Columbia Cougars Prep for Start of Football Season With Scrimmage

Columbia players celebrate after scoring a touchdown during Friday's scrimmage. Credits: Adam Stiles
Cougars' head coach Dave Curtin and quarterback Jimmy Martinez watch the action during the scrimmage against Warren Hills on Friday. Credits: Adam Stiles

MAPLEWOOD, N.J. -- Columbia High football looks to get back on track this year after a disappointing 4-6 record last season. A scrimmage Friday night gave fans a closer look at the team and its key players.

The Cougars’ offensive attack will be led by junior quarterback Jimmy Martinez, a first-year starter. Martinez will mainly be taking snaps from the shotgun formation and has the size and athleticism to effectively run the read-option offense. He has cemented his place as the starter and has the support of head coach Dave Curtin and the rest of the coaching staff.

The running back position will be by committee and has no clear-cut starter. The Cougar wide receiving corps, anchored by 6-foot-1 junior C.J. Ibezim, has height and ability. Look for the bulk of the scoring to come from Martinez, whether it be his rushing attack or firing passes to his towering receivers.

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On the defensive side of the ball, the Cougars use a base 4-3 defense. Defensive coordinator Lees Blanc likes to utilize the blitz and will often have eight, or even nine, men in the box. Don’t expect the Cougars to shut anyone down offensively this year. Defense is probably where the team will struggle. Expect them to give up a lot of points this year, especially when facing talented running backs.

The Cougars appeared rusty at their Friday night scrimmage at Underhill Sports Complex against Warren Hills. Depth could potentially become an issue as several of the backups struggled immensely.

When asked after the game how he feels about the upcoming season, Curtin was reluctant but reassuring. “We’re close to ready,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to still do in the next few days”

Curtin added that he was proud of his team’s performance in the third quarter, in which they held Warren Hills scoreless and scored on a Martinez touchdown throw. “If we play the way we did here in the third quarter, we can hang with anybody,” he said. “You just gotta capture that.”

Curtin’s Cougars open their season on the road against the Kearny High Kardinals at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.

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