HAROLD ABEND'S REDWOOD EMPIRE ROUNDUP

It's that time of the year when grassy fields start becoming bowls of mud.

As I sit looking out my office window in Southern Marin County, I can't help but reflect on my last three football seasons covering the San Diego Section. The words from the 1970s hit song "It never rains in Southern California" is ringing in my ears. It looks as though the Southland is going to get some much needed rain...just like what I'm looking at from my office. I only hope they don't get any mud slides...they certainly rarely have a "mud bowl" type of game like we are going to start seeing in the Redwood Empire from now until the end of the season.

I don't think there is any better weekend to have a few mud bowls than this one...the "Egg Bowl" in the chicken town of Petaluma and the "Apple Game" in Sebastopol make a combination for one of my favorite breakfast treats; chicken-apple sausages The treats for these games, however, may be a mouthful of mud and grass.

Super Seven Rankings

1) Eureka (8-0) -- McKinleyville is the latest victim to get sent to the pulp mill by the Loggers. The 55-0 whitewashing means Eureka has now outscored its league opponents 155-0. Josh Larson threw for 267 yards and two TDs, all in the first half as Eureka rolled up 560 yards in total offense, while limiting the Panthers to 98.

2) Marin Catholic, Kentfield (7-1) -- Quarterback Jim Collins completed 11 of 15 passes for 201 yards with three touchdowns and accounted for a fourth by opening the scoring on a 1-yard keeper as the Wildcats remained unbeaten in Marin County League play with a 41-21 victory under the lights against Terra Linda in San Rafael. The Wildcats would seem to have the inside track on the league title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCS Redwood Empire 2A championships. But first they must get by a tough Justin-Siena team that visits Kentfield this Saturday.

3) Casa Grande, Petaluma (7-1) -- Super sophomore sensation Joe Trombetta went over the 200-yard mark rushing for the fourth time this year in a 46-27 victory at home against visiting Tamalpais of Marin in a non-league contest this past Thursday. This time it was 202 yards on 21 carries with three TDs. Next up is the "Egg Bowl" against crosstown rival Petaluma. Casa should win easy, but funny things have happened before in this game...especially if it is muddy.

4) Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa (7-1) -- Elsie Allen was no match for the Cardinals, which exploded for 48 points in winning at home 48-14. Newman was obviously fired up after having its chance of an unbeaten season stopped last week by Rancho Cotate. This coming Saturday it will be for all the marbles as the Cardinals travel to unfriendly territory across town to meet Montgomery. I hope to be on hand for this dogfight.

5) Montgomery (6-1-1) -- "I never had a second thought about kicking that field goal," said longtime Montgomery coach, Jason Franci, referring to his decision to allow junior kicker, John Fitzgerald, to attempt a 26-yard field goal on fourth and two at the Piner nine yard line with 1:11 remaining in the game. Fitzgerald, who earlier had shanked an extra point that had allowed Piner to lead 21-20, booted the ball straight at the middle of the goal posts, into a strong westerly wind and just over the crossbar. The ball actually hit the support in the middle, bounced straight up...and down, but behind the all important bar as Montgomery took the lead 23-21. But the game was not over. After the Vikings made a mental mistake on the ensuing kickoff by kicking the ball out of bounds, the Prospectors had good field position at their own 35 yard line with 1:04 to play. Piner junior signal caller Greg Alexander (a 6-3, 200-pounder who finished 9 of 21 for 176 yds and 2 TDs) then drove his team down to the Montgomery 37-yard line before a final "Hail Mary" fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired, giving the Vikings the victory by the aforementioned margin.

Overall, the contest between the Vikings (6-1-1 and 4-0-1 in North Bay League) and the Prospectors (6-2 and 4-1 in North Bay League) was a see-saw battle that was kept close by turnovers and penalties. The difference was the depth of Montgomery's running game and the push up front on defense. Junior running back Josh Jamison (6-1, 200) had a strong performance with 108 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown while sophomore Carl Sierra, in only his second varsity game, worked hard down the stretch when the Vikings needed to chew up yardage. For the game, Sierra had 19 carries for 83 yards and an 18 yard touchdown run in the second quarter. On defense, Carson Cooper had four tackles for loss, including two of the five sacks Montgomery had against Alexander.

6T) Novato (6-2) -- The Hornets did it with defense again as they continue to shut down the offense of most of the opponents they have faced this season. San Marin could only score once as Novato continued a drive to the playoffs with a 13-7 victory in a game dedicated to the Novato firefighter, Steve Rucker, who was killed in Southern California last week.

6T) Analy, Sebastopol (7-1) -- Put a real spanking on Healdsburg in winning 42-19. Next up is the "Apple Game" against El Molino. The Tigers should win easy even if it is muddy.

On The Bubble

8) Piner, Santa Rosa (6-2)

9) Ferndale (8-0)

10) Redwood (6-2)

11) Justin-Siena (6-2)

12) Middletown (8-0)

Editor's Note: Harold Abend is in his first year as a Cal-Hi Sports correspondent from the Redwood Empire. Previously, he has been the correspondent from the San Diego Section. Abend also has served as a media relations consultant for the CIF state office for many years.


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