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COC football: Playing to get even

COC trying to avoid first losing season since 1979

Posted: November 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.

College of the Canyons cornerback Jabril Baldwin (23) tries to block an extra point attempt by Citrus College kicker Andres Magallon on Sept. 17.

 

For a team that’s been all-but out of the playoff hunt for a few weeks now and likely won’t even earn a spot in a bowl game, College of the Canyons football could easily be seen as a team running short on motivations.

How about this one: The last time a COC team finished with a losing record was 1979, when the team went 4-6 under head coach Larry Reisbig.

Chances are, current head coach Garett Tujague doesn’t want the same kind of blemish on his record.

In its regular season and National Division, Northern Conference finale, the Cougars (4-5, 1-3) have a chance to finish the season with a .500 record if they can beat Bakersfield College (3-6, 0-4) today at 7 p.m. at COC.

Making the Southern California playoffs is all-but out of the picture for both squads and making a bowl game usually requires at least a winning record, though there are rare exceptions.

The loser of the game gets the title of last-place finisher in conference, but Cougars head coach Garett Tujague pointed out a few other implications the game brings.

“It’s Bakersfield College,” said Cougars head coach Garett Tujague. “If there’s a rival game, that’s it for College of the Canyons.”

Part of that rivalry stems from the fact that both schools compete for the same recruiting areas.

It could also come from the fact that both teams have experienced success in the past despite struggling this year.

The Renegades, who are defending co-conference champions and started the season at No. 7 in the state coaches poll, have yet to beat a conference opponent and come into today on a five-game losing streak.

The season has been filled with injuries and bad breaks for the Renegades, but head coach Jeff Chudy isn’t about to start pointing fingers.

“This is a team sport and there’s a lot of reasons for everything,” Chudy said. “There’s nobody to blame. I’m to blame. At the end of the day, I’m the guy responsible.”

COC, which opened the season at 22nd in the state, looked to be on a similar slide coming into the day, but some late-game heroics last week led to a last-second 36-34 win over Ventura to snap a four-game losing streak.

Jeff Flores kicked a 23-yard field goal as time expired at Ventura College, giving COC its first conference win of the season.

“I was very proud of the way my guys kept fighting and I think in prior weeks the guys had been fighting, but this time the ball just bounced our way,” Tujague said.

The defense was also a factor in the game, limiting Ventura to just 47 yards through the air and coming away with three interceptions.

That same kind of performance will come in handy against Bakersfield’s offensive weapons.

The primary weapon is running back Jalen Sykes, who ranks eighth in the state with 1,240 all-purpose yards. Sykes is capable of running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield, as well as returning punts and kickoffs.

Brandon Hobdy has been most productive down field threat for the Renegades, amassing 45 catches for 626 yards and five touchdowns.

He’ll be thrown to by quarterback Brian Duboski who replaced injured Brian Burrell in the third game of the season.
Slowing down the passing attack should be a reachable goal for a COC defense which has gotten better as the season has progressed according to Tujague.

“I think they’re playing with a lot of cohesiveness now as a unit defensively,” he said. “There have been a lot of guys we’ve kind of moved around not just to move them around, but just to see who we can put in the right situations.”

Offensively, it’s the usual story for the Cougars — take care of the ball.

Last week, the offense overcame five turnovers and gained 524 yards.

“Turnovers are the key and if you look at the box score that’s usually the tell tale sign of who gets it done at the end of the day,” Chudy said.

COC might not have the same luxury against players like Bakersfield defensive end Keylon Hollis, whose 10.5 sacks is fourth best in the state.

If it does take care of business, COC could end an otherwise disappointing season with two straight wins, which could be a nice boost headed into 2012.

“I just think that momentum is huge in junior college football and I just think we can build off that,” Tujague said.

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