Mavericks hope run game takes off with Cimolino
Scoring points and piling up offensive yards has been difficult for the Colorado Mesa University football program in recent years.
The Mavericks scrapped the complex pro-style offense, brought in Shawn Marsh as the new offensive coordinator and changed to a spread offense.
Although Mesa struggled offensively in its season opener against Humboldt State (Calif.) University, the running game showed signs of improvement last week. Jake Cimolino rushed for 144 yards on 21 carries (6.9 per carry) in a 52-30 victory over Dixie State (Utah) College. He has 188 yards in two games.
“I think we’ve barely tapped into it,” Cimolino said. “It will happen. We’ve seen a preview of what we can do.”
Mesa coach Joe Ramunno and the Mavericks hope the redshirt freshman can provide the punch they’ve needed running the ball like they had three years ago with Bobby Coy, the last time Mesa had a winning record.
The Mavericks begin conference play against 11th-ranked and two-time defending RMAC champion Nebraska-Kearney at noon Saturday at Stocker Stadium.
Coy was the last Maverick to rush for 1,000 yards in a season in 2008. He’s tied with Michael Vaughn as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,161 yards.
“From the get-go, Coach (Darin) Robidoux brought a tape into my office and said, ‘Watch this tape and tell me who you think of,’ ” Ramunno said. “I watched it and said, ‘That’s Bobby Coy.’ He said, ‘That’s right.’
“We got it from one of the national scouting services. We called him, got some interest and got him out here.”
At 6 feet, 205 pounds, Cimolino is taller than Coy (5-10, 205), but he’s still shifty and can run with power between the tackles.
Cimolino went virtually unnoticed at a small high school in northern California. He was California’s small school player of the year after a second consecutive season with more than 2,000 rushing yards. He led his school to the North Coast Section Championship in 2009.
“A lot of the big schools didn’t bother to look at my high school,” Cimolino said. “In order to get more exposure, I signed up with a (recruiting service) online. They created a recruiting profile and sent it out to a few schools across the country.”
Cimolino didn’t know much about what was then Mesa State College, but knew he wanted to play at an NCAA Division I or II program.
Knowing his father liked Colorado from his days going to a technical school in Denver, he came out for an official visit and loved it.
“It is a great place for me,” Cimolino said. “I wanted to get away from home. I was ready for a change, but I didn’t want to go too far east.
“Mesa offered me a scholarship and it seemed like a good fit.”
Cimolino said he felt prepared for last year’s pro-style offense, but prefers the spread offense CMU is running this season.
The offensive line sure enjoys blocking for him.
“Jake makes us look good, so that’s always nice,” Mesa center Austin Bennett said. “He can juke people or run people over. He makes us look good, which we like. He runs real hard.”