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Speights Named Defensive Player of the Year, Iacenda Coach of the Year as 16 Cougars Claim All-SCFA Honors

College of the Canyons freshman linebacker Tariq Speights finished the 2018 season with a team-best 76 total tackles, four sacks, eight tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception through 11 contests. — Jacob Velarde/COC Sports Information
College of the Canyons freshman linebacker Tariq Speights finished the 2018 season with a team-best 76 total tackles, four sacks, eight tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception through 11 contests. — Jacob Velarde/COC Sports Information

By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director

College of the Canyons freshman linebacker Tariq Speights has been named the 2018 Southern California Football Association (SCFA) National Division, Northern League Defensive Player of the Year and head coach Ted Iacenda was named Coach of the Year to headline a class of 16 honorees, including three unanimous selections.

Canyons, which finished the regular season a perfect 10-0 to claim the SCFA National Division, Northern League Championship, led the conference with 10 First-Team selections in addition to Speights' Player of the Year Designation.

Included among that group were sophomore quarterback Wyatt Eget, sophomore wide receiver Brandon Pierce and sophomore defensive back Raeshawn Roland who were each unanimous First-Team selections. 

A full listing of 2018 SCFA All-League Teams is here.

Speights was the clear leader on a Cougar defensive unit that limited opponents to a state-best 9.5 points per game through the regular season, while surrendering just 10 touchdowns.

He finished the 2018 campaign with a team-best 76 total tackles, including 53 of the solo variety, to go with four sacks, eight tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception through 11 contests. The Valencia High School graduate recorded seven games with at least seven tackles, while creating turnovers in four contests.

The freshman linebacker is the first COC player to take home Defensive Player of the Year honors since defensive tackle Antonio Guy did so in 2013.

Speights was joined by five defensive mates on the SCFA First-Team in Roland (17 tackles, four interceptions), sophomore safety Shaddrick Lowery Jr. (41 tackles), sophomore linebacker KJ Latu (24 tackles, four tackles for loss, three rushing touchdowns), sophomore defensive lineman Tofa Faingaa (34 tackles, forced fumble, fumble recovery) and sophomore defensive tackle Gio Ramirez (23 tackles, 3.5 sacks, five tackles for loss).

Latu was a unanimous First-Team selection in 2017, while Lowery earned Second-Team honors as a freshman.

The Cougars had five players earn First-Team honors on the offensive side of the ball, with Eget (2,084 passing yards, 17 total touchdowns, four interceptions) and Brandon Pierce (47 receptions, 801 yards, seven touchdowns) joining sophomore wide receiver Leroy Deshazor (27 receptions, 391 yards, five touchdowns), freshman kicker Tanner Brown (95 total points, 17/21 field goals, 44/44 PATs) and sophomore offensive lineman Nicholas Harman.

Brandon Pierce was also a Second-Team selection in 2017 for his prowess as a punt returner.

The 10 First-Team selections by Canyons was the most of any team in the Northern League. COC also had five players earn Second-Team honors.

Sophomore wide receiver Jarrin Pierce (52 receptions, 770 yards, five touchdowns), freshman running back Cayden Dunn (492 yards, four touchdowns, 6.0 yards per carry) and freshman center Jordan Palmer were each named to the Second-Team offense.

Jarrin Pierce was also a Second-Team selection as a freshman.

Freshman linebacker Charles Ike (42 tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles) and sophomore Johnny Morrison III (27 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, fumble recovery) were named to the Second-Team defense.

In addition, Iacenda brought home his second Coach of the Year award, the first since his rookie campaign of 2013, after leading Canyons to an undefeated regular season for just the fifth time in program history (2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2018).

The conference title was the second under Iacenda (2013, 2018) and the 12th in program history (2018, 2013, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1975, 1973, 1971).

The Cougars also finished the regular season as the No. 1 ranked team in both the California Community College Sports Information Association (CCCSIA) statewide poll and the JC Athletic Bureau Head Coaches Poll.

"The 2018 Cougar football team is one that will be remembered for a long time at College of the Canyons. It was a very special year," said Iacenda. "To go 10-0 and win the National Division, Northern League championship takes a tremendous amount of focus and hard work.

"This group never lost sight of the true focus of this program which is that the journey matters more than the destination," added Iacenda. "The friendships, the brotherhood, the family we have built here at College of the Canyons is truly remarkable."

Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

— Photo by Jacob Velarde/COC Sports Information