Facing the two toughest opponents on their schedule in a three-week span, with a bye in between, the Sonoma Valley High School varsity football boys were dealt back-to-back losses after opening Bob Midgley’s first season as head coach with consecutive wins.
Unfortunately for the Dragons, their second straight loss was a decisive one delivered in Friday night’s Sonoma County League opener at Arnold Field by the visiting defending champion, Analy.
Four plays after taking the opening kickoff, the tough and talented Tigers were on the scoreboard as small-of-stature, but elusive and mercurial, junior running back Ja’Narrick James turned the right corner and buzzed down the sideline for a 55-yard touchdown, and Sonoma found itself in instant chase mode.
With their first possession, the Dragons put together a 12-play drive directed by standout senior quarterback Dan Deely and highlighted by his 18-yard run and two completed passes to senior wide receiver Mitch Hood for 27 yards.
But the promising drive turned pointless and from there it was all Analy as James tallied three more touchdowns and added a pair of two-point conversion runs for 28 of 30 first-half points, with an early third-quarter punt return for a 70-yard touchdown made it a 37-0 advantage en route to a 44-14 win.
From the outset of the game, the visiting Tigers aggressively put pressure on, and constantly pursued, Deely, who was sacked numerous times while being held to his worst statistical passing game – four completed passes out of 17 attempts for 30 yards – and left the game with a concussion in the third quarter. His status for Sonoma’s next game was not known at presstime.
With Deely down, Hood, who had two pass receptions, stepped in as quarterback for the Dragons and led them on two fourth-quarter scoring drives, throwing a 34-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Tristan Mertens, with senior running back Joe Decker tallying Sonoma’s other touchdown on a four-yard run. Junior place-kicker Noe Baron converted both extra points.
Hood finished the game completing nine of 14 passes for 126 yards, with one touchdown and one interception
The Dragon gridders play the next two weeks on the road, traveling to nonleague Richmond this Friday, Oct. 4, then facing SCL foe Piner in Santa Rosa on Saturday, Oct. 12, before returning to Sonoma to host longtime league rival Healdsburg on homecoming, Friday, Oct. 18.
Dragons of the Week
The Dragons of the Week in Sonoma’s 44-14 SCL-opening loss to defending champion Analy Friday night at Arnold Field are seniors Mitch Hood and Austin Bailey, with junior Jake Little as the Dragon practice player of the week.
Hood, a 6-foot, 3-inch, 185-pound senior wide receiver and quarterback, had two pass receptions before he took over for injured senior Dan Deely at quarterback and engineered two scoring drives, including throwing a 34-yard touchdown pass.
Bailey, a 5-10, 205-pound senior linebacker, made numerous tackles and recorded two quarterback sacks.
The Dragons of the Week are sponsored by Eraldi’s Men’s Wear and Shoes, and Broadway Market.