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The River City Gators, Sacramento's minor league football team, faced the East Bay Outlaws in Oakley on Saturday. Despite missing a number of key players due to injury, and resting several others, the Gators defeated the Outlaws 48-6. With the win, the Gators improved their record to 7-1 and clinched their division. With a bye week under way, the Gators are set to return to action on June 5 on the road in Santa Rosa versus the 2009 minor league national champion Northbay Rattlers.
A steady wind and intermittent rain throughout the East Bay presented a number of challenges on Saturday. Injuries to starting quarterback Blake Mori and wide receiver Kyle Providence reduced the number of offensive weapons as wide receivers Paris Warren and Wesley Williams were rested. Backup quarterback Robert Arthur played despite suffering a broken finger early in the first quarter. Passing game inefficiency was more than made up for by greatly improved rushing and stingy defense.
The only blemish on an otherwise productive outing was the continuation of assistant coaching errors, perhaps the most significant of which included a pair of 15-yard penalties and the ejection of Gators assistant coach and equipment manager Terry Johnson.
Johnson was first cited for unsportsmanlike conduct related to what officials perceived as an obscene gesture directed at them. Moments later, an angry Johnson said he would no longer comply with the officials’ requests for game balls. As soon as the first request was made, he simply dropped the ball on the turf and said, “Come and get it yourself.”
That resulted in another 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and Johnson’s ejection. Although he later returned in defiance after the 2-minute warning in the fourth quarter, officials chose not to penalize the team further and simply allowed the clock to run out.
At one point, there were five flags on the field, each related to a different penalty.
Despite the sideline antics, the Gators won the day. They also won the division. Their next opponent will not be so easily defeated. The Gators last played the Northbay Rattlers in Santa Rosa during the 2009 playoffs. In that game, the departure of current Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz defensive back Mervin Brookins to the Arena-2 Stockton Lightning proved crucial as the Rattlers exploited the fill-in corner and won the game.
Though this year’s Gator squad is significantly better than last year’s, victory will require discipline both on the field and on the sidelines.
Images from Oakley tell the story best.
The River City Gators next game is June 5 in Santa Rosa versus the Northbay Rattlers. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30pm.
Author's Note: I am an official photographer for the River City Gators.