Loss on and off the field for Piner

Portable lighting was brought in to help alleviate the failure of a transformer on a light pole at Analy, Friday in Sebastopol. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)



Piner High School football players lost more than a football game Friday at Analy High in Sebastopol.

The visitors’ locker room was entered during the first half and players’ possessions were stolen, Sebastopol Lt. James Conner said Monday.

Eight players have reported the loss of five cell phones, three iPods, two wallets and one set of headphones from their gym bags, Conner said.

Her son, who plays defense for Piner, lost a new cell phone and headphones, said his mother, Wendy Rydberg of Santa Rosa.

“He is so furious. We just got him a nice cell phone for his 16th birthday. Now that’s gone,” she said Monday.

“The boys had to go back out the second half and play the game. All the boys were mad. Bless their hearts … they still were out there trying,” she said.

Analy beat Piner 49-20.

During the game, word spread from the bench into the crowd. “Rumors were going like wildfire through the crowd,” Rydberg said. “Everybody was really upset and distracted” from the game.

Police were notified at 9:10 p.m.

Analy Principal Chris Heller Monday said the theft was embarrassing and upsetting for the school as well as being upsetting for the victims.

“We are disappointed with an individual’s choice to take advantage of an opportunity to rummage through Piner’s varsity football team’s bags while they competed at Analy,” Heller said.

“We are working with the Sebastopol Police Department to recover all the items to return to the players.”

Doors to the locker room were not locked after the Piner players took the field, said Heller and Piner coach Matt Tomlin, two longtime friends.

“We were told afterward that it was unsecured,” Tomlin said. “They were setting up for a dance next door to our locker room. There were people coming and going…”

Tomlin said he’d assumed the locker room would be secured.

“Typically someone from a school is assigned to wait on the other team, give a locker room to us and that person makes sure it’s locked up,” Tomlin said.

“It’s just an accident. I’m not blaming Analy at all. I know they’re working hard on this to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Heller said locker rooms aren’t always locked during games, depending on activities at the school and needs of athletes.

“Unfortunately, some communication between host and visitors was not clear in securing the facility prior to the start of the varsity game,” Heller said.

Tomlin said it was hard on his players at half time to discover the thefts and then have to regroup for the rest of the game.

“They were very upset. We were trying to change the game plan at half time, change strategy. It took a little time but they did.”

The Piner coach said next time he’ll recommend players not bring valuables to games, or if they do, they’ll bag them all up and bring them onto the field.