Cougars clobber Carrillo
Mefferd shines as RC victorious on homecoming
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By Dave Williams  November 1, 2013 12:00 am

Tonight’s football game between Rancho Cotate High and Cardinal Newman High of Santa Rosa offers one of the rare times in recent memory where the winner of this game will not have the inside track on the North Bay League championship.

Both the Cougars (5-3 overall, 3-2 NBL) and Cardinals (6-2, 4-1) are looking up at Casa Grande and Montgomery in the league standings. Montgomery and Newman share identical league records, but the Vikings have the edge on the strength of their earlier victory over the Cardinals. The Cougars have lost to both Casa Grande and Montgomery. Tonight’s game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Cardinal Newman High.

Rancho Cotate, however, comes into this game fresh off what head coach Ed Conroy said was the Cougars’ best offensive performance of the season. More importantly, sophomore quarterback Gunner Mefferd threw the ball with confidence in the Cougars’ 42-28 victory on Oct. 25. Mefferd threw five touchdown passes in the victory, including three to fellow sophomore Chris Taylor-Yamanoha, whom Conroy also said had his best game of the season.

The Cougars have developed a maddening pattern this season of playing excellent football at home while struggling mightily on the road. All of their wins have come within the confines of Cougar Stadium, while their losses have all come in away games. Their average margin of victory is 35-12 at home, while their average margin of defeat in road games is 42-9.

“It’s one of those things where…well, that’s just the way this team is this year,” Conroy said. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it. But one thing I know about this team is the guys will come out and compete.”

It was a significant night for the Cougars, who honored their graduating seniors prior to the game, because it was homecoming and their final home game of the season. But it was the young players who made the most impact early.

Mefford and Taylor-Yamanoha connected for a pair of touchdown passes in the first quarter to put the Cougars up 13-0.

“There were a couple of times when Chris just went up and took the ball away from the defenders,” Conroy said. “A couple of passes could have been intercepted, but Chris made great plays on the ball.”

The Cougars also got a strong rushing effort from Carlos Franco, who rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown.

Rancho Cotate may not need to be letter perfect tonight against Newman, but the Cougars had better play as close to mistake-free football as they can because Conroy knows the Cardinals can make his team pay dearly for each mistake.

“Here we go again with Newman,” Conroy said. “They’re always good, and they’re always well-coached. And their quarterback will probably be the most accurate one we’ll play this year.”

Conroy is speaking of Cardinal Newman senior quarterback Keaton Dunsford, who was 25 of 35 for 271 yards against Windsor last week.

“He’s been on target all year, and he’d have better numbers if it weren’t for some dropped passes,” Conroy said. Kevin Lucey caught 10 of Dunsford’s passes for 121 yards.

“One thing about Newman is they get a lot of yards after the catch,” Conroy said. “I think our defense has played well this year, but we’ll have to make sure we tackle well.”

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