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Prep football: Wildcats will try to diversify

West Ranch has been known for its run game, but the team wants to show it can do so much more

Posted: September 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 16, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Eastside High School knows it has its work cut out for it tonight when West Ranch travels to face the Lions at Antelope Valley High School at 7 p.m.

The mission to stop West Ranch running back Jeff Coprich won’t be an easy one.

And the Wildcats (2-0) know that’s exactly what Eastside (0-2) will focus on.

That’s why this week West Ranch has worked to open up its aerial attack, knowing that if the team can add a quality passing game to an already stellar running game they will be hard to stop.

“We’ve been spending quite a bit of time to sharpen up the air attack,” head coach Sean O’Brien said. “If we are able to succeed on multiple offensive levels, then first of all it’s going to be a successful outcome (tonight), but also puts other teams on notice.”

The Wildcats are coming off two straight wins that saw Coprich total 299 yards and four touchdowns to lead the team.
And the Lions aren’t the only ones keeping an eye on him, as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and the University of Montana have shown interest in the senior with offers.

Junior quarterback Gerrit Mouw has done everything expected of him through two games, managing the offense well, while averaging 133.5 yards per game with three touchdowns and one interception.

But if the Wildcats are going to become a more balanced team, they will need one of their four wide receivers to step up.

“Gerrit’s fine,” O’Brien said of his first-year varsity quarterback. “Our issues aren’t really with him as much as they are we need to have some better leadership in the receiving core.”

Charged with that task will be Kyle Alexander, Kyle Rooney, Christian Formaini and Fabulous Darley.

“It’s been kind of a horse race with those four,” O’Brien said. “They’ve all got strengths and things they need to work on and they’re all different things.”

Nonetheless, Eastside head coach Richard Lear will focus much of his defensive attention on trying to slow down Coprich and the running game.

“We know they’re hanging their hat on the run,” Lear said. “They have Coprich, but other guys aren’t too bad at all.

We’re going to have to get physical in the trenches. We really have to swarm to the ball.”

The Lions will enter the game with a first-year varsity quarterback of their own in junior Cody Parker.

Parker enters the game just 7-of-26 with 63 yards and one interception on the year.

“He did a good job on JV, but is finding JV and varsity are different,” Lear said. “We’re spending time working on him. Smart kid, knows the offense, knows the reads, got to get the ball to the receivers.”

The Lions’ biggest threats will come in the form of running back Kevin Teate, who has run for 177 yards on 29 carries in his first two games, and running back Morgan Emmanual who has 85 yards on 14 carries.

The bruising running game of the Lions will be a change of pace for the Wildcats after defeating more uptempo teams the last two weeks in Nordhoff and Burbank.

Nonetheless, the Wildcats will enter the game with a solid defense that, despite being overshadowed by the explosive offense, has been playing well through the first two games.

“That’s fine, whatever the conversation is out there, we can’t control it,” O’Brien said. “Our offseason work was making our defense more consistent and so far, two games in, we’re pleased with the consistency ... None of those 11 guys out there care that they aren’t being talked about. They’re fine to just show up to work.”

With Coprich, Mouw and their defense, the Wildcats are the favorites tonight.

“That’s probably our biggest worry,” O’Brien said. “If you look at the way the two programs are going, we’re 2-0 and Eastside is 0-2 ... We’re in opposite directions, so this is a dangerous time for a team, when all the expectations are on us.”

— Signal sports editor Cary Osborne contributed to this story.


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