Richie Estrada

Coming into his senior year, Richie Estrada has a lot to build on from his 2012 success where the tight end led the Mountain Lions to their first playoff appearance and win in four seasons.

Randy Metcalf/The Explorer

There’s no reason Mountain View’s Richie Estrada shouldn’t be one of the best running backs in the city this season.

That’s the expectation of second-year head coach Clarence “Bam” McRae, the former University of Arizona tight end who last year led the Mountain Lions to their first playoff since 2008.

Of course, Estrada plans on proving him right.

The 5-foot, 10-inch, 190-pounder is setting the bar high this year after a highly successful 2012 in which he rushed for 19 touchdowns on 1,754 yards – an average of almost 150 yards per game and more than nine yards per carry. Numbers like those were emulated only by a select few in D-II play last year, most of which were seniors and have since graduated.

Now it’s Estrada’s senior year, and it’s his time to shine.

Estrada knows what he has to do. Luckily for him, he has a very seasoned, veteran team to fall back on, which includes 19 seniors.

The experienced running back also has the ability to pick the brain of McRae, who revived what was previously a struggling Mountain View football program.

“Bam is a great coach,” said Estrada. “He’s smart, he knows the game, and he leads us to victory.”

The Mountain Lions made it to the second round of the D-II playoffs last year before falling to Salpointe Catholic 35-7.

The goal this year is a state title. It’s the only way Estrada wants to retire from his high school career.

“The bar is high, our expectations are high, but we know we can do it,” said Estrada.

Getting there will take hard work. Estrada knows that. All the Mountain Lions know that.

The workouts, the practices, the camps – they’re all underway. And Estrada says the team is looking sharp.

“We’re getting everything we can out of our practices,” he said. “We are going to be smart, we are going to lay everything down, we are going to be unstoppable.”

Estrada’s ability to see the field, his stop and go, his quick acceleration, and his power were troublesome for opponents last year. He says he is working out harder than ever this year, fixing any holes in his game.

“I’m really pushing it this year,” he said. “I’m working on my foot speed, explosiveness, and putting my foot in the dirt more.”

Despite his natural athleticism, Estrada’s success this season will be equally dependent on other role players.

“The offensive line is really what makes it easy for me,” said Estrada. “They allow me to get where I need to go.”

Estrada also has the benefit of continuing his work with friend and quarterback Cody Rochon this year.

McRae expects the one-two combo of Rochon to cause some headaches for opponents’ defense.

“When you have your quarterback and running back both returning, that takes a lot of pressure off,” said McRae. “They will be able to lead and guide our guys to make an opportunity for success this year. It’s a blessing to have them both back.”

Linebacker Corbin Gouby is also expected to have a big year.

With the senior-heavy lineup, there is a lot of history and friendships on this team.

If there is one thing that could bring the team closer, it’s a state championship run.

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