FOOTBALL: First varsity meeting between CHS and San Benito set for tonight

Christopher High sophomore middle linebacker Jacob Moen has a sparkling-clear idea of how busy he and the rest of the Cougars defense will be tonight against Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division opponent San Benito in Hollister.

But for Moen, the activity is always welcome.

“We want it,” Moen said at practice Wednesday. “They really like to focus on the run game. They are smart. They take care of their assignments. Everyone does what they are supposed to do. If we can shut them down in the middle and contain them on the outside, we have a good shot.”

At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, much of that will rest on the shoulders of Moen, who leads the Cougars with 118 tackles in seven games.

“I have to take care of the dive up the middle and let everyone else do their jobs like they can,” he said.

CHS (1-6 overall, 1-2 MBL) is coming off a bye week, which was preceded by a 50-16 loss to Salinas. That defeat came after it appeared the Cougars were on the right track in a close loss to Palma on Oct. 5.

“We played the best we have played all season against Palma,” Moen said. “I think Salinas was a slap in the face. The bye week was a good time for us to get our minds straight.”

The Balers (3-4 overall, 1-2 MBL) picked up their first league victory last week at Gilroy High, rushing for 367 yards in the process.

“They are a well-coached, physical team and their record does not reflect their ability,” CHS head coach Tim Pierleoni said. “We feel like this is a challenge. And just like when we went and played the other teams we hadn’t played before – Palma and Salinas – we take it as a chance to be on a big stage and get better.”

CHS took advantage of its week off to prepare for San Benito, getting to work on game plan immediately after the Salinas loss.

“We have worked our rear ends off for the last two weeks because we had to, we needed to. They are that good,” Pierleoni said. “We have to do our thing and not make mistakes.”

The Cougars first regular-season encounter with Balers at the varsity level in program history will take place in uncharted territory at Andy Hardin Stadium, on San Benito’s homecoming no less.

“I think because they have the big rivalry with Gilroy High, and we are in Gilroy too, I think that adds to it a little bit,” Moen said. “It’s their homecoming. It’s going to be loud and there are going to be a lot of people there. We just have to go out there and play like we have been coached. If we think about it like that, it will keep us calm.”

Tonight’s game, which is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, is one of three left for CHS. Monterey next week and Gilroy High round out the Cougars’ regular season.

“This stretch is big for us, especially our seniors,” Moen said.

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