Finley making things finer at Tam.

When Karl Finley arrived in Marin almost a decade ago, I immediately saw his prowess as a coach and teacher. In fact, at the time, I asked the coach of the San Rafael Bulldogs if he was planning on sticking around the area for awhile.

The answer is that not only has he stuck around for awhile, he has built a reputation in the community both in football and his professional life. After a successful stint at San Rafael and a year at College of Marin, Finley has resurfaced at Tamalpais in Mill Valley.

Finley inherited a program that was winless at all levels last year (0-30). But with an athletic department under new AD Gene Ng that has renewed spirit and direction, Finley and his coaching staff bring an attitude of discipline, hard work and team spirit...all things that they use in their professional careers. Finley works for Marin County as a Registered Nurse at Juvenile Hall. Assistant head coach John Roy is a Deputy Sheriff and another assistant, Darnell Roary, is a Juvenile Probation Officer.

Tam won its first game of the season against Richmond and in week 2 gave Redwood a dog fight in falling 13-10. Look for this program to continue to improve.

Up in Kentfield, meanwhile, it looks as though Marin Catholic may be a legitimate contender for the MCAL crown, as well as a threat to Analy and Healdsburg for the 2A title.

Marin Catholic's opening game loss to St. Ignatius (SF) seemed vindicated when SI shut out perennial CCS power San Lorenzo Valley 27-0 this past week...and the Wildcats ended the 16-game winning streak of Novato by shutting out the Hornets 14-0.

Novato may not be quite as strong as last year, but the Hornets were coming off an identical 14-0 blanking of a strong Casa Grande squad themselves.Things are a little unpredictable in high school football at this time of the year, but one thing is for sure...Marin Catholic is a team on the move.

Ken Peralta comes over from Riordan in San Francisco and brings an attitude that no one is going to work harder on the field or in the classroom than the Wildcats.

"We can only worry about ourselves and our conditioning," says Peralta. "Our goal is to out-condition the other team."

At a recent practice, Peralta dismissed the team by them "to hit the books and the homework."

Senior wide receiver Ryan Chisholm (6-2, 190, 54 catches for almost 700 yards last year) returned after missing the SI game and caught both touchdowns for the Wildcats. His almost 4.0 GPA has some Ivy League schools as well as Cal and others looking at him.

Junior running back Khalil Bell told Cal Hi Sports he "hasn't even gotten untracked yet this year," and that he's "working hard on speed and getting faster." He still has 208 yards on 49 carries and a touchdown in two games. Remember, last year he had over 1,600 yards at Montgomery before transferring to Marin Catholic for the "educational and athletic opportunity."

Up in apple country in Sebastopol, Analy coach Mike Moreda tells Cal Hi Sports that "this is his best team in 15 years of coaching at the high school level."

They must be feeding senior running back and defensive end Greyson Gunheim a lot of apples. He's 6-6, 240 pounds and is being recruited by most of the Pac 10 and many other schools. Big and fast, he's considered the top running back in the Redwood Empire by most coaches and writers we talked to.

Week 2 Rankings

1) Montgomery, Santa Rosa (2-0) -- Clay Farrell threw for 224 yards and 2 TDs in a 15-10 win on the road at Sonoma. Next up is Casa Grande and this will be the featured game of the week for the Redwood Empire...see you at the Big House on Friday.

2) Eureka (2-0) -- The collision course with Montgomery would seem to be almost inevitable. This week the Loggers rolled past another victim of its high powered fly offense, tying up perennially tough Shasta 27-15.

3) Analy, Sebastopol (2-0) -- The Tigers added to the woes of Rancho Cotate by pinning a 27-3 whipping on the hapless Cougars. Next up is Santa Rosa at home. Look for Analy to win real big.

4T) Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa (2-0) -- This week the Cardinals travel to Healdsburg in what should be one heck of a football game. Paul Cronin moves over from Piner in his first year as coach at Newman...and this will be the first real test with him at the helm.

4T) Healdsburg (2-0) -- The Hounds got fat in the preseason on two lower echelon teams in the Marin County League, Drake and San Rafael. Now, let's see what they do at home against Cardinal Newman.

6) Marin Catholic, Kentfield (1-1) -- Wildcats better not take San Rafael lightly, but if Novato couldn't score on Marin Catholic and with the Wildcats improving each week, the Bulldogs may be in for a long Saturday afternoon.

Editor's note -- Harold Abend is starting his fourth year as a correspondent for Cal-Hi Sports. This year, he will be focusing on the Redwood Empire and Marin County. Abend also is Vice President of Marketing for Marinscope Newspapers. He has been a public relations assistant for CIF state championship events for many years as well. We didn't think he'd be available to do a column this week, but it looks like he just can't help himself.

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