Christopher's Jacob Zimmerman works to bring down the North Salinas ball runner during their away game Friday at the Salinas Sport Complex.
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SALINAS —  This wasn’t the start that Christopher was hoping for entering league play.
Despite striking first, the Cougars fell 29-15 to North Salinas on road on Oct. 11 in their first Monterey Bay Pacific League contest. CHS is now 3-2 overall and 0-1 in league play.
“We probably played our worst game of the year on Friday night. We did not play well at all on either side of the ball,” Cougars coach Tim Pierleoni said. “As a coaching staff, we’re going to go back to the drawing board and looking at ourselves in the mirror first to do a better job coaching — that’s what we need to do. You can point fingers and say this person or that person, but as a head coach it’s on me.”
A 6-yard pass from Sterling Montgomery to Jacob Zimmerman at the start of the fourth quarter gave the Cougars a glimmer of hope. They were able to complete the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 15-15, but their hopes were quickly dashed. The Vikings picked up a 22-yard touchdown pass from Justyn Gutierrez to Randy Ivey to regain the lead at 22-15 with 6:30 left to play. Christopher’s chance was dashed by an interception returned for a pick-6 just 21 seconds later for the final score.
The Cougars won the battle on offense, however, picking up 395 total yards to the Vikings 305. The real difference maker came from turnovers. Christopher had four in this game, including three fumbles that were recovered by North Salinas. Ball security is something CHS has been struggling with lately, generating 13 turnovers in its last three games.
“We’ve got to limit turnovers — turnovers kill you,” Pierleoni said. “We’re not going to win anything if we turn the ball over 13 times. Again, we’ve got to talk about ball security. …We really, really, really have to concentrate again on ball security and not making mistakes.”
Things will not get any easier for the Cougars this week as they take on the undefeated Eagles of Everett Alvarez (5-0 overall, 2-0 in league). Alvarez features a pair of lethal runners in Ceasar Ramirez and quarterback Edric Gamble who Christopher will need to shutdown in order to find success. Ramierez has 409 yards and eight touchdowns through five games, whereas Gamble has 371 for five TDs on the ground and 191 yards and two scores in the air.
“It’s a wing-T, option team so we’ve got to get back to assignment football and do a better job of playing our assignments,” Pierleoni said. “We didn’t do a good job of playing our assignments on Friday night.”
Christopher and Alvarez will square off at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Gilroy High. The Cougars are looking to rebound and reestablish themselves as a top contendor for a league championship by picking up a ‘W’ against the Eagles.
“This is our chance to get back on the right track and make a statement and to show people what kind of football team we really are,” Pierleoni said. “I don’t think we have the last three weeks at all. We played one good quarter in the last three weeks and we’ve got to do better than that.”
We’ve got to limit turnovers — turnovers kill you. We’re not going to win anything if we turn the ball over 13 times. Again, we’ve got to talk about ball security. …We really, really, really have to concentrate again on ball security and not making mistakes.”
Sterling Montgomery, quarterback: Montgomery will be looking to improve on his performance against North Salinas in which he was 14 for 26 for 201 yards a touchdown and an interception. He also had five QB keepers for 23 yards and a touchdown on the ground. 
Everett Alvarez
Edric Gamble, quarterback: Gamble is a double threat for the Eagles — he can run and he can pass. Gamble picked up 30 yards on five carries and a touchdown last week as well as going 2 for 5 for 60 yards with a touchdown passing. Those numbers may not seem impressive, but given what he’s done for Alvarez so far this season the Cougars will definitely need to contain him. 

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