Football: Thanksgiving doesn’t deter teams’ focus

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

School wasn’t in session on Thanksgiving Day, but there was plenty of activity on the Analy, Casa Grande and Montgomery campuses.

The students on hand weren’t carrying books, most were wearing shoulder pads, helmets and cleats.

In what’s become a Sonoma County tradition, the teams still alive in the North Coast Section football tournament spend the holiday morning preparing for weekend games.

This year, two of the schools — Montgomery and Casa Grande — play each other Saturday night while Analy will travel to Kentfield to battle Marin Catholic that afternoon.

“From the first day of practice we set three goals,” Casa coach Trent Herzog said. “We wanted to be North Bay League champs, we wanted to practice on Thanksgiving and we wanted to win the North Coast Section.

“We won NBL and we’re alive for NCS which means we get to practice on Thanksgiving.”

The 50 Gauchos players were in full pads and on the practice field by 9 a.m.

“We did some seven-on-seven drills and had a walk through on what we want to do on Saturday,” Herzog said.

“A coaching staff doesn’t want to get away from a routine the players are used to. If we took Thanksgiving off, that would mess up our preparation schedule.”

This is the fifth time in six years the Petaluma school has practiced on Thanksgiving.

“The kids don’t dread it, everyone sees it as a reward for reaching a goal.”

In Sebastopol, there was a cold nip in the air when coach Dan Bourdon and his assistants welcomed the Analy players at 9 a.m.

The Tigers were in full pads and spent two hours practicing defensive and offensive strategies.

“Family comes before football and if a player couldn’t make it because of a family obligation, we understood,” Bourdon said.

“After the Newman game, I told the guys we’d be practicing on Thanksgiving morning and as a team they responded ’yes sir.’”

On the east side of Santa Rosa, the Montgomery players were also on the field by 9 a.m. Unlike Casa and Analy, the Vikings finished their workout by 10 a.m.

The Vikings didn’t don pads, so there were no contact drills. Most of the hour was spent on special teams preparation

“We’re getting out of here early so everyone can spend the day with their family,” Haskins said.

As the Montgomery players walked off the field, they had a treat waiting. Marcie Schuetz, a longtime booster, handed each player a slice of homemade pumpkin bread with whipped cream on top.

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