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Published September 21st, 2016
Football Heavyweights Prepare for League Action
Tim Tague Photos Gint Federas

Thanks to a talented nucleus of seniors and a rising crop of juniors, the Miramonte football team has rolled out to a 4-0 record in the opening weeks of the 2016 season.
"Two really solid classes have joined together and (players at) some of the key positions like quarterback have returned," explained head coach Jack Schram. "That made it easy for us to hit the ground running and do the same stuff we were doing last year."
Senior signal-caller Tim Tague has led the way, throwing for 16 touchdowns in his first four games - even though the Mats have often opted to rest him in the second half of blowouts. The most encouraging sign for Schram, whose Mats have already topped Vanden, St. Mary's, Mt. Diablo and Alameda, is that a so many players have emerged on the offense.
"Guys have really stepped up," Schram said. "Peter Stehr at the running back position - running the ball and catching (has really helped the offense)."
Then there's the Mats' impressive stable of aerial options. Six different players - Nolan Brown, Will Cassriel, Enzo Jiannalone, Ethan Fischler, Nick Foster and Stehr - have already caught multiple touchdowns.
"For us to be able to spread the whole field like that, you can't focus on trying to shut one or two kids down," Schram said.
The defense has also been causing fits for opponents, with Schram singling out Cassriel, Foster, Casey McGonigle, Caleb Cashmere and Ryan Walker as some of the best of the bunch.
The Mats will need to excel on both sides of the ball when the Diablo Athletic League season begins because after hosting Alhambra on Sept. 23, the Mats begin conference play with meeting with powerhouses Clayton Valley Charter and Campolindo on Oct. 7 and 14, respectively.
Kevin Macy - the head coach of the reigning NCS-champion Cougars - can't be bothered to look ahead to the DAL portion of the calendar just yet.
"We're just in a brutal preseason schedule before we even get to the league," said Macy, who's cougars are 2-2. "We're not trying to think too big or too far down the road. For us, it's just what level of health we can keep from one week to the next."
The Cougars, who have already lost key lineman Chris Brahney and two-way star Kyle Leuteneker to season-ending injuries, are navigating a daunting early run of games.
Campolindo lost to Valley Christian, who MaxPreps ranks as the No. 36 team in the state, in the season opener before rebounding with wins against St. Ignatius and Deer Valley. They lost their second game on Sept. 16, falling 28-21 to Oakdale.
In the 27-7 win over Deer Valley on Sept. 9 in Antioch, quarterback Jacob Westphal and receivers Vince Mossotti and Kannah Cruickshank carried the day for the Cougars.
"Those two sort of came alive as the two [key] receivers," Macy said. "They came alive, which helped Jacob, and we say might have had his best game as a varsity player."
Macy pointed to Justin Ehrenberger and Brandon Bocobo as the anchors of his unheralded defense.
"Defensively, we're just a little bit of a no-name team," Macy said. "It's hard to pinpoint [standouts]. We're just rotating so many different bodies."
As Macy explained, Bocobo's rise at the center of the defense is especially noteworthy.
"The fact that we're using one of the smallest guys on the team as a middle [line]backer [is telling]," Macy said. "He's hanging in there."
Like the Cougars, the Dons have also faced their share of early-season challenges. Including a Sept. 23 trip to De Anza in El Sobrante, four of the team's first five games are away from home.
So far, head coach Floyd Burnsed's Dons have held their own on the road posting a 2-2 record. Acalanes beat Alhambra and Skyline in the first two weeks of the season before falling to Heritage in Brentwood on Sept. 9, 28-14, and dropping a 49-30 contest to Analy on Sept. 16 in Sebastopol.
"We're trying to get ready for our league season, which is the important part of our schedule," Burnsed explained. "So, each game we're trying to get a little bit better. Each week you face a different opponent and different schemes - different defenses - the whole works. So, it gives you a whole gamut of preparation for [upcoming] games."
For the Dons, quarterback Robby Rowell and receiver Matt Burns have stood out on the offensive side of the ball, while Nick Henderson and Will Rembac have shone defensively.
"We have a very difficult schedule," Burnsed said. "So, every game we play is tough. There's no easy games on the schedule."

Kannah Cruickshank
Robby Rowell

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