College of the Canyons Football Preview

When Cougar Head Coach Garett Tujague took over the program, he had some big shoes to fill with former coach Chuck Lyon stepping away from football to be the Athletic Director.

Judging by last season's performance, COC will still be a major player in Juco football for year's to come. Tujague guided a young Canyons team to a 9-3 record, narrowly losing to a very good Bakersfield team 48-45, in a Socal semifinal overtime contest, 48-45. This year, Canyons is the pick of many people, including myself, as the frontrunner to win the Socal final and get back to the State Championship game. But the change in conference alignments will make that a very tough job. "I like the fact that the SCFA has developed a program that is system wide and is reevaluated every two years." Tujague says. "I will tell you one thing, it will keep you on your toes because anyone can beat anyone on any given weekend, and these realignments will raise the ante." The Cougars return a lot of talent. The Offensive Line will be huge and led by Joe Evinger (6'6, 330), Shawn Johnson (6'4, 300), and Joe Thompson (6'5, 310). They will block for very talented RB Fred Winborn, and they may sneak in 255 lb Sean Quinn to pound on opposing defenses. Winborn averaged an astounding 8.9 ypc with over 1200 yards and 18 TDs. At WR, they have arguably the best Wideout in California JC football in Hayo Carpenter. Hayo had 65 catches for 1181 yards last season averaging over 18 yards per reception. Jovon Leacock and Nate Jones will keep the defenses honest along with bounce back CJ Atkins and freshmen DJ Stephens and Tavon Burke. Tujague has a problem everyone would like to have, two good QBs. Joey Frias will share time with Brad McClellan, one of the most elusive QBs this side of Darius Reynolds of Reedley. As a third string QB last season, McClellan almost pulled off a Kevin Craft type game in guiding the Cougars to that overtime loss in Bakersfield. As good as that offense is the defense looks even more formidable. One of the best pass rushers in California, Jason Pierre-Paul decided to go to Fort Scott to be closer to family. Although that hurts, Cougar opponents will still have their hands full. Returning to lead the defensive line is John Hollins, (6'3, 270). The Linebacking corp is solid too with Eric Wells (6'3, 225) and Joey Juarascio, (6'3 230). Robbie Casselberry leads the DBs along with Anthony Luna. Freshmen Kenny Brown and Aaron Fisher will shore the defensive backfield up. Coach Tujague expects more than just wins from his team. "I want my players to play hard on every down, and to represent the College as well as the Santa Clarita Valley in a positive manner at all times." He is also quick to point out how much his assistants have helped him transition over to the Head job. "Not only are they great assistant coaches, they are great friends as well. Sometimes being buddies does not work, but these guys have no secrets, and we all have a great time working hard together." Since the school brought back football in 1998, the COC Cougars have risen quickly to be one of the most successful programs nationally. With the coaching staff they have, and a team full of returning starters, they will continue to shine and will have a lot of success on the field this season. They may have a tougher schedule this season, but don't look for the Cougars to retract their claws much. They will definitely leave some carnage on the gridiron this fall.

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