Last year, the Santa Rosa Junior College football team lost four of its last five games. They didn’t just lose. They showed little heart or resiliency. Those aren’t great qualities in general. But they unforgivable sins in the ultra-macho world of football.

With that in mind, various Bear Cubs have made a point of saying things have changed. This year’s team is tough and together and has great character and other noble qualities.

It sounded good. But SRJC’s body of work didn’t offer much compelling evidence after five weeks. Four easy wins. And a 24-20 loss to Fresno City College in which the Bear Cubs squandered a 10-point, third-quarter lead.

In other words, in its only close game of the season, they came up short. It didn’t mean they didn’t have heart. But it did make me wonder how much things had changed.

Then came today. A game which erased quite a few doubts.

The Bear Cubs’ 38-31 overtime win against College of San Mateo required them to overcome a 10-point, third-quarter lead against the state’s seventh-ranked team while playing without star wide receiver Brandyn Reed.

The Bulldogs are physical and rugged ” Reed was knocked out of the game after a violent collison which might have left him with fractured ribs. Fifteen minutes after getting leveled while playing on the kickoff return team, SRJC linebacker Joe Galvan still couldn’t walk straight.

With those images in mind, and a 31-21 CSM lead on the scoreboard, it seemed the Bulldogs would run the ball down SRJC’s throat and stomp on their head on their way home.

Instead, CSM was heled scoreless in the game’s final 22 minutes. And SRJC scored the game’s final 17 points.

That’s some compelling evidence.