Gauchos to host bowl game

Zach Cavanagh

While Saturday’s win over Grossmont did not provide a playoff berth, the win did bring a special perk for the Saddleback College football team.

The Gauchos, 8-2 overall, 4-2 in the Southern Conference and ranked eighth in Southern California, were selected to host the Western State Bowl against the College of the Canyons Cougars. The game will be played next Saturday at 5 p.m.

As of Saturday night, Saddleback was speculated to play at Cerritos College, El Camino College, or a neutral site game at Orange Coast College. The selection will be a pleasant surprise for the team.

The bowl selection is the ninth consecutive Southern California Football Association bowl for Saddleback, which ties a school record.

Canyons was 6-4 overall, 3-3 in the SCFA Northern Conference, and finished ranked 12th in Southern California, one spot behind Grossmont.

Although Saddleback finished with a better record than Canyons, the Gauchos should still take notice.

The Cougars scored a signature win in a 26-13 victory on Sept. 26 against Southern Conference champion Fullerton. Fullerton finished as the second-ranked team in Southern California and defeated Saddleback, 22-13, on Oct. 24. T

he biggest battle of this game will come between Canyons’ defense and Saddleback’s offense.

The Cougars finished the regular season with the sixt- best defense in Southern California holding opponents to 282.1 yards per game, the sixth-best rushing defense holding opponents to 82.4 yards per game, and the fourth-best scoring defense averaging 16.5 points per game.

Saddleback will counter with the fifth-best scoring offense in Southern California averaging 38.1 points per game.

As always, special teams will have a big impact on the game. Saddleback finished as the third-best team in kick returns averagins 25.5 yards per return with three touchdowns. Canyons finished 10th averaging 22.6 yards per return. Both teams finished in the top 10 in punting. Canyons finished in sixth averaging 34.2 net yards per punt with three touchbacks, and Saddleback finished ninth 33.4 net yards per punt with three touchbacks.

The Cougars do not posses a great running attack, with no player averaging over 50 yards per game.

They do have a respectable passing game, with quarterback Justin Morales averaging 126.8 yards per game with nine touchdowns and wide receiver D.J. Stevens averaging 82.7 yards per game with six touchdowns.

Follow this link for the rest of the CCCAA bowl match-ups: www.coasports.org/Football/men/09Bowl_Matchups.pdf

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