Hornet defense stings opponents

When Travis Brackett took over the Novato football program seven years ago, there wasn't even a weight room...

When Travis Brackett took over the Novato football program seven years ago, there wasn't even a weight room.


"They had one, but they got rid of it," Brackett said. "They said it was an eyesore.


"The equipment was ancient."


The Novato program was in disrepair as well. The Hornets went 2-8 the year before Brackett took over, a far cry from today's dominant outfit.


Now ranked sixth in the Bay Area by calhisports.com, Novato (10-1) takes on visiting Crescent City Del Norte (10-1) on Saturday night for the North Coast Section 2A Redwood Empire Championship.


A section title would be the Hornets second in five years.


Seven years ago Brackett got some help from the boosters to install a new weight room. He also developed a good relationship with the local Pop Warner league and, as he put it, "got people excited about Novato football again."


The Hornets coach also put an emphasis on academics. He established a mandatory study hall after school and demanded that athletes turn in progress reports to coaches so that their grades could be monitored.


A 1993 Novato graduate and former Hornet quarterback, Brackett knew the school was capable of more than 2-8. He was correct.


This year's team dropped its non-league opener, 21-3 to powerhouse Pleasanton Foothill, but has since won 10 consecutive games. Eight of those victories have been by shut out, including the last six games.


"We've just grown as a team," Brackett said. "It's taken a lot of time and effort."


It all begins with the front four for the Hornets' stellar defense. The unit consists of speed rusher Jon Delmau and teammates Chavo Mendez, Grey Keiser and Andre Shishkin. All are seniors.


That defensive line is the heart of a defense that has yielded just 42 points all season and just seven points during Marin County Athletic League play.


Other Hornet defensive standouts are linebackers Danny Jones and Alex Lieu and free safety Mike Nicolini.


The offense, averaging 39 points per game, is paced by quarterback Travis Senhaux, running back Shuan Campas and wideouts Chris Peters and Nicolini.


Brackett expects a tough game from Del Norte, a school so far north that it's almost in Oregon.


Del Norte also is on a 10-game winning streak.


"They're a good, tough team," Brackett said. "They've done a nice job this year, they have some good athletes and they play with a lot of intensity."


If Novato wins, it will play in the Redwood Empire vs. East Bay championship game Dec. 9 at the Oakland Coliseum.


No Marin-area team has played at the Coliseum since Kentfield Marin Catholic defeated Concord 16-12 in a 2A title game.



Golden State Preps Top Stories