Sobrato established a three-score first-half advantage and held off host Christopher High 38-19 in front of a spirited crowd at Garcia-Elder Sports Complex on Friday night in Gilroy.
“They were very good last year, and we still played pretty well against them,” said Sobrato coach Nick Borello. “They have a good coaching staff and good kids. We made some adjustments after they scored and got in a rhythm.”
This is the third straight season in which the teams have squared off in the opener. The Bulldogs own a 2-1 record in those games. Last season’s game was forfeited to the Cougars.
The Cougars jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead in the game after a 14-yard completion from CHS quarterback Sterling Montgomery to Takoda Bowers on the game’s opening drive. Bowers leaped high into the air to pull down the ball in the corner of the end zone between two defenders. But it was all Bulldogs after that.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk,” said CHS coach Tim Pierleoni. “We expected it to be a hard game. They are a good team. It is a good challenge for us. That is why we play them.”
The Bulldogs set the stage with a strong first half. Nick Hardy, who played both offense and defense, caught two touchdowns to pace Sobrato to a 25-7 halftime lead.
“I was just trying to keep running my routes and let the quarterback find me,” Hardy said. “I just got to dig deep because I know my team is relying on me. You just got to keep on going. We kept on coming and coming and got a good flow on offense.”
Sobrato quarterback Michael Bocksnick connected with Hardy from 5-yards and 32-yards. After CHS scored on the opening drive, Bocksnick took his team down field and then Vince Nguyen scored on a 1-yard run.
“The offensive line did a great job and I did my part,” Bocksnick said. “I felt safe and real confident in them protecting me. I have some really nice backs and receivers to get the ball to and they are dangerous. We pounded them and played smash mouth football and took it to them.”
Not to be outdone by his brother, Isaiah Hardy scored on an 80-yard strike on the first play after a missed Christopher field goal with 7:22 left in the second quarter to give the Bulldogs a 19-7 lead. Isaiah also came up with an interception and returned the ball about 50 yards to give the Bulldogs a 31-7 lead in the third quarter.
Though far from being in midseason form, the Bulldogs moved the ball around both on the ground and in the air.
Drew Glines pounded the ball in from 3-yards for the Bulldogs’ final score with 5:39 left in the game, making it 38-7.
“Once we were up we tried to keep pounding it to run out the clock,” Glines said. “The run at first was really slow, but we opened it up with the pass.”
Despite losing the field position game for much of the second half, the Cougars kept on clawing away scoring two touchdowns in the final thee minutes of the game.
Sophomore Alex Pacheco scored on a 9-yard touchdown catch with 3 minutes left. The Cougars scored a minute later on a 4-yard run from freshman Zach Almash, after recovering a fumble.
“They did a good job of bringing the pressure. We did a descent job of screening them, but they were able to mess with our tempo a little bit,” Pierleoni said. “We are real young. So it will be a learning experience every week. We preach playing hard and working right to the end. That will make us better in the long run – not giving up.”
JV note: The CHS JV team rallied from a 12-12 halftime score Friday to defeat visiting Sobrato 31-18. CHS turned two onside kicks by Jacob Libatore into touchdowns in the second half.
Raul Tovar, who played linebacker and slot receiver, returned a kickoff for a touchdown for the Cougars. Josh Wheat, playing the wide and slot receiver positions, had four catches for 80 yards. Fullback TJ Cox ran for 45 yards on eight caries.
The Bulldogs scored three rushing touchdowns: a 20-yard run by Marcus Valcarcel, a 12-yard run by Luis Guitierez and a 2-yard run by quarterback Mitch Conforti in the second half. Sal Naranjo had a strong game as linebacker and punter and defensive back Michael Sutter had three pass breakups.