Christopher High Cougars enter first varsity season eager and
They have been waiting a year. Now, the Christopher High Cougars are ready to pounce.
Their prey: the six other teams in the Monterey Bay League. Whether or not the attacks will be triumphant remains to be seen, but the groundwork for the method in which they will be executed has already been laid.
“I think they felt like they had some success last year,” head coach Tim Pierleoni said.” Maybe they are a little naive right now, but you are talking about kids who are really confident. They are really good kids that don’t quit.”
The Cougars have just 24 varsity players on the roster, there is no room for quitting.
With a foundation structured under the watchful and experienced eye of Pierleoni, the Christopher High football team has quickly grown from a bunch of junior varsity players, padded up for their first action as a team a year ago, to a quietly confident unit, gnawing at the bit to take on varsity-level opponents.
“We are ready to go,” junior defensive lineman Brad Sigl said. “We are kind of fired up in the aspect that we are going to be the underdogs and everyone thinks that this is an easy win on the schedules. We are fired up to prove everyone wrong.”
The pieces are in place at the skill positions – an upside for a young program that didn’t have to worry about losing any starters to graduation.
Jorge Ramos, a predominantly downhill runner who has the ability to cut it outside for a big gainer, will carry the brunt of the load at running back. Giving starting quarterback Brandon Pickens two reliable resources flanked wide are Marcus Harrell and Bryant Cid.
Harrell, who may see time lined up in the backfield as well as under center in a wildcat formation, is a true deep, down field threat, while Cid, who may also throw a pass or two, is a solid possession receiver.
“As a team we are just trying to take one game at a time,” Harrell said. “Overall the goal is to make the playoffs. We have the talent and the skill, we just need to be a little more discipline.
“Every practice (coach Pierleoni) has been preparing us to be mentally prepared for the games. He tells us this isn’t JV anymore.”
An area of discussion through the summer and into fall practice has been the offensive line and finding the right group to lead the way.
“Offensive line wise, we are extremely young and inexperienced and that’s a really important part of your team,” Pierleoni said. “We are trying to get some continuity on the line right now. I would say its are most challenging thing right now. It’s going to have to be there Friday night.”
Even with all the positives on the offensive side of the ball, the players are raving about their defense.
“We just have to get after it,” junior outside linebacker Travis Franco said. “We all have heart that’s for sure.”
Like a strong pitching rotation helps a club win a few more games, the Cougars defense could be the crutch at times that keeps the team on the winning side of the standings.
“I think we are semi-fast on defense and we run a scheme that not too many people are familiar with, which helps,” Pierleoni said. “It’s the old saying, you are going to win ball games on the defensive side. For a young team, we are going to have to hold our own on defense.”
Christopher hosts Sobrato to open the regular season Friday.
“I think everybody is going to be a little nervous, but I think we are going to show up and play right,” defensive end Dillon Babb said, who was eager to add, “get your popcorn ready,” paying ohmage to Terrell Owens.
Who to watch
Bryant Cid: WR/DB
Look for Cid to play a significant role at receiver this year, providing a reliable target for quarterback Brandon Pickens. Cid may even take a few snaps here and there in some special formations.
Marcus Harrell: Z/DB
The speedy junior with juke and jive his way around defenders all season – that’s if they can cover him for that long. The kid is quick.
Dillon Babb: FB/DE
A transfer from Oklahoma after his freshman year, Babb missed last year with a knee injury. But back with a vengeance, he is the real deal according to head coach Tim Pierleoni.
Patrick Mank: LB/OL
Pierleoni said Mank is, “just a tough football player.” Mank will have to be durable this season as the stout 5-foot-11, 200-pounder will play on both sides of the ball. regularly a linebacker, Mank volunteered to play on the O-line as well.
Manuel Avila: TE/DE
At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Avila will line up at tight end and defensive end. His work ethic in camp paid off, gaining notice from Pierlioni. “He worked his rear end off,” he said. “He is by far the most improved.”
Mark your calendars: The Cougars play their first Monterey Bay League contest Oct. 1 at Monterey. Crosstown rivals meet Week 10 and Christopher and Gilroy engage in the first of many gridiron battles.
9/3 7:30 p.m. Sobrato
9/10 7:30 p.m. Live Oak
9/18 1:00 p.m. @ Capuchino
10/1 7:30 p.m. @ Monterey*
10/8 7:30 p.m. Pajaro Valley*
10/16 1:00 p.m. MV Christian *
10/23 2:00 p.m. @ NM County*
10/29 TBA @ Seaside *
11/5 7:00 p.m. @ Watsonville *
11/12 7:30 p.m. @ Gilroy
*Monterey Bay League games
Home games in bold. All home games played at
Garcia-Elder Sports Complex
2010-11 Varsity roster
Number Ht/Wt. Pos. Year
2 Travis Franco 5-11, 175 FB/LB Jr.
3 Marcus Harrell 5-7, 150 Z/DB Jr.
4 Nader Elaskary 5-9, 160 WR/DB Jr.
5 Nic Slater 6-0, 185 TB/SS Jr.
6 Brandon Pickens 5-7, 150 QB Jr.
7 Bryant Cid 6-0, 175 WR/FS Jr.
9 Raul Flores 5-11, 190 TE/LB So.
10 Manuel Avila 6-1, 180 TE/DE Jr.
10 Mikey Pirnik 6-1, 175 RB/LB Jr.
21 Jorge Ramos 5-8, 165 TB/DB Jr.
22 Dillon Babb 6-1, 235 FB/LB Jr.
24 Ismael Vaca 5-9, 180 Z/DB Jr.
33 Jose Chavez 5-7, 160 WR/DB Jr.
40 Fernando Burton 5-6, 170 FB/LB Jr.
50 Patrick Mank 5-11, 200 G/LB Jr.
52 Matt Almeida 5-10, 220 OL/DL Jr.
55 Ruben Martinez 5-6, 170 G/DT Jr.
57 Brad Sigl 6-1, 200 T/DE Jr.
63 John Riffle 6-0, 210 T/DT Jr.
64 Scott Rathi 5-10, 200 G/DT Jr.
66 Tomas Zamora 6-0, 185 G/DE So.
75 James Cinnamono 6-1, 230 T/DE So.
77 Steven White 6-4, 290 C/NG Jr.
99 Ivan Avila 6-0, 170 WR/DB Jr.