Pierson, Lambert, defense fuel El Molino’s impressive win against Windsor

 By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

 It’s been a dream season for El Molino coach Mike Roan.

El Molino's Chet Lambert, who moved from wide receiver to running back, rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown in the Lions' 20-7 win against Windsor. (SCOTT MANCHESTER / FOR THE PD)

While the dream is turning out well, his Lions have had to overcome nightmarish situations in order to be thinking about the playoffs for the first time in many years.

After shocking previously undefeated Windsor, 20-7 (box score), on Friday night in Forestville, El Molino takes a 6-3 record to Healdsburg this Friday for its regular season finale.

A win and El Molino is guaranteed a North Coast Section playoff invitation. Even with a loss, the selection committee would likely give the Lions a bid.

This is rarefied air for a program that had won only 33 percent of its games (15 of 45) since 2004.

Getting back to the nightmare portion of the season, starting quarterback and passer deluxe Mike Pierson suffered a concussion during the Oct. 15 game vs. Analy and did not play the following week when his teammates defeated Sonoma Valley (14-7). The 6-4, 220 pounder received clearance from his doctor to resume contact a few days before the Windsor game.

Pierson returned like he’d never been away. He hooked up with his favorite receiver, Joe Douglass, on a 17-yard pass for the game’s first touchdown. Then, despite the muddy conditions, he clicked with Toree Smith in the third to put his team up 14-7.

Before going out with the concussion, the senior had completed 81 passes, 13 of those for touchdowns.

Pierson’s concussion isn’t the only nightmare El Molino has had to overcome. In the same game Pierson went down, the Lions lost leading rusher Tommy Krausmann for the season.

“He has a separated shoulder and rotator cuff injury,” Roan said. “Unfortunately, he won’t be back this year.”

Krausmann had been the workhorse for El Molino’s rushing game. The senior had carried the ball twice as many times as any other Lions running back and was averaging more than four yards per carry.

With Krausmann gone for the season, Roan and his coaching staff needed to revamp the running game. So, they switched Douglass and Chet Lambert from receivers to running backs.

The experiment is working. Against Windsor, Lambert rushed for 153 yards, including the game‘s final touchdown (36 yards). This, against a Windsor defense that has not allowed more than 20 points in a game this year.

“The difference in the Windsor game was that we were able to run the ball effectively and our defensive coordinator (Randy Parmeter) came up with a great game plan,” Roan said.
“The players studied hard at practice and when the Windsor offense ran a play, our kids had seen it in practice and were able to react.”

After overcoming such devastating injuries and still finding ways to win, Roan said his players now believe they can match-up with the top teams in the SCL.

It hasn’t been that way in a long time.