Brian Lewis has the highlights from the season opener at Antelope Valley.
LANCASTER- Another year begun, another game won.
The College of the Canyons football squad dominated their first game of the fall 2010 season Saturday with a win over Antelope Valley College, 35-7, in Lancaster.
The Cougars opened their season for the third straight year playing the Marauders, and again with a win. They won 27-17 last year.
Justin Arias, a grey shirt freshman, got the call for quarterback and did not disappoint. Arias proved to be able to handle the pressure as starter having rushed for a gain of 77 total yards with one touchdown, while passing for 358 total yards with two touchdowns.
Arias, having not yet experienced football at the collegiate level, was thrilled just to be able to be back on the field.
“It was definitely exciting. It felt really good to actually play again,” says Arias.
Cougars head coach Garett Tujague was very impressed the way his young quarterback handled himself in his collegiate debut.
“It’s the first time he’s played in over a year, so it’s good to see him out there and mix it up a little bit. I think he made some great decisions. I think he did a good job of carrying the ball and nobody thought he could run … He did some great things, made some good decisions. That’s what it’s all about being quarterback at College of the Canyons,” says Coach Tujague.
Arias’ performance helped further prove to Coach Tujague that we will be seeing more of him on the field this season.
“He proved tonight without a shadow of a doubt that he’s the guy,” says Coach Tujague.
With both the Cougars and the Marauders having only won six games last season (COC 6-5, AVC 6-4), both teams looked to start out the season fresh with a win. In that respect, Coach Tujague couldn’t have asked more from his team.
“It was a huge win for us because of recruiting boundaries and territories, plus it’s always nice to play a team that’s close by and have some friends on the same team … it was huge for bragging rights for the year, for recruiting, so it was a big win for us,” says Coach Tujague.
With all the offense the Cougars were able to produce, the defense also had a big night. The defense caused five fumbles with three lost, and had not even allowed the Marauders a first down in the first quarter.
The defense also had three interceptions by Antwan Smith, Khalil Bass, and Marcus Reed. Smith returned his interception for a touchdown early on, in the first quarter, to give the Cougars a 7-0 lead.
Later in the first, receiver Cameron Bailey caught a pass by Justin Arias for 55 yards to eventually set up a touchdown run by running back Ryan Zirbel for 5 yards. A two play drive all ensuing after a successful onside kick.
The Cougars only real let up on defense was in the second, giving the Marauders two big pass receptions totaling 50 yards, while later allowing a touchdown pass from quarterback Josh Firm to receiver Kenny Harmon for 11 yards.
However, the Cougars came right back after recovering a fumble off a punt, which later led to a rushing touchdown by quarterback Justin Arias for eight yards.
The damage was done by halftime being up 28-7 on a night where Antelope Valley College changed the name of their one year old Marauder Stadium to be called Brent Carder Marauder Stadium, in honor of 37 year head football coach Brent Carder. He had retired in 2006.
The Cougars final score was later in the fourth on a touchdown pass to Chris Rivas for 20 yards, which helped secure their first win of the season.
With a dominating win to start the season, one can only hope for greater things to come.
Seeking to continue the trend, the Cougars must bring their 1-0 record next weekend to take on powerhouse Mt. San Antonio College, on Saturday, September 11, in Walnut.