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COC football: Cougar return

COC finally plays at Cougar Stadium

Posted: September 17, 2010 10:52 p.m.
Updated: September 17, 2010 10:52 p.m.

Encouraging or discouraging?

The fact that College of the Canyons football led the defending national champions, Mt. San Antonio College, early in the third quarter last Saturday showed that the Cougars aren’t the disappointing team they were last year.

The fact that they lost their lead and the game, though, shows that there’s still some work to do before they return to their former state — that of being a national title contender.

Will tonight’s home opener at 7 p.m. against Citrus College do anything to change that?

Probably not.
COC will go in as a sizeable favorite.

“The big thing for us is to compete,” said Citrus head coach Ron Ponciano. “There’s no question about their talent. We just want to go up there and represent well.”

But the Cougars have some things they need to work on.

Balance is one thing.

COC head coach Garett Tujague admitted that he might have been a little overzealous in his play-calling last week.
Freshman quarterback Justin Arias dropped back nearly 80 times for passing plays.

Arias was 32-of-62 for 292 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown. He also ran the ball 15 times for 25 yards.
COC was unable to establish the run, rushing for only 4 yards on 30 carries.

Tujague said one problem position was wide receiver.

He said he reviewed tape of the game and graded out the players.

One receiver received a 41, which means he was successful on 41 percent of the plays he was in.

“In baseball, that’ll get you to the Hall of Fame, but in football, that’s not going to be good,” Tujague said.

Yet, he praised his defense for its performance.

Since last season, COC’s defense has been a regular point of praise.

Mt. SAC’s Nick Lamaison, a former University of Tennessee quarterback, was only 19-of-41 with three interceptions last week.

Tujague pointed to linebacker Justin Cudworth, cornerback Antwan Smith and linebacker Vincent Holder as difference-makers.

The main guys they’ll worry about this week are running back Brandon Stansell and quarterback Blake Loncar.
Stansell rushed for 117 yards on 18 carries in a Week 1 36-25 win over West Los Angeles.

“He is un-be-lievable,” Ponciano said.

Loncar also had a strong game, going 18-of-29 for 282 yards and four touchdowns.

“They played Mt. SAC last week. We played an improved West L.A. team in the first week. There’s a huge difference there,” Ponciano said.

Yet Ponciano said his Citrus team is also improved.

The Fighting Owls finished 3-7 last season.

Ponciano said the team’s strength is on offense, and they are looking for consistency on defense.

Defensive back Kevin Puckett, who had six interceptions last season, and sophomore linebacker Nicholas Barbone are key returners on defense.

Citrus is coming off a bye week and Ponciano said his team was working on perfecting things, all the way to the players being 6 yards behind the sidelines on every play.

This might be COC’s chance to do the same.

“Are we going to play 60 minutes? Are we going to finish?” Tujague asked. “I feel very confident, but I’m not the one playing.”


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