Northwest duo brings the reign to California’s Central Coast

City+College+running+back+Cedric+Cooper+%28left%29+and+quarterback+Brandon+Edwards+set+up+to+do+a+quick+handoff+at+Leadbetter+beach%2C+Wednesday%2C+Nov.+5%2C+in+Santa+Barbara%2C+Calif.+The+two+athletes+embrace+the+sunny+beach%2C+coming+from+Seattle%2C+Wash.

Nicole Wong

City College running back Cedric Cooper (left) and quarterback Brandon Edwards set up to do a quick handoff at Leadbetter beach, Wednesday, Nov. 5, in Santa Barbara, Calif. The two athletes embrace the sunny beach, coming from Seattle, Wash.

STEVEN WELLBROCK, Sports Editor

On a sideline drenched in sunshine, the sound of rain falling onto a football helmet is but a distant memory for two players.

Instead, the noise is replaced by the sound of their teammates celebrating a touchdown, slapping helmets and high fiving efforts.

The play was a seven-yard score on a handoff by quarterback Brandon Edwards (No. 8) to his running back Cedric Cooper (No. 9). The players retreated to the sideline in search for water…which they’re actually used to playing in.

The duo comes from the Pacific Northwest. Both from towns just outside Seattle, the players traded clouds and rainfall for blue skies and tan lines. When deciding on which school’s to apply to in high school, there’s one common factor for students who live in the Pacific Northwest.

Sunshine.

“One of my receivers in high school came down here to play football,” said Edwards. “He kept posting pictures on Facebook of the area, and I liked it a lot.”

 

The light bulb turns on

On rainy fall days spent indoors, the common Washingtonian dreams of a college where you wait for class on a beach soaking up the vitamin D they have been sold short of in high school.

Wouldn’t that be the life?

Luckily City College has given students the closest thing to just that.

Roughly a football field length away from soft sand and crashing waves, sits, well… a football field with soft field turf and crashing shoulder pads.

“So I messaged him and asked about down here. He said it was really nice… it was right on the beach. I said ‘that’s perfect.’ Oh, and it’s (academically) the number one junior college in the nation,” Edwards said with a grin.

So the ex-baseball player, who split time at quarterback at Inglemoor high school, moved to Santa Barbara with no expectation to play football. Instead, he found his calling on complete accident.

“Last year with one of the receivers on the team, I was just playing catch with him at the park,” said Edwards. “He said ‘I like your arm’ and he wanted me to come try out for football.”

Edwards didn’t realize how serious the inquiry was until his inbox held an email from head football coach Craig Moropoulos.

“It was a huge plot twist kind of,” he said.

 

Switching up the game

The 6’3” freshman went out for spring practice and was dropped into the quarterback competition at La Playa Stadium.

As for Cooper, football was always his game plan. He attended Arizona Western College straight out of national powerhouse Skyline high school as a preferred walk on. But once things didn’t work out in Arizona, he too came to the Central Coast on gut feeling.

“It was just real random,” said Cooper. “I had a friend who was coming (to City College). He didn’t end up coming here but he put me in contact with the coaches.”

The former Spartan has a Washington State championship ring from 2012. His alma mater has seven state championships since the year 2000, including rings from 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, losing the state title game in 2010, reaching six title games in a row.

There’s a good chance the two players crossed paths in high school, going to schools 19 miles away from one another. They both played in the class 4A KingCo league.

“I actually always wanted to go to Skyline when I was younger,” said Edwards. “My cousin was a running back there…three out of the four years he was there he won a state championship.”

So the two were rid of any chance of playing together in high school. But the Santa Barbara faithful sure are glad they regained that chance this fall. When watching the offense perform, a sense of chemistry reveals itself, and you can see it in the numbers.

That chemistry was fully displayed Sept. 27 against West LA when Edwards pitched the ball to Cooper (video), splitting out left and instead, catching a touchdown pass himself from his running back.

After the game Edwards acknowledged the connection the two have.

“We have the same locker right next to each other,” said Edwards. “We talk to each other every day.”

City College quarterback Brandon Edwards (right) and running back Cedric Cooper at Leadbetter Beach, Wednesday, Nov. 5, in Santa Barbara, Calif. The two athletes traveled from Seattle, Wash. to Santa Barbara to attend City College and have helped lead the team to seven consecutive wins and its first bowl game birth in 18 years.
Nicole Wong
City College quarterback Brandon Edwards (right) and running back Cedric Cooper at Leadbetter Beach, Wednesday, Nov. 5, in Santa Barbara, Calif. The two athletes traveled from Seattle, Wash. to Santa Barbara to attend City College and have helped lead the team to seven consecutive wins and its first bowl game birth in 18 years.

 

Controlling the Game

Cooper leads all running backs in touchdowns with seven (five rushing, two receiving), racking up 526 all-purpose yards in the process. A team who inputs five running backs into their offense each game, Cooper simply makes the most out of each touch he gets.

As for Edwards, totaling 1,142 yards on the season, 181.5 per game, Edwards has passed for 15 touchdowns, which is enough for second most in the conference.

“I’m really proud of how far he’s come,” said Moropoulos. “He throws a really tight ball. He’s a baseball player so he has a great release.”

Moropoulos gets a good amount of credit for the success of the young team with 58 freshmen on the roster.

“He’s been real helpful. I feel like I can go up and talk to him about everything,” said Cooper.

“He’s taught me…everything I know about football. I came here not really knowing how to read a defense. We’ve worked a lot. I’m in his office four to five days a week.”

Three other players from the Evergreen state join Edwards and Cooper on the team. Sophomore Jay Terry (No. 91) who leads the team in tackles is from Bainbridge Island, 10 miles west of the Space needle. Orion Prescott (No. 21) who is the teams third leading rusher, hails from John F. Kennedy High School in Burien. And Brayden McCombs (No. 61) took his talents from Zillah High school in Eastern WA.

 

Settling into the beach life

So a different setting from The Emerald City, the guys are here to play football. When asked the biggest shift from life up north, the answer was simply put.

“Probably just the beach. (The game isn’t) really that much different to me,” said Cooper. “Playing wise, I’m on the field. It’s the same. But the thing that’s really different to me is the beach.”

Settling in just fine in their new environment, they have lead the Vaqueros to seven straight wins, qualifying for the team for their first bowl game in 18 years.

The season is nearing an end, but it’s already one for the books. As their game grows, the two from the rain city are making a definite splash in the football program. The battle for the throne titled “offensive MVP” has already been a long debate.

But surely the two can share the wealth.

Plus, Santa Barbara needed a little reign anyways.