Fullerton College began its 2021 football season at Cerritos College on Saturday, Sept. 11, with a 27-14 win.
However, due to the forfeited game scheduled for Sept. 4 against the Santa Ana Dons, the Hornets are now 2-0.
After trailing 14-7 at halftime, the Hornets made key plays that closed the gap. Important defensive stops and running back Branden Rankins’ three touchdowns were big factors in Fullerton’s comeback win.
“One of the best people I’ve ever coached-incredible work ethic and high character,” Head Coach Garret Campbell said about Rankins.
Having not played a game since the loss to Mt. San Antonio in the 2019 Central Conference Championship, it has been some time since Fullerton has been on the field. However, after months of practice, the Hornets were prepared to prove themselves.
With a new season comes many new faces for this team, such as freshman wide receiver Giovanni Macek IV.
“We had a whole year off…we worked very hard during the off-season, so it feels good to finally put that work to use.” Macek IV said.
Fullerton finished their 2019 season with a final record of 5-5. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 football season was postponed to spring 2021 by the California Community College Athletic Association.
The team then spent 8 weeks of spring practicing, finishing with an intrasquad scrimmage. Finally, the Hornets returned to the field in the summer to prepare for the fall of 2021 season.
COVID-19 put the coaching staff in a difficult position while trying to develop the team.
“I myself tested positive, had to sit out two weeks, and had to catch up. You know, we just adapted,” Hornets wide receiver Jordon Tate said.
During the pandemic, players needed to wear masks and stay distant while still trying to improve. Despite these obstacles, the team continued to work past them and is now ready to start.
The team was also upset to learn that Santa Ana would forfeit the Key to the County Game.
“We don’t really like forfeiting. We don’t like any handouts. We like to really earn cause we worked so hard to get to this point,” Macek IV said.
There are plenty of players on the team drawing attention because of their success in past seasons. Such as, offensive players such as Rankins and Kashan Griffin are looking to have a positive impact for the Hornets.
Rankins led the Hornets in rushing in 2019, with 464 yards and five touchdowns. Griffin also led his team in kick return yardage, totaling 702 yards and 4 touchdowns that season.
On the other side of the ball, Jordan Wright and Junior Wily will certainly influence how the defense will succeed.
Fullerton College football fans are also excited for the upcoming season. Now that the school announced that spectators would be allowed to attend outdoor athletic events on Sept. 8 students and supporters will have the chance to cheer on the Hornets.
With a lot of preparation going into this season, the Hornets have high expectations and are looking to accomplish a lot this year.
“We definitely want to put another banner up. We have the opportunity, and we have the teammates, the coaching staff to be able to help us get there, and we know we can do it.” Macek IV said
Coach Garrett Campbell will be entering his fifth season with the Hornets and will attempt to take them back to the CCCAA Conference Championship and potentially the National Championship.
The Hornets will be playing in the Orange Empire Conference. The season’s first conference game will take place on Oct. 14, against San Bernadino Valley College at Nathan Shapell Memorial Stadium.
Fullerton College has a very successful history in sports, especially football. The Hornets have won several Conference Titles, as well as five national football titles.