Sequoia takes a step up in competition

For a nonleague game with little impact on how far each team will advance into the playoffs later this year, there is quite a lot riding on Friday night’s prep football game between Pinole Valley and Sequoia.

Both teams come into the nonleague game, with kickoff at Sequoia High slated for 7 p.m., with 2-0 records and both escaping with close wins last week. It will also mark the fourth time Sequoia coach Rob Poulos will lead a team against his high school alma mater. It’s also a chance for Poulos to even his record against his old school at 2-2.

But even more importantly for Poulos, it will present his Cherokees team with exposure to a program that is known for winning and producing top athletes at the next level.

“It is going to be a slugfest,” Poulus said following a practice this week. “[Pinole Valley is] big, strong and fast. Football is a very big thing to them. It’s important to our kids to be exposed to that and get a feel for that type of football.

“It is where we want to be. It is what we are building toward.”

If the Cherokees are going to even their coach’s record against Pinole Valley, they will do so behind junior strong safety-fullback Josh Lauese, who leads the team in rushing yards, with 159 after the first two games. But more importantly, Lauese is a leader in another key area for Sequoia.

“He’s been putting hits on people like you would not believe,” Poulos, a 1985 graduate of Pinole Valley, said of Lauese.

Lauese’s 14 tackles are second only to outside linebacker-defensive end Vita Taungahihifo’s 20 to lead the team’s 3-4 defense.

“It’s one of the things that we hung our hat on since I got here,” Lauese said, “… having a hard-hitting defense that flies to the ball.”

Of course, it helps the defense to have an offense that has put up 44 and 45 points on the board in its first two games.

Quarterback James Beekley is coming off a 210-yard, three-touchdown performance last week against Galileo, giving the Cherokees a balanced attack and their opponents’ defense big headaches.

“We are a multiformation offense,” Poulos said. “We can run or pass depending on how the defense lines up against us.”

So far, the Cherokees are getting the job done on both sides of the ball this season.

“We keep doing that,” Poulos said, “and we’ll be OK.”

Sequoia breakdown

Coach: Rob Poulos (second season, 9-3 overall)
Section-league: Central Coast Section-Peninsula Athletic League Lake Division
2010 record: 2-0 overall
2009 record: 7-3 overall, 3-3 PAL Lake
Last week: 45-36 win over Galileo
This week: vs. Pinole Valley (2-0); at Sequoia High, Friday, 7 p.m.
Key stat: Sequoia’s Poulos is 1-2 as a coach against his high school alma mater

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