Rancho Cotate’s Dworkin up to speed

Rancho Cotate running back Brian Dworkin. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / PD, 2010)

By ERIC BRANCH
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

As a 140-pound sophomore, Rancho Cotate running back Brian Dworkin thought he could survive the rigors of the varsity thanks to his speed.

Two years, 2,551 yards and 30 touchdowns later, Dworkin acknowledges that, well, he’s a little faster than he he figured.

“I knew I had some speed, but I didn’t know it would be like this,” Dworkin said. “I mean, I knew I was fast, but I just thought a lot of other people would be just as fast.”

Guess not.

The 5-foot-8 Dworkin, who has filled out to about 170 pounds, has been a terror in the Cougars’ vaunted triple-option offense. In 22 starts, he is averaging 116 yards a game. He has rushed for more than 120 yards in 12 games and has four 200-yard games in his career.

Even at 140 pounds, Rancho Cotate coach Ed Conroy didn’t hesitate to put him in the backfield two years ago.

“When we went to camp that summer, you could just see he was going to be a starter,” Conroy said. “He has these great instincts and the ability to make a cut and then really accelerate. … It’s not coaching, it’s God-given talent.”

Despite his size, Dworkin is also durable, never missing a game in his career.

And Rancho hopes he will keep the streak alive this season.

The Cougars know he’ll be an essential ingredient to a team that harbors legitimate North Bay League title hopes.

In addition to Dworkin, Rancho returns option-quarterback whiz Poueu Peleti-Gore and two all-Empire picks in wide receiver/defensive back Sean Fish, one of the area’s top sprinters, and tight end/defensive end Mike Tuaua, the team’s strongest player.

The Cougars also welcome back all-league honorable-mention picks in cornerback Justin Martin and linebacker Vaimaa Taito, who ranked second on the team with 9.9 tackles a game as a sophomore. Conroy says lockdown cornerback Xavier Griffin, like Martin, has the potential to cover wide receivers one-on-one, which allows his defense to bring plenty of pressure.

“We are as skilled and as fast as we’ve been in a long time,” Conroy said.

The offense will also feature versatility. Peleti-Gore will share time with strong-armed junior Ricky Garcia, potentially giving the Cougars a potent passing game.

In limited duty last year, Garcia completed 21 of 35 passes for 363 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

TEAM PREVIEW

RANCHO COTATE
Coach:
Ed Conroy (21st season, 129-99-4 record)
2009 record: 6-5, 4-3 NBL (T3rd), 2009 JV record: 5-5
Returning starters: OFFENSE (5): C Gregg Connor, Sr.; RB Brian Dworkin, Sr.; WR Sean Fish, Sr.; QB Poueu Peleti-Gore, Sr.; TE Mike Tuaua, Sr. DEFENSE (5): FS Sean Fish, Sr.; CB Xavier Griffin, Sr.; CB Justin Martin, Sr.; LB Vaimaa Taito, Jr.; DE Mike Tuaua, Sr.
Players to watch: WR/FS Sean Fish: In run-based offense, big-play threat averaged 43.3 yards on nine catches. Earned all-Empire honors at CB. TE/DE Mike Tuaua: Earned second-team all-Empire honors after averaging 8.1 tackles a game.
Newcomer to Watch: DL/FB Matt Hunn: Six-foot-4, 240-pounder is expected to make impact on both sides.

SCHEDULE
Date – Opponent – Time

9-10 – at Pinole Valley – 7 p.m.
9-17 – at Castlemont – 7:30 p.m.
9-24 – vs. Petaluma – 7:30 p.m.
10-2 – at Piner – 1 p.m.
10-8 – vs. Montgomery – 7:30 p.m.
10-15 – vs. Elsie Allen – 7:30 p.m.
10-22 – at Ukiah – 7:30 p.m.
10-29 – vs. Cardinal Newman – 7:30 p.m.
11-5 – vs. Santa Rosa – 7:30 p.m.
11-12 – at Maria Carrillo – 7:30 p.m.

BY THE NUMBERS
2:
Losing seasons since 1998.
.686: Winning percentage (94-41-2) since 1998.
271.2: In past 22 games, average yards rushing per contest.