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College football: The SCV goes bowling

Many local products will appear on fields this winter to participate in NCAA bowl

Posted: December 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Hart graduate and Air Force wide receiver Ty MacArthur will play in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl against Rice on Dec. 29.

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College football’s postseason, also known as bowl season, has already begun.

For those players who came from the Santa Clarita Valley, there’s plenty of action still to come.

A sizeable list of local football players will be prominently featured in multiple bowl games this month.

It’s a diverse list of athletes ranging from offensive, defensive and special teams players coming from area high schools as well as College of the Canyons.

Many of them are starters, and some are looking to put a stamp on highly successful seasons.


Gildan New Mexico Bowl — Nevada vs. Arizona at Albuquerque, N.M.

Valencia graduate and former College of the Canyons player Nick Hale kicked off the 2012 college bowl season, falling just short against Arizona 49-48 on Saturday.

Hale, a senior running back for Nevada, finished with 14 carries for 73 yards in the game.

He came into the game as the team’s third-leading rusher with 40 carries for 229 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season.

He also had three catches for 12 yards, including a touchdown reception after playing all 12 games.

This was Hale’s third bowl game appearance with the Wolfpack, who finished 7-5 this season and fifth place in the Mountain West Conference.

Randy Horton, who played a year at tight end for COC, is also on the San Diego State squad.

The sophomore has seen a small amount of play time on special teams this year, appearing in four games and recording one tackle.


San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl — Dec. 20 at 5 p.m. on ESPN

San Diego State vs. BYU at San Diego

After spending the last two seasons as a backup, Canyon High graduate Japheth Gordon earned a spot as a full-time starter at offensive guard for San Diego State.

He started a total of six games due to the fact that he missed six games in the middle of the season with a foot injury.

Gordon came back to play in the Aztecs’ season finale against Wyoming on Nov. 24, when San Diego State clinched a co-conference title in the Mountain West.

San Diego State shared the title with Boise State and Fresno State after finishing 7-1 in conference play and 9-3 overall.

West Ranch graduate Jake Bernards is also a junior on San Diego State, though he is listed as the team’s No. 2 quarterback and he hasn’t seen any action this season.


Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl — Dec. 27 at 6:45 p.m. on ESPN

UCLA vs. Baylor at San Diego

The surprise player of the preseason for UCLA backed it up with a solid redshirt freshman season.

Valencia graduate Steven Manfro climbed the team’s depth chart at running back prior to the start of the season, and that gave him some offensive touches for the eventual Pac-12 South Division champion Bruins.

Manfro played in 12 of UCLA’s 13 games and started four of them, gaining 287 receiving yards on 28 catches, one of which went for a touchdown.

He also had 70 rushing yards on eight carries, but his biggest role on the team was in the punt return game.

Manfro had a team-high 132 return yards on 15 returns for a UCLA team that went 9-4 overall, 6-3 in the Pac-12 and fell just short of a Rose Bowl bid after losing 27-24 to Stanford in the conference championship game on Nov. 30.

Hart graduate Patrick Larimore, who would have played his senior season as a linebacker for UCLA this season, retired in August just prior to the start of the season. He cited head injuries as the reason for his decision, according to head coach Jim Mora.


Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl — Dec. 28 at 6 p.m. on ESPN

Minnesota vs. Texas Tech at Houston

Valencia graduate Brock Vereen will make his bowl debut as a collegiate defensive back as Minnesota will play in its first bowl since 2009, which was before Vereen arrived.

He followed up a strong sophomore campaign last year with another solid season as a junior this year.

After shifting from cornerback to safety this season, he played in all 12 of the team’s games, starting six of them. In that time, he piled up 54 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and eight pass breakups.

The Golden Gophers come in as a 6-6 team after finishing 2-6 in the Big Ten, good for fifth place in the Legends Division.


Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl — Dec. 29 at 8:45 a.m. on ESPN

Air Force vs. Rice at Fort Worth, Texas

Hart graduate Ty MacArthur is yet another SCV product on a Mountain West team that will play in a bowl game this month.

Last year, Air Force wide receiver MacArthur saw limited time in the Military Bowl against Toledo after coming off an injury, but the junior figures to work heavily into the game plan this time around.

MacArthur is the team’s top receiver this season after playing in all 12 games for Air Force, which finished 6-6 overall, 5-3 in the Mountain West for fourth place.

In the Falcons’ run-happy offense, MacArthur has 24 catches for 411 yards and two receiving touchdowns to go along with 48 carries for 419 rushing yards and another pair of scores on the ground.

He’s also handled all 10 of the team’s punt returns this season for a total of 76 return yards.


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