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Tomales High School coach Leon Feliciano talks to his 14-man football team after the Braves beat Hoopa Valley 41-12 on Friday night. (Photo by JOHN BURGESS, The Press Democrat)

Kerry Benefield: Tomales Braves exemplify synergy

Decreased enrollment diminishes Tomales' roster, not its performance Read Article →
Analy’s Xavier Freeman (2) makes a catch in front of Casa Grande’s Jaleel Lawson during Friday night’s game in Sebastopol.
Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat

Football: Analy routs Casa Grande in showdown of league champs

Tigers jumped to 40-0 lead at halftime Read Article →
Petaluma’s Brendan White (5) hurdles over Santa Rosa’s 
Carter Lindstrom-Drake during the first half of Friday’s game.
(Erik Castro / For The Press Democrat)

Football: Petaluma squeezes by Santa Rosa 13-12

Trojans blow 13-0 lead, but Panthers comeback falls short on failed conversion Read Article →
The Gauchos offensive line returns five starters this season: from left, Greg Poteracke, Peter Parrick, Julian Lopez, Brendan Jackson and Tanner Shimek. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

Casa Grande football lays it all on the line

Gauchos expect its massive offensive line to be key to success this season. Read Article →
Jaguars running back Hunter Hanson carries the ball during practice Monday at Windsor High School. (Crista Jeremiaon / The Press Democrat)

Football preview: Jaguars ready to roar

Windsor returns eight starters and expects a boost from an influx of new talent. Read Article →
Ukiah running back Will King, center, prepares to run a route during practice Aug. 20 in Ukiah. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Football preview: Ukiah ready to turn heads

Coming off a rebuilding season, Ukiah is ready to take off. Read Article →
Tight end Devonte Manning catches a ball during Santa Rosa High School football practice, Tuesday, August 19, 2014. (Photo by Crista Jeremiason, The Press Democrat)

Football preview: Santa Rosa Panthers believe ‘this is the year’

Panthers have veterans to bounce back from injury riddled 2013 campaign. Read Article →
Rancho Cotate quarterback Gunner Mefferd looks to throw during practice in Rohnert Park on Friday, August 22, 2014. (Photo by Crista Jeremiason, The Press Democrat)

Football preview: Rancho Cotate Cougars count on playmakers

This season, the Cougars may be the team to beat in the NBL. Read Article →
Montgomery coach Marcelo Bautista, right, goes over a tackling drill with his players during practice on Monday (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Football preview: Vikings ready to take the next step

Montgomery is ready to prove that 2013's campaign was no fluke. Read Article →
Maria Carrillo’s Jared Brazis is one the leaders on this year’s Pumas squad that’s aiming to reach the NCS playoffs.
(CONNER JAY / The Press Democrat)

Football preview: Maria Carrillo wants own identity in 2014

Pumas poised for this year’s potential and not what could have been of prior years. Read Article →
Casa Grande coach Trent Herzog addresses his players at a recent practice.
Credit: John Burgess / Press Democrat

Football preview: Big shoes to fill at Casa Grande

Experienced line will help ease the departure of JaJuan Lawson. Read Article →
Cardinal Newman sophomore Jordon Brookshire will lead the Cardinals offense this season as the starting quarterback. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

Football preview: Cardinal Newman ready to climb back to the top

There's no shortage of varsity experience for the Cardinals this year. Read Article →
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)

Football preview: Sonoma looks for its quarterback

Replacing Dan Deely is Step 1 as the Dragons seek to return to the playoffs in 2014. Read Article →
kp0818_Piner_QB.jpg

Football preview: Piner looks to extend improvement trend

New QB Tony Martignoli can throw deep passes well. Read Article →
Quarterback Brendan White prepares to pass during Petaluma High School’s football practice on Thursday. He’ll work behind an offensive line that will be bigger than last year’s group.
(CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

Football preview: Boost in numbers should help Petaluma

Trojans see increase in roster size, including twice as many offensive linemen Read Article →
Free safety Chris Pedroni, right, wraps up teammate Julian Lopez during practice at Healdsburg High.
Photo by John Burgess / Press Democrat

