The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.

CSM offensive lineman Netane Fehoko, a sophomore out of Hillsdale, lets everyone know who is No. 1 in the state and the nation. Photo by Patrick Nguyen.

CSM offensive lineman Netane Fehoko, a sophomore out of Hillsdale, lets everyone know who is No. 1 in the state and the nation. Photo by Patrick Nguyen.

It’s been a whirlwind of activity since the College of San Mateo football team captured the California Community College Athletic Association state championship with a 55-0 win over Riverside last Saturday.

Wednesday night, the team had its post-season awards banquet and Thursday was spent ushering around four-year college coaches who are recruiting the CSM student-athletes.

But early Thursday morning, the Bulldogs heard, officially for the first time, that they were named the junior college/community college national champion.

“I’m not real big on preseason or in-season rankings. The only ranking I care about is the last one,” said CSM head coach Tim Tulloch.

This year, however, is the first time Tulloch ever needed to really look at any rankings. Since the Bulldogs had never won a state championship, there was no way they’d be considered for a national title.

As far as Tulloch was concerned, it you aren’t first, you might not as well not even be ranked. After winning the state title, which came with the top ranking in California, Tulloch could now look at the poll.

“When the last one (ranking) says we’re (No.) 1 in the state and 1 in the nation, it’s a pretty neat deal for our players, our coaching staff, our administration and our community,” Tulloch said. “It’s an honor these guys earned.” has been ranking and declaring JC/CC national champions since 2005. CSM become the ninth team from California to earn the site’s overall No. 1 ranking and the Bulldogs became the second team in a row from the Bay 6 Conference to be named national champion, joining 2021 winner City College of San Francisco.

The website is the only one that ranks both of the major community college organizations in the country. CSM and the other 66 CC football schools in the state play in the CCCAA. California has the largest number of CC football teams in the country. The rest of the nation plays in the National Junior College Athletic Association.

“They’re the go-to source for the overall JC ranking system,” Tulloch said. “It’s an independent source that evaluates both organizations.”

CSM, which was ranked in the top-5 in the state to start the season, had a preseason national ranking of 14th. The Bulldogs moved up to as high as No. 3 in the national ranking, but fell back to 14th after a 23-21 loss to Diablo Valley College Oct. 21.

They moved back up to third by the time the state championship game came around. They leapfrogged Riverside, which was No. 2, after beating the Tigers. That left the Hutchinson-Kansas-Iowa Western matchup to determine the national champion.

Top-ranked Hutchinson was blown out by Iowa Western Wednesday, 31-0, and announced the Bulldogs No. 1 Thursday morning.

While the announcement wasn’t made official during the Bulldogs’ team banquet, they were well aware of the ramifications of the Hutchinson-Iowa Western game.

“Our coaches gave me an update (during the banquet),” Tulloch said. “It was 24-0 with about 10 minutes left. We announced it and the place went wild.”

Ten of CSM’s 12 wins this season came against teams that finished in the top-50 according to the website: American River and Modesto, teams the Bulldogs played in both the regular season and the playoffs, finished ranked No. 23 and No. 49, respectively. The Bulldogs’ other non-conference opponents — Butte, College of the Sequoias and Sierra — were No . 34, No. 42 and No. 47 in the final rankings. Conference opponents San Francisco and DVC finished 30th and 31st in the final rankings.

Riverside finished No. 4 in the final rankings.

“It’s a great way to recognize all the hard work these guys have put in for the last year,” Tulloch said. “They’ve earned those honors. Our young men and coaches have a whole lot to be proud of.”

The banquet was not only a celebration of the season, it was also to an opportunity to present post-season honors. The Bulldogs had four players named All-American. Center Messiyah Moye and running back Ezra Moleni were named to the All-American offensive team, while defensive lineman Kavika Baumgartner and defensive back Justin Sinclair were named All-American on the defensive side. Tulloch was named Coach of the Year.

For the CSM team awards, Moleni was named Offensive MVP, Sinclair the Defensive MVP and Gabe Plascencia Special Teams MVP.

And in what Tulloch believes is the team’s highest honor, there were eight players who earned Bulldog Awards.

“These guys set the standard for the program; the blue-collar work ethic,” Tulloch said. “Everything it means to be a Bulldog, these guys model it.”

The players are: Taniela Latu, Justin Del Rosario, Tyrice Ivy Jr., Dylan Neeley, Brendan Doyle, Matt Ames, Marcellus Eison and Bobby Lester.

“It’s the highest honor to get in our program,” Tulloch said.