to be running high, we’re playing for a trophy, and you know we want that trophy back here,” Gonzalez said. “The importance of what this game represents is really what is going to drive those emotions.”
The season to this point has been rocky for Coast who at times has done more damage to itself than its opponents have done to the team as it has turned the ball over 10 times this year, allowing 338 penalty yards across its first five games.
“As long as we are working to be better than we were the day before, then we are growing as players and as a team,” Gonzalez said.
In order to win, Coast will need to ensure that mistakes such as turnovers and penalties are avoided, while also showing up on offense and defense.
Letting the Rustlers get rolling early could be costly as the team has the ability to run up the score quickly.
“We’re going into the Golden West game guns a blazing, nothing to hold back,” Gonzalez said.
Last season, the Pirate defense allowed Coast to hold the high powered Rustler offense to 24 points, and battled until the final whistle in the fourth quarter.
With both teams coming off their bye weeks, an early advantage can be all it takes for either team to reach out and ring the bell.
The Pirates take on the Rustlers at Golden West College Saturday at 1 p.m.