PD Preps Football Team Previews: Dwindling roster size hampers Sonoma Valley

Bob Midgley begins his third season as the Sonoma Valley coach with a 10-11 overall record. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Bob Midgley begins his third season as the Sonoma Valley coach with a 10-11 overall record. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

There’s a troubling trend playing out with the Sonoma Valley football program. Fewer athletes are participating.

A check of the record books shows the number of varsity players has shrunk from a high of 45 in both 2005 and 2008 to 30 suiting up this year.

“Right now, football doesn’t seem as popular around here,” third-year head coach Bob Midgley said. “I guess guys have other interests.

“Hopefully, this is just part of a cycle. We do have a little bigger freshman team than we had a year ago, so that’s encouraging for the future.”

There are nine seniors on this year’s varsity squad, including several starters from the 2014 team that went 3-7.

Will Lennon and Max Yankovich will take turns quarterbacking and playing wide receiver while Freddy Padilla is expected to make an impact at slot receiver.

Lennon will take most of the snaps from center

“He’s better at making quick decisions,” Midgley said. “Yankovich gives us a running dimension.”

Lennon, who now weighs 165, put in a lot of time in the weight room and has added 10 pounds of muscle since last season.

“I was doing two workouts a day over the summer,” said Lennon, who is 6-foot-1. “I’m a lot stronger than last season.”

Like Midgley, Lennon doesn’t have a definitive answer for the smaller numbers coming out for football at his school. He said fear of concussions might be one reason.

“We have a core group this year that have been playing together since our Pop Warner days,” he said. “We lost a lot of seniors from last year’s team, but we’ve all improved and the underclassmen are coming along. We’re looking forward to the season.

“Last year, I made a lot of rookie mistakes. I’ve been focusing on watching a lot of film and reading defenses better. All the other guys have also worked hard in the off season.”

Among the top players who graduated were: Kyle Dunevent, Alex Gustafson and Tristan Mehrtens.

The Dragons have been working on new offensive formations.

“We’re going to use the spread and shotgun more,” Lennon said. “We’re definitely going to be more wide-open.”

The team leader on defense is outside linebacker Josh Coglizer.

“He has an excellent football IQ,” Midgley said about the senior. “He was a real good player for us last year and he’s gotten better.”

Defense was a problem for Sonoma last year. The Dragons allowed 29 points per game, including 55 each to Analy and McClymonds.

“We’ve been working on strengthening the defense,” Midgley said.

Padilla, a returning starter at cornerback, said communication was a problem last year.

“We need to talk more and tell one another what we’re seeing the offense doing,” he said. “That’s one of the things we’ve been working on.

Sonoma will scrimmage at Santa Rosa High on Friday and Padilla and his teammates can’t wait.

“We’re pumped and anxious to get started,” he said. “We want to succeed and do better than last year.”

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

 

Max Yankovich is expected to split time at quarterback at Sonoma Valley with fellow senior Will Lennon. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Max Yankovich is expected to split time at quarterback at Sonoma Valley with fellow senior Will Lennon. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

SONOMA VALLEY DRAGONS AT A GLANCE

Coach: Bob Midgley (3rd year)
2014 record: 3-7, 3-3 SCL
JV record: 4-4, 3-2 SCL

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Will Lennon, SR., QB/WR/FS: Expected to take a majority of the snaps. Gained valuable experience last year.
Max Yankovich, SR., QB/WR/CB: Gives the Dragons a runner at the signal-calling position and also a quick receiver..
Freddy Padilla, SR., Rec., RB, OLB: The team leader on defense and also a valuable slot receiver.

GAME NOT TO MISS
Oct. 2 vs. Analy: Last year, Dragons lost 55-0 to Analy. This year, the Tigers travel to Arnold Field.

ALL-TIME HIGHLIGHT
In 2004, Sonoma Valley defeated Petaluma in the first round of the North Coast Section playoffs. The Dragons finished the year 9-3 and 5-1 in SCL.

SCHEDULE
Aug. 28, Fremont, 7:30
Sept. 4, at Berkeley, 7:00
Sept. 12, at San Marin, 2:00
Sept. 18, Chico, 7:00
Sept. 25, at Petaluma, 7:30
Oct. 2, Analy, 7:30
Oct. 17, at Piner, 1:30
Oct. 23, Healdsburg, 7:30
Oct. 30, El Molino*, 7:30
Nov. 6, Elsie Allen 7:30
* at Windsor High School