Takeaways from the COS Eagles' opening loss to Diablo Valley and a look ahead at Saturday

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News

With a young team this year, College of the Siskiyous head football coach Tyler Knudsen knew there would be some hiccups in their first game of the season Saturday against No. 25 ranked Diablo Valley.  

The Eagles lost 14 sophomores since last spring's 2-2 season: many signed with four-year schools. This year, the team has 38 true freshmen. The rest maintained their freshman eligibility: there's only one sophomore out of more than 50 players on the COS roster.  

COS was one of just four other community colleges in the state that played spring football without crowds and with strict COVID-19 guidelines. So facing a team like Diablo Valley, which kept most of their sophomores since they did not play in the spring, was a challenge. 

COS players cheer on their team during the Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021 home game vs. Diablo Valley.

There were indeed bumps in the Eagle's 31-3 loss. However, Knudsen said the team's goal is to improve and learn from their mistakes. He said he likes the talent and dedication of his team, it just will take time for his youthful squad to fix the kinks.  

Here are some takeaways from the Eagles season opener.

1. Speed of the game

COS struggled in the first half and trailed 17-0 at halftime. They did have chances to score. They had a good drive and moved down to the Vikings' 10-yard line near the end of the half but ultimately stalled and came away empty-handed. They also got the ball at the Diablo Valley 28 on their second possession when the Vikings punter accidentally took a knee, but could only get to the 25-yard line.  

Knudsen said if the Eagles had scored in any of those two situations, “it would have been a different ball game.”   

“At first, it was all a little too fast for them,” Knudsen said, adding the college game is much faster compared to high school, and it took time for the players to adjust. “We made too many mistakes and could not move the ball or execute our game plan in the first half. I liked how they were able to lessen their mistakes as the game went on. I think there's a lot of positives we saw we can build on.”  

Things improved in the second half, and the Eagles were able to score their first points of the season on a field goal by Noah Silverthorne.   

True freshman Cooper Branson, a six-foot-three-inch 265-pound offensive lineman from Etna High School, started at left tackle for the Eagles. Knudsen said he likes the potential Branson has shown and believes he will continue to improve like the rest of the team.  

Defense shows promise  

While there was inconsistency on defense, COS had stretches when they played well, Knudsen said. He liked how they attacked and played hard. Maliki Campbell had an interception in the second quarter that thwarted a potential scoring drive and got the COS sidelines fired up. And in the first half, a nice sack from Jude Ashpole got the crowd excited. 

Knudsen said due to the inability of the offense to produce first downs, the defense was on the field a lot but, but they had several key stops and believes D could be a strength of the team this year. 

“I thought we tackled fairly well, and played well the entire game despite being on the field a lot,” Knudsen said.  

Cayton Sinay of the COS Eagles during a Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021 home game vs. Diablo Valley.

Playing in front of fans  

For the first time since 2019, COS played in front of their home fans on Saturday.  

“It's another step to getting us back to life before COVID,” said Knudsen. He said parents and family members drove from Washington, Oregon, and throughout California to watch the team play.

Looking ahead 

COS will travel about six and half hours south to Reedley this Saturday for a game against the Tigers. Reedley opened the season Saturday with a 27-14 over San Joaquin Delta.  

As of Sunday afternoon, Knudsen had not seen game film of Reedley, but he and his coaching staff will look closely over the film this week to prepare for the game. Most importantly, Knudsen said his team will work hard at practice this week to reduce mistakes and play a more clean and well-executed game in week two. 

Five players were out Saturday due to injury and other medical issues Knudsen hopes they will return to help the team this week.  

The Sept. 11 game begins at 1 p.m. at 995 N. Reed St. in Reedley. The following week, COS is at Chabot on Sept.18 and returns home to face Sacramento City College on Saturday, Sept. 25.