The Rancho Cotate Cougars’ biggest problem all season has been consistency. If the offense plays well, the defense doesn’t and vice versa. Tuesday night against Cardinal Newman the defense played well, but the offense didn’t. The Cougars were hoping Saturday night would be better. It was for a half; then it all fell came apart like a bad dream you aren’t able to wake up from.
After jumping out to a 23-0 lead, early in the third quarter, the wheels started to come off. Following a Ryan Kane touchdown run and defensive stop, the Cougars inserted senior quarterback Jacob Greiner into the game and his first play was a fumble that the Windsor Jaguars recovered and scored on a few plays later. That was the start of the Cougars giving up 28 unanswered points en route to a shocking 28-23 loss.
For those in attendance it probably made no sense what they had just witnessed. Incredible comebacks happen occasionally in sports, but they’re never not shocking when they do. The Cougars looked like they had found the magic sauce on offense in the first half only to see that disappear once the game got tight. Kane, the starting quarterback wasn’t able to muster up any response to the Jaguars run and the Cougars were consumed by momentum.
During the comeback, the Jaguars also forced a fumble and exploited some holes in the Cougars defense. The Jaguars went back to the same well that burned the Cougars in 2019, Nico Contreras. Contreras was locked up pretty well by Sophomore Sailasa Vadrawale but still ended up with two touchdowns. Head Coach Gehrig Hotaling didn’t think the Cougars handled adversity well Tuesday night and that certainly carried over to Saturday night as well.
We have to remember though, the Cougars are a very young team, so these growing pains are part of the process. Having these growing pains now will only make the team better in the end. Young teams tend to blow leads more than experienced teams and the Cougars showed flashes Saturday night of what the offense can be next season with Kane at the helm. Also, the Cougars were playing two games in a week, something that never happens for high school. So, it’s very possible the Cougars ran out of gas in the fourth quarter since they only had three days of recovery between games.
Saturday’s offense for the Cougars looked more like the 2019 version. The staple of the Cougars 2019 offense was the vertical passing game, something that had been lacking the first two games of this season. Saturday night that seemed to come back. Kane’s first touchdown of the night came on a long pass to senior Gianni Gigliello, Kane also hit Vadrawale and Jordan Broderick down the field.
In a season like this it’s important to look for bright spot and to build for next season. Next Friday’s game against Cardinal Newman will give the Cougars a chance to see if they are still improving which is the most important thing for any team.