Our local high schools are not the only ones putting their seasons on the line, Azusa Pacific University and Mt. San Antonio College are also in football playoffs. For Mt. SAC, it’s just trying to continue the status quo as the Mounties host Cerritos at 1 p.m. on Saturday, seeking their fifth consectuve Southern California title. Mt. SAC will be the favorite to advance to the CCCAA title game again after routing Cerritos, 51-0, last season. But both teams have won six consecutive games.
APU, meanwhile, after routing Ottawa, of Kansas, in the first round last week, has a monster tilt at Carroll, of Helena, Mont., in the NAIA quarterfinals. The host Saints have won six national titles since 2002, including last season. This will be APU’s second trip to Carroll in two seasons, losing 35-21, in the first round last year. The Cougars, who have never lost in the quarterfinals, are 0-6 lifetime against the Saints, and 0-2 in the playoffs, also losing 14-10 in 2004, in the semifinals. I guess that means the odds are in their favor, right?
Here’s a little something to inspire the Cougars on the eve of their monumental task. Although it’s not a football speech, the meaning is the same.
Here’s my notebook about the APU and Mt. SAC games
Don’t expect the Azusa Pacific University football team to be caught off-guard when it travels to No. 2 Carroll, of Helena, Mont., on Saturday for an NAIA quarterfinal playoff game at 11:07 a.m. PST.
Both teams know each other well after Carroll beat the Cougars. 35-21, in the first round last season. APU coach Victor Santa Cruz admitted he will see some different looks from the Saints, but he also knows what to expect from the NAIA stalwart, which has won six national titles since 2002.
“The only thing that changes for Carroll is the names,” Santa Cruz said. “I’m sure we will see some things different. But what we admire about Carroll is how they stay true to what they are. They never stray too far from their base.”
The Saints’ forte is the running game, which averages 252.3 yards per game. Carroll is 11-1, including a 47-0 victory over Valley City State of North Dakota in the first round last week.
Chance Demarais spearheads the ground game with 1,632 yards and 17 touchdowns, but Carroll also features Dustin Rinker, who has run for 979 yards and six scores, and Dakota Stonehouse, who has 242 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cougars, led by quarterback John van den Raadt, who has accounted for 2,956 yards and 35 touchdowns, saw that first-hand last season. But Santa Cruz, whose Cougars battled back to tie Carroll, 21-21, before giving up two scores in the fourth quarter, believes his team is better prepared this season.
“The biggest thing for us is our maturity,” Santa Cruz said. “Having been there last year, then to come back and get a first-round win (against Ottawa, of Kansas last week), you can see we are more mature.
“(Against Ottawa), we had turnovers, but we never lost focus and continued to play hard.”
APU is 0-6 against Carroll, including 0-2 in the playoffs. But the Cougars, who won a national title in 1999, never have lost in the quarterfinals.
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It just wouldn’t be the California Community College Athletic Association football playoffs without a title run by Mt. San Antonio College, which has advanced to the Southern California Regional championship for the fifth consecutive season.
The Mounties, who host Cerritos for the title at 1 p.m. on Saturday, have done it despite returning just two starters from last season’s team that went 13-0 and won CCCAA and national titles.
“I can’t say enough of my coaches and players, who just get better each week,” said Mt. SAC coach Bob Jastrab, whose Mounties are 36-1 since 2009. “They continue to improve and give a solid effort every week.
“For us, it comes down to making very few mistakes, which allows us to be in every game. I’m really proud of what they’ve done. Our goal is just to get better and they do a great job.”
Mt. SAC, which has won six consecutive games since losing to Riverside 29-26 in September, is led by quarterback Cameron Deen, who has thrown for 2,469 yards and 22 touchdowns, and running back Matthew Botello, who has rushed for 621 yards and seven scores.
Saturday’s winner faces either City College of San Francisco (10-0) or Fresno City (10-0), which face each other for the Northern California title, also at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The winners meet for the CCCAA championship on Dec. 10 at the Northern California champion.