Football preview: Sonoma Valley has SCL title in its sights

By MATT MORRISON
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma Valley's Ed Pomeroy works out with the team during practice in Sonoma on Tuesday. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Sonoma Valley’s Ed Pomeroy works out with the team during practice in Sonoma on Tuesday. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

For the first time in 30 years, Sonoma Valley will kick off the season with a new head coach, but it’s not as if Bob Midgely hasn’t been around a while. A standout player for the Dragons in the early 1980s, Midgley worked as an assistant under Mick O’Meara for the past two decades.

When the popular O’Meara and longtime assistant Mike Mulas retired last year after 29 mostly successful seasons, Midgely stepped up from the JV team for his first varsity head job at the age of 47. His philosophy will be the same as it’s always been.

“Every year, we shoot for the pennant,” Midgley said. “We try to take the best athletes we can get and do the best we can with them. But we have some pretty tough teams to go through.”

The Dragons look to challenge for the Sonoma County League title after their second-place last season with one of the best all-around athletes in the area. Senior Dan Deely returns at quarterback after throwing for more than 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior. The SCL co-back of the year also ran for 538 yards and earned first-team All-Empire defensive back honors.

“He’s just a great competitor, real level-headed,” Midgley said of his two-way star. “He’s real well adjusted about moving on to the next play.”

Deely will take his snaps from three-year varsity starter and first-team All-SCL offensive lineman Matthew Robinson. He’ll anchor the offensive front from the center position but could see action at guard or tackle if needed. The senior also starts on the defensive line.

“He’s a big, solid lineman,” Midgley said, “and what I really like is he still has the desire to improve.”

The nucleus of experienced two-way players also includes seniors Ed Pomeroy, Mitch Hood and Cordell Kenniston. Pomeroy is a returning first-team All-SCL defensive back and plays receiver on offense. Hood is the back-up quarterback who’ll be used as a wideout to take advantage of his 6-foot-2 size and all-around athletic ability. Kenniston is the team’s most experienced running back and will also play linebacker.

Serving as the JV head coach for the past five seasons will help Midgley quickly assess which players he’ll need to fill holes. He’s most concerned about the lack of experience in the linebacking corps where junior Gabe Bernstein is expected to be an immediate help. Tristen Mertens is “a super athlete” who Midgley says will make an impact in both the offensive and defensive backfield.

“Our strategy? We have to get these players to step up. I’m pretty confident the coaches I have will be able to do that. The whole job is a big challenge, but, hey, it’s pretty fun too.”

Beyond the opponents on the Sonoma Valley schedule, the new head coach, who also serves as co-athletic director, is focusing on the where and when his team plays. The Dragons have three Saturday afternoon games on synthetic turf (including the season opener at Redwood) and Midgley has a new approach to what has “traditionally not been a strong point for us.”

“I’m making those guys bring a bag lunch. In the past, it used to be just eat breakfast and get on the bus. It gets hot on that turf, about 20 degrees hotter. I want my guys to be ready, get some fuel in them. I don’t want them to wear out halfway through the game, like I’ve seen before.”

SONOMA VALLEY DRAGONS

Coach: Bob Midgley (1st year)
2012 record: 7-4 overall, 5-1 SCL (2nd place)
2012 JV record: 6-4

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Dan Deely, Sr., QB/DB — 2012 SCL Co-Back of the Year returns as two-way starter at quarterback and safety.
Matthew Robinson, Sr., OL/DL — Third-year varsity starter will anchor both offensive and defensive lines. Experienced at every position on the offensive front.
Ed Pomeroy, Sr., WR/DB — Returning first-team All-SCL defensive back will also start at wide receiver.
Mitch Hood, Sr., WR/QB/DB — Starting safety and back-up quarterback will be used at wide receiver on offense.

INSIDE SCOOP
Filling out the offensive line around Robinson will be the key to best take advantage of Deely’s all-around talent as a runner and passer. Lack of experience at linebacker is the top concern on defense.

GAME NOT TO MISS
Friday, Sept. 27, vs. Analy: Home game coming off a bye week against the defending SCL Champion is the “measuring stick” for Midgely’s first season as head coach.

ALL-TIME HIGHLIGHT
Qualifying for the 1990 NCS playoffs with a 5-5 record, the Dragon’s first-round victory against Marin Catholic was the Cal Hi Sports upset of the Year. Sonoma Valley also beat Petaluma before losing to San Rafael in the 2A Empire championship game.

SCHEDULE
Aug. 31, at Redwood, 2 p.m.
Sept. 6, Terra Linda, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 14, at San Marin, 2 p.m.
Sept. 27, Analy, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4, at John F. Kennedy, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12, at Piner, 1 p.m.
Oct. 18, Healdsburg, 7:30 p.m. (Homecoming)
Oct. 25, at El Molino, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1, Elsie Allen, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8, at Petaluma, 7:30 p.m.

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