Before the season started, Cody Ahola had no idea how his first varsity football season would turn out. With only one game left in the year, it’s safe to say the Christopher High wide receiver has been a breakout star. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound sophomore has had a handful of games this season in which he’s finished with double-digit receptions.
“Cody is one of the most athletic football players I’ve coached in my 35 years,” Cougars coach Tim Pierleoni said. “He’s fast and knows how to get open. Just a good, solid football player.”
Ahola made his presence felt in Week 1, finishing with 15 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the King’s Academy. The following week against Live Oak, Ahola had nine catches for 105 yards. The first two games served as a harbinger for Ahola’s season, as he has racked up big numbers playing for a Christopher team that has struggled to a 1-8 season (with the one victory not taking place on the field, as it was awarded a forfeit win against Gilroy).
All Ahola has done is go out every week and give it his best, and the results speak for themselves. Tall, athletic, agile, fast and not afraid of contact, Ahola often lines up in the slot and runs precise routes to get open. Even when he’s not open, Ahola has the ability to catch the ball with defenders draped over him because of his superior height and reach.
“Another big thing for me is my speed, which I’ve been working on my whole life,” he said. “And getting my overall strength up has been a big help.”
Of that, there is no doubt. As an eighth grader, Ahola said he had to gain weight to make the 135-pound standard required to play for the Gilroy Browns Pop Warner team. Ahola said he’s now 190 pounds and hopes to gain 10 more pounds of muscle by the start of the 2020 season. Not only has Ahola grown taller in the last couple of years, but his skillset has improved as well.
In his last year for the Browns two years ago, Ahola wasn’t exactly the star of the team. However, as he grew into his body, so did his game. From the moment the ball is snapped, Ahola sprints out of his stance to get to the designated spot the route calls for.
“I just block everything out but the ball and the defense,” he said. “If I catch the ball in open space and have a chance to hit the defense, I hit them.”
Ahola has built a strong chemistry with quarterback James Goodrich, as the two have proven to be the most prolific quarterback-receiver combination in the South Valley area. It’s no accident when you consider they worked on their cohesiveness with several informal workouts at the school during the summer.
“We’d go onto the field almost everyday, just working hard and getting to know each other,” Ahola said. “He got to see my speed and how I run routes, and I got to see how he could throw the ball well. Our timing was great.”
Ahola counts the team’s 48-34 loss to Carmel on Sept. 27 as his best game of the season. He racked up nearly 300 yards receiving and four TDs, constantly making big plays and feeling unstoppable from the moment he caught his first ball. Ahola has done it all, catching the ball in traffic and racking up a ton of yards after the catch, a testament to his vision and playmaking ability.
When Ahola lines up, he usually has an outside linebacker pressing him at the line and a safety shading his way. None of that has mattered, and one has to wonder why teams don’t triple team him considering the Cougars offense has been hit hard by injuries, losing their two starting tailbacks in the first game of the season.
“My mentality every game depending on who is on me, to be agile and juke the defense or just go at them and hit them,” he said. “If they press me, I like it because it gives me a chance to beat them deep.”
Ahola played for the CCS-championship winning baseball team last spring, scoring the team’s first run when he came on as a pinch runner. The fact that Ahola was able to experience a title victory—as a freshman, no less—really whetted his appetite to achieve his vast potential.
“It was a really crazy experience winning with the baseball team,” he said. “It kind of got me into the whole playoff thing and how serous it is. It gave me something extra to push for and a goal to reach.”