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COC football: Staying in the groove

Cougars look to minimize turnovers, beat Cerritos for third straight conference win

Posted: October 29, 2010 10:58 p.m.
Updated: October 30, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

A major reason for College of the Canyons football’s two-game winning streak is its improved ability to hold onto the ball.

Now the question is: Can the Cougars hang onto the momentum?

In the National Division, Northern Conference, they’ll have to withstand three opponents ranked in the top 20 in the state.

No. 17 Ventura College and No. 3 Bakersfield College will round out the regular season for COC, but first the Cougars host No. 13 Cerritos College today at 7 p.m. at Cougar Stadium.

They’ve coughed up the ball just once in the past two games, compared to 17 turnovers in the previous five games — four interceptions and 13 fumbles.

“It’s real simple, it’s attention to detail,” said COC head coach Garett Tujague. “Every single time we’re not taking care of the football, somebody’s paying the price.”

If a running back fumbles the ball in practice, Tujague said, he won’t be playing in the game Saturday. When someone asked what would happen if all the backs fumbled, his answer was simple.

“Then we’ll go to empty (backfield),” he said.

The No. 14 Cougars (5-2, 2-0) might need a running back or two to take down conference foe Cerritos, which many consider to be a far superior team, according to Tujague.

On the other hand, COC was able to beat a higher-ranked team two weeks ago when it defeated then-No. 12 El Camino.

“We’re pretty good when we need to be, and we’re pretty healthy. But that’s why we go and play every weekend,” Tujague said.

For the Falcons (5-2, 1-1), 32-year head coach Frank Mazzotta knows better than to take any team for granted.

“They’re all tough. This whole thing is a tough deal,” Mazzotta said. “You’re playing (some of the) toughest teams in the state. If you let your guard down a little bit, you might end up losing.”

Cerritos is coming in fresh off a 36-20 victory over El Camino, which snapped the team’s two-game losing streak.

Offensively, the Falcons were able to get back on track behind the strong arm of quarterback Kane Wilson, who has thrown for 1,202 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions this season.

“The game is going to go like our quarterback goes,” Mazzotta said. “When he’s on and he’s playing well and he doesn’t make bonehead decisions, we’re in good shape.”

Against the COC defense, which ranks No. 9 in the state in both points and yards allowed, Tujague said he doesn’t expect a lot of mistakes out of Wilson.

“He’s a stud. He’s their best player on offense,” Tujague said of the freshman signal caller. “We’ve got to be sound, make them drive the length of the field, create some anxiety and stress.”

Taking snaps on the other side will be another freshman, Cougars quarterback Justin Arias, who has more yards (1,401), more touchdowns (14) and equal interceptions (three) to Wilson.

Last week, Arias was 28-for-47 for 293 yards and four touchdowns in a 30-27 overtime victory over Allan Hancock College. It was his best performance since the season opener against Antelope Valley College.

He’ll face a defense that Mazzotta calls very active and very quick and will feature key players like safety Keith McGill, who has collected six interceptions this year.

“We just need to make sure we don’t screw up our side of it,” Mazzotta said.

The same could be said for the Cougars.

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