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May 25, 2022

Prep Football: Gilroy, Christopher getting ready for season

GILROY—The sound of helmets clashing and plays being called echoed through the stadiums and Gilroy and Christopher high schools this week. And that means it’s time for football.
The offseason has been full of change for both the Mustangs and Cougars and they are working hard to hammer out all the kinks before the first game whistle is blown.
At Gilroy, the team is adjusting to new head coach Jubenal Rodriguez. The Mustangs have undergone a complete overall of their defensive and offensive systems, but are flourishing, Rodriguez said.
“Defensively it’s a new system; offensively it’s a completely different system,” the Mustangs coach said. “I’ve seen improvements on both sides of the ball, but if I had to pick one thing, it would be the coming together as a team—the camaraderie.”
Developing camaraderie, Rodriguez said, is the No. 1 goal the seniors have for this season. He said they wanted this year’s team to “feel like a family,” which is something Rodriguez reported players saying they lacked in years prior.
Over at Christopher, the Cougars are preparing for battle with new opponents in the Monterey Bay League’s highly competitive Gabilan Division. And they’ll be doing it without some of last year’s key pieces.
Jacob Moen, the league’s MVP and cornerstone of last year’s defense, has graduated, along with offensive powerhouses Anthony Sammut and Max Sanford.
But all is not lost. Christopher will see the return of quarterback Matt Adamkiewicz, who was named the Most Valuable Offensive player in the league last year. As a junior, he amassed 3,310 yards through 11 games and accounted for 34 touchdowns.
Jared Huddleston, who was the league’s Most Valuable Offensive Lineman last year, along with standout receivers P.J. Reichert and Xander Bowers will also suit up for the Cougars this fall.
“Defensively, we’re going to have to get a little bit stronger,” Christopher head coach Tim Pierleoni said. “We’ve got some big shoes to fill and I’ve got some kids that will do that… I truly believe one of our strengths is our quarterback.”
Speaking of quarterbacks, Gilroy’s David Munoz is returning for his senior season, too. Rodriguez noted his QB has “developed extremely well” and has a renewed sense of ownership over his position.
“David has put in the work this offseason,” Rodriguez said. “He was part of our 6 a.m. (workout) group…Speaking to him, he’s a lot more confident—that’s huge.”
The Cougars and Mustangs attended summer tournaments to gauge their progress so far and both are pleased with the results.
Gilroy attended a camp in Aptos the weekend of July 11 where Rodriguez said they faced “quality” and “elite” opponents who they were able to be competitive with.
“That was a huge thing for us; it was a tremendous confidence booster,” he said. “I really hope they finish this summer strong because it’s not over yet.”
The Cougars jumped right into competition, attending a tournament on June 13—the day after graduation. Pierleoni said utilizing every minute of the offseason has been crucial for his squad as it prepares for the Gabilan Division.
“We’re going to do what we have to do,” he said, noting the team started practicing a week earlier this year. “We haven’t taken any time off.”
Rest is just around the corner for both teams as the mandatory Central Coast Section two-week dead period approaches. Since they won’t be able to practice for the first two weeks in August, the Cougars and Mustangs are making the most of these next couple weeks.
“These last couple weeks, we’re focusing on finishing our installation of the defensive and offensive playbook,” Rodriguez said. “We want to expose everything to them…We’re just making sure we have our Xs and Os in place and finishing healthy.”
And while the Mustangs are hitting the books, the Cougars will be spending their time in the weight room.
“We’re trying to get stronger,” Pierleoni said. “Our timing in our offense has always got to be something that we’re trying to get better at. Defensively we’re working as hard as we can—that’s going to be a big deal for us.”
Gilroy opens the season at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 against Live Oak at home. Christopher squares off against the Bulldogs at 1:45 p.m. Sept. 5 at Sobrato in Morgan Hill.

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