|Taylor-Yamanoha fields offers
In recent years Sonoma County football powerhouse RCHS has become synonymous with producing some of the North Coast Section’s most dominant players. Despite this, few have generated the attention of junior wide receiver Chris Taylor-Yamanoha.
The pressures that come along with being the first freshmen to start for head coach Ed Conroy’s charges soon slipped away after a leap of faith touchdown reception against Casa Grande gave the Cougars the lead just over nine minutes to go in the third quarter.
The momentum gained from this catch allowed Rancho to close the gap in what looked like a close game that wound up being a 28-7 blowout in favor of the Cougars over one of the league’s toughest competitors.
“Being able to play on an undefeated varsity team as a freshman has been the highlight of my football career so far,” Taylor-Yamanoha said. “Everyone’s really competitive and wants to win. My favorite moment was the special game against Casa Grande when I caught that jumping corner pass.”
Originally from Louisville, Ky., his family moved to Rohnert Park when he was 6, and he began to show his skill in Pop Warner around the age of 9. Since then, playing football in college has been his dream.
With three major universities now offering scholarships, his dream is soon set to become reality.
As the team’s go-to receiver, Yamanoha has opened doors for Rancho’s passing game, giving the Cougars an advantage in a league of teams mostly limited to a ground-based offense. Chris stands out just as much on defense, assuming a starting role at cornerback.
“I’m just as comfortable on defense as I am offense…special teams too,” he said.
Taylor-Yamanoha stands 6-feet-2 and weighs in at 180 pounds. He runs a 4.6 40-yard dash, along with a 33-inch vertical jump that defensive backs haven’t been able to match on the field.
He was named first team All-North Bay League as a receiver his freshman year and second-team All-NBL as a defensive back. He followed up in his sophomore year by nabbing first-team All-NBL at both cornerback and receiver. On top of that, he was second-team All-State for sophomores.
The space on Yamanoha’s letterman’s jacket is certainly filling up with the awards he’s won the past two years.
Over the last couple of years, he’s also excelled in basketball for his AAU team and track and field, but this year he plans on devoting all his time to strength and conditioning for football season.
“Basketball improved my ball handling skills and track made me faster, but it’s smarter to focus on football right now,” Yamanoha said.
He remains undecided on where he’ll attend college, a wise decision considering the 17-year-old has yet to begin his junior year.
Boise State and San Diego State have extended him scholarship offers.
Last week, he and his father toured Utah State, which is the most recent school to offer him a full ride. Then Tuesday, he visited San Jose State University, leading scouts to speculate that the Spartans will be the fourth MWC team to recruit Yamonoha.
“What’s most important to my family and me is that I go to college,” Yamanoha said. “I’m planning on studying Criminal Justice.”
He went on to say that he’s looking forward to competing at a higher level, where every player is very talented. Through hard work on the field and in the classroom, three Div. I universities are more than happy to provide Yamanoha with an opportunity for a quality education and a chance to play football at the highest level possible.
Until then, Cougar fans can look forward to seeing No. 6 in Navy blue making airborne catches in the red zone at Cougar Stadium. Rancho’s season kicks off Sept. 5 against Alhambra High School in Martinez. Also, be sure not to miss the Cougars’ first home game against American Canyon, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m.