Windsor beats Healdsburg in thriller

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

WINDSOR — Healdsburg stole a football game from Windsor on Friday night. And then Windsor stole it back, remaining undefeated under coach Dustin Davis with a 22-20 victory secured with no time on the clock.

Windsor's Darrian Roman stiff-arms Healdsburg's Adam Hendrickson during Friday's game at Windsor. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / PD)

The Windsor student section capped an ultra-memorable homecoming night by invading the field to mob the players.

On the visitors’ sideline afterward, Healdsburg coach Tom Kirkpatrick looked almost physically pained as he attempted to come to grips with his team’s strange 48-minute journey.

“From a situation where kids were not even playing — they were down and out,” Kirkpatrick reflected. “Then they got themselves back together and played with a lot of heart. Both teams. Wow. It must have been something to watch.”

Indeed, this was almost like several games wrapped into one.

It ended with a bang when Windsor quarterback Christian McAlvain, shaking off two straight incompletions, dropped back again with 2.3 seconds on the clock. He looked for a receiver over the middle but found none, and with some measure of desperation fired the ball to fellow junior Kameron Richardson, his lanky, 6-foot-5 receiver, in a corner of the end zone.

“I threw it up there, and I saw their corners cut in front of it, and I was like, ‘No, no,’” McAlvain said. “And then I saw it floating over the top, and I was like, ‘Kameron’s got this.’”

Richardson managed to get a foot in-bounds with zeroes on the clock, giving the Jaguars consecutive wins over Healdsburg for the first time ever and keeping them undefeated under first-year coach Dustin Davis.

“I told the kids in the pregame warmup, I said you have to believe in the coaches, you have to believe in each other, like we believe in you,” Davis said. “And I told ’em again at halftime, the same thing. Apparently they did.”

At 3-0 in the Sonoma County League (7-0 overall), Windsor kept pace with Casa Grande. They play Nov.5 in a game that could be the best of the year in the Redwood Empire.

Healdsburg, which had averaged 35 points a game before traveling to Windsor, fell to 2-2 in the SCL, 6-2 overall.

After nearly getting blown out early, the Greyhounds fought back and were in position to close out the game. They blocked a Windsor field goal with about five minutes left and, clinging to a 20-16 lead, proceeded to rattle off a couple first downs on the strength of running back Carson Seanor.

Then disaster struck — or a miracle, depending upon your latitude along Highway 101.

At right around the 1:00 mark, on third-and-19, Healdsburg quarterback Max Opperman dropped into the pocket. He wasn’t going to pass. Still, the blitzing Darrian Roman hit Opperman and forced a fumble that the Jaguars’ Austin Boetiger recovered, setting up the last-second heroics.

“My call was terrible,” Kirkpatrick said, shaking his head in anguish. “It was just gonna be a QB keep, and I put the kid in a bad situation.”

That Healdsburg was in control of the game was a shocking development in itself.

Windsor started the game with two impressive touchdown drives. McAlvain finished with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Brown on the opening drive, and took it in himself from four yards out on the first play of the second quarter, giving the Jaguars a 13-0 lead.

They pushed it to 16-0 at the 2:35 mark of the second quarter on a 24-yard field goal by big-footed Lee Aranda. The Healdsburg defense forced that kick after keeping Windsor out of the end zone despite six plays from inside the 5-yard line.

On the verge of getting run off the field, seemingly unable to tackle or move the ball, the Greyhounds magically sprang to life at the end of the half.

In no-huddle mode, they took less than two minutes to drive 80 yards for a touchdown, Matt Spillane catching Opperman’s 19-yard scoring pass.

Two plays later, Dom Tynan intercepted McAlvain’s pass near the sideline and ran it to the Jaguars’ 17-yard line. With nine seconds on the clock, Opperman threw another touchdown pass, this one to George Brush.

Seanor had just 15 yards on five carries at halftime, but changed into his work clothes in the second half and wound up with 115 yards on 19 attempts.

The Healdsburg defense stiffened, too, allowing the Greyhounds to come back and take the lead. Somehow, in this wild game, you knew it wouldn’t last.

Roman led a trio of Windsor running backs with 71 yards on 11 carries, while the accurate McAlvain completed 15 of 23 passes for 164 yards. Opperman was 7 of 13 for 81 yards.

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com.