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COC football: Smashmouth battle in store

College football: COC faces one of state’s top rushers in a conference game

Posted: October 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Dan Watson/The Signal College of the Canyons wide receiver Matt Szymanski (14) makes a catch at midfield against Citrus College on Sept. 17 at Citrus College. He’s contributed to the team’s 245 passing yards per game this season.

Today at Cougar Stadium at 7 p.m., the College of the Canyons football team will come toe-to-toe with an Allan Hancock College squad at 7 p.m. that features an offense distinctly different from its own.

The Cougars offense has shown a propensity for balance on the season, throwing for 245.3 yards-per-game and rushing for 158.5 yards-per-game while spreading the ball to a plethora of different receivers and running backs.

In contrast, Allan Hancock (5-1, 1-0 National Division, Northern Conference) features an offense that likes to play smash-mouth football, lining up in an I-formation and running the ball up the middle with freshman running back Cameron Artis-Payne, who ranks fourth in the state with 126 yards per game.

“Their tailback is a phenomenal, hard runner,” said College of the Canyons head coach Garett Tujague. “He runs well.

He’s the lifeline of that team. The guys in front of him do a good job. They stand in front of him and create walls.”

The Bulldogs’ offense will be similar to schemes the Cougars have seen throughout the season, but the Bulldogs are the first opponent they’ve faced this year that is fully committed to winning the game in the trenches.

In fact, Allan Hancock is so physical up front that Canyons (3-3, 0-1) has altered its practice schedule to participate in two “live” quarters of football this week — something it hasn’t done all season.

And the physicality doesn’t stop with the offense, either, as the Bulldogs’ defense will present a challenge of its own for the Cougars.

“On defense they try to do things to confuse you and move around quite a bit,” Tujague said. “But the basic premise is to play hard and play fast.”

The Cougars are coming off a 42-21 loss on Sept. 15 to El Camino College in which their offense had trouble early on.

Canyons featured a trio of quarterbacks in the game in Chris Rini, Tyler D’Amore and Chris Owens, but have not revealed what it will do with its quarterbacks tonight.

No matter who lines up under center though, Canyons isn’t expected to change anything offensively, Tujague said.

“It just basically comes down to basically doing what you’ve been coached to do and taking care of the ball,” Tujague said. “There’s no real magic to the game of football. There’s a play here and a play there.”

Last week, it was a fumble on the goal line that turned a potentially tying touchdown into a 14-point deficit in a matter of minutes.

Tonight, with Allan Hancock keeping the ball on the ground and running time off the clock, field position and turnovers could again be the difference for Canyons.

And despite the pivotal fumble last week, Canyons has done a good job on the season of winning the turnover battle, as it enters tonight’s game at plus-6 in overall turnover margin.

“Whoever holds onto the football is going to win the game,” Tujague said. “You need to stop making mistakes.”
The Cougars have prepared all week for the physical nature of tonight’s game. Now, it’s time to see just how ready they are.


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