Prep Football: Cougars season ends with loss to St. Ignatius in CCS 1st round

Christopher's Tyler Fhurong catches a pass before get brought down by St. Ignatius during their Central Coast section quarterfinal game Friday at Gilroy High School.

GILROY — All good stories must come to an end. Unfortunately for Christopher, it wasn’t the ending it hoped for.
The No. 4 Cougars fell 24-0 to No. 5 St. Ignatius at home in the opening round in of the Central Coast Section playoffs Friday.
“We tried to change a few things that we were doing all year long to try to compensate for the things we thought they would know and they just reacted really well to what we were doing,” CHS coach Tim Pierleoni said. “We had a really good game plan in place and they just reacted to what we were doing. That’s a really good football team, I’m really proud of the kids.”
The Cougars have only truly been a varsity team for three years — four if you count the inaugural senior-less season — and have made the playoffs twice in that time. Pierleoni said he wanted all his players to walk away knowing that it’s not every day a new program can rise to the challenge so quickly.
“Two playoff appearances in three years is pretty darn good,” the CHS coach said. “I’m proud of my kids and I told them to keep their heads up and they should be very proud of themselves.”
It was arguably Christopher’s most even matchup of the season and it showed in the score. The two team’s almost headed into halftime scoreless, had it not been for a 33-yard field goal by Wildcats’ Ikaika Hall to take the lead at 3-0.
Christopher’s defense shined, holding the Wildcats’ to just 67 total yards and 148 in the air. Senior strong safety/running back Rayshon Mills said his defense knew its assignments, but sometimes all it takes is one hiccup for things to start going south.
St. Ignatius was able to improve its lead on a 43-yard punt return with just under eight minutes to play in the third quarter — but the game was still well within the Cougars’ reach at 10-0.
“We prepared all week, we knew exactly what they were doing, but it just started falling apart with that first punt return for a touchdown,” Mills said. “We stayed in there, we didn’t get down on ourselves. It’s a playoff game in CCS — we’ve still got a lot of young players on this team — but in a situation like this, you can’t make mistakes.”
The mistake on special teams was the turning point in the game for the Wildcats. They carried that momentum into the final quarter, opening with a 40-yard pick-6 of Sterling Montgomery’s throw by Joe Lang to jump ahead 17-0.
Just minutes later, the Wildcats would go on a 10-play drive to endzone and send Elijah Dale in to score from the 3-yard-line for the final.
“It was a fight all the way through, no doubt about it,” Montgomery said. “We’re out, but we went out giving it everything we had. Yeah, the loss hurts, but that’s what builds character is what you do after.”
St. Ignatius brought the pass rush on the Cougars all night, not allowing Montgomery to hit his targets. He finished the night 12 for 31 for 120 yards with two interceptions.
The story is finally complete for Christopher, who finish the season 7-4 overall. It was one of perseverance, hard work and a ‘never say die’ attitude. That stayed true right til’ the end, especially with Mills running his heart out and fighting for every yard he could get as time expired and the Cougars season game to an end.
“I was just trying to finish up my last game in high school football strong, that’s it,” Mills said chocking back the tears.
Mills finishes his final season with 1,216 yards on 149 carries and 12 touchdowns.

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