NCS football: Windsor’s hot start to season fizzles out

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Struggling at the end of a good season, Windsor faced a Clayton Valley team playing some of its best football and fell 14-7 at home in a section playoff game Saturday.

After scoring late in the contest, the Jaguars still had hope. But the Eagles recovered the onside kick off to secure a second- round North Coast Section Division II playoff game with Rancho Cotate.

For Windsor, a season that began with a seven-game win streak and a Top 20 Bay Area ranking concludes with a fourth consecutive defeat.

“Our guys battled,” said Windsor coach Dustin Davis. “That was the best defense we’ve played in weeks. But on offense we just couldn’t punch it in.”

Clayton Valley moved 70 yards for a touchdown on its first offensive possession and capitalized on a late interception. The defense helped the Eagles overcome three lost fumbles for the victory.

“This was one of our better ball games,” said Clayton Valley coach Herc Pardi. “Windsor’s a quality football team. They’ve had success. This was a big victory for us.”

Windsor was the favorite despite the Jaguars’ losing skid and their foes from Concord prepared for a physical game. The key matchup was the Jaguars’ defense led by an aggressive line backing corps against the Eagles’ sturdy offensive line.

Opening the contest with a scoring drive gave Clayton Valley early momentum. Running back Joe Prothroe did much of the damage, including runs of 24 and 25 yards. Jeff Dominguez, a load at fullback, went in for the touchdown.

“If we can’t stop their run, the advantage goes to them,” Davis said.

After the Jaguars punted a second time, Windsor’s defense stopped Clayton Valley on downs to get the ball back in the hands of dynamic quarterback Christian McAlvain and back Jerad Leon.

A 45-yard keeper by McAlvain had the home crowd roaring. The drive stalled well within kicker Lee Aranda’s range, but the Eagles blocked the 25- yard field goal attempt, ending Windsor’s only sustained drive in the first half.

Getting the ball on a short field to open the second half, Windsor couldn’t manage a first down and again kicked it back to Clayton Valley.

The teams exchanged several more punts as rain fell throughout the third quarter.

Then the game’s first big break went Windsor’s way. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Clayton Valley’s returner fumbled a Jaguars’ punt and Shane Morgan recovered the ball.

Finding some rhythm on offense, Windsor mixed in more passes for the Jaguars longest drive of the game. The big plays were a 24 yard pass to Kameron Richardson and a fourth down conversion on an 18 yard pass to Lorenzo Camarena. The Eagles tightened their coverage, though, and kept Windsor out of the end zone.

“Our defense is pretty solid. They make some plays. And it’s a defense that’s been improving,” Pardi said.

Two plays later, Windsor forced a fumble. But then the Jaguars lost the ball on the very next play.

Defense kept Windsor in the game, with line backer Darrian Roman and lineman Trevor Doherty making some big stops in particular.

Another punt put the ball in Windsor’s hands with just over three minutes remaining in the game. This time the big play went Clayton Valley’s way as Mark Martinez stepped in front of a Jaguars receiver for an interception.

Five running plays later, Dominguez bulled in for the score and a 14-0 lead.

“They got the first downs when they needed to, they got points when they needed to,” Davis said.

Still, the Jaguars were pushing for a miracle. Windsor had some help after a pair of penalties forced Clayton Valley to kick off from deep.

Taking over on the Eagles’ 31 yard line, Windsor rode McAlvain’s arm for the Jaguars’ only score. Showing poise despite the earlier interception, McAlvain connected with three different receivers and Camarena had three grabs including the 5 yard touchdown catch in heavy traffic.

On the kickoff, Aranda managed to get the ball bouncing, but Clayton Valley players corralled it to hold on for the win.

After the game, Windsor players through tears and hugs already were talking about hitting the weight room Monday to prepare for next season.

“Hopefully they’ll come back and do even better,” Davis said. “So that way they can avoid this feeling next year.”