|C-P seniors stepping up in leadership|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
Sept. 10, 2004 - COMO - While attending a football game on Friday nights at Como-Pickton High School, fans will see emotions running high and defensive leadership from two seniors this season.
Starting fullback John Sullivan and linebacker Jr. Miramontes have played major roles in the success of the team going 2-0 so far this season.
Just after the national anthem ends after every ballgame, Sullivan is the first player heard getting his teammates fired up for the game, and he enjoys every minute of it.
"I feel that when it comes to ballgames, you have to be pumped up," Sullivan said. "You can't just go into a ballgame and not be excited. I have always had a tendency to do that every year."
Sullivan believes that with the way the team is playing on offense right now, it is an exciting time after going 1-9 last year in coach Joe Ryzman's first year with the Eagles.
"We are taking things one play at a time, and one game at a time. Hopefully, when everything is clicking like it is right now and we can get rid of the penalties we had last week, we can be a contender for a district championship," Sullivan said. "Our goal is to get a gold ball, and that is what we want to do."
This season, Sullivan is averaging over five yards-per-carry for the Eagles with eight carries for 45 yards in two games in the backfield, and he is happy with his performance during the first two games.
"I would like a lot more. But I know I am not the back to run the ball, I am just supposed to block. I am pretty happy with the five-yard average," Sullivan said.
With a tandem in the backfield of senior Tyrin Porter and junior Ray Hayden, Sullivan enjoys being able to block for them and see the progress that his teammates have made this season
Porter and Hayden have combined for 12 of the team's 15 offensive touchdowns this season, and Sullivan said the offensive line deserves some of the credit for how these three backs are performing for the Eagles.
"Our line is blocking really good and Tyrin and Ray are running the ball really well, and you can't ask for anything better than that," Sullivan said. "Tyrin has been put in a shadow all these years of Larrin and then you got Tyrin running the ball as well as he is running the ball right now with the average that he has. I think that it is awesome how we are running the ball right now. We have got a good offensive line and three good backs that are getting us where we need to be."
On the defensive side of the ball, Miramontes takes over the role of play-caller for the team, according to Ryzman, in recognizing when defensive fronts need to be adjusted and plays relayed in from the sideline during the game.
Miramontes said he believes C-P works like a well-oiled machine Friday nights and everybody knows what their role is each and every week.
"We work together really well. Our defensive line is awesome, and everyone knows what to do to get the job done on defense," Miramontes said.
The defensive unit has allowed only one touchdown and given up 82.5 yards a game rushing this season, but Miramontes said it should be much lower.
"I am actually mad about it. I think we have given them too much. You know, we are a better defense especially on the ground," he said. "Our defense holds us together, and the 82 yards a game should be less in my opinion."
With their toughest game against Harmony tonight, the defense is focusing on eliminating mistakes made in last week's game against Celeste.
"We need to just work together Friday night and cut out the mistakes we have made. We need to just be able to bring the hat and be willing to hit somebody," Miramontes said. "We are pumped and ready to go. We want to let everybody know that we are not the underdog and everybody's homecoming, and that we are ready to go."
Sullivan believes that the team's preparation has helped it gain confidence this season and by the time district rolls around in two weeks, the Eagles could contend for a playoff berth.
"I think so far we have surprised a lot of people. It starts with practice on Monday and the coaches coming in on Saturday and getting us prepared. If we come out and give 110 percent in practice it is supposed to make us a better athlete and get us ready for that week's game," Sullivan said.
With that in mind, Sullivan and Miramontes hope 2004 can be a different story and get them past the first round of the playoffs after CPHS was ousted from the first round during the 2000-2002 seasons.
"A lot of people say both wins have been 1A teams so far and we have blown them out, but I just say we take it one game at a time and see how far we go," Sullivan said. "I don't care whether we blow somebody out or we beat them by a point. A win is a win and that goes in the win column and that is what I want.
"I think everybody in this district is going to be shocked, and I think we already have shocked them," Miramontes said. "Everybody around is going to be shocked to see us come through this year."