Squad finds rhythm, captures Pac 7 Crown

Players focus on weights, technique for bowl matchup

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

SAN JOSE — The Comet football team (9-1 overall and 5-1 in the Pacific 7 Conference) clinched its fourth conference championship in a row, this time in dominating fashion, by way of a 40-15 victory over San Jose City College in its final regular season contest this season.

The Jaguars (2-8 overall and 2-4 in the Pac 7) included the Comets in its sophomore night festivities. The gesture, seen as a sign of goodwill after San Jose’s Oct. 31 fight with Mendocino College and resulting Eagle forfeiture forced the cancellation of CCC’s final home game Nov. 7.

“We used the extra time to really focus on our craft, watching film, hitting the weight room and working on fundamentals,” Comet wide receiver Sterling Taylor (three catches, 90 yards, one TD) said. “We wanted to finish the season how we finished the game tonight.”

San Jose’s sign of good faith was not reciprocated by the Comets, as defensive stalwart Chima Onyeukwu (eight tackles, one sack) made early Jaguar possessions an exercise in futility.

CCC linebackers Amari Mount (five tackles) and Ted Noble (three tackles) also found breach points in the San Jose offensive front, allowing multiple stops to be made behind the line of scrimmage.

Eager to return to live action, the Comet offense slipped back into its familiar groove.

CCC quarterback Cameron Burston (26-40 295 yards, four TDs, one interception) found receiver Frank Stephens (8 catches, 86 yards, two TDs) early, which opened the way for running back Harris Ross to gash the Jaguars up the belly for a 21-yard first quarter touchdown.

Holding San Jose scoreless in the first half by forcing punts on multiple possessions, the Comet offense had opportunities to put the game out of reach early.

Burston uncharacteristically missed open receivers at the outset and threw just his second interception of the season. To make matters worse, the pick was thrown in the end zone.

While being chased out of the pocket to his right, the quarterback threw the ball across his body, gifting the ball into the hands of an opportunistic Jaguar defensive back.

The turnover merely gave the Comet defense another chance to establish dominion over the over-matched Jaguars.

Defensive end Chibu Onyeukwu (3.5 sacks) recorded two sacks on the failed drive, returning the ball to Burston who promptly hit receiver Frank Stephens for the final score of the half.

“It’s all preparation. You have to come out focused,” Chibu Onyeukwu said. “I visualize every down in my head so I have an idea of what to expect, then I go hard on every play.”

At halftime CCC led San Jose City 14-0.

Ahead by two scores and in control defensively, the Comets shifted from competitive to complacent.

Feeling the game was in hand, players began to look past the Jaguars, checking the scores of other games to get a picture of who they may face in their impending bowl game.

The Comets will face Hartnell College Nov. 28 in Salinas in their bowl game.

While CCC watched the scoreboard of other games, the team lost sight of its own.

The Jaguars strung together two quick second half scores and were an extra point miss away from knotting the game at 14.

Midway through the third San Jose trailed by a point, 14-13.

But the high-powered offense of the Comets struck back, this time on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Burston to Taylor, expanding the CCC cushion to eight at 21-13.

Injuries, some lingering, some new, struck the Comets in the second half as Noble and Ross were both sidelined with ankle injuries.

Its focus regained, the Comet offense struck again with another yard gobbling drive fueled by the quick instincts of Burston.

The drive ended with a Burston to Stephens 22-yard touchdown pass-catch.

“We finally hit our groove in the third quarter,” Stephens said. “We just want to execute better. We worked on technique all week in practice.”

One Lorran Fonseca field goal, a safety and another Burston to tight end Jaelen Collins touchdown pushed the CCC point total to 40, while the defense buckled down and held the Jaguars to one field goal for the remainder of the game.

“This is the fourth year in a row that we’ve won conference. With one game left, our four quarter focus starts now,” CCC coach Alonzo Carter said. “Whoever we play, it’s not going to be easy.”