The Sonoma Valley Dragons play their home opener Friday night at Arnold Field, after having lost their first three games on the road – the last two of which were close both on the scoreboard and on the ground. In fact, the Dragons may be the best 0-3 team in the area, and hope to prove they can win against El Camino of South San Francisco.
Last week they traveled to Richmond to meet a bigger and more experienced team, the Eagles of J.F. Kennedy High. The Eagles had won their first two Bay Area games comfortably, outscoring their opponents 67-14, but the Dragons’ defense put the lid on their numbers and held them to a single second-quarter touchdown and no extra point. The final score was 6-0.
It was largely a ground game, and the Eagles quarterback Cameron Young was himself the game’s biggest rusher. It was Young who scored the game’s only touchdown, after a Dragon fumble gave the Eagles possession inside the 20.
Varsity Coach Bob Midgely has reason for some optimism. “We out-rushed them and out-passed them,” he said. “We’re really good at defense but we’re just not doing something offensively.”
Injuries have made the Dragons struggle so far this season. Starting guard Sebastian Mercado is out with a knee injury, and guard Ricardo Cab was hurt during play. Several line substitutions were made that didn’t work out. “We were in scramble mode,” said Midgely.
On offense, senior quarterback Tyler Garrett has yet to take a snap, nursing a sprained ankle that is only slowly getting better. Replacement Jake Baker, a junior, has been plagued by interceptions – he gave up two in this game – but has shown good speed on roll-outs and can hit his target when the play unfolds smoothly.
Ryan Sherwood was the top rusher, followed by Andrew Beatty. Guillermo Hurtado had an interception on the first play of the game and a good runback, but he was also injured later in the game and couldn’t contribute the whole four quarters.
The coach suggested that having more experience, and learning to be physical on the line, can make the difference. “We can be better,” said Midgely, “but we’re not better yet.”
Friday’s rival, El Camino, won their first pre-season game last week, eking out a 20-19 victory against San Mateo. Midgely was cautiously optimistic. “If we stay healthy we can compete with these guys.”
Meanwhile the JV team is racking up the wins by big numbers – they beat Cloverdale 41-0 the first week, followed by a 53-0 win against El Molino and, in Richmond, a 20-18 win over Kennedy.
Both teams play Friday night at Arnold Field. JV kickoff is at 5 p.m., the varsity team takes the field at 7:30.