Fort Bragg geared for title defense

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Football coaches are more or less genetically programmed to deny any advantages their teams might hold over an opponent, but Fort Bragg’s Jack Moyer has to acknowledge a couple things going for his Timberwolves in tonight’s North Coast Section Division 4 playoff opener against Berean Christian.

They have nothing to do with backfield depth or secondary speed, either. The advantages are geography and meteorology.

Berean Christian’s route from Walnut Creek to Fort Bragg will run more than 180 miles each way. “It’s different for them, for some of the teams from the East Bay,” Moyer said. “We’re used it. Our kids just get on the bus and go. This year, we had one three-game stretch where we went to Petaluma, St. Helena and Lower Lake. When people come in here, especially at the end when they’re on the winding road, I’m sure they’re not in the best frame of mind when they arrive.”

And when the Eagles land tonight, they are likely to find a wet, muddy field, perhaps not a welcome sight to a team that is used to playing on synthetic turf.

Of course, that is where the one-sidedness ends. Fort Bragg is a No. 8 seed, Berean Christian a No. 9, so this one shapes up as a dogfight. And as Moyer pointed out, Division 4 has been exceptionally competitive lately. Last year, three of the quarterfinal games went to overtime, and the fourth was decided by a single point.

The Timberwolves survived that shark tank and emerged as section champions, but lost most of their on-field leadership as guys like quarterback Brent Moyer (Jack’s son) and running back Jake Cimolino graduated. Still, Jack is feeling pretty good about his 9-1 squad.

“It’s hard to compare different teams, but I try to get the kids to remember how they got there,” Moyer said. “A lot of kids from this team contributed to the championship.”