In what was seen as the last tune up before start of NBL play, the Rancho Cotate Cougars got outplayed on both sides of the football by the Cougars of Campolindo High School. Campolindo won the game 34-14 and dominated from beginning to end. At one point, Campolindo led the game 27-0. This game will serve as a coaching moment for Gehrig Hotaling, much like the opening night loss to Sacramento High School was.
Hotaling knows NBL play won’t be easy as the Cougars play rival Cardinal Newman this Friday. The Cardinals are a team capable of making the state Championship game, so this game won’t be easy for the Cougars. Sometimes losing can serve as a good lesson because it tests a team’s mental toughness and lets them know they are not invincible.
The Cougars are building toward the NCS Playoffs, so every game, every practice is something new for them. Friday night’s loss should serve as a good reminder of their goal.
“They’re big, they’re strong and a heck of a football team,” Hotaling said. “We tried our best, but we just couldn’t get control of the line of scrimmage.”
This quote by Hotaling summed up the game for the Cougars. This was the first time all year where the Cougars seemed overmatched up front. In every other game they were winning in the trenches which meant getting constant pressure on the quarterback and having a consistent running game.
If a team is unable to control the line of scrimmage it’s difficult for them to find a rhythm. The Cougars’ defense came up with some big plays to try to spark the team, but it wasn’t meant to be on this night.
The Cougars also had some sloppiness that Coach Hotaling wasn’t happy about. The Cougars jumped offside on 4th down and 1 giving Campolindo a first down and then did it again three plays later. Campolindo would go on to score on this drive and put the nail in the coffin.
Some would say this was the key drive of the game. The Cougars, after being behind 27-0, had just scored 14 unanswered and with one defensive stop would have the chance to keep the momentum going they had gained.
“If we can’t fix that (jumping offsides), if we can’t go when the ball is snapped, we aren’t going to beat many teams this year,” Hotaling said.
Those two plays illustrate the sloppy night it was for the Cougars. Hotaling was not happy with how sloppy the team played and blamed himself for some of the first half miscues.
“Penalty here, wrong route there, pass protection error here,” Hotaling said. “Those kill drives. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility. I’m responsible for the offense and we’ve got to do our best to straighten it out.”
Fixing the penalties is important, not only for the game against Cardinal Newman, but for the rest of NBL play as well.
Though the Cougars didn’t play well, however, they did find a rhythm late in the game which might carry over into next week. Also, the Cougars have a home game against their rival. Returning home after a two-game road trip will be good for the team and they should be more refreshed for Newman. The game starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, so come out and support the team.