The College of the Canyons football team secured the Southern California Football Association (SCFA) National Division, Northern League Championship last week with a 42-30 win over Bakersfield.
Now, a familiar foe awaits the undefeated Cougars in a first-round playoff matchup that kicks off tonight at 6 p.m. at College of the Canyons.
Canyons (10-0, 5-0) will take on Ventura College, which finished second in the conference this year after topping the conference the previous four seasons.
Ventura (9-1, 4-1) stumbled only once this year, a 31-7 loss to Canyons in week eight.
The Pirates utilized two freshmen quarterbacks in the previous game against the Cougars, a tactic they’ve been using for much of the season.
Jay Vanderjagt has thrown for 857 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions on 73-of-129 pass attempts while Brock Domann has thrown for 1,085 yards, seven touchdowns and five picks on 94-of-166 pass attempts this season.
Domann also has 493 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 61 carries.
“They’ve got a two-headed monster at quarterback, and it’s not even just that,” said Iacenda. “The fact that we’re playing them again and we thought we knew them, but now we’re going into the game thinking, ‘What are they going to change?’ That’s a factor as well.”
While the Cougars were able to hold the two quarterbacks at bay in the first game (both failed to throw for more than 50 yards and both were intercepted twice), they struggled to stop running back Thomas Duckett.
Ventura’s sophomore tailback has rushed for 840 yards and seven touchdowns on 140 carries this season. He also has 19 catches for 243 yards and two scores.
He gashed the Cougars for 103 yards on 17 carries in the first meeting.
“Mr. Duckett is an amazing talent. He factors heavily into the game plan and we have to figure out ways to try and keep him under control,” Iacenda said. “Nobody has been able to do that all year. That’s the dilemma — the two quarterbacks, a great tailback and a slew of great receivers. It’s a big challenge.”
Canyons will try to take a page out of Ventura’s book and get the run game going early and often.
Last week against Bakersfield, the Cougars gained 196 yards on the ground behind a strong performance from freshman Cayden Dunn. He rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
“That’s a factor every week. It’s something we stress. We want to take pressure off Wyatt (Eget), and we don’t want to be one-dimensional,” Iacenda said. “We try to look at what teams are doing defensively and figure out ways, formations and motions we can use to maybe get an advantage numbers-wise in the run game.
“After watching Ventura on film, it’s going to be tough. They are going to fight for every inch. We are going to have our work cut out for us in the run game.”
Eget, who took over the starting quarterback position in the Cougars’ fifth game of the season, will be tasked with leading the play-calling once again.
Eget has thrown for 1778 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions in 133-of-206 pass attempts. He’s added three rushing touchdowns as well.
The winner of tonight’s contest will move on to the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) SoCal Regional championship game next week to face the winner between Riverside City College and El Camino College.