The undefeated College of the Canyons football team will travel to Moorpark tonight for its first conference game of the season.
Canyons (5-0) is led by a stellar defense that ranks near the top in most defensive categories in the California Community College Athletic Association. They lead the CCCAA in fewest points allowed (39) and points per game (7.8).
Facing a Moorpark (1-4) team that is dealing with injuries to key players including two of its quarterbacks, Canyons’ defense will have an opportunity to shine once again.
Regardless of Moorpark’s issues or injury concerns, COC head coach Ted Iacenda says his team doesn’t take any opponent lightly and knows that the Raiders will be fired up looking for their first home win of the season.
“We have this talk with our boys on a weekly basis. This team is going to show up and try and beat you and embarrass you and it is a mantra that we go through week in and week out as a staff and team,” Iacenda said. “These boys know there is nobody on our schedule that we’re just going to show up and beat without preparing the right way.”
Canyons is also dealing with its own quarterback injuries, as starter Andrew Brito missed the last contest against Golden West and will remain sidelined tonight.
In his stead, Wyatt Eget got his first career start, going 19-for-35 for 245 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Eget was able to spread the ball and connect with his talented wide receivers, throwing to nine different pass-catchers on the evening.
Canyons quarterbacks coach Seth Oseransky has been working with Eget and backup Michael Wilson all year long, preparing them for a starting role in case their numbers were called.
“I have a tremendous staff that works to teach those guys as if they’re starters and that’s the hard thing,” Iacenda said. “As a coach you can get very complacent, thinking, ‘I don’t need to worry about those two because we have so and so’, but then all of a sudden your season turns in a blink of an eye and you haven’t prepared those other two guys.
“My quarterbacks coach Seth Oseransky has done a beautiful job making sure that Wyatt and Mike understand that they are expected to prepare like a starter because in this game you never know. That’s the beautiful thing about our staff, we don’t take anything for granted.”
While Eget will continue to utilize the plethora of weapons he has on the outside including wide receivers Brandon Pierce, Jarrin Pierce and Damaris August, the Cougars will also make a concerted effort to get the run game more involved.
Canyons has employed a running back by committee in the first five games of the season, as six different tailbacks have logged at least 10 carries so far. Cayden Dunn is the team’s leading rusher with 256 yards on 40 attempts.
“I am a big believer in that the running game solves a lot of your problems, and we want to be a team that runs the ball well,” Iacenda said. “We have a stable of running backs that I feel very confident in. They all do certain things well. That is our game plan going into every night, we want to be effective running the ball.”
Moorpark will have a similar mindset, doing its best to run the ball with its pair of talented freshman running backs Brandon Archibald and Jeremiah Cration. So far this season, Archibald has 49 carries for 241 yards and a touchdown and Cration has 164 rushing yards and a touchdown on 60 carries.
While Iacenda believes that Moorpark is going to utilize the run game early and often, he is preparing his team for every possibility.
“I think offensively they’re going to try to run the ball. They’ve got a very skilled tailback and their O-line is very big,” he said. “They’re also going to throw some shots. They have some big receivers and I guarantee you there is going to be some trick plays. They are going to pull out all the stops.”
According to Iacenda, one aspect of the Raider’s game that has been underrated so far this season is their defense.
“They’ve earned their chops this season defensively. They’ve scored points,” he said. “They don’t get enough credit for being the defensive team that they are. This is going to be a big big test for our offense.”
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Moorpark College.