Football rivalry renewed

Pierce (2-3) looks to reclaim the Victory Bell when they open conference play at cross-town rival LA Valley College (3-2) Saturday night.

While Pierce had rang the bell six straight years, the last two seasons have been undisputably ruled by the Monarchs, outscoring the Brahmas 103-20. A 39-7 victory in 2015 was followed by an even more dominant 64-13 dismantling in 2016.

“We think we’re capable, as I’m sure they probably thought the past two years,” interim head coach James Sims said. “We really believe we’re built to play with them this year and bring the bell back home. But it’s about effort.”

The Brahmas are coming off a bye week, in which they had light practices Monday and Tuesday and were in the weight room the other days.

“I think at this point it’s more important to go into the game healthy,” Sims said. “Everybody knows the plays, their assignments and job, you just gotta do it. If we can come in the more healthy team that gives us an advantage.”

According to Sims, quarterback Jhakari Harrison has been dealing with turf toe, and his status for Saturday’s game is uncertain. The Brahmas have utilized a rotation of Jonathon Saavedra and Harrison behind center throughout the season.

“I really think Jhakari could help us, because there’s some things Valley does that we can expose with a fast quarterback. Hopefully, he’s ready to go Saturday.”

The bye week provided time for preparation, but it also gave an extra week for the taste of the 31-13 drubbing by the San Diego Mesa College Olympians to linger in the Brahmas’ mouths.

“Everybody knows we just didn’t come out,” Sims said. “I don’t know if it was the overflow from the week before having a victory. I think it was good for us going into conference to be brought back to reality and realize that we have to work hard to win. Sometimes in a loss you can find a positive.”

The season has been up-and-down, both on and off the field. Pierce has alternated wins and losses through the first five games, but the record doesn’t reflect the season’s struggles and triumphs.

Following a week two victory against LA Southwest College, head coach Jason Sabolic and defensive coordinator Torry Hughes were fired for, reportedly, a decorum violation stemming from that game.

Sims, the strength coach and fitness coordinator, stepped in as interim head coach and has led the team to a 1-2 record since.

“If I get the team that played Mt. San Jacinto back, then we’ll be good,” Sims said. “If I get the team that played last week we’re in trouble. It depends who shows up, and we’re going to work real hard to make sure the right team shows up.”

The American Pacific Conference is still up for grabs with five of six teams at either 3-2 or 2-3 at the start of conference play. Allan Hancock College (3-2) heads to Santa Barbara Community College (3-2) while Antelope Valley College (2-3) hosts Citrus College (1-4).

“We’ve got to go into every Saturday ready to play,” Sims said. “It’s never going to be a situation where we walk in and this is supposed to be our game. We’re going to have to earn every win.”