Ukiah/Petaluma football

Friday’s game between Ukiah and Petaluma was a good one. Lots of running and an excellent high school quarterback for Ukiah — senior Kyle Morris.

Ukiah running back Marcos Hernandez rushed for 160 yards, most of them coming on delay draw plays, that Petaluma finally began anticipating in the second half. Ukiah could have been up two TDs at the half instead of one, but Petaluma’s defense tightened inside the 10 and they stopped Morris a yard short of a first down at the 3-yard line just before the end of the half.

There was no scoring in the second half, but a lot of action.

Petaluma seems snake-bit so far, having two impressive drives stopped by a holding penalty and a fumble, which essentially decided the game. Last week, Petaluma’s triple option turned the ball over four times in a loss to Redwood, really uncharacteristic of a Petaluma offense.

Ukiah moved the ball too in the second half, although it didn’t score. Petaluma held Morris in check after he threw for 100 yards in the second quarter. He wound up 11 of 18 for 138 yards, which means other than the second quarter, Petaluma’s defense did a good job containing him.

Morris did throw to seven different receivers and showed the ability to scramble. His dad Craig is Ukiah’s offensive cooridinator.

Petaluma’s offense sometimes doesn’t look like it’s doing much and then you add up the yardage and get surprised. The Trojans rushed for 240 yards, with junior Ricky Sims leading with 96 yards on 15 carries. Sean Sullivan, a smallish but quick runner, finished with 65 yards on 8 carries. He rushed for 1,000 yards last year as a sophomore and has very good speed. He’ll break some before the season is over.

Ukiah could stay in the hunt for the NBL title, but it will be tough with Cardinal Newman and Rancho Cotate also looking strong. Ukiah, 2-0, plays at Eureka next week and then opens the NBL against Piner.

Morris is very impressive. Works out of the shotgun and has a strong arm. He looks like college material.

Petaluma plays at Rancho Cotate next week.

Colleague Phil Barber blogged the following from the Sonoma game:

If you use Friday night’s home loss to Vallejo as the yardstick, the Sonoma Valley Dragons aren’t likely to measure up. But that would be an unfair gauge. Vallejo was massive on the line, and more important, had incredible speed at several key positions. The Dragons aren’t likely to face another team with that kind of speed in 2008, and they should be highly competitive against more mortal opponents.

Last year, the Dragons relied heavily on running back Matt Darnell. This year, the main cog is Nick Fedrick, known more for wrestling until he took up football last year. Fedrick is a hard runner, not as fast as Darnell but harder to bring down. The run game is in solid hands.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Sonoma can develop a passing game. Quarterback Jake Powers was ineffective Friday, completing only 8 of 25 passes for 102 yards, with three interceptions. It really wasn’t Powers’ fault, though. He often had a pass rusher in his grille before he’d even set up to throw. I thought that was the one strategic flaw in the Dragons’ game; they never found an answer for Vallejo linebacker Joe Pastrana, who was rushing off the edge all game.

Powers’ favorite target is Steve Filippi, a wide receiver who excels at slant routes. The Dragons like to set picks for Filippi and let him work in open space. They need to find a complementary receiver, though.

The defense, meanwhile, looks stout, as it did in leading Sonoma to the second round of the playoffs a year ago. Vallejo had three or four highly elusive runners. But after an early 57-yard touchdown pass, the Apaches had only one play of more than 16 yards, and only 224 total in the game. Linebacker Mike Mulas is a terror, strong and quick to diagnose.

The Dragons finish their tough preseason schedule against Maria Carrillo next Friday. They should be battle-tested by the time SCL play opens. They could also be 0-3.