COC meets ri­val Ven­tura in show­down

Cougars open con­fer­ence play against de­fend­ing champs on short week

The Signal - - SPORTS - By Ryan Pos­ner Sig­nal Staff Writer

On Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, Col­lege of the Canyons foot­ball coach Ted Ia­cenda joked that he would pre­fer the big games to come later in the sea­son.

A cou­ple of ex­tra weeks to pre­pare cer­tainly wouldn’t hurt, but the No. 11 Cougars will have no such luck this sea­son.

They’ll be thrown right into the fire for their con­fer­ence opener to­day, tak­ing on No. 13 Ven­tura Col­lege, the de­fend­ing North­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons of the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

“We’re go­ing to find out quick how good we are,” Ia­cenda said. “They’ve been the class of our con­fer­ence.”

The short week, cou­pled with a piv­otal con­fer­ence matchup, has hardly been a neg­a­tive for the play­ers.

“It feels like prime­time,” said line­backer Alonso Reeves, with an ear-to-ear smile. “I had a cou­ple games on Thurs­day in high school, so I kind of know that feel­ing. We’re all pretty hyped for this one.”

Canyons got a much-needed bye last week af­ter edg­ing Gross­mont Col­lege, 29-28, back on Sept. 30. The Cougars are rid­ing a two-game win­ning streak.

“The bye week couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time, hon­estly,” said quar­ter­back An­drew Brito. “Ev­ery­one is 100 per­cent and ready to go. We’re go­ing to come out fir­ing.”

The Pi­rates hold a three-game win­ning streak over the Cougars, in­clud­ing a 48-25 win last sea­son. They’ve won at least a share of the con­fer­ence ti­tle each of the last three sea­sons.

“It’s al­ways kind of scary com­ing off a bye week, with not know­ing what kind of fo­cus you’re go­ing to get,” Ia­cenda said. “But we had a good three days here. From that stand­point, I couldn’t ask for any­thing bet­ter.”

The dom­i­nance be­tween the con­fer­ence heavy­weights is re­flected atop the North­ern Con­fer­ence leader­boards.

Brito leads the North­ern Con­fer­ence with 14 pass­ing touch­downs, but right be­hind him is Ven­tura’s Jake Con­stan­tine with 13.

Ven­tura’s Ken­dric Mal­lory leads the con­fer­ence with 93.8 re­ceiv­ing yards per game and six touch­downs while Cougars wide­out Desean Holmes is sec­ond 83.4 yards per game and four touch­downs. Canyons’ RB Mar­low has also hauled in four touch­downs.

“They are dy­namic on of­fense. That’s pretty much a Ven­tura trade­mark,” Ia­cenda said. “Very fast, very tal­ented play­ers. It’s go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing.”

Nearly iden­ti­cal stats are re­flected on de­fense, too, with the Cougars al­low­ing 31.2 points per game, com­pared to Ven­tura at 29.4 points per game.

NOTES — Rank­ings re­flect lat­est Ju­nior Col­lege Ath­letic Bu­reau Poll of Cal­i­for­nia Com­mu­nity Col­lege Foot­ball Coaches. Thurs­day’s game can be livestreamed through SoCalCol­legeS­ports.com.

Tim Strong/COC Sports In­for­ma­tion

Quar­ter­back An­drew Brito (12) and the Cougars will take on de­fend­ing SCFA North­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons dur­ing a game tonight in Ven­tura.

Tim Strong/COC Sports In­for­ma­tion

Quar­ter­back An­drew Brito (12) looks for an open re­ceiver dur­ing a game.

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