The Saddleback football team found out it will be playing at College of the Canyons next Saturday in the opening round of the Southern California Regional Playoffs. The Gauchos were named the 3-seed and will face the Cougars for a chance to play in the regional finals.
Saddleback has had a wild 24 hours. The Gauchos suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday night against top-ranked Riverside City College and were of the belief that they would be playing at Riverside again this coming weekend for the opening round of the playoffs. Less than 24 hours later they found out they will be playing at College of the Canyons next Saturday, a place they won earlier in the season.
Saddleback enters the playoffs at 9-1 and finished second to Riverside City College in the National Division Southern League. RCC will host Mt. San Antonio College in the other semifinal.
Saddleback defeated Canyons 45-20 on opening day, rolling up 561 yards of offense on the Cougars. In that game, Gaucho quarterbacks threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns as Saddleback opened up a 38-13 lead after three quarters. It also marked the 150th win for Saddleback head coach Mark McElroy, making him the winningest coach in Saddleback history.
Saddleback and Canyons have met 10 times in total, with both teams winning five times. The last time the two programs met in the post-season was 2009 when Saddleback defeated Canyons, 31-20.
Game time is scheduled for 6:00 PM in Santa Clarita.
In addition to an opportunity to advance in the CCCAA Playoffs, Saddleback has a handful of program records that could be weighing in the balance on Saturday.
Quarterback Chance Nolan is one touchdown pass away from tying the program record for touchdown passes in a season (34), set by Tim Belman in 2013. Nolan has thrown for 2,925 yards and 33 touchdowns and has 3,807 total offensive yards from scrimmage in 10 games. The most total offense in any one season was set by Belman, when he totaled 4,315 total yards in 11 games in 2013.
In addition to Nolan, wide receiver Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda is two touchdown catches away from tying the all-time record for a single-season (15), set by Jerard Rabb in 2004. Garcia-Castaneda has 52 receptions for 910 yards and 13 touchdowns through 10 games. Rabb went on to have claim-to-fame for being on the scoring end of a hook-and-ladder play when playing for Boise State against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. RABB VIDEO
Saddleback is also just 27 points away from tying the program record for points in a season. The Gauchos have 456 points through 10 games and with 28 points would break the record of 483 back in 2017. With 35 touchdown passes between Nolan (33) and Devin Freedland (2), Saddleback has tied the record of 35 touchdown passes in a season set back in 2013.