By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
PETALUMA — Setting out this season to go undefeated, Analy kept a zero in the loss column with a tough win over Petaluma to clinch the Sonoma County League title Friday.
A dominant third quarter carried Analy to the 40-13 win and put the Tigers back on track for the section playoffs.
“We came out with fire in the second half. We just wanted to prove we know where we’re going,” said senior captain Aaron Maher.
Both teams came into the game undefeated in league play. For the first two quarters, Petaluma was more than Analy’s match, the Trojans grinding to keep the high powered Tigers in check and stay within a touchdown.
“We played hard, intense football. We really hung with them,” said Petaluma workhorse Sam Spurling, who ran for 130 yards and two scores.
With a bye next week, Analy finishes regular season play 10-0 and anticipates a good North Coast Section playoff seed. With a final league contest at Sonoma Valley next week, Petaluma should be headed for the playoffs.
Following realignment of the Sonoma County and North Bay leagues this fall, Analy was favored to win the SCL. The Tigers’ toughest foe was Petaluma with the Trojans turning around their season.
Another rout by Analy appeared in the making after the Tigers scored on their first drive. Going 67 yards in five plays, Analy went up on Ja’Narrick James’ 8 yard run. James had three scores, including a punt return for a touchdown.
But then Petaluma forced an Analy punt and played the Trojans’ trademark game, pounding the ball with dive plays and getting outside on options.
With lead back Spurling carrying the load on an 11-play drive, Petaluma went 63 yards capped by his 1-yard score early in the second quarter.
The biggest pass on another good night for Analy quarterback Darin Newman — 38 yards to Kerr Johnson — led to the Tigers’ second score. Newman hit Maher on a fade in the end zone, a familiar connection on the season.
Petaluma again pushed the ball into Analy’s half of the field. While the Trojans punted, they wouldn’t yield in a battle of field position to the end of the first half.
The best defense was a strong offense. With the Trojans controlling the ball, Petaluma ran eight more plays than Analy in the first half, nearly matching the Tigers in total yards.
“We gave it a shot. I’m very proud of these guys,” Petaluma coach Rick Krist said.
A wide receiver reverse by Maher set the tone for Analy’s dominant third quarter.
Mixing Kyle Lewis runs with passes to three different receivers, Analy put Petaluma on its heels. Newman punched in from a yard out as the Tigers regained momentum.
While the Tigers would score twice in the third quarter, the Trojans managed only one first down.
“We woke up, we woke up,” said Analy coach Dan Bourdon.
“These guys should be proud of themselves.”
At halftime, Petaluma's Durst Field was renamed Steve Ellison Field in honor of the longtime Petaluma coach.