COC football ends season in Southern California championship game

Haley Sawyer/The Signal

Even though the College of the Canyons football season is over, head coach Ted Iacenda still has a lot of film to look at.

“It’s going to take me some time to figure out all the mistakes that I made,” he said. “It’s going to be a process. It’s not that easy, but it’s going to take some time and really take some introspection and we’re going to have to meet as a staff and we’ll look into it and we’ll get it fixed.”

Iacenda put a lot of the blame on himself for Canyons’ 68-21 loss to Riverside City College in the Southern California Championship Game on Saturday, even though mistakes in multiple areas contributed to the team’s loss.

On the second offensive snap of the game, the Tigers scored their first touchdown of the game on a 61-yard pass. They executed a safety shortly after when a high snap went over COC punter Tanner Brown’s head and added a rushing touchdown on the ensuing drive to keep the momentum in their favor with 8:35 left in the first quarter.

“We started the first quarter about as awful as you could start,” Iacenda said. “We just weren’t ready to play in the first quarter. I think we shot ourselves in the foot and we had so many unforced errors. It was just a lot of things that were very uncharacteristic of how we played all year.”

The Cougars scored one touchdown in the first half on a 57-yard pass from quarterback Armani Edden to Alonzell Henderson. Riverside had mounted a 47-7 lead by halftime.

The Tigers recovered a fumble for a touchdown with 14:13 left in the third before Edden threw two more touchdown passes — one to Tiquan Gilmore and one to Trevon Elliot — to make the score 54-21.

Edden was 13-of-28 for 305 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back Cayden Dunn amassed 59 yards on 12 carries as COC opted to pass the ball more often. Henderson was the Cougars’ leading receiver with 128 yards on five catches.

“Cayden made a ton of great plays in this game and I wish we could’ve gotten the ball more to him,” Iacenda said. “We had to get some bigger chunks of yardage and that meant passing the ball.”

MORE: COC football prepares for Riverside with Thanksgiving practice

Hart alumnus Charles Ike was the Defensive Player of the Game for Canyons with 13 tackles and half a sack. Abdul-Lateef Augu, a cornerback, had seven solo tackles and a pass breakup.

It was the first time in program history that COC had played Riverside, which was the No. 1 seed headed into playoffs. The Cougars were entering as the No. 3 seed after picking up a second-straight Southern California Football Association (SCFA) National Division, Northern League title.

Now that the season has ended, the team turns its attention to finishing out the semester academically strong. The coaching staff focuses on recruiting, whether that’s getting players off to four-year programs or bringing new players into the COC program for hopefully another conference championship.

“We’re going to lose a lot of talented players that we’ve got to find a way to replace,” Iacenda said. “By no means are we shutting it down, there’s never really time off.”

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