How College of the Siskiyous won its first game of the season: Five takeaways

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News

The College of the Siskiyous football team dominated West Hills Coalinga 31-7 at home at Herschel Meredith Stadium in Weed on Saturday for the Eagles' first win of the year.  

Mason Smith of College of the Siskiyous with one of his two interception against West Hills Coalinga Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021 in Weed.

With all freshmen besides one player on the roster this season, there have been growing pains for the Eagles.  

Before Saturday's win, COS came close last week to winning a game, falling in overtime at home to Sacramento City College 13-6 on Sept. 25. COS is now 1-4 for the year, while West Hills Coalinga is 0-2. 

College of the Siskiyous wide receiver Kyler Aguiar runs down the field after a catch against West Hills Coalinga on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

“It was a huge win for our team and great to do it in front of our home fans,” COS head coach Tyler Knudsen said. “To see the excitement of our players as they dominated our opponent was great to watch.”  

Below are five takeaways from the game.

Scoring early  

Knudsen said it helped they scored on their very first drive and the defense stopped West Hills on four downs on the first drive for the Falcons.  

“I think it was critical for us to get ahead early,” he said. “That gave us confidence on both sides of the ball.”  

Defensive pressure 

The defense was stingy most of the game, giving West Hills very little to work with.  

Knudsen said the COS defense “played really well all day, taking the ball away and flying around together. it was true team defense.”  

He said that the front line controlled the line of scrimmage and created pressure consistently, “which forced the ball to come out faster than they wanted it to.”  

Knudsen said the COS secondary took advantage and made great plays on the ball, as the Eagles finished with four interceptions.   

College of the Siskiyous quarterback OJ Calleja runs down the field against West Hills Coalinga on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

The defense also pressured the quarterback, he said,  

“As that happened, it allowed us opportunities to create takeaways, and we did a great job of attacking the ball,” Knudsen said.  

Mason Smith had two interceptions, while Johnathon Bailey had an interception and a forced and recovered a fumble.  

Angelo Martinez also had an interception for the Eagles. Ryan Ten Hulscher had two sacks, while Junnie Belisle and Julian Lopez each contributed a sack for COS.  

Offense execution 

Knudsen said by far, the offense played their best game of the year.   

“They executed at a much higher level and looked to be on the same page,” he said. “We blocked much better on the perimeter and took advantage of one-on-one coverage.”  

Knudsen said they started their fifth different lineup with their offensive line, which worked well on Saturday.  

“This was the most physical that group has played,” he said. “We have guys up front now who want to get better and move defenders at the point of attack.”  

The squad did a good job of establishing the run game, which allowed the Eagles opportunities to get favorable matchups in the pass game, Knudsen said.   

Quarterback OJ Calleja had a strong game scoring four touchdowns.  

He ran the ball for two scores, including a 24-yard scamper. Calleja threw for two scores. One was on a 11-yard pass to Jerry Watts. The second receiving TD was a 15-yard strike to Jake Bruce.  

Bryson Quinn of College of the Siskiyous grabs the ball for an interception against  West Hills Coalinga Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021 in Weed.

The Eagles also were successful on two 2-point conversions. One was a run by former Mount Shasta Bear Gaspar Rodriguez. The other was a Calleja pass to Cayton Sinay.  

Coach Knudsen said it was nice to win at home with many families of the players present to support the program.   

“It was great to celebrate together in our locker room and see the joy on our players' faces to feel what a victory feels like,” he said.  

'Improving daily' is key

With such a young team this year, Knudsen said they have tried to emphasize that if they continue to improve and focus on improving daily in everything they do, that good things will happen.   

“We knew there would be growing pains, and learning how to win college football games is a process,” he said, “but I have been pleased with their work ethic and enthusiasm to improve and compete.”  

A bye this week

This week is a bye for the Eagles. They will face Sierra College of Rocklin on the road on Oct. 16 in the National-Norcal Conference opener before returning home to take on Shasta College of Redding on Oct. 23.  

“The bye week hits at the perfect time for us,” Knudsen said. He said it is the perfect opportunity to get some rest and let the players recover physically.   

“It’s always nice going into a bye week with momentum from a victory,” he said. “We need to continue to improve mentally and physically as we head into conference play." 

Bill Choy covers sports and general news for the Siskiyou Daily News/Mount Shasta Herald/USA Today Network. Follow him on Twitter at @SDNBillChoy. Email Bill at bchoy@siskiyoudaily.com. Support local journalism by subscribing today.