How Piner got its first win

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
On the bright side, there’s not a lot left to lose when you start the season 0-6.
Just ask first-year Piner coach Matt Tomlin, who made some sweeping changes to his winless team – even altering how they should celebrate touchdowns – prior to the Prospectors’ breakthrough 17-11 win against Santa Rosa on Saturday.
Among Tomlin’s new marching orders: Celebrate the first touchdown like you just won the lottery. And don’t worry about getting a 15-yard personal-foul penalty for excessive celebration.
Tomlin was hoping to loosen his team up, but his biggest change involved keeping the Prospectors’ fresh in the fourth quarter.
Last week, Tomlin declared that his players would no longer play both offense and defense, a workload that typically left much of his 28-man roster spent in the second half.
“I gave a list to my coaches on offense and defense and said these are the guys you get,” Tomlin said. “They started fighting and saying ‘No, I want this guy on offense. No, I want this guy on defense.’ They thought I was crazy. I told them, ‘These are the guys you get. We are going to make a commitment to play one-way football.’”
In order to accomplish his goal, Tomlin brought up six junior varsity players and started four of them against Santa Rosa. He also started Piner basketball star Elliot Collins at free safety, a particularly bold stroke since Collins had never played in an organized football game before Saturday.
Said Tomlin, “He came to see me about two weeks ago and said I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know where to line up. But I’m a good athlete.”
Of course, none of Tomlin’s tinkering would have mattered without some brilliant performances against Santa Rosa.
Wide receiver and placekicker Kameron Rose, a star on the Prospectors’ soccer team, had 5 catches for 105 yards with a 30-yard touchdown grab and drilled a 45-yard field goal. Quarterback Logan Stiles completed 19 of 31 passes for 205 yards – tossing 25 passes in the first half in another surprise move by Tomlin.
On defense, linebacker John Rickard had 11 tackles and two sacks and defensive end Manuel Morataya had seven tackles and two sacks, performances that were overshadowed by middle linebacker Michael Mook’s jaw-dropping effort.
Mook had 14 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery that he returned 60 yards.
Yes, in a season were so much has gone wrong, the Prospectors did just about everything right Saturday.
In fact, after their first touchdown they celebrated so wildly that a referee was forced to throw a flag.
Just like Piner drew it up.