EL CERRITO -- Salesian High football coach Chad Nightingale can read a box score as well as anyone, and he knows what awaits his team Friday when it visits El Cerrito at 7 p.m. in a Tri-County Athletic League Rock Division matchup of unbeatens.
"Really what we've got to do is prevent them from making big plays," Nightingale said. "They make a living on big plays, punt returns, kickoff returns, screens and long runs for touchdowns."
Nightingale isn't joking. The Gauchos have outscored their opponents 240-36 in starting 5-0 overall and 1-0 in league play.
But for every big-time playmaker El Cerrito has -- and the Gauchos definitely have their share -- the development of the offensive and defensive lines has been equally important to the fast start.
"As much as people have left them as a question mark," El Cerrito coach Kenny Kahn said, "I believe our offensive and defensive lines have been playing a great game."
The group of Christos Magganas, Freddy Sanchez, William Dreyer, Johnny Tolliver, Olalekan Ajayi and DaVonte Akpan has come together to help the Gauchos.
That unit will be tested again this week by a Salesian squad intent on protecting its own 5-0 overall and 1-0 league records. The Pride is also looking to continue its impressive 26-game winning streak.
In last week's 40-21 win over Pinole Valley, Salesian dominated up front, rushing for 344 yards as a team.
"I think we've been pretty good," Nightingale said. "In every game, either our defense has played really well or our offense has played really well."
El Cerrito isn't getting caught up trying to break a lengthy win streak.
"I know we've been humbled in a number of ways (this season) but we know that the last three weeks we've played teams of a high caliber," Kahn said. "There's no question you have to pay respect to a team that's done that but you also have to realize they can be beaten."