Cougars place second out of 25 teams
At a 7-on-7 football tournament about this time one year ago, the Christopher High varsity football team didn’t make it past the first round of the 20-plus team exhibition.
Head coach Tim Pierleoni and 20 Cougars returned to the site, San Mateo Junior College, on Saturday with one goal in mind: “We wanted to get to the second round,” Pierleoni said.
This time around, the second stanza was just the beginning, as the Cougars made sure they eclipsed that plateau, posting a 7-2 record to finish second out of 25 teams, losing to state-playoff proven Granada High School in the finals.
“The kids really, really played well. They competed well. It was a long day and a lot of work,” Pierleoni said. “It was first chance for us to compete. We still have a long way to go, obviously, but it was nice to see the kids to come through in some situations.”
The format is simple: Seven players per side, no pads; two sets of 10 plays per team; points are earned on offense – allotted based on gained yardage, touchdowns – and on defense – interceptions, passes defended, etcetera.
The Cougars dropped their first contest of the day to Granada before reeling off seven straight victories, knocking down Menlo-Atherton, Menlo School, Capuchino, San Lorenzo Valley, Woodside and Washington (in the semifinals) to reach the championship game.
Against Woodside, a game that served as the quarterfinals, the Cougars trailed for much of the scrimmage, Pierleoni said. CHS had the ball on offense last, tied it late and went ahead when quarterback Brandon Pickens hit Rayshon Mills for a short gainer, notching a valuable three points.
The Cougars beat Washington 65-39 in the semifinals to reach the finals. Granada defeated Palo Alto.
“It’s not real football, so it’s hard to say ‘hey, we are going to be this really great team,’ but it’s always good to compete against good teams and have some success,” Pierleoni said. “You’re teaching your kids how to play hard. It helps, and it’s good to see all the hard work that we have been doing come to fruition. I think it gets the kids jacked up again to keep practicing hard and getting after it.”
The third-year CHS coach added that the Cougars were able to test out their third-down-and-long offense as well as their Nickel-package defense.
“The best part of the whole day was the other coaches coming up to me and saying, ‘who the heck are you guys?'” Pierleoni said. “It was good to see some coaches with their eyeballs wide.”
The Cougars will participate in a 12-team full-contact camp at Independence High School in San Jose on Friday and Saturday.