Woodside Tries to Live Up to the Hype

QB Matt Pelesasa and Woodside High School take on visiting Gilroy tonight at 7:30pm...

Football coaches generally have an aversion to looking ahead on the schedule (they like to play them one game at a time) and rankings. Anybody's rankings.

Woodside High School coach Steve Nicolopulos is no exception. So when the subject of the Wildcats' No. 1 San Mateo County ranking was broached, Nicolopulos sounded as if it was a virus.

"Rankings don't mean anything," he said. "I mean I guess it's nice, but we haven't played any games yet."

Still, Woodside is sitting up there atop the
San Mateo County heap, looking down upon the likes of San Mateo schools like Serra and Aragon, as well as South San Francisco, which has one of its better teams in years.


So it's obvious heading into Friday night's 7:30 p.m. game against visiting Gilroy that Woodside has talent and potential.


It returns senior quarterback Matt Pelesasa (6-2, 200), who threw for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns last season for the Wildcats (6-5). Nicolopulos described him as both a good thrower and runner.


Speaking of runners, senior Lopeti Taufoo (5-11, 180) is perhaps the Wildcats' most intriguing player. He was the West Catholic Athletic League sophomore of the year in 2004 at San Mateo Serra, but had some off-field problems following that season and had to leave the school.


Taufoo wound up at Woodside and, after sitting out last season, is ready to roll.

"He has decent size and speed, but he didn't play last year, so he still needs to get up to speed," Nicolopulos said.


Taufoo was the featured back in Serra's double-wing two years ago that lifted the Padres into the Central Coast Section playoffs. Other Wildcats to watch are defensive end Paul Tuiono, a third-year varsity player and defensive end/offensive lineman Jordan Carr.


Nicolopulos, in his second stint as the Wildcats' coach (eight years as coach overall), is no doubt hoping for a deeper foray into the CCS playoffs this season. Last year the Wildcats, following a CCS Medium School title in 2004, were knocked out in the opening round of CCS by Oak Grove, 30-14.

Gilroy (1-0) opened with a zero week 28-27 victory against Burlingame. It was the Mustangs' third consecutive close win (seven points or fewer) against Burlingame in as many years. It was also the first victory at Gilroy for new coach Rich Hammond.

Gilroy is still running the fly offense that former coach Mark Speckman installed in the late 1980s. Speckman is now a veteran and highly successful coach at Willamette University in Oregon.  Running backs Paul Gonzales and Travis Reyes both gained more than 100 yards against Burlingame. Quarterback Marc Vegas efficiently ran an offense that rolled up 334 yards.

The Mustangs allowed Burlingame 258 yards of offense last week, although Frank Subia and Jake Cantu managed interceptions.

"Gilroy is always good," Nicolopulos said. "They have a new coach and some quality players, with some running backs that look very talented on film."



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John Faulkner

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