Empire football roundup: Petaluma takes thriller for first VVAL victory

In the second week of Vine Valley Athletic League play, host Petaluma narrowly defeated Justin-Siena, 31-28, to give the Trojans their first football victory in the new league’s history.

The Trojans (1-1, 4-2) outlasted the stubborn Braