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Dragon gridders falter in opener


Friday’s opening game for the Sonoma Valley High football Dragons got off to an inauspicious start.

After a motion penalty on the first play, the Dragons fumbled the snap on the next play giving the El Camino Colts a first and goal inside the 10-yard line. Two plays later, El Camino scored and less than two minutes into their season, the Dragons were down 7-0.

“We didn’t come out ready to play,” said Dragon Coach Bob Midgley. “We gave them good field position on the first (touchdown). They came out ready to play.”

On Sonoma’s next series, the Dragons put together a drive but a holding penalty almost put a stop to it. They did make it down to the Colts’ 19 before the drive did stall, and they turned the ball over on downs.

The Dragon defense kept the Colts from doing much of anything, but the Dragon offense couldn’t take advantage in a foul-filled game.

“We had too many motion penalties,” Midgley said. “We made a lot of mental mistakes ... and that can’t happen.”

The Dragons’ third series ended on the first play with another fumble. But the teams traded punts for the rest of the first quarter.

Senior Noah Thomas intercepted a Colts pass at the start of the second quarter, but the Dragons couldn’t move the ball.

After taking over on their own 35, the Colts put together a drive. On a third and 21 on the Dragons 35, the Colt quarterback found an open receiver who in turn found the end zone and with 1:11 left in the half, the Colts took a 14-0 lead.

That seemed to get Sonoma’s attention.

On the Dragons first play, senior quarterback Rocko Wetzel found junior receiver Josef Marenec streaking down the sideline and the pair connected for a 75-yard touchdown. So in the span of about 15 seconds, the teams traded touchdowns. But the extra point was wide left and the Dragons trailed 14-6 at the half.

After trading punts to start the third quarter, Sonoma, starting on their own 48, put together a 2-1/2-minute drive that culminated in a 6-yard touchdown run by Wetzel. The Dragons went for the two-point conversion, but didn’t make it and trailed by two at 14-12.

Sonoma put together another drive at the end of the third quarter that took them down to the El Camino 21 early in the fourth quarter but the drive stalled and the Dragons turned it over on downs.

With about six minutes left, the Dragons turned the ball over again on their own 37 with their third fumble.

It took El Camino about three minutes to convert the fumble to a touchdown and with a little more than two minutes left, the Dragons found themselves down 20-12.

Sonoma had one more chance, but turned the ball over on downs and the Colts took three knees to run out the clock.

“We had them on the ropes,” Midgley said. “But the defense was on the field too much in the first half.”

And he praised Wetzel, junior Tyler Winslow and junior Ryan Sherwood for their efforts. “Rocko (Wetzel) is a tough kid,” he said. “He took a couple of big hits.”

The 0-1 Dragons are on the road again Friday when they travel to Montgomery to face a program that’s on the rebound.

“They’ve got a new coach and their quarterback coach used to be the Analy quarterback coach,” Midgley added. “They’re going to pass a lot.”