Football preview: Healdsburg has depth, renewed confidence

Healdsburg has the depth and experience to rank among the Empire’s best. Read Article →
Maria Carrillo’s Claire Howard, left, and Maddy Gonzalez show younger kids a drill during a soccer camp Thursday.
(CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

Benefield: Maria Carrillo at head of the pack

Pumas look as strong as ever, though rival Montgomery could challenge Read Article →
Lonnie Gaspar fights through a tackle at El Molino preseason practice. (Beth Schlanker / The Press Democrat)

Football preview: Surge of energy at El Molino

The Lions have a strong core of upcoming juniors returning and they're eager to do better than last year's sixth-place finish in the SCL. Read Article →
Linebacker Richard DePaz (14) springs forward to deliver a blow to the blocking sled at Elsie Allen’s preseason practice. 
(JOHN BURGESS / The Press Democrat

Football preview: Elsie Allen taking 2014 one step at a time

Lobos' goal for season is building a foundation. Read Article →
Analy running back Ja’Narrick James says the team hasn’t really needed to rebuild.
(CRISTA JERAMIASON / The Press Democrat)

Football preview: Analy’s key playmakers return, but offensive line a question mark

Tigers coach Bourdon still deciding on two O-line starters Read Article →
Ke' Shawn Walker, left, does a plank exercise with his teammates during Montgomery's first day of football practice on Monday. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Benefield: Real work begins for Empire’s football teams

The first of football practice began on Monday. For all the football teams in the Empire, it's a clean slate; everyone's a contender. Read Article →
Kerry Benefield, The Press Democrat's new local sports columnist.

Benefield: Sports is about the cheering

I didn’t cry when the final whistle blew on my last college soccer game. What I remember feeling was relief. It had been a long time. I was ready to hang it up. About six months later, ... Read Article →
Montgomery quarterback RJ Flores (18) throws a touchdown pass to wide receiver Etienne Ezeff against Ukiah last Friday. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

North Bay League preview: Only two squads return starting QBs

Rancho Cotate, Montgomery only NBL incumbents at quarterback this season Read Article →
Washington State has landed Casa Grande senior kicker Matt Abramo, considered to have one of the strongest legs among this season’s recruiting class. He verbally committed to the Cougars in late July. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Demorat, 2013)

Padecky: Casa’s Abramo a great kicker, better person

The Gauchos' kicker would rather talk about his leukemia fundraising efforts. Read Article →
El Molino football players, just like athletes from every other school in the area, lift weights and do conditioning drills during the summer. (Photo by John Burgess, The Press Democrat)

Summer football: More intense offseason programs pay off when practices begin

Football season officially kicks off Aug. 11 but teams are already hitting the field. Read Article →
Wilmington University pitcher Stephanie Sarris, a Rancho Cotate graduate, delivers a pitch against Concordia College on April 12. (Alisa McKinney / Wilmington University Athletics)

Former Rancho softball standout battled back from adversity

After a line drive to the head, Stephanie Sarris came back in a big way. Read Article →
Taylor Stroud finished the 2014 season with the second-best ERA in the Big Sky Conference.
BOB SOLORIO / Sacramento State Athletics

Stroud finishes college career on high note

Former Montgomery star found ways to pitch around injury, earn conference honors throughout college Read Article →
Matt Nadolski led Campbell in four offensive categories in 2014. (photo by Will Bratton / Campbell University Athletics)

Former Casa star Nadolski bounced around until finding home at Campbell

Matt Nadolski finished 2014 season as Campbell’s top power hitter. Read Article →
Former Rancho Cotate star Brent Gillespie led Youngstown State 
to its first NCAA tournament victory in school history.
(Youngstown State athletics)

Rancho grad Gillespie helped Youngstown State reach NCAA tourney

NCAA Tournament berth fuels Gillespe's fire to earn another appearance Read Article →
Middletown graduate Jessie Flynn captured a North Coast Section Section title at 189 pounds this past season. (Photo by the Flynn family)

Middletown’s Flynn is a 2-sport winner

Jessie Flynn qualified for the state wrestling tournament this past season and also anchored the Mustangs' defense as the starting goalkeeper. Read Article →