|Luque, Cougars run over Trojans 39-0
Rancho Cotate faces defending NCS Div. II champ Windsor next
Coach Ed Conroy said Rancho Cotate High's football team played most of the first half of Friday night's non-league game against Petaluma like it practiced during the week - sluggish. But he knew it was only a matter of time before the Cougars would take the measure of overmatched Petaluma.
The Cougars overpowered the Trojans 39-0, marking the Cougars' third consecutive shutout of Petaluma and the first time since 2008 they have started a season 3-0.
"Petaluma actually executed their offense well in the first half...better than we did," Conroy said. "Um...I don't really like saying things like this, but we're a better team. We have more talent, and that's the only reason we won this game tonight. We didn't have a good week of practice. We'll take the win, but you'd like to practice well during the week and have it show on the field. It didn't happen like that this week."
One huge talent advantage the Cougars enjoyed over Petaluma was at running back. Jalon Luque ran through the Trojans' defense for 200 yards on only seven carries, including two touchdowns. He also caught a pass for 19 yards. Luque was in total agreement with his coach's assessment.
"We know we didn't have a great practice week, and we know we'll have to step it up this week," Luque said.
As for his yardage total, Luque said, "I put all those yards on our offensive line. I got a lot of yards, but those holes I was running through were huge, and that's because of the line."
The Cougars step up in class next Friday when they face Windsor in the NBL opener. The Jaguars are in their inaugural NBL season but, despite a 1-2 record bring solid credentials from the Sonoma County League. They just happen to be the defending North Coast Section Div. II champions. Windsor dropped a 25-20 decision to Washington of Fremont on Friday.
"Our league is very tough, and you're not going to beat teams like Casa, Cardinal Newman or Windsor when you practiced the way we did last week," Conroy said. "And those are the teams you have to beat if you're going to win our league."
Luque's first touchdown, 69 yards, came on the Cougars' second possession for the game's first score with 5:33 left in the first. Courchaine extended the Cougars' lead to two touchdowns with a 9-yard score on a quarterback keeper with 4:33 remaining in the second quarter. His score capped a five-play 39-yard drive that was set up with a fumble recovery by Fono Misi.
The Cougars upped the lead to 20-0 on another 9-yard scoring run by Courchaine to cap a six-play 76-yard drive with 59 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Three key plays in the drive included passes of 35, 11 and 19 yards to Carlos Soto, Tyriq Burton and Luque.
The Cougars actually had two more decent chances to score in the first half, but Petaluma cornerback Danny Murphy picked off two Courchaine passes deep in Rancho Cotate territory. One of those picks was in the end zone.
It didn't take long for the Cougars to change the scoreboard again as Luque burst off tackle for a 75-yard touchdown run on the their first play of the second half. Rodrigo Perez's kick pushed the lead to 27-0.
Rancho Cotate took advantage of a short put and drove 48 yards in four plays for a touchdown. Malik Newton rambled into the end zone from 11 yards out. Perez's kick gave the Cougars a 34-0 lead with 6:36 left in the third.
The defense got into the act on Petaluma's ensuing possession by trapping the Trojans in the end zone for a safety to give the Cougars a 36-0 lead. Perez booted a 39-yard field goal with 4:41 remaining for the game's final score.