Signal archive photos (2x2-inch negatives), photographer unknown.
Hart District high schools have a long tradition of using Cougar Stadium at College of the Canyons for Friday Night Football. Back before Cougar Stadium opened for the 1974 season, however,
it was the other way around: The Cougars of Valencia played home games on the Hart High football field. (Hart was the only one of the two Hart District high schools that had a football field; crosstown rival Canyon High used it, too.)
Here, on Saturday, October 31, 1970, in their seventh game ever, the Cougars, ranked No. 10 in the "small junior college" division, come from from behind to upset No. 9 Victor Valley, 34-7, in a daytime matchup on the Hart Football Field.
(COC was playing Saturday night games at Hart in 1971.)
Two weeks later, COC tailback Clint McKinney became the first collegiate player (of any kind) in history to gain more than 400 yards rushing in a single game — with 413 yards on 41 carries in a game against Mt. San Jacinto played at Hart.
McKinney annihilated the J.C. record set in 1965 by O.J. Simpson (305 yards, matched earlier in 1970 by Pasadena's Sylvester Youngblood), and he ran right past the
record for 4-year colleges (362 yards) set in 1912 by Jim Thorpe.
Obviously, McKinney was subsequently named the Desert Conference's 1970 MVP, and three other Cougars made first team:
tackle Phil Arklin (known to opposing teams as "that big number 73"), end Bruce Mitchell and defensive back Dean Raynor. Making second team were
COC's Cliff Patterson on offense and Jim Baxter, Gary Fitch and Reuben Franco on defense. David Howsare and
David Boze received honorable mentions.
For the 1970 season, in 7½ games, McKinney gained 1,520 yards on 258 carries.
Click to enlarge.
Cougars Sharpen Claws for Big Battle at Palm Desert.
The Signal | Wednesday, November 4, 1970.
The showdown has finally come. Like two feared gunfighters who have successfully faced almost every bad man in the West, there's nothing left for College of the Canyons and College of the Desert but to square off against each other.
They will this Saturday night at Palm Desert, and there's no way of knowing what's going to happen.
Last Saturday at the Hart High Field the Cougars made ram chops out of Victor Valley, a team that had been ranked above them all season. The score was 34-7.
The Cougars are now ranked 8th in the state. College of the Desert is 4th, and Victor Valley has been dropped from the top ten.
College of the Desert spent last Saturday clobbering Imperial Valley 30-6 and letting everyone know that although Commissioner Pryor had relegated them to last place in the league, they had no intention of behaving like they belonged there.
In routing the Rams last Saturday, the Cougars looked like "Ye olde Cougares" of 63-0 fame. Let's face it, The last 3 weeks have not been good for the nerves of Cougar fans.
For a while Saturday it looked like it was going to be another cliffhanger. The game began with all the false starts and stalls that characterized the last couple of COC games.
Early in the first quarter, the Cougar defensive wall was real tough, but Victor Valley seemed to have found a weak spot in COC's pass defense.
After receiving a punt on their own 31, the Rams completed a long pass that brought them all the way to the Cougar 11. Two attempts to run through the line got nowhere, but on 3rd down the Rams passed for a touchdown. The kick was good, and the Rams led 7-0.
Four minutes later Ed Mitchell scored for COC on a pass play good for 62 yards. The kick for the extra point was blocked.
The real turning point in the game came right after that. The Cougars kicked off. The Rams took the ball and were unable to make any forward progress whatsoever against the rugged Cougar defense.
The set of plays went like this: 1st and 10, Rams are thrown for a 1-yard loss. Second and 11, an attempted run through the middle gains nothing. 3rd and 11, Rams are thrown for another 1-yard loss. Fourth and 12 and time to punt.
That kind of thing can make even a first-place team a bit timid.
The Cougars took the ball on their own 46 and started moving as the 1st quarter ended. Clint McKinney rushed to one first down, and then Red Stephens fired a pass to Cliff Patterson who raced down the sideline reaching the 3-yard line before he was pushed out.
On the next play, McKinney ran across for 6, and then Stephens passed to Mitchell for 2 more. The Cougars led 14-7.
After that it was purely the Cougar's ballgame. They scored a third touchdown in the 2nd quarter after a long drive that began with an interception by Rudy Franco.
Bob Perry's hard running sparked the 11-play drive which included four first downs. With 4½ minutes left in the half, McKinney ran across from one-half a yard out and upped the score to 20-7. The kick was no good.
During the third quarter, the teams seemed more evenly matched, but the last quarter was all Cougars again.
They pushed the Rams around for a while deep in Ram territory before recovering a fumble that set up touchdown number 4. McKinney ran across from 4, and this time the kick was good.
With a minute and a half left in the game, the Cougars scored again on an 8-yard pass to Mitchell. The kick was good, and the final score stood 34-7.
Coach Don Kloppenburg called the game "by far our best of the year.''
Kloppenburg said: "It was once again a real team effort that won it for us. I thought two people played exceptional football — Bob Perry, who has recently recovered from injuries, and Ed Mitchell, who made one of the finest plays I've ever seen on that screen pass on which he scored the final touchdown."
Kloppenburg seemed unconcerned about the mix-up in league standings. "It doesn't change anything for us," he said "We've still got to win the next two."
Clint McKinney is now California's leading rusher in the small junior college division. As of October 21, he has carried the ball 152 times for a total of 809 net yards.
Behind McKinney is Tom Beaver of Butte College, who has carried the ball 148 times for a total of 673 yards.
Among rushers from all California JCs both large and small, McKinney ranks fourth.
College of the Canyons is ranked 8th among small JCs this week. College of the Desert is listed in the fourth position, the same as last week.