Rancho Cotate proved itself the bigger cougar in their battle against Campolindo Friday, Sept. 7th with a 35-21 victory.
It wasn’t an easy fight, and it was far closer than the final tally makes it seem. Both teams entered the stadium undefeated, but it was Rancho Cotate that walked away with their perfect record unblemished. It now stands at 4-0 for the season.
“These wins are hard to come by. We’re talking about four times in a row section champions,” said Gehrig Hotaling, head coach for the Rancho Cotate Cougars. “That is a premium program. To be able to do what we did is a tribute to the kids. It was unbelievably fun.”
The match didn’t start off well for Rancho Cotate. Compalindo kicked off, but after three quick passing attempts, Rancho remained pretty much exactly where they began. So they punted, but a flubbed snap forced them to run defense at their own 34 yard line just a few plays into the game.
Campolindo shoved the line of scrimmage closer and closer to the end zone with an aggressive passing game. Eventually all Compolindo’s running back, Michael Brewer, had to do was walk the ball in for a touchdown.
“We had the worst 7-10 play start you can imagine. It was the first time we had really faced adversity,” Hotaling said. “We talked about it all week: we have to be tough.” And Rancho Cotate was tough.
In what can only be described as an about-face, Hotaling shifted his team’s strategy to focus on their running game. He put forth a single play with a simple objective: shove the running back through the other team.
Central to this was the Rancho Cotate offensive line. They supported running backs Rasheed Rankin and Sumari Jones in a brutal series of hammer blows against the Compalindo defense. Together Rankin and Jones dragged the ball up the field through the Compalindo linebackers and deposited it 6 yards from the end-zone.
A short pass to tight end Trevor Lee evened up the score.
“We had no answers for just about anything they did,” said Kevin Macy, the Compalindo head coach. “Rancho Cotate was bigger and stronger. We didn’t have one kid that could get anyone off their body. A lot of our guys are beat up and bruised right now.”
Rancho took the lead and didn’t let go in the second quarter. Quarterback Jared Stocker fired off a long pass to wide receiver Jack Reese, who caught the ball and ran off for the goal post with all of Compalindo at his tail.
Reese later went on to score another touchdown that quarter—this time from a 22- yard pass deep in the end zone. Despite intimate coverage by Compolindo’s defensive end Cooper Davis, Reese caught the ball and put Rancho Cotate solidly ahead. They maintained a two touchdown lead through the rest of the game.
Rancho Cotate’s offense impressed Hotaling that night. Earlier in the season, Hotaling expressed some trepidation on his offense’s capabilities as he’d lost a good portion of his starting players the year before to graduation. The game against Compalindo seems to have put many of those worries to rest, however.
“They put their signature on this team tonight. They got 100 percent in tune with each other and it happened right before our eyes,” Hotaling said, speaking on his offense’s performance. “It was a beautiful thing to watch.”
Next up Rancho Cotate will face off against Pleasant Valley in Rohnert Park Friday, Sep. 14th.