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COC football: Cougars take a northern trek

A healthier College of the Canyons travels up to Santa Maria for its second conference game

Posted: October 22, 2010 11:24 p.m.
Updated: October 22, 2010 11:24 p.m.

Sometimes football is a simple game.

For College of the Canyons, it’s as simple as getting a clean snap from center to quarterback.

That was part of the winning formula last week, and the state’s No. 18 team intends to carry that over into today’s National Division, Northern Conference game against Allan Hancock College 6 p.m. at Righettie High School in Santa Maria.

COC starting center Jackson Smith came back from injury last week and he helped COC (4-2, 1-0) to a 26-9 victory over No. 23 El Camino College in both teams’ conference opener.

“It’s huge,” said Cougars head coach Garett Tujague of having his center back. “Jackson’s done a great job, and we hope to keep him healthy and keep him in there.”

The ECC win also marked the first time since week 2 that starting quarterback Justin Arias played the entire game.
In previous weeks, Tujague decided to replace Arias with one of his three backups in an attempt to jump-start the inconsistent offense.

The blame can’t all fall on Arias’ shoulders, Tujague said, as injuries up front have caused problems all season long.
“Arias can handle way more than we’re allowing him to,” Tujague said. “We just want to protect those other positions.”

This week, they’ll try to protect them against Allan Hancock (3-3, 0-1), which dropped out of the top-25 coaches’ poll after last week’s 29-7 loss to No. 4 Bakersfield.

The Cougars will try to grind out yards with short passes and the dual attack of tailbacks Ryan Zirbel and Emanuel Osuchukwu.

“I’d love to have my entire offense in and do the things that we do, but it comes down to, if you aren’t healthy, you’ve got to fill in holes and do some other things,” Tujague said.

COC’s biggest challenge could come from the Bulldogs’ defense, which ranks fourth in the state.

“They are extremely well-coached and they play hard and they fly around to the ball,” Tujague said. “They play with energy and enthusiasm.”

The Bulldogs allow 279 yards per game on defense and are led by linebacker Anthony Johnson’s 58 tackles on the season. Tujague also said strong safety Larry Greene could cause disruptions in the passing game.

Continuing the trend of the 2010 season, COC’s defense caused six turnovers last week, which helped bring the team’s overall turnover ratio to plus-10 this year. The total ranks second in the conference behind Bakersfield.

“They’ve been pretty consistent throughout five football games,” Tujague said of the defense, excluding the Oct. 2 loss to Grossmont. “They have done a great job getting the ball back for our offense.”

Most of Allan Hancock’s offensive load will be carried by running back Ryan Anglin, who leads the team with 496 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Quarterback Seth Tripod looks to get his second start of the season at quarterback after replacing Gavin Kelly in a game against Fullerton on Oct. 2. Tripod was roughed up in his first start last week, but he’s put up decent overall numbers of 30-for-48 passing for 344 yards, three scores and three interceptions this season.


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