College of the Canyons took care of business in their home opener on Saturday night, shutting out Santa Barbara Community College 63-0.
The Cougars (3-0) started the game with a couple of miscues, including a botched snap on a field goal attempt and a fumble by quarterback Andrew Brito on the second drive of the game.
After those two mishaps, however, it was smooth sailing for the Cougars as Brito threw for 324 yards and four touchdowns on 18-of-24 pass attempts, adding six carries for 28 yards.
“The first two drives of the game we came out sloppy. We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Canyons head coach Ted Iacenda. “They didn’t hurt us because we’re strong on defense. Defensively, top to bottom, except for maybe a few missed tackles, we’ve been playing pretty good.”
The defense led by linebackers Valencia grad Tariq Speights, Hart grad Charles Ike and Golden Valley grad Bryan Barrera gave the Vaqueros (1-2) offense trouble all night, as they were only able to generate 54 yards of offense in the first half.
Santa Barbara finished the game with only 94 yards of total offense, compared to the 670 yards Canyons generated.
“They are the backbone,” Iacenda said about his defense. “We’re very talented in the defensive back eleven. Our linebackers are smart and physical, our secondary is explosive. We’re very pleased with how the defense is playing right now.”
“Those guys are unbelievable,” Brito added. “Since the beginning of summer we knew those guys were going to be the heart of this team and they’ve proved it so far this season. I’m so thankful to have those guys on the opposite end of the ball.”
Speights and Ike lead the Cougars in tackles with five each plus a tackle for loss. Barrera recorded four tackles, including two for a loss.
As a team, the Cougars had nine tackles for loss, four pass breakups and a forced fumble caused by Speights.
“Our goal is always to shut their offense down completely, so getting the shutout is awesome,” Speights said. “We’re just building every week to get better. Last week we gave up two touchdowns, so we went to work at practice and delivered the shutout.”
Brito threw all four of his touchdowns in the first half, connecting with wide receiver Brandon Pierce for the first touchdown of the game and once again near the end of the first half. On the second touchdown throw to Brandon Pierce, Brito rolled to his right and found his receiver in the middle of the field, who reversed it and took off for a 30-yard score.
Damaris August, a transfer from Pierce College in Woodland Hills, snagged his first touchdown of the season as Brito found him for a 21-yard score. August shook his defender and tight-roped along the sideline for the score.
“It felt great. I’ve been waiting, I’ve been patient,” August said. “We practice hard here at COC and I’m glad I transferred here.”
Wide receiver Jarrin Pierce, another one of Brito’s favorite weapons, finished the game with 112 receiving yards and a touchdown on six catches.
“They’re unbelievable and they’re not going to stop being unbelievable,” Brito said about his pass catchers. “They are true D-1 talents and I’m so excited to have them on my team as my receivers.”
Brito’s teammates echoed the same sentiment about their quarterback.
“That’s my dude. I take care of the defense and he takes care of the offense,” Speights said. “He is a guy all 108 of us want to go play for every day. He wears his heart on his sleeve and we love that about him.”
“He’s the GOAT. I love Brito,” August added.
The Cougars utilized seven running backs throughout the game and finished with 260 yards on the ground.
Kartilus McFadden ran the ball seven times for 21 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his scores came near the goal line as he leaped over the Santa Barbara defense.
Miles Anderson added 43 yards and a score on six carries, while Cayden Dunn had 35 yards on four carries.
After the Cougars built a 42-0 advantage to start the third quarter, the starters on both sides of the ball got to rest and watch as their teammates finished the job.
“They work their tails off and sometimes they don’t always get the opportunity to get in the game,” Iacenda said. “It’s nice to see them come in and thrive and get them on film and coach them up a little bit. It’s a lot of fun.”
“I have full faith in the ones that I run with all the way down to the threes,” Speights said. “We have something really special as a program, not just our starters, but as an entire program.”
The Cougars will hit the road once again to face the Cerritos Falcons at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22.