Middletown, Tomales advance

St. Vincent and Tomales faced off in a NCS Div. V semifinal game on Saturday night. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / PD).

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Middletown’s rare matchup with a Sonoma County large-school league team went the Mustangs’ way, in a 27-13 win over El Molino that builds confidence in a bid for a section title.

Behind the power and speed of Jake Davis and David Pike, the Mustangs broke open a scoreless game in the second quarter and held off the Lions’ late charge.

“When you play a good team and score 27 points, we’re happy with that. It’s huge to get the win,” said Middletown coach Bill Foltmer.

Competing against the North Coast’s best small-school team was a challenge the improving Lions were prepared for after winning a first-round playoff contest last week.
“Middletown’s a great football team. They’ve got a lot of very talented players,” said El Molino coach Mike Roan.

The El Molino game was Middletown’s first against a Sonoma County large-school league team in Foltmer’s 26 years. Middletown plays in the North Coast League, El Molino in the Sonoma County League.

“It’s big just for the fact that you’re playing an SCL school. Obviously they’re going to have played a much tougher schedule,” Foltmer said.

Still, this was a game Middletown was expected to win. The Mustangs are an experienced team with a dozen starters back from last season’s dynamic squad.

But one of the most important cogs in the Mustangs’ machine — Davis — is just getting healthy again after missing four games. Pike set the Lake County prep touchdown record in his absence, and now the two are running together.Davis had 189 yards and two touchdowns against El Molino, while Pike ran for 151 yards and a score.

“It’s probably the best running back tandem I’ve had,” Foltmer said.

Defense also was key to the Mustangs’ win. Middletown’s stoppers are led by Davis and Jereomy Hoefer, the unit’s energizer.

So dominant has Middletown been this year against North Coast League teams that the Mustangs’ starters often played only half a game each week. Still, they were ready for the contest against the SCL’s most-improved team.

“Conditioning-wise we work our kids pretty hard. They were ready,” Foltmer said.

No pressure for the Lions, who were the underdogs as the lower seed going into the game.

“We’re obviously proud of how we fared against the competition we faced this year,” Roan said.

TOMALES 26, ST. VINCENT 6

Tomales upset St. Vincent, 26-6, to avenge a season-opening loss to their Petaluma rivals and reach the small-school North Coast Section championship game.

The contest was 6-6 going into the second half when Tomales broke it open, just as the Braves did a week ago. The play and outcome was opposite of St. Vincent’s season opening rout of the Braves.

“It feels good. We’ve improved,” said Tomales coach Leon Feliciano. “That’s great to see with only 17 guys. It’s a tight group. It’s amazing.”

St. Vincent was playing strong heading into the contest, but four turnovers and Tomales’ dominance on both lines proved too much. A muddy field in Tomales didn’t help.

“But we can’t make excuses. You’ve got to tip your cap to them. They played great,” said St. Vincent coach Gary Galloway.

A decades’ old rivalry, St. Vincent and Tomales often open their seasons with a matchup and this year the Mustangs handled the Braves 35-8 in Petaluma. Tomales last defeated St. Vincent four years ago.

The teams feature a clear contrast in styles this season. St. Vincent’s best skill players are at quarterback and receiver. Tomales runs behind a sizable line for a small school.

Coming at St. Vincent was Michael Guerrero, who ran for more than 1,200 yards this season and came off a season-high three touchdown effort in last week’s win over Upper Lake.

On Saturday night, Michael Guerrero led Tomales on the ground, with 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“We definitely won the battle in time of possession and at the line of scrimmage,” Feliciano said.

Mustangs’ quarterback Conor Brown is a confident passer who also is the team’s fastest runner, averaging 180 yards a game in total yardage.

Josh Mehta and Michael Meiswinkel are Brown’s top targets, combining for nearly 6 catches and 86 yards a game.

“This offense really fits our kids. We’ve got a great group of receivers. Our quarterback has matured and really recognizes defenses very well,” Galloway said.

But the St.Vincent offense was grounded by turnovers and the lack of a running game to take pressure off the quarterback and his receivers.