Prep Football: Cougars’ Sanford signs with Chapman

Christopher's Max Sanford runs the ball for the Cougars during their Central Coast Section quarterfinal game against Wilcox Nov. 21.

GILROY—Over the past four years, Christopher’s Max Sanford has played almost every position on the football field.
On offense, he was the go-to guy; always finding ways to contort his body for extra yards. The 5-11, 165-pound senior wasn’t the biggest guy on the field, but he gave and took his fair share of hits to get the job done.
Those are the qualities that Cougar coach Tim Pierleoni will miss about his senior wide receiver next year. But every bruise, every touchdown was leading up to this point: signing a football scholarship. Sanford achieved his goal and formally committed with his No. 1 academic choice, Chapman University, on April 29 at Christopher High School.
“He was the guy that we knew we could get the ball to and he would catch it no matter what,” Pierleoni said. “He would take the big hits, but he would hang on to it.”
There was something magnetic about Sanford, Pierleoni said, that drew defenders to him. He was the victim of big blows, one of which resulted in a shoulder injury that almost ended his football career.
Sanford spent the offseason leading up to his senior year rehabbing, knowing that if he couldn’t play he could kiss any chance at a scholarship goodbye.
As the lights came on to start the 2014 season, Sanford was ready to go. He had a breakout year, racking up a career-high six touchdowns on 38 receptions and covered 637 yards. He earned First Team All-Monterey Bay League honors and helped his team win the Pacific Division title by scoring the winning touchdown against Monte Vista Christian on Oct. 17, 2014.
“I was very tentative going into the season, I wasn’t sure how I’d do,” Sanford said. “I was able to push through the season without having any reoccurring problem that would hinder my future…I’m glad it all worked out because I know it probably wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t get through my senior season.”
It’s been a long road for Sanford, but Pierleoni said he knew from the beginning that big things were in store for him. The Cougar played as a running back and linebacker his freshman year and was called up to varsity as a sophomore. He started the season at safety before Pierleoni moved Sanford to wide receiver to fill in for an injured player. And it was there he flourished.
“My coaching staff trusted me to play the position that I did,” Sanford said. “There’s times when you don’t believe in yourself and you rely on your teammates to keep you on track. That’s why I love this sport—it’s a family.”
Sanford will transform once more as he turns from Cougar to Panther to play for Chapman this fall. He’s joining a team that went 8-2 overall, 7-0 in conference last season and won its first South California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship.
Sanford said there is pressure to perform well on the field and in the classroom at a high level at Chapman—but that’s also a big part of why he chose to go there.
“I like to say the sky is the limit, so I’m very excited for the new challenges,” Sanford said. “I hope to see myself continue to enjoy what I’m doing and continue to bring the love and passion that I have for life to Chapman.”