By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The season opener at Santa Rosa High School had something for all the coaches to complain about.
The Analy Tigers committed 16 penalties, many of them personal fouls, and more or less disappeared in the second and third quarters. And they were the winners.
Analy survived a scare and emerged with a wild 48-29 victory against Casa Grande, which played its “home opener” about 25 minutes up the highway as its new field gets installed in Petaluma.
The Gauchos showed heart and hustle in coming back from a 27-0 deficit in the first quarter, but in the end they didn’t have the weapons to seal the comeback.
Not that Casa didn’t make the Tigers sweat a bit.
With Analy repeatedly putting itself in a hole with careless mistakes, the Gauchos cut the score to 34-29 with 9:44 remaining on a 17-yard touchdown pass from JJ Anderson to Dulio Flores.
The Casa Grande side of the neutral stands was going nuts, Analy having gone more than a quarter without scoring at that point.
It was a seemingly mild play that seemed to turn things around for the Tigers. Immediately facing a third-and-10 situation at their 38, and with Analy quarterback Jack Newman having thrown five consecutive incompletions, wide receiver Lucas Housman absorbed a hit while making a 12-yard reception for the first down.
That play seemed to remind the Tigers they were the better team. A few plays later, running back Osiris Zamora burst into the end zone from 7 yards out, and Analy had a little breathing room.
It turned into a lot more than that moments later when Kyle Johnson intercepted a pass and returned it to the Casa Grande 20-yard line.
Newman wound up converting this possession himself, diving for the right flag and scoring from 5 yards out.
“I think we did get a little bit complacent,” wide receiver Schuyler Van Weele said. “This program has been pretty strong in this area recently, and I think it kind of went to our heads. But this was a good game to have, because it definitely brought us back down to reality.”
Early on, the game was a clinic delivered by Newman and Van Weele. They connected on three touchdown passes in the first quarter alone, shocking the Gauchos out of the gate.
Newman was 10 of 14 for 204 yards and four TDs in the first quarter alone. Van Weele had six catches for 153 yards in the quarter, easily getting behind the Casa defense to reel in Newman’s bullets.
Van Weele also had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Tigers cooled off in the middle of the game, though, as Casa Grande began to get better pressure on Newman, while at the same time thwarting Analy’s strong rush with screen passes.
Senior Kaleo Garrigan was the star for the Gauchos, catching two scoring passes from Anderson and making the interception that closed the floodgates and led to Casa’s first touchdown in the second quarter.
Anderson wound up 17 of 38 for 200 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions — mixed results in a decidedly mixed games for both teams.