Cougars take field in scrimmage with Vallejo Saturday
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By Dave Williams  August 30, 2013 12:00 am

Fans can get their first glimpse of the Rancho Cotate High School football teams on Saturday night when the Cougars scrimmage against Vallejo High from the Sac-Joaquin Section at Cougar Stadium.

The Cougars, the defending North Bay League champions and runners-up in the North Coast Section Div. II, have quite a few holes to fill, as many key players were lost to graduation. But head coach Ed Conroy is confident he’ll field another solid team.

The most important vacancy is at the quarterback position. Michael Courchaine led the Cougars to a 13-1 record and a spot in the NCS title game. He set a school record for touchdown passes in a single season with 21. 

Sophomore Gunnar Mefford is penciled in as the starter and has a prime target to throw to in fellow sophomore Chris Taylor-Yamanoha. Both played on the varsity level last year, although Mefford didn’t see much playing time.

Gone from the Cougars’ standout defense are lineman A.J. Davison and Nick Reynolds, and linebacker Fono Misi. And one of Conroy’s major concerns is his team’s ability to formulate a pass rush. Tanoa Peleti returns to anchor the line, but he’ll need help.

“Defensive line is a little bit of a question,” Conroy said. “We have one kid on D-line who had a sack. 

“Can we pressure QB? I think we’ll be OK against run, but it’s a matter of who’s going to develop a pass rush.”

The Cougars appear solid on the back end of the defense with starting corners Joshua Belda and Yamanoha. 

“We have two corners who were best in the league last year,” Conroy said. “We may have the best tandem around in Belda and Yamanoha.”

Conroy expressed concerns about the offensive line before the start of practices, but he’s grown more confident as the workouts have gone by.

“We graduated a lot of kids on the offensive line and it was a question mark during the summer, but we’ve made a lot of progress in that area,” Conroy said.

Rancho Cotate’s freshman and junior varsity team will combine for a scrimmage against Vallejo beginning at 5 p.m. Vallejo does not field a freshmen team, so the Cougars’ freshmen will have a stiff challenge.

The varsity teams take the field at 7 p.m.

“I think this is more about what we do and how we play than anything Vallejo does,” Conroy said. “We’re looking to see if the kids really understand what we do and how they adjust.” 

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