NCS football: El Molino posts shutout in historic playoff win

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

FORESTVILLE — The population of this community is close to 2,000, and it seemed like most of the town was on the El Molino side of the field Saturday night as the Lions were victorious in the first North Coast Section home playoff game in the school’s 46-year history.

The large local gathering saw their team defeat Kelseyville, 35-0, in a Division IV opening round game. The No. 5 seeded Lions will hit the road for the quarterfinals, traveling to No. 4 Middletown next Saturday night.

Despite rain and temperatures in the 40s, the El Molino faithful came out in droves. The stands on the El Molino side of the field were packed and a number of people brought lawn chairs so they could sit in front of the grandstand or on knolls near each end zone.

The muddy conditions didn’t bother the Lions,but sure bothered the Kelseyville players. The Knights turned the ball over eight times while El Molino was flawless.

Chet Lambert had the game of his career, rushing for three touchdowns to go along with an interception and a blocked punt.

“This was definitely the best game I’ve had,” the 150-pound junior said. “The offensive line opened some big holes and once I got past the line of scrimmage I was able to cut without any problems while the defensive backs were slipping.”

Besides being the first NCS home game in the school’s history, the team is also enjoying its first winning season since 2003. The Lions, playing in the tough Sonoma County League, are now 7-4.

In six previous seasons, El Mo was a combined 15-45. In ’03, when they had a winning record, the Lions got an NCS berth but lost a first-round game at Fortuna. This year, the school dropped from Division III to Division IV based on lower enrollment figures.

Coach Mike Roan has been at the helm through most of the lean years, so he was obviously in a celebratory mood Saturday night.

“We didn’t play our best, but we’ll take a 35-0 win in an opening-round NCS game anytime,” he said with a smile. “We weren’t as sharp as we’d been sometimes during the year. I think the reason was we were coming off a bye week and the muddy conditions.”

Roan moved Lambert to tailback by necessity.

“When our leading rusher Tommy Krausmann suffered a shoulder injury against Analy (Oct. 15), I moved Lambert from wide receiver to tailback,” Roan said. “Since Krausmann came back, they’ve both been running the ball. I think it took Lambert awhile to get used to playing the backfield, but he’s comfortable now.”

Krausmann gained 185 yards on 26 carries against Kelseyville, while Lambert had 125 on 11 carries.

There was no score in the first quarter, but the Lions scored twice in the second. Quarterback Mike Pierson capped a 63-yard, 10-play drive with a one-yard TD plunge. Lambert got the first of his scores 5:08 before halftime. That was the four-yarder.

El Molino scored twice in the third quarter and once in the fourth.

“Turnovers killed us,” Kelseyville coach Rob Ishihara said while studying the stats. “We moved the ball well at times, but then we fumbled or got the ball intercepted. A team can’t win doing that.”

Geno Poloni was the leading rusher with 87 yards on 17 carries for Kelseyville, which finished with a 7-4 record.