PD Preps Insider: Middletown defense a sight to behold

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Middletown's Bradly Beckwith and his teammates raise their helmets as the National Anthem plays, before a varsity football game between Middletown and St. Helena in Middletown, on Oct. 11, 2013. (Photo by Alvin Jornada, The Press Democrat)

Middletown’s Bradly Beckwith and his teammates raise their helmets as the National Anthem plays, before a varsity football game between Middletown and St. Helena in Middletown, on Oct. 11, 2013. (Photo by Alvin Jornada, The Press Democrat)

St. Helena’s offense started to open up a little in the second half last Friday at Middletown. Quarterback Jack Preston finally found some rhythm.

The first half? A command performance by the Middletown defense, which limited the Saints to 31 rushing yards and 6 passing yards. Throw in a 6-yard sack, and St. Helena, a team that scored 86 points in its two previous games, had 31 total yards at halftime.

“They do a good job of flowing to the ball,” St. Helena coach Brandon Farrell said after his team’s 21-6 loss to the Mustangs. “I was disappointed in our execution as a whole in our run game. … They play defense with basically six guys (in the box), and two real wide guys. Made it very difficult for us.”

St. Helena (2-1 in NCL I, 4-2 overall) will try to get back on course tonight at home against Clear Lake (3-0, 5-1). Middletown (3-0, 5-1) is at Kelseyville (0-3, 3-3).

Hot quarterbacks

Piner quarterback Noel Hernandez is seventh in the North Coast Section in passing with 1,083 yards. He has completed 84 of 152 throws with 10 TDs and seven interceptions.

Casa Grande’s JaJuan Lawson is ninth, throwing for 966 yards. Lawson has completed 67.6 percent of his passes, completing 75 of 11 with eight scores and just one interception. Lawson has rushed 52 times for 469 yards and seven touchdowns.

Alvarado keeps running

Calistoga (3-0 NCL II/Bay League, 6-0) continues getting an amazing season from senior running back Dylan Alvarado. He is 10th in California in rushing, according to MaxPreps.com, with 1,316 yards in 121 carries with 17 touchdowns.

The state leader is Leemore’s Richard Doctor, who has 1,881 yards in 191 carries with 27 TDs.

Alvarado leads the North Coast Section in rushing. Pittsburg senior Harris Ross is second with 1,271 yards.

Bowl soup

The CIF state championship bowl rankings are deceptive since only teams that win their section title qualify for a bowl spot. For example, Calistoga (6-0), St. Bernard of Eureka (5-1), Ferndale (3-3) and St. Vincent (3-2) have all been mentioned in bowl game chatter. However, all three will be in the North Coast Section Division 5 postseason tournament, so only one will be eligible for bowl consideration.

Middletown (5-1) is No. 1 in the MaxPreps.com NCS Division 5 rankings, but actually moves up to Division 4 for the postseason. San Marin is 6-1 and leads the D4 poll, followed by Fortuna (5-2) and Saint Mary’s of Albany (4-2). Healdsburg (4-3) and St. Helena (4-2) also await in Division 4 play where only one team will eventually qualify for bowl consideration.

Rankings report

Casa Grande’s football team cracked the MaxPreps.com NorCal Top 25 this week at No. 25. … holding the 25th spot. The 6-0 Gauchos join Rocklin (4-2) as previously unranked teams to enter the poll. There are seven two-loss teams ranked ahead of Casa Grande. Marin Catholic (Kentfield) is 8-0 and ranked ninth out of the Marin County Athletic League. … De La Salle (6-0) is No. 1 followed by Folsom (6-0).

Carrillo spikers lead in rankings

Maria Carrillo’s 19-6 volleyball record earned the Pumas the fifth spot in the MaxPreps.com North Coast Section rankings this week. Sonoma Valley (17-4) is No. 7, Montgomery 21st, Cardinal Newman 23rd and Petaluma 25th.

There are no Empire teams in the state Top 25.

Rancho’s Dougan tops block tally

Rancho Cotate’s Hayley Dougan, a senior, is tops among NCS volleyball players in blocks with 77 in statistics provided by schools to MaxPreps.com. Sonoma Valley’s Delaney Swanson is fifth in the NCS in kills with 182. Carrillo’s Claire Brady, a junior, is 12th at 145. Brady is sixth in the section in hitting at 39.1 percent. Petaluma’s junior Maddie Mehciz is fourth in assists with 8.7 per game. Sonoma Valley’s Mackenzie Albrecht is eighth with 8.2 per game.

Press Democrat Staff Writers Phil Barber, Michael Coit and Ted Sillanpaa contributed to this report.

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