Rio Hondo College improved its record to 2-2-1 with a 28-20 victory last week over College of the Desert, which had been 3-0 in the Foothill League.
But football at Rio Hondo appears to be in a depressed state. The better players from the high schools in Rio Hondo's area surrounding Whittier, El Rancho and Santa Fe, tend to attend Cerritos or Fullerton colleges.
"I thought we had a good program but (apparently) we don't provide a program they're interested in," said Rio Hondo Coach Clint South. "What it comes down to is that they're not here and I'm in charge of the program. That's the disgusting truth. I'm not putting the blame on anyone other than myself."
The Roadrunners have about 40 players, a roster about a third the size of the teams at Cerritos or Fullerton. But South said, "We'll always have a few good players."
This season the best player is Paul Ulibarri, a former El Rancho quarterback who is the leading junior college passer in Southern California. Ulibarri has thrown for 1,782 yards and 21 touchdowns. His receivers, Jesus Lopez and Dave Morales, sophomores from Garfield High in Los Angeles, have each caught more than 50 passes.
South is in his fourth season as Rio Hondo coach. He was an assistant at the school from 1966 through 1977, an era when the Roadrunners were a junior college power.
He enjoys what he calls the uniqueness of JC football. "You get kids in between who don't quite know their skill level," he said. "Some think they're Division I players and they shouldn't be playing football; others have little self-esteem yet are really good players."
The Roadrunners have a home game at 1 p.m. Saturday against 4-0 Citrus College of Glendora.
South said he expects a crowd of about 1,000 but doubts if many students will be in the stands. Asked to assess the interest by Rio Hondo students in the football team, he said there is "none at all."