College of the Canyons runningback Dorion Mitchell (5) takes the ball in to score during a scrimmage against Santa Barbara City College at COC in Valencia on Saturday 082419. Dan Watson/The Signal

COC football uses scrimmage as preparation for season

As Demajay Williams intercepted a pass from Santa Barbara City College’s quarterback and ran it in for a touchdown, every player on the College of the Canyons sideline was stunned. 

Actually, every player but one: Emari Smith.

“We had this conversation last night at home and I said, ‘You’re going to go and get an interception tomorrow and you’re going to return it.’ You’re going to be like, ‘You told me that’ and it’s crazy that it actually happened,” said Smith, who is also Williams’ cousin.

Saturday morning’s 10 a.m. scrimmage against Santa Barbara College was filled with moments of brilliance like Williams’ but also moments with less luster.

For example, three players ran out of the box to celebrate Williams’ pick-six.

“It’s important to kind of get all those mistakes out of the way so that in two weeks when we come out here on Saturday night, we look like we know what we’re doing,” said coach Ted Iacenda.

“We have some confidence, we’re not running around like a chicken with our head cut off and then we get those teachable moments like the targeting, the holding call that negated a touchdown, we had an interception returned for a touchdown where I had three guys leave the box and run down there. That’s a teachable moment.”

No bad choice at running back

The Cougars flaunted depth at running back, with multiple players getting reps at the position. Returning starter Cayden Dunn had two carries in COC’s opening drive, then Valencia High School product Moises Haynes took over and received the most carries throughout the morning.

Dorion Mitchell and Tiquan Gilmore received reps as well.

“They’ve got to separate themselves,” Iacenda said of who will see playing time. “We’ll go back and watch the film because as flashy as some of the runs are, you’ve got to make sure they’re pass protecting and blocking the right guys, things like that. But boy, they’re dynamic. Each in their own way.”

Quarterback battle continues

COC, which went 10-0 in Southern California Football Association (SCFA) National Division, Northern League play last season, also has options at quarterback. 

Cole Doyle was the primary signal-caller, but Armani Edden and Michael Wilson, who are both extremely mobile, each had time at the position during the scrimmage.

Iacenda said the starting quarterback will likely be chosen this week.

Smith caught a 25-yard pass from Edden for a touchdown on Saturday, but said he has confidence in all three quarterbacks.

“I believe they all can be a starter on another team if they weren’t all here together,” Smith said. “but since there’s so much competition, that’s what we all thrive off of, so right now it’s still an ongoing battle and I feel like the best man will win the competition.”

Camachos continue to be dual-sport

West Ranch alums Ryan Camacho and Jovan Camacho have opted to play both football and baseball at Canyons, as they did in high school. But this time, instead of being all-around players like they were in prep football, they both are strictly seeing time on defense.

Both have made a smooth transition from West Ranch to Canyons and worked hard in the secondary, getting reps throughout the scrimmage.

“I miss being everywhere, but like, I like having time devoted just towards one thing,” Jovan said. “It makes it a little easier on us, working on just our footwork and all the DB drills.”

COC will take everything learned at its scrimmage against Santa Barbara and apply it in its first game on Sept. 7 against Saddleback College.

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