Football preview: Sonoma looks for its quarterback

Sonoma Valley's Kyle Dunevent was the Dragons' leading receiver last season. He averaged more than 11 yards per catch last year and led the team in total receiving yards with 441.  (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Sonoma Valley’s Kyle Dunevent was the Dragons’ leading receiver last season. He averaged more than 11 yards per catch last year and led the team in total receiving yards with 441. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Making a return run to the postseason is the goal for the Sonoma Valley Dragons, but who will lead the team from the quarterback position is an unanswered question for a squad that went 7-3 last year before being ousted from the playoffs by Acalanes.

The Dragons lost Dan “Mr. Everything” Deely to graduation last spring, setting off a three-way battle to take his place at quarterback.

Senior Jack Biaggi, who played receiver last year while Deely handled most of the quarterbacking duties, is in a three-way race for the starter’s job with juniors Max Yankovich and Willie Lennon, who shared snaps on the junior varsity squad last season.

That uncertainty, and the competition it ignites, is just fine by second-year head coach Bob Midgley.

“You want to find your best decision maker who has the best attributes,” he said. “We are going to see who can throw with traffic coming at them and go from there.”

Of the ongoing battle to see who gets the nod at quarterback, senior multi-position player Kyle Dunevent said the competition is positive.

“I wish we had every single position like there — where everyone has to fight,” he said.

“They have to fight every week or someone’s going to take their job. I think that competing is good,” he said. “No one is going to hand them anything.”

Dunevent, who averaged more than 11 yards per catch last year and led the team in total receiving yards with 441, will again play both sides of the ball for the Dragons, spending time at slot receiver as well as free safety and cornerback. He’ll also get some time at running back.

“I’ve got a lot of stuff on my plate,” he said.

Another guy with a full plate is senior Noe Baron. He does a lot of everything for the Dragons, according to Midgley.

“He plays everything,” he said. “He’s a D-lineman and offensive lineman; he (place)kicks and he punts and he kicks off. He never comes off the field.”

Baron also makes sure the guys are on task.

“He’s more of our vocal leader guy, making sure no one is short-cutting,” Midgley said.

While the Dragons will be missing stars like Deely and all-Sonoma County League lineman Matthew Robinson, Midgley said the new seniors are stepping into leadership roles and building a balanced squad.

There will be no shortcuts for the Dragons in their drive to make the playoffs again this year.

Sonoma will face an Analy squad that returns a slew of key starters. They will also get another shot at the Petaluma High team that dealt them a heartbreaking defeat in the closing seconds of their final league game last season.

“Petaluma did a two-minute drive and kicked a field goal to beat us, so I know the kids are looking forward to” that game, Midgley said.

The league, and the season, is loaded with quality opponents, according to Midgley.

“There is not one week we can really take off,” he said.

You can reach columnist Kerry Benefield at 526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com.

SONOMA VALLEY DRAGONS

Coach: Bob Midgley (2nd year)
2013 record: 7-4 overall, 4-2 SCL
2013 JV record: 3-7

Players to watch
Kyle Dunevent, Sr., WR, DB – Senior leader led team in receiving yards as a junior.
Noe Baron, Sr., DL, OL, P/K – Veteran do-it-all workhorse who rarely leaves the field.
Alex Gustafson, Sr., DL – Will pull double duty on the offensive side of the line because of his athleticism.
Tristan Mertens, Sr., RB/WR – Led the team last year in receiving touchdownsTDs and all-purpose yards.

Game not to miss
The Dragons get a chance at home in the conference opener Sept. 26 to avenge a heartbreaking defeat at Petaluma last season. In that game, the Trojans nailed a last-second field goal for the victory.

SCHEDULE
Aug. 29 Bye
Sept. 5 Galena (Reno) 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 San Marin 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 19 Fremont 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 26 Petaluma 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 3 at Analy 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 10 at McClymonds 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 17 Piner 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 24 at Healdsburg 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 31 El Molino 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 7 at Elsie Allen 7:30 p.m.