Dragons rally, topple Terra Linda in opener
Morgan, Swanson, Deely, resilient “D” spark Sonoma win, at Tam Saturday, JVs
Senior Sam Morgan (left) and sophomore Dan Deely both latch onto an interception, which ended up in Deely’s possession, to ice the grid Dragons’ season-opening win over nonleague Terra Linda Friday night at Arnold Field.
With shades of their 2010 struggles lingering during the first half of Friday night’s season opener at Arnold Field, the Sonoma Valley High School varsity football boys found themselves trailing visiting nonleague Terra Linda 17-7 at the half.
But from the first-play of the second half until the game-ending horn, the 2011 version of the Dragons was revealed.
Behind the inspired play of senior quarterback Sam Morgan, senior wide-receiver Chris Swanson, sophomore multi-faceted back Dan Deely, and a resilient defense anchored by senior linebacker Eric Clouse and junior defensive end Jonny Amandoli, Sonoma rallied from 10 points down to complete an impressive 21-17 victory.
Even though it was just the season-opener, it had all the feelings of a must-win game for the Dragons after they managed only one win in 2010, which also happened to come against Terra Linda.
But the visiting Trojans came into town with a lot of returning key players from last year’s squad with a season of experience under their belt, and yearning for some payback.
Fortunately, the Dragons also have a group of key players with experience back from last year who, likewise, have a yearning, and that is for wins, with one on board in and counting in 2011.
“We hoped to get our new season off to a winning start, and though we have a lot of work ahead of us for improvement, the guys kept battling and pulled out the win,” said Sonoma head coach Mick O’Meara, who with defensive coordinator Mike Mulas have begun their 28th year of directing the varsity Dragons. “The keys to the game was the first play of the second half which turned the tide in our favor. Then it was our resilient defense, which took over from there and stopped Terra Linda on its next five possessions and allow no second-half points.”
The first-play of the second half that O’Meara pointed out was a trick double-pass-play attempt by Terra Linda which was intercepted by Amandoli, a standout defensive end who gave Sonoma prime field possession at the Trojans’ 31-yard-line.
From there, the Dragons got a seven-yard run from Deely, a 10-yard burst by Morgan, four more yards by Deely, and finally an 11-yard touchdown charge into the end zone by Morgan.
After Trojan penalties put the ball just inside the one-yard line, Sonoma converted a two-point conversion as Deely reached paydirt and suddenly it was only a 17-15 deficit with a majority of a half to play.
Both teams engaged in a defensive battle until under four minutes to play when the Dragons finally broke through for their first lead with under four minutes to go when Morgan connected with Swanson on a thrilling 54-yard touchdown pass-play, with Swanson outdueling the defensive back for the ball in the end zone.
It was the same Morgan to Swanson connection that accounted for Sonoma’s first-quarter touchdown, which was the result of an equally thrilling 68-yard pass-play.
The Dragon griddders weren’t out of the woods yet as Terra Linda got two more possessions and chances to pull out a win.
But Sonoma’s defensive was up to the challenge with Clouse forcing a fumble that junior Garrett Walker recovered to end one Trojan possession, and then Deely sealed the 21-17 victory with a game-ending interception.
For the game, Morgan finished with five pass completions in 13 attempts for 151 yards and two touchdowns, and had 12 carries for 79 non-sack yards rushing and one touchdown; Swanson had three pass receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns; and Deely and Clouse rushed for 31 and 27 yards, respectively.
Comprising the 2011 Sonoma varsity football team– directed by O’Meara, Mulas and assistant coaches Damien Magnani, Mike Sangiacomo, Steve Sangiacomo, Chris Hoke, Ray Sullivan Jr. and Malcolm Sims – are seniors Clouse, Morgan, Swanson, David Ake, Collin Clyde, Andrew DeBerdt, Joshua Heiser, Michael Hernandez, David Henry, Tyler Johnson, Josh Jones, Sam Keechler, Ronald Kohut and Jonathan Wieland; juniors Amandoli, Vincent Bruton, John Buckley, Brennan Cole, Joseph Cotter, Sam Denning, John Engebreth, Sean Forney, Aidan Lacy, Kevin Lind, Chris Lopez, Skyler Marciel, Justin McDonald, Steven McVeigh, Alex Ohan, Trevor Severson, Dustin Sloan, Charlie Stellon, Mike Stovall, Keenan Tuohy and Garrett Walker; and sophomores Deely and Matthew Robinson. Sonoma’s longtime head trainer is John Holden and assistant trainer is Mike Gilman.
Sonoma’s gridders travel to Mill Valley this Saturday, Sept. 17, to face nonleague Tamalpais, with the junior varsity starting at 11:30 a.m., and the varsity kicking off at 2 p.m.
The Dragons will then host nonleague American Canyon on Friday, Sept. 23, at Arnold Field, with the jayvees beginning at 5 and the varsity playing at 7:30 p.m.
Sonoma’s jayvee football team dropped a 26-13 decision to Terra Linda, with the Dragons paced by quarterback Mitch Hood’s 30-yard touchdown pass-play to Ed Pomeroy; Austin Baily’s three-yard touchdown run; and Adrian Romano’s extra-point kick.
The freshman Dragons’ football team was upended 24-0 by Terra Linda in its season opener last Thursday.
Dragons of the Week
The Dragons of the Week in Sonoma’s 21-17 nonleague season-opening victory over visiting Terra Linda on Friday evening at Arnold Field were Chris Swanson, Sam Morgan and Eric Clouse.
Swanson, a 6-foot, 170-pound senior wide receiver, defensive back and kicker, had three pass receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns, played strong pass defense, made key solo tackle and both kicked off and booted an extra-point.
Morgan, a 5-foot, 9-inch, 180-pound senior quarterback and defensive back, completed five of 13 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns, had 12 carries for 79 non-sack yards rushing and one touchdown, and played solid defense.
Clouse, a 5-10, 180-pound senior linebacker and running back, was Sonoma’s leading tackler, caused an interception and fumble, and provided 27 key yards rushing.
The Dragons of the Week are sponsored by Eraldi’s Men’s Wear and Shoes, and Broadway Market.