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C.J. Cole only touched the football three times on Saturday at Doerr Field on the Cal Poly campus.

But the St. Joseph High grad collected a combined 110 yards and found the end zone once during the Mustang’s annual spring football game – and that one touchdown stretched 72 yards while bursting through the middle of the Mustang defense.

While playing in front of family, friends and the Mustang fans who all stood alongside the walls at the newly christened practice field, Cole clearly stole the show and looked like his old, electric self in the white Cal Poly uniform.

And Cole headlines this week’s Zo’s Gold Mines.

The Record office recalls Cole being the workhorse capable of producing a 200- or 300-yard night. I still remember the 305-yard evening he delivered in the 33-0 shutout of Pioneer Valley back in 2016 – which was one of the first football games I got to cover for the Times.

Sure, spring games are practice and Cole wasn’t running amok on Montana State or UC Davis. But I saw a C.J. Cole who looked like a new, improved version of himself in this spring game.

He also played like a man who no longer wants to wait his turn to carry the load in the triple option. Cole let it be known on those three touches that he’s done waiting and standing on the sidelines. He wants to carry and score.

I wasn’t the only one who was in awe of how he performed. So was my colleague Kenny Cress. So was Cal Poly strength and conditioning coach Sara McKenzie who’s been trying to get Cole right for the fall season. And so was Cole’s running back coach Aristotle Thompson.  

I’ll say it: Don’t be shocked if Cole is the lead back moving forward – especially in the post Joe Protheroe era.

Other gold mines:

Matt Shotwell and Fenton Will, Cal Poly football: The Santa Barbara County boys were relentless on defense at the Saturday spring game. Shotwell, the Bishop Diego grad, and Will, who teamed with Cole at St. Joseph, combined for more than 10 tackles while rotating at linebacker.

Jared Torres, Lompoc High boys swimming: Torres is returning to the CIF Southern Section finals field after earning high marks in the 200 free (1:50.17) and the 500 free (4:58.70). 

Cailin Daniels, Lompoc High boys track and field: Only a sophomore, Daniels was a triple winner at the Channel League finals last week. The sprinter and jumper claimed first in the long jump, triple jump and helped anchor the boys’ 4x100 relay team at Santa Ynez. He went on to win his first-ever Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table Male Athlete of the Week award.

Neta Ofiaeli, Santa Ynez girls track and field: She too was a triple winner at her home track last week: Winning the 100, 200 and triple jump. And she’s only a freshman still learning the varsity game.

Santa Ynez girls track and field: It didn’t take long for the Pirates to make their presence known in the Channel League – as all 21 members secured their first league finals championship last week.

Josh Rodriguez, Righetti wrestling: Rodriguez flew all the way down to Argentina to compete in the 2019 Pan American Championship at Buenos Aires – and came back to the United States after winning gold in the freestyle competition.

Jon Osborne, Cabrillo baseball: What. A. Career. Osborne spent three decades leading baseball teams in the Central Valley and Central Coast – but made his greater impact in Vandenberg Village by producing multiple league champions, perennial playoff teams, future baseball prep head coaches and of course, a future World Series champion in Danny Duffy.

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