PD Preps Insider: A Peek Behind the Curtain

Analy's TJ Acheson, second from right, and Justin Cox, left, help bring down Pittsburg's Jaylyn Morgan during Friday's game in Sebastopol. (Photo by Alvin Jornada, for The Press Democrat)

Analy’s TJ Acheson, second from right, and Justin Cox, left, help bring down Pittsburg’s Jaylyn Morgan during Friday’s game in Sebastopol. (Photo by Alvin Jornada, for The Press Democrat)

Pittsburg coach Victor Galli knew a good pregame meal was coming, and he also figured Analy would prove a challenging host.

The welcome mat was out in west Sonoma County for Pittsburg High’s football team ahead of the Pirates’ date with Analy. Pittsburg’s team and coaches — numbering some 80 in all — enjoyed a pregame meal at the Union Hotel in Occidental.

Union Hotel has been a favorite spot for Galli when visiting in Sebastopol. The landmark restaurant has been owned through five generations of the Gonellas, the family of Galli’s mother Patty. She is a 1962 graduate of Analy.

The coach is a De La Salle graduate. His family includes longtime Delta commercial fishermen. “She was very excited for this game,” Galli said.

The game was scheduled because both teams had an open date. Galli and Analy coach Dan Bourdon met at a coaching clinic this spring.

“We were scrambling around,” Galli said. “Analy just happened to be out there and I liked the nostalgia about it.”

The final score was not to Galli’s liking. Analy never trailed in the 37-21 win over Pittsburg, a perennial large school East Bay playoff power with three section titles.

The Club goes to Panthers

Santa Rosa assistant principal Andrea Correa holds The Club. (Photo by Phil Barber, The Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa assistant principal Andrea Correa holds The Club. (Photo by Phil Barber, The Press Democrat)

Santa Rosa didn’t just win a football game Friday night at Petaluma. It retained possession of The Club, the menacing symbol of dominance in the Santa Rosa-Petaluma rivalry.

These two older programs have been going at it for decades, and The Club — carved of wood and looking like a brightly colored caveman cudgel — reputedly dates back to the 1950s.

Every time the Panthers and Trojans play, a wooden “spike” bearing the score is added to The Club. The latest peg reads “Santa Rosa 33, Petaluma 0,” thanks to the Panthers’ strong performance on Friday.

Empire teams ranked

A handful of Empire teams made the Cal-Hi Sports Preseason football rankings.

Rancho Cotate, which opens at home against Alhambra this Friday, was sixth and Casa Grande seventh in Division II for Northern California. Casa Grande looks to keep winning Friday at Heritage, in Brentwood. Cardinal Newman was third in the Division III poll for Northern California. The Cardinals host Novato on Friday.

Small-school rivals St. Vincent and Tomales were in the region’s Division IV rankings.

St. Vincent was ninth. The Mustangs are at Cloverdale on Friday.

Tomales was among the bubble teams. The Braves get Elsie Allen at home on Friday.

NBL football … almost perfect in Week 1

The North Bay League had a perfect night, but lost its chance for a perfect weekend when Ukiah fell to Piner on Saturday. The NBL started the 2013 season with a bang, going 5-0 on Friday as Cardinal Newman won at Modesto Christian 41-28, Casa Grande trounced Eureka 51-13, Montgomery drubbed Pinole Valley 51-7, Windsor edged Granada 39-36 and Santa Rosa flattened Petaluma 33-0.

Rancho Cotate and Maria Carrillo open this weekend.

Injuries can’t slow down Petaluma’s Spaletta

Friday’s game was eventful for Petaluma’s Jeremy Spaletta. The senior defensive end briefly left the field with injuries twice in the second quarter of the Trojans’ 33-0 loss. But he was a bright spot for the Trojans when he was in there, sacking Santa Rosa quarterback Vince Jones twice.

Fisher, Roque help fuel Santa Rosa defense

Two of the guys who made Santa Rosa’s shutout possible were senior defensive end Jamie Fisher and senior safety Gabe Roque. Fisher tackled Petaluma quarterback Patrick Bailey for losses on consecutive plays in the first quarter. Roque had an interception and batted down a pass on third and 10 to force a punt. Petaluma cracked the Panthers’ 35-yard line just once, and that was after recovering a fumble at the 18.

Pregame meal: Licorice and soda

Casa Grande quarterback JaJuan Lawson led the Gauchos to a convincing 51-13 victory against visiting Eureka on Friday night. He threw for 187 yards.

No telling how much his pregame meal played in his performance, and imitators should proceed with caution. Casa Grande coach Trent Herzog says Lawson drinks a 2-liter Pepsi and eats a bag of licorice before each game.

Respect your elders

Speaking of Casa Grande, Gauchos assistant coach Joe Trombetta is the all-time Redwood Empire large school rushing leader with 5,447 yards. He starred at UC Davis after graduating from Casa Grande in 2006.

Press Democrat Staff Writers Phil Barber, Michael Coit and Bob Padecky contributed to this report.

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