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Madison senior Pierre Cormier has rushed for 1,779 yards this season.

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As an eighth-grader playing for the Clairemont Hawks Pop Warner team, Pierre Cormier started taking special interest in the success of the Madison High football program.

“That was their first appearance in the CIF finals and it became a goal of mine to make it my senior year,” Cormier said of the 2008 team. “I remember when the Robbie Rouse team made the playoffs. It was unique, but now it has become expected.

“We want to keep it going, to make history of our own, helping make ours into the most prominent program in San Diego.”

Lofty goals, but Cormier hopes to be up to the challenge Saturday morning at 10:35 at Escondido High when the Warhawks take on top-seeded St. Augustine for the Division IV championship — and maybe more.

The solidly built 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior running back who has committed to the University of Arizona, has certainly done his part this year as he averages better than a first down per rush while gaining 1,779 yards on just 168 attempts.

With Cormier leading the way, the Warhawks have rolled to 10 straight wins while compiling an 11-1 record. The lone loss came to Valhalla while Cormier sat on the bench nursing a knee ligament injury.

Cormier was a reserve running back on the 2010 Warhawks team that made history by not only beating Valley Center to capture the school’s first section football title but advancing to the Division III State Bowl Championship game where it lost in the rain to Escalon.

“The only time I got in the game was when we were way ahead and I didn’t get in either of those games,” said Cormier, who absorbed enough of the championship atmosphere at Qualcomm Stadium and the Home Depot Center to want a repeat.

“Sometimes we talk about the possibilities of the state playoffs, but we’re focused on this game and what happens after that happens. This is what we’ve been focusing on all year, so we need to take care of business.”

Cormier is a delight to watch — unless you’re the opponent. Give him a crease and you might not see him again. He combines track speed and uncanny field vision and that explosive burst that puts him in the secondary before you know it. Once there, few can catch him.

“Pierre is not intimidated by anyone,” said coach Rick Jackson, who calls his running back one of the best in school history. “He isn’t just a player, he’s a leader, a competitor and part of the chemistry that makes this team special.”

Cormier says he watches the eyes of the defenders after the play is called and generally he’ll know if the play will work or not.

“I can tell if they’re blitzing, and after that I try to get a good angle and just let my natural talent do the rest,” he said.

Since Cormier barely played as a sophomore, he is impressed with the success of St. Augustine freshman Elijah Preston, who has rushed for 1,439 yards and 13 TDs in nine games.

“It’s hard enough adjusting from Pop Warner football to freshman football, but to have that kind of success on the varsity is ridiculous,” Cormier said. “It says a lot about him and his line. I’m really looking forward to this game.”

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