ROHNERT PARK, CA – In a battle of Cougars host Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park (4-0) spotted Campolindo-Moraga an early 7-0 lead, but from there they scored 21 unanswered points and the Rancho Cotate offensive line and the running game took over in a 35-21 Friday night victory that looks a little closer on the scoreboard than it was on the field.
Rancho Cotate junior quarterback Jared Stocker passed for 118 yards and three TDs with two going to Jack Reese, but he only threw one pass in a second half that saw Rancho Cotate Coach Gehrig Hotaling take advantage of the dominance of his offensive line and the power of 6-1, 210-pound junior running back Rasheed Rankin and fellow junior Sumari Jones to seal the deal.
Rankin had 14 carries for 99 yards at halftime but in the third and fourth quarters Hotaling called his number 21 times and the big, bruising running back that carried the pile several yards on more than one occasion finished with 35 carries for 211 yards and one touchdown on a 1-yard plunge that closed out the scoring. The 5-10, 170-pound Jones, who has deceptive speed and elusiveness, had 103 yards rushing and one TD for a Rancho Cotate running game the outgained Campolindo 316-50.
“Our offensive line and our running backs pretty much took over,” Hotaling remarked. “We had a good game plan coming in, practiced hard all week, and the kids executed beyond my wildest belief.”
Despite only scoring one touchdown it was Rankin that pretty much controlled the game running behind a line anchored by two-way starter Elias Rantissi, a 6-2, 230-pound center that also anchors the linebacking corps. On one play Rankin carried five would be tacklers seven yards after being met at the line of scrimmage with coaches screaming “that’s all day son” as he dragged them along like rag dolls.
“I knew I was going to get a lot of carries but not 35,” said a smiling Rankin. “But our line was killing them and coach kept giving me the ball.
After Campolindo held Rancho Cotate three-and-out junior quarterback Grant Harper orchestrated a six-play 69-yard drive culminated by a 1-yard plunge by Michael Brewer and the boys from Moraga looked like they might have the upper hand.
Unfortunately for the fans that made the long trek from the East Bay, from that point on Harper would finish with a sub-par 173 yards passing and two TDs to Max Schoenberger and Kaleo Nelson, but Campolindo could only add 192 yards of total offense to the opening drive.
“A key will be our defense will have its biggest test in this game,” said Campolindo Coach Kevin Macy before the game. “We also have to hope that Harper keeps up the pace he’s on.”
A defense that lost just about every starter from last season was not up to the task against Rancho Cotate, and Harper, who was sacked twice and intercepted once, and came into the game with 647 yards and nine TDs combined in wins over Marin Catholic-Kentfield and St. Ignatius-San Francisco, was nowhere near that pace.
The Rancho Cotate running game ground down Campolindo, but the 6-1, 170-pound Stocker had a solid all-around game despite throwing and completing his only pass of the second half. Stocker finished 10 of 15 for 118 yards and the three first half touchdowns.
Campolindo (2-1) now has to regroup for its next two non-league games starting with a solid 2-1 Hayward that has wins over Castro Valley and Washington-Fremont and only lost 34-27 to 4-0 Pinole Valley-Pinole.
Prior to the game Macy was a little worried about his offense as well as his defense so they will have a lot to work on getting ready for Hayward after the way both units looked against Rancho Cotate.
“Harper has been buying time for our team to develop,” Macy said during warm-ups. “We still haven’t developed a consistent formula on offense we can count on week in and week out.”
Before a bye in two weeks and then opening North Bay League – Oak Division play in three weeks at Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa, Rancho Cotate hosts a Pleasant Valley-Chico team many thought might be the top team from the CIF Northern Section. They may still be but after two games they are 1-1 with a win over Yuba City and a 27-14 loss last week in a game played at Chico State. The Vikings have a Saturday night game with River Valley-Yuba City.
One thing is for sure and that is Coach Hotaling is likely going to be calling Rankin’s number a lot until someone can stop him, and Jones will also be seeing the ball a lot as well.