PD Preps Insider: A Peek Behind the Scenes

Montgomery girls undaunted by loss to Carrillo

Montgomery’s girls soccer match Saturday night at Maria Carrillo had a disappointing ending for the Vikings — the nationally ranked Pumas scored two goals in the second half to erase a deficit and escape with a 3-2 win in their North Bay League opener.
“We gave up an early goal, then got the lead, but they battled back,” said coach Pat McDonald.
His Vikings team is fourth in the latest National Soccer Coaches of America rankings for Region VI (Carrillo is No. 1 in the region and fourth nationally). And that promises another rousing match when the teams meet at Montgomery on Oct. 10.
McDonald estimates that his teams have played Debra LaPrath’s Pumas teams 30 times over the years, “and I don’t remember more than two blowouts.”

Elsie Allen rising
First-year coach Madison Lott had a feeling Elsie Allen might get its first football victory since 2011 on Friday night against Willits.
“I was confident going into the game against Tomales and we wound up losing big,” Lott said, “but we turned the ball over after we drove inside the 20 three times. So I came into this game confident in our offense.”
Lott’s Lobos indeed rolled on offense to the tune of a 34-0 win. They play host to Emery on Friday and the coach thinks his program is on an upswing.
“Two weeks ago we didn’t have a junior varsity team and now we have 26 kids on a JV team,” he said. “We have 30 kids on the varsity and only a very few are seniors. I like the direction we’re headed in.”

Monty QB the catalyst
Montgomery quarterback Elijah Higgs was only 9-for-19 for 99 yards Friday against Dublin. He threw two touchdown passes, but on the first Etienne Ezeff had to make a athletic play to come back for the ball and swipe it from a Gaels defender.
But Higgs’ contributions go beyond passing stats. He put the Vikings in position for a field goal just before halftime with a long gain on a scramble. (Montgomery wasn’t able to line up for the kick before the clock expired.) And he showed impressive poise on an extra-point attempt. As the holder, he scooped up a bobbled long snap, rolled out and found Colton Silvers in the end zone for an unscripted two-point play.

A stampede of Knights
Kelseyville rushed for 516 total yards in the Knights’ 36-7 win against South Fork on Friday. Robert McClean led the way with 247 yards on 14 carries, and Kevin Duty added 181 yards on 16 carries. The Knights had four carries of more than 40 yards.

More on the big game
Never shy to schedule powerful nonleague opponents, Cardinal Newman faced a considerable challenge against El Cerrito, ranked fifth overall in Bay Area prep football.
“We thought it would be exciting. It’s a great experience for our kids,” said Cardinal Newman coach Paul Cronin.
El Cerrito sought the game and was willing to travel from the East Bay to Santa Rosa for the Saturday night contest. Bolstering its nonleague schedule to improve chances for a CIF bowl bid, El Cerrito wanted a top Division 3 opponent, and Cardinal Newman fit the profile.
“We wanted to spruce up our preseason. They’re always one of the top teams,” said El Cerrito coach Kenny Kahn. “It’s just about playing good football programs. Win or lose we get better as a football team.”
The Gauchos won in impressive fashion, 35-7, breaking open a game that was even at the half.
Cardinal Newman’s first defeat gives the Cardinals room for improvement ahead of North Bay League play.
“You can’t be too nervous to play teams you could lose to,” Cronin said. “You figure out early in the season how good you are.”

Ex-NFL star in crowd
Among the huge crowd at Cardinal Newman on Saturday was one Newman grad of considerable note, former UCLA and NFL linebacker Jerry Robinson.

Empire teams in rankings
Despite losing, Cardinal Newman remained in the Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area Top 25 at No. 15. A pair of North Bay League rivals moved up in the poll, Rancho Cotate to No. 13 and Casa Grande to No. 17.
In the Cal-Hi rankings for possible CIF bowl bids, Cardinal Newman is third in Northern California Division 3. Rancho Cotate is third and Casa Grande fourth in Division 2.
Empire teams earned respect in the MaxPreps rankings for the North Coast Section.
Casa Grande is second in Division 2 followed by Rancho Cotate in fourth and Windsor in fifth. Cardinal Newman is fourth in Division 3.
MaxPreps has Middletown second followed by Calistoga and St. Vincent in Division 5.

The Press Democrat’s Bob Padecky, Phil Barber, Michael Coit and Ted Sillanpaa contributed to this report.

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