Kelseyville wins — without the ball

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Here’s what happened Friday night at Kelseyville, in a big NCL I North game. Willits ran 97 offensive plays. Kelseyville ran 18 – and won, 40-16.

We’re going to repeat that, so you can be sure you’re not looking at a typo or computer glitch. Ninety-seven plays. Sixteen plays. Knights win. Plays from scrimmage are among the more obscure football statistics, but it’s reasonable to say that a 97-18 disparity against the winners would be like one team beating another while being outgained, say, 680 yards to 49. It’s simply unheard of.

How did Kelseyville do it? With huge plays on offense and special teams, and a defense that bent all night but rarely broke.

Score on a 1-yard plunge? Forget about it. The Knights’ offensive touchdowns came on a 49-yard pass from Chris Aguon to Michael Davis on their second offensive play, a 47-yard run by Nick Rodrigues, a 90-yard run by Geno Poloni, a 44-yard pass from Aguon to Davis and a 44-yard run by Mike Allen.

But the TD that really turned this game came on special teams. Willits scored to take a 16-14 lead late in the second quarter and – as the Wolverines love to do – followed with an onside kick. But Kelseyville was ready. Davis, on the stacked side of the field (his own right), grabbed the ball out of the air, sped past the onrushing Wolverines and was off to the races on a 54-yard run. It was all Knights after that.

Davis also had two interceptions for Kelseyville, the offense/defense/special teams trifecta.

The quick offensive strikes were a departure for the Knights, who have fashioned a 5-1 record this year on ball control, not highlight plays. A day after the game, Rob Ishihara – in his first season as Kelseyville varsity coach after three with the JV squad – focused as much on his defense, which had to deal with Willits’ clock-controlling Toss offense on Friday.

“Especially against that offense, we tried to rotate our defensive line and linebackers,” Ishihara said. “But for the most part, they were on the field most of the game. I was impressed by my kids.”

Next up for Kelseyville: a date with 4-2 Lower Lake.