|Cougars likely to take to air in 2012 season
Retooled offense debuts on road vs. Alhambra
You won’t be living in a parallel universe this football season if Rancho Cotate head coach Ed Conroy is truly committed to putting the ball in the air much more than in years past.
Primarily running the football has been the bedrock of Rancho Cotate football for nearly a quarter century. The running game has delivered a handful of league titles and a North Coast Section championship to Rancho Cotate, but Conroy, entering his 25th season, feels he has the tools to put the ball in the air. And it all starts with first-year starter Michael Courchaine at quarterback. Courchaine was the backup to Ricky Garcia last year.
Also, the Cougars will have a pair of freshmen on the team in running back/cornerback Chris Taylor-Yamonoha and cornerback/quarterback Gunner Mefford.
The Cougars, 9-4 last season, open the season tonight, Aug. 31, at Alhambra. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
The Cougars are looking to reclaim the top spot in the North Bay League, which they held in the 2010 season. Last year, the Cougars were inconsistent offensively and at times played to the level of their competition. Their season ended in similar fashion the past two years, with losses to Concord in the NCS playoffs.
If the Cougars are to make some noise again, it will be on the strength of a rock-solid defense led by linebacker Fono Misi, linemen AJ Davison and Shae Smith, linebacker Ty Brantley and strong safety Carlos Soto.
Offensively, it all depends on how quickly Courchaine can make the offense his own. And he’ll get more of an opportunity than previous Rancho Cotate quarterbacks because the Cougars will employ the spread offense, which has become the rage in colleges and high schools.
Courchaine will depend on offensive linemen Nick Reynolds and Steven DeSouza to play a major leadership role on the still developing offensive line. Jalon Luque will start at tailback, and Tommy Cavellero and Misi will be at fullback.
The NBL was strengthened this season with the addition of Windsor and Casa Grande and the departure of Elsie Allen and Piner. Windsor was the NCS Div. II section champion, while Casa Grande was a playoff team, which happened to lose in the second round to the Cougars.
Alhambra already has a game under its belt, having beaten College Park 38-27 on Aug. 24.