It’s a bitter taste and one the Rancho Cotate Cougars aren’t familiar with, but they got their first heaping helping Friday, Sep. 28th against their rival, Cardinal Newman, at Ed Lloyd Field with a 42-21 loss.
The Cougars went into their first league match undefeated, and their legacy of conquests weren’t small time, either. Some of the best teams in California broke themselves against the Cougar defensive line.
But the Cardinals had a similar history, with only one loss on their record for the season.
“The first half was basic football fundamentals that we couldn’t get right. That was pretty much the story of the game. Everything that could go wrong went wrong in the first half,” said Gehrig Hotaling, Cougars’ head coach. “I thought the bye-week
‘Rout’ see page 8
‘Rout’ from page1
was a good time for us, but it ended up hurting us because we weren’t ready for a bye. We weren’t ready for game tempo right off the bat. That matters when you don’t play for two weeks.”
To say the game got off to a bad start for the Cougars would be an understatement. The initial kickoff went all the way to the end zone, but Cardinal’s running back, Giancarlo Woods, snatched it up and took off. He ran the ball 98 yards and scored the Cardinal’s first touchdown of the game.
It was not going to be their last.
The Cougars managed to stabilize the game for the next ten minutes or so, exchanging possession with the Cardinals a few times. Then Cardinal running back, Shane Moran, found a hole in the Cougar defensive line. He took the ball right up the center for 35 yards and put the Cardinals firmly in the lead.
That’s not to say that the Cardinals had it all their own way. Early in the second quarter, Cougar running back, Rasheed Rankin, powered through the Cardinal defenses for a 53 yard return that moved his team, for the first time in the game, into prime scoring position. They took advantage of that placement just few plays later when Cougar quarterback, Jared Stocker, completed a 15- yard pass to his wide receiver, Riley Cronin, in the end zone.
Touchdown Cougars. They were on the board.
“We’re a good team. This doesn’t show what we really are,” Cronin said. “We haven’t played our best brand of football yet. We came out soft, we came out slow. I know we’ll fire back for Windsor.”
It wasn’t enough, though. As if to punish them for daring to score, the Cardinals went on to land another three touchdowns in a five- minute span of time. It was brutal and hard to watch, and as the final seconds of the first half ticked away, a downcast and demoralized Cougars marched off the field.
The Cougars staged a bit of a rally throughout the rest of the second half, but by then the Cardinal’s lead lay well outside their reach.
“This ain’t playoffs and the season ain’t over,” Hotaling said. “We’ve got a lot of football left in us—and we’ve beat some damn good teams already. We’re getting back to basics Monday, I’ll tell you that. If we do that—execute the basics—we’re going to play well against Windsor.”
After the game, the Cougars gathered around in a huddle to discuss the loss. Hotaling seemed to blame himself for the team’s performance.
“I’m sorry you were unprepared—that’s on me. I’m going to find a way to be a better coach for you,” Hotaling said.
Rancho Cotate’s next game is against the Windsor Jaguars. It will take place on their homecoming night.