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There was a time in the distant past when Ventura College had what was just another junior college football program.

That time seems like a distant memory.

Ventura has been a juggernaut in recent years. The first Southern California Football Association rankings of 2018 are not due out until Monday but, in the won-lost department, the Pirates are picking up where they left off.

They are 2-0 and will try to extend their perfection for this young season when they take on Hancock College (1-0) at Hancock in a non-league game. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. Saturday in the Bulldogs' season home opener.

The Pirates have beaten Orange Coast 24-20 and Saddleback 34-19. Both teams are 0-2. Hancock beat Los Angeles Valley (1-1) 26-14 last Saturday night for 18th-year coach Kris Dutra's school record 101st win at Hancock.

Ryheem Skinner rushed for 212 yards and two Hancock touchdowns in that one. The Bulldogs also got a lot of help by way of 238 penalty yards against the Monarchs.

The Bulldogs won despite turning the ball over five times (three lost fumbles, two interceptions) to the Monarchs' none. Hancock prevailed partly because its rushing game, with 371 yards, was even more robust than usual.

Jay Vanderjagt, the son of former Hancock College and long-time professional kicker Mike Vanderjagt, is Ventura's quarterback. Mike Vanderjagt retired after the 2008 Canadian Football League season as the most accurate kicker in CFL and NFL history.

As for Jay, he has completed 55.6 percent of his passes this year. Jay Vanderjagt averages 129 yards passing a game. He has thrown two touchdown passes and one interception.

Ventura's biggest threat on offense is sophomore running back Thomas Duckett. Duckett has already run for three touchdowns this year. He averages 111 yards rushing a game and leads the National Division's Northern League in both categories.

Hancock, a former Northern League member, plays in the American Division's Pacific League.

The Bulldogs' run defense has been sturdy in the recent past (defense was the strongest part of Hancock's overall game in an 8-3 2017 which included a Pacific League championship). The Pirates figure to test it Saturday.

Their run defense hasn't been exactly stellar. Ventura gives up slightly more on the ground (170 yards a game) than it does through the air (166).

Ventura freshman Heyden Nease and Hancock sophomore Isaac Bausley have boon good secondary backs for their respective teams early in the season. Nease averages 64 yards a game, 6.1 yards a carry and has scored twice. Bausley ran for a total of 53 yards, and a touchdown, on 13 carries last Saturday night.

Hancock wide receiver Alex Cecchi missed almost all of last season with an injury. He had a big game at L.A. Valley, with a team-leading four receptions for 54 yards. Cecchi also ran for a score.

Thomas Carr, Hancock's starting quarterback, was fairly efficient in the win at L.A. Valley. He was 8-for-14 for 125 yards, though he did throw an interception.

Hancock had some concerns at linebacker going into its season opener, but freshman 'backer Jordan Bowden led the team in tackles at L.A. Valley with seven.

Both teams have incurred their share of penalty yardage. Hancock was hit with 145 yards in accepted penalties last Saturday night. Ventura has been flagged for an average of 125 accepted penalty yards a game.

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Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at jbailey@leecentralcoastnews.com or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jbaileysmsports

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