Montgomery’s ‘Hogs’ have size on their side

Montgomery offensive linemen Dante Cattaneo, left, and Chris Mentch. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / PD, 2010)

By ERIC BRANCH
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Last year, they called themselves “The Hogs.”

OK, it’s not the most original nickname. After all, the Washington Redskins offensive linemen first gave themselves the tag more than a quarter-century ago.

But if you’ve heard the name before, you probably haven’t seen anything like this, at least not at the high school level: 6-foot-3, 295 pounds.

Yes, that’s the average size of the Montgomery offensive line.

“Pass-blocking wise,” said 6-3, 315-pound junior right guard Chris Mentch, “I don’t think anyone can get through us.”

And, for the second straight year, it appears the road to the North Bay League title could go through the Vikings. After reaching the North Coast Section Division II title game last year, Montgomery returns four all-Empire selections among its 10 starters.

Included among the star-studded returnees is junior right tackle Dante Cattaneo, a 6-4, 315-pounder who, like Mentch and junior center Adam Pina (6-3, 290), started as a sophomore. The front five also returns senior left tackle Mariano Malvino (6-3, 275), and junior Juliano Cattaneo (6-3, 280), Dante’s twin brother, replaces UC Davis-signee Jay Luchetti.

Without Luchetti, the beef up front lacks an unquestioned leader, says offensive line coach Frank Scalercio. But it doesn’t lack talent. Or the potential to be the unquestioned strength of this year’s team.

“They are going to have to be for us to be successful,” Montgomery coach Jason Franci said.

Last year, Montgomery was led by its defense. The Vikings return all-Empire picks in linebacker Caleb Jones-Sharpe and defensive lineman Cristobal Figueredo. But the unit will enter the season without seven starters from ‘09.

With that in mind, the Vikings could lean on an offense featuring their massive line and all-Empire running back Alex Ciudad-Real early in the season. Franci says Montgomery will also throw plenty with senior Kurtis Ceniceros and junior Danny McCray possibly splitting time at quarterback.

Run or pass, though, opposing defenses figure to have trouble busting though Montgomery’s 1,475 pounds up front.

Not that it will be impossible.

Scalercio says size isn’t the issue, but his four juniors still have some growing to do.

“They have the physical tools,” he said. “They obviously have size and they can all run pretty well. But it takes a lot of maturity in the trenches. It’s not all physical. They’ll get it, but it might not be until Week 5.”

TEAM PREVIEW

MONTGOMERY
Coach:
Jason Franci (31st season, 222-105-7 record)
2009 record: 11-3, 7-0 NBL (1st)
2009 JV record: 7-3
Returning starters: OFFENSE (6): RT Dante Cattaneo, Jr.; RB Alex Ciudad-Real, Sr.; WR Anthony Gebauer, Sr.; LT Mariano Malvino, Sr.; RG Chris Mentch, Jr.; C Adam Pina, Jr. DEFENSE (4): DL Eric Brown , Sr.; DL Cristobal Figueredo, Sr.; CB John Jesse, Sr.; LB Caleb Jones-Sharpe, Sr.
Players to watch: RB Alex Ciudad-Real: Despite ankle injury, had 978 yards and 13 TDs last year. LB Caleb Jones-Sharpe: One of five non-seniors to earn first-team all-Empire honors (52 tackles, six sacks).
Newcomer to watch: QB/WR Danny McCray: Junior could rotate with senior Kurtis Ceniceros at QB; will also see time at WR and DB.

SCHEDULE
Date – Opponent – Time

9-3 – at Windsor – 7:30 p.m.
9-10 – at Heritage – 7:30 p.m.
9-24 – at Casa Grande – 7:30 p.m.
10-1 – at Ukiah – 7 p.m.
10-8  – at Rancho Cotate – 7:30 p.m.
10-15 – vs. Piner – 7:30 p.m.
10-22 – vs. Cardinal Newman – 7:30 p.m.
10-29 – at Santa Rosa – 7:30 p.m.
11-5 – vs. Maria Carrillo – 7:30 p.m.
11-12 – vs. Elsie Allen – 7:30 p.m.

BY THE NUMBERS
1:
Losing seasons in the past 15 years.
7: All-Empire players on last year’s defense, which allowed 9.7 points in NBL games.
34: Carries for Ciudad-Real in last year’s 9-0 win over Newman. He had 161 yards, TD.