The Hancock College football team has a lot in common with its first bowl game opponent since 2011.
Chula Vista-based Southwestern College and Hancock will face off in the American Bowl at 4 p.m. Saturday at Santa Maria High School. Hancock's last bowl result was a 56-11 rout of East Los Angeles College under 17th-year Hancock coach Kris Dutra in 2011 at Righetti High School.
The visiting Jaguars (8-2, 5-0) will come to town Saturday having won the American Division's Mountain League championship. The Bulldogs (8-2, 5-0) won the American Division's Pacific League title.
These teams with identical records have several nearly identical statistics.
Hancock gives up a tad over 61 yards a game rushing. Southwestern's run defense has been nearly as stingy. The Jaguars yield an average of just under 72 yards a game on the ground.
Southwestern averages 375 yards a game in total offense, Hancock averages 373. Those numbers are solid, not spectacular, yet both teams have scored at a good clip. The Jaguars average 37 points a game, the Bulldogs average 30.
The teams are eight yards apart in average total yards a game given up. Southwestern allows 278. Hancock allows 286. Both squads have also yielded low point totals, with 18 points a game against the Jaguars and 19 a game against the Bulldogs.
Both teams' running games have been productive, though there is some difference there.
Three rotating backs, Ryheem Skinner, Damon Whitmill Jr. and Isaac Bausley, have combined for 195 of Hancock's 242 yards a game rushing, and 15 rushing touchdowns. Skinner (89 yards a game, seven rushing touchdowns) has been Hancock's most productive ball-carrier.
Isaiah Strayhorn has carried most of the rushing load for Southwestern. He has rushed for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has accounted for nearly half of the Jaguars' 178 yards a game rushing.
Facing one back who carries most of their opponent's rushing load has been common for the Bulldogs' defense, and the unit has handled that well. Multiple opponents have given up on the rushing game fairly early in the second half.
Like Hancock quarterback Jimmy Kelleher, Southwestern QB Damonte Morris has been fairly efficient. They have both thrown 10 touchdown passes. Morris has thrown just two interceptions. Kelleher has thrown nine, but just two of those came in league games.
Both teams have a premier pass rusher and an effective pass rush. Hancock's Osa Omokaro led the Pacific League in sacks with 12. Southwestern's Duran Miller led the Mountain League in sacks with 9.5.
It was unknown at press time just what each team's injury situation was,and the status of three of Hancock's four leading receivers was unknown at press time.
The Bulldogs' leading receiver, Nick Kimball, was out in Hancock's 29-24 win over Citrus last week because of an injury he suffered the week before. Michael Ferraro suited up last week but did not play. Dominic Chance was knocked out early with an injury.
Three Southwestern receivers average more than 50 yards a game in receptions. Ryan Stokes led the Mountain League in touchdown catches with six, and Cameron Lewis is the Jaguars' reception yardage leader, at 65 a game.
In league play, Hancock has been more efficient at scoring touchdowns in the red zone, converting 15 of its 22 chances to Southwestern's 11 of 20.
Four local teams and two area individuals will compete at the CIF Southern Section Cross Country Finals at the Riverside City Cross Country Course Saturday.
St. Joseph squads will race in the Division 5 Girls race at 7:45 a.m. and the Division 5 Boys race at 8:25 a.m. St. Joseph junior Joseph Domingues Jr. won his heat at the preliminaries last week.
Cabrillo's boys will race in the Division 3 race at 9:25 a.m. Arroyo Grande's boys will race in Division 2 at 10:05 a.m.
Orcutt Academy's Mackenzie Webb will run in the Division 5 Girls race, and Devin Diaz of Nipomo will race in the Division 4 Boys race at 10:45 a.m.
The top seven teams in each division will advance to the CIF state championships that will take place Nov. 26 at Woodward Park in Fresno. The top five individuals from non-qualifying teams Saturday will move on if they finish in the top 20 overall.