Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park (11-3) hosting Bakersfield Christian-Bakersfield (11-3), Saturday, 6:00 pm
Of the four games involving teams from the Redwood Empire portion of the CIF North Coast Section, the match-up between the host Cougars and the boys from the CIF Central Section, is the only one where a larger public school, Rancho Cotate, is facing a smaller private school, but with competitive equity this has become much more common,
North Coast Section Division 3 champion Rancho Cotate has an enrollment of 1,500 and a roster of 55 players while Central Section Division 3 champion Bakersfield Christian has 500 students and a roster of 40, so the numbers would seem to favor Rancho Cotate but once again with the competitive equity factor it may or may not make a difference.
One place Rancho Cotate has been using its size for an advantage is by controlling the line of scrimmage and shutting down the offenses of its opponents, particularly in its last two games that were played in inclement conditions.
Two weeks ago they went into top-seeded Las Lomas-Walnut Creek and the NCS D3 No. 2 seed withstood rain and wind and a Knights roster with some D1 level talent to post a 10-0 shutout. Last week, and in conditions Coach Gehrig Hotaling described as just short of a “hurricane,” with rain and a steady downpour that created a muddy bog that slowed things to a crawl, Hotaling and his boys adapted again. The result is for the second straight week a lone touchdown held up as the defense pitched another shutout in a 7-0 defeat of host Sierra-Manteca.
The winning TD came on a 2-yard keeper by senior quarterback Jared Stocker with 3:16 remaining in the third quarter, and with the way the Rancho Cotate defense has been playing recently it looked like the deal was sealed, and it was.
The workhorse in the slop was 6-1, 225-pound running back Rasheed Rankin. He seemed built for the conditions and his 38-yard run in which he could not be brought down set up the Stocker TD run.
The defense led by 6-2, 225-pound junior linebacker Mihalis Santorineos has been lights out and will have to be against the multi-faceted offense of Bakersfield Christian and its head coach Darren Carr, the brother of Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
The Eagles can either pass or run the ball and senior quarterback Dominic Gamboni has several skill players that can find the end zone and the player Hotaling is most worried about is Stanford-committed 6-5, 220-pound tight and defensive end Ben Yurosek.
“It all starts with limiting Yurosek touches on the football and we can expand from there,” Hotaling said.
“It’s going to be a challenge for sure, but this is nothing new to us,” Hotaling continued. “We’ve played tough teams all year long and our last four games have been nail biters but we are comfortable in uncomfortable situations and this is no different. The team has a quiet confidence about them but they are focused.”
As for keys to winning Hotaling knows it’s going to take defense and Stocker having to produce and with no rain in the forecast and the home field advantage he’s looking for both to be a factor.
“The keys to winning are being physical, our crowd being extremely loud when we are on defense and getting the passing game on track.”
It should be a solid match-up and Prep2Prep will have complete game coverage.