Photos (2x2-inch negatives, Kodak Safety Film) by Kimm Marshall / The Signal.
November 20, 1971 — Undefeated in conference play, the College of the Canyons Cougars shut out College of the Desert 49-0 in their regular-season finale to advance to the first round of playoffs.
The game was played under the lights at Hart High School. COC used the Hart field for home games until Cougar Stadium finished construction in 1974. On-field halftime entertainment was provided by the COC jazz band under the direction of Bob Downs — who was the Hart band director until 1969 when he left to start the music program at COC. He didn't physically go far: COC classes were held on the Hart campus throughout the 1969-1970 academic year.
The Cougars didn't fare so well in their next outing on November 27, 1971. Reedley College booted them from the playoffs with a crushing 74-20 defeat, also fielded at Hart. Reedley went on to win the Desert Conference (small junior college) title.
First photo: RB Gary Hamilton scores a second-quarter touchdown.
Photo Nos. 09 & 10: COC Head Coach Don Kloppenburg.
Photo No. 16 (next to last): COC music instructor Bob Downs on the clarinet at far left.
COC Pounds Desert — On to the Playoffs.
The Signal | Wednesday, November 24, 1971.
What is left to be said?
The College of the Canyons Cougars are clearly the best team in the Desert Conference, after their 49-0 defeat of College of the Desert last Saturday night at Hart.
For the eighth straight time this season, the Cougars blew the opponents right off the field.
How good are the 1971 Cougars? This question and others will be supplied when COC takes on Reedley College this Saturday night in the first round of the small college playoffs at Hart Field.
Saturday night's game with COD was exciting for about a quarter. COD featured All-American defensive end Gary Roberts (6'5", 235) and the second best offense in the Conference, but it was so powerful that it not only didn't score against the first-team defense; it also didn't score against the second and third string.
Roberts only lasted two quarters, and he didn't play in the second half; it was unknown if it was his injured foot or his All-American status, or the blocking of Bruce Mitchell and Jim Elford, that hastened his exit.
Curiously, though, no one Cougar, except maybe Don Phillips and the blocking of the guards on the traps, contributed any more than usual. Of course, the usual has always been good enough to win and then some with the Cougars.
Phillips, a very quiet person off the field, becomes a runaway truck (his nickname is Trucker) with a football in his hands. He runs over people, and with help from the blocking guards, Gary Fitch, Frank Celaya and Randy Kruska, he ran rampant over and through the COD defense. He carried the ball 13 times and gained 153 yards.
The COC bread and butter play, the power sweep, augments the trap play (which Phillips runs; Gary Hamilton runs the sweep) beautifully. If you (the opponent's defense) key on one, the other kills you and vice versa. And if you key only the run, the passing will kill you.
If the offense isn't enough, the COC defense is probably better. COD "was" ranked number 10 in the state with an outstanding offense, but all they had leaving Newhall was zero points.
The point is: The Cougars have an outstanding football team. The reason behind it stems from the fact the talent is there, and the coaches know what to do with it. And for sure, they will need every ounce Saturday night.
Getting back to what happened in the game: COC scored the second time they had the ball, going 76 yards in 7 plays. All the yards were gained by running backs Hamilton and Phillips. Phillips, behind good blocking, burst into the end zone from five yards out for the score. Red Stephens kicked his first of seven straight extra points.
The Roadrunners returned the kickoff to their 31. Good defense by Bill Savone and extra good defense by Phil Perito (he got his first of 3 sacks) stopped COD, and they punted.
Greg Kincaid returned it 8 yards to the COC 47. Two passes to Mitchell, a little running by Phillips, and a 15-yard penalty set up the second touchdown; a 10-yard pass, Stephens to Richard Carter.
COD ran 3 plays and punted. Kincaid returned the punt 20 yards to the COD 45. It took two plays to score. Hamilton gained 18 yards on a screen pass, and Phillips bulled 27 for the touchdown. That made the score COC 21, COD 0, with 13:56 left in the first half.
Late in the second quarter, COD had the ball deep in their own territory. On second down they tried a pass, but Perito wouldn't allow it, sacking the quarterback and causing a fumble. Cougar Fitch recovered it at the COD 12 and COC was in business.
On the first play, COD was offside, moving the ball to the 7. From there, Hamilton ran the ball over on a power sweep, and the Cougars had their fourth TD.
The Roadrunners took the ensuing kickoff and moved the ball to the COC 40-yard line. But another bruising tickle by Perito caused a fumble. COC recovered at their 37 and went to work again.
Stephens passed to Mitchell for 27 yards and to Elford for 11 yards to give COC a first down at the COD 26. The next play was a screen pass to Hamilton, and he ran 20 yards for the touchdown. A fantastic block by Kruska at the 6 yard line made the score possible.
The gun went off signaling the end of the first half, and the score read: COC 35, COD 0.
The Roadrunners came out for the second half ready to play ball. They tried a successful onsides kick and took over at the COD 45. Using a good running attack, COD advanced to the COC 5 on five plays.
But on second down, they fumbled in the end zone, and Dave Howarse recovered it for a touchback and that ended COD's biggest threat.
From the 20-yard line, COC moved methodically down field on 10 plays. Stephens completed 4 of 4 to Mitchell (2). Wayne Foglesong, and Rick Lopez. Hamilton ran twice for 5, and Phillips did the rest of the damage, gaining 34 yards on 4 carries. Phillips scored from 2 yards out to give COC a 42-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
With a secure lead, Head Coach Don Kloppenburg began to insert the second stringers freely. COC got one more TD late in the third period.
Geoff Brown, replacing Stephens at quarterback, directed the last touchdown drive, which began at the COC 42. Running the option, Brown teamed with Pat Roach to move the Cougars down the field.
A personal foul against the Roadrunners gave COC a first at the COD 20. Brown tried a pass to Foglesong, but it didn't work. On the next play, Brown was sacked for a 16-yard loss to 36. On a third down option, Brown pitched back to Roach, who gained 13 to the 28.
Facing a fourth and long yardage, Brown went to Foglesong for 28 yards and the touchdown, and COC was done scoring for the evening.
COC's second team played brilliantly and preserved COC's first shutout of the season. An interception by Charlie Fratt late in the game stopped a COD drive deep in Cougar territory.
COC finishes the Desert Conference with a perfect 7-0 record, and 8-1 overall. They advance to the playoffs against highly rated Reedley College this Saturday night at 7.30 p.m. at Hart Field.
: Download original images here. Signal Photo Archive, Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society collection.