Football: Prospectors could reach playoffs

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A hit by Piner's Scott Simpson causes a pass by El Molino's Steven Mori to wobble out of control, Saturday Nov. 2, 2013 at Piner High School in Santa Rosa.  (Photo by Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

A hit by Piner’s Scott Simpson causes a pass by El Molino’s Steven Mori to wobble out of control, Saturday Nov. 2, 2013 at Piner High School in Santa Rosa. (Photo by Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

The resurgent Piner football program took another step forward Saturday afternoon. By virtue of its 42-0 win over visiting El Molino, the Prospectors are in line to receive an invitation to the North Coast Section playoffs.

“I think it’s the first time in more than a decade that the school might have a postseason game,” third-year coach John Antonio said.

“It’s one of the goals we set for the program at the beginning of the year.”

Piner became eligible because it will finish the season with a winning record over other Division 4 schools. Prior to 2012, the Prospectors had gone eight years without winning more than three games in a season. Last year, coinciding with a switch to the Sonoma County League, Piner finished 4-6.

“Getting the program back on the winning track has been a total effort by the players, coaching staff, teachers, administrators and parents,” Antonio said. “Everybody wanted it and worked toward the goal.”

The adults first worked to instill confidence in the players.

“All of us are on the same page,” Antonio said. “As the kids had some success, confidence grew and with it the players’ work ethic.”

The school has had five coaches in the last decade.

“From the beginning, we told the kids was that this coaching staff was going to be here for the long haul,” Antonio said. “We’re not leaving.”

The school is also winning at the JV level. Last year’s team finished 10-0-1 and the current group is 7-2.

Saturday’s game was a one-way contest as the Prospectors (4-5, 2-3) scored the first five times they had the ball.

Mark Ainger’s 10-yard run with 4:55 left in the first quarter gave Piner its first points.

Just over a minute later, following a 4-yard punt, quarterback Noel Hernandez scored on an 8-yard sweep.

Hernandez wound up having a big afternoon as he also threw three touchdown passes. The senior completed 12 of his 16 passing attempts.

As usual, Niko Formosa was his favorite target. The pair hooked up four times for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Hernandez also rushed for 43 yards and kicked four extra points.

The Prospectors’ offensive line of Jimmy Arango, Stefan George, Joseph Hickey, Victor Maldanado and Tyler Pulley protected Hernandez well.

Dylan Miggens, who was playing his second game after transferring to Piner, was the game’s leading rusher with 65 yards and a touchdown.

El Molino dressed only 17 players.

“At one point in the season, we had 22 guys available but injuries cut our numbers down,” coach Randy Parmeder said.

The Lions (2-7, 1-4) host Healdsburg next Friday. The Prospectors finish the regular season the same night at Elsie Allen. Afterward, they will anxiously await an invitation from the NCS.

WEEK 10 RESULTS

FRIDAY

Cardinal Newman 42, Rancho Cotate 41

Casa Grande 42, Windsor 28

Montgomery 39, Maria Carrillo 30

Ukiah 36, Santa Rosa 12

Analy 42, Petaluma 13

Sonoma Valley 55, Elsie Allen 6

Middletown 38, Clear Lake 6

St. Helena 60, Willits 0

Cloverdale 42, Fort Bragg 27

Kelseyville 59, Lower Lake 29

Calistoga 52, Tomales 16

Anderson Valley 62, Laytonville 16

SATURDAY

Piner 42, El Molino 0

St. Vincent 68, Upper Lake 0

Mendocino 56, Point Arena 14

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