Student Spotlight – Speights Named Defensive Player of the Year
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.
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.
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.”
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