The best game you probably didn’t see

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Small-school football isn’t always small-time football. Case in point: Fort Bragg 49, Lower Lake 42 on Friday night.

Lower Lake running back Roy Percoats. (Press Democrat, 2009)

“Neither one could stop the other,” Lower Lake coach Stan Weiper said with a laugh over the phone. “You were thinking, ‘Who’s gonna lose serve on this thing?’ ”

Finally, it was the Trojans who lost serve, but not without a fight. Fort Bragg was driving for the score that would have put the game out of reach, but Lower Lake got a huge interception a foot in front of its end zone. The Trojans then managed to get near midfield but, with time running out, threw a halfback pass into traffic and watched it get picked off.

Today, Weiper is left to wonder what might have been. His Trojans turned over the ball on the Timberwolves’ 9- and 20-yard lines, and at their own 40 on the opening kickoff. Right before halftime, Fort Bragg stopped Lower Lake on a fourth-and-goal play.

“We had changed some sets this week, and we had the wrong personnel in there,” Weiper explained. “Guys were running around, not sure where to be. We had to go, and my quarterback came up six inches short of the end zone.”

Lower Lake was down 15 points early at home, but fought back to make this game memorable.

Weiper got exceptional play from his backfield. QB Devante Scott ran for 105 yards, and completed 7 of 11 passes for another 143, plus a touchdown. Running back Roy Percoats rushed for 101 yards and set up a score with a long kickoff return. And another runner, Jack O’Hara, scored three touchdowns.

This game was further proof of the NCL I North’s strength and competitiveness this year. Fort Bragg is currently 6-0 overall, Kelseyville and Middletown are both 5-1, and Willits joins Lower Lake at 4-2.

It has been a remarkable turnaround for the Trojans, who suffered through an embarrassing 1-9 season a year ago and were winless in the North. This year, Weiper’s team is back where people expect it to be.

“People aren’t leaving at halftime, anyway, like they were last year,” Weiper said.

There certainly won’t be now. Anyone who left at halftime at Lower Lake last night missed 24 minutes of big-time small-school football.