|Rancho Cotate rolls over Ukiah
Cougars expect feisty tussle with Vikings in home game tonight
One thing Rancho Cotate football coach Ed Conroy isn’t concerned about heading into tonight’s (Oct. 5) game at Cougar Stadium with Montgomery of Santa Rosa is his team’s focus. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Granted, the Cougars have stormed to a 5-0 record (2-0 in the North Bay League), including a 35-0 pasting of Ukiah on the road on Sept. 28. And the Vikings (1-4 overall, 0-2 in the NBL) are still smarting from being crushed by Cardinal Newman 55-0. But for some reason, according to Conroy, the Vikings find ways to make things difficult for the Cougars. Last year’s game was a good example.
The Vikings last year frustrated the Cougars’ offense, holding Rancho Cotate to minus-15 yards total offense in the first half. The Cougars managed to wear down Montgomery in the second half to pull away 24-3. Conroy naturally expects his offense to perform better than it did last year, but he also believes Vikings coach Jason Franci will have his charges ready to atone for last week’s embarrassment against Cardinal Newman.
“I think Jason has done such a good job for so long, his players love him like a dad or granddad and want to play hard for him and each other,” Conroy said. “I don’t expect anything different. It kind of seems personal for us when we play Montgomery. It just seems like it’s become a rivalry game for us.”
Members of both teams participated in a passing league during the summer. And according to Conroy, it got a little feisty.
“Some games you’re naturally up for; you don’t have to worry about them getting ready and alert,” Conroy said. “This is one of those games.”
The running of Jalon Luque and a staunch defense were more than enough for the Cougars to offset a lackluster performance in the first half. The Cougars were tagged with 11 first-half penalties yet still led 21-0.
Luque ran for 205 yards and three touchdowns, while linebacker Fono Misi spearheaded a stubborn defense with 16 tackles. Ty Brantley and Tanoa Peleti contributed to the defensive effort with 11 and nine tackles, respectively.
The defensive effort also was bolstered by interceptions by Carlos Soto, freshman Chris Taylor-Yamanoha and Misi.
Rancho Cotate’s offensive line sprung Luque for a 65-yard scoring run in the first quarter. It turned out to be the only score the Cougars would need. The Cougars added two more scores on a 10-yard quarterback keeper by Michael Courchaine and a 15-yard score by Luque.
A 25-yard touchdown pass from Courchaine to Thomas Sory in the third quarter extended the lead to 28-0. Luque’s 64-yard touchdown run in the third quarter finished the scoring.
Tonight’s game begins a string where the Cougars play four of their final games at home. Next week, Rancho Cotate hosts Casa Grande of Petaluma for its homecoming game.
In some areas, particularly the running game, the Cougars have exceeded Conroy’s expectations. This is especially true considering the Cougars have incorporated more of the spread offense into their system and are throwing the ball more than ever before.
Rancho Cotate quarterback Michael Courchaine has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and has thrown only three interceptions this year.
“We’re trying to balance between doing both – running and passing,” Conroy said. “We didn’t want to do both and be just OK, so that’s something we have to work on.”
Also, Conroy said he’d like to see improved play on special teams.
“We worked on that a little bit more this week,” Conroy said. “We gave up a blocked punt against Alhambra. We tried a fake punt against Petaluma and just didn’t execute it. And there are a lot of little things you have to stay on top of as you’re going along.”