FOOTBALL: Cougars Look to Stop Stagg Tonight at Weston Ranch

Weston Ranch football will take the field against Stagg High School tonight at Weston Ranch. After two straight losses to Edison and Bear Creek, the Cougars hope to capture a little of their lost magic tonight in front of the many fans expecting a win on Homecoming night.

Last week at Bear Creek, the Cougars raced out to a 22-0 lead in the second quarter and appeared to be on their way to a convincing win. First, Jr. running back De’antae Lavan put the exclamation point on the Cougars first possession with a 23-yard TD run and then added a second TD on a 12-yard run as the first quarter ended. Then QB Fernando Vargas spotted Sophomore Joshua Mellion and hit him in stride for a 24-yard TD pass, and Weston Ranch led 22-0 with 10 minutes left in the first half and looked like they would hand the Bruins a big loss on its Homecoming night.

However, the Cougars surrendered a 75-yard kickoff return to get the Bruins close to the end zone, and Bear Creek scored two plays later. Weston Ranch then took its next possession 56 yards and was in a great position to score another TD and perhaps put the game away, but Vargas fumbled at the BC three-yard line and lost possession. The Bruins marched 97 yards and scored to make it 22-12 at halftime. The Cougars lost their momentum from there on out and couldn’t recover. Bear Creek locked down the Cougars running and passing game, shut out the Cougars in the second half, and scored two fourth-quarter TDs to complete the shocking comeback.

However, that was last week, and the Cougars will retake the field against Stagg. The Delta Kings are 1-1 in the SJAA and will look to spoil Homecoming night as the Cougars had hoped to do last week as guests of Bear Creek.

“Stagg is a familiar opponent for us,” said head coach Ron Wayman. “Although this is our first time facing them in league play, we have had several scrimmages against them over the summer, so there should be no surprises based on what we saw previously.”

Coming off two straight defeats and facing the Delta Kings will be no easy task. The Delta Kings are 1-1 in the SJAA and 3-2 overall, with three of those wins coming at the hands of Sierra (Manteca), Modesto, and Franklin High Schools. Edison blew out Stagg, 59-7, so both schools have a common opponent and share the same big loss to the Vikings.

“Game prep for the Cougars this week has been at an outstanding level of intensity and execution. We need to take that intensity to the field,” Wayman said.

Offensively, the Cougars will need to run and pass the football efficiently and find more ways to utilize Lavan, Mellion, Christopher Buttram, and Namir Brown-Sanger. They’ve proven they can move the football on the ground and air through five games. Lavan is an explosive runner capable of turning ordinary plays into memorable ones. Mellion is a big play WR, while Buttram and Brown-Sanger have recently emerged as new and reliable targets for Vargas to find.

Defensively, the Cougars will need to slow down Sr. RB Herman Mitchell, who enters tonight’s game averaging 131 yards per game and has found the end zone seven times in five games for the Delta Kings. The Cougars will also need to find a way to stop a potent Stagg passing attack. Sr. QB Jerry Rigumidin has thrown for 1046 yards, and 15 TD passes. It is a formidable task for the Cougars defense tonight. However, the Cougars have shown they can make big plays defensively and will need to make plenty of them tonight.

“Keys for tonight are simple: don’t turn the ball over, control the clock, run a balanced attack of run and passing, and make the key stops needed on defense,” Wayman said. “In our preparation, we have made some changes, which will surprise them, but we are prepared.”

So, as kickoff draws near, we look forward to another great night of high school football. Yet again, it will be another emotional and physical contest for Weston Ranch, and a win tonight would certainly be a signature win for Wayman’s program.

“Tonight’s game will sound like another replay of almost every game this season, a physical and emotional game,” said Wayman. “We are setting at #17 in the Sac-Joaquin D-3, and our opponent is at #14 in the D-1 ranking, which means this has the potential to be our most physical battle of the season.”

Besides being Homecoming and facing a formidable opponent, tonight will be unique for Wayman because he will be facing one of his coaching mentors, Stagg head coach Don Norton.

“On a personal level, this is the first time officially on the field I will be facing off against my mentor,” said Wayman. “So getting a win would be extremely special.”

JV will begin at 5 pm, and the Varsity will follow at 7 pm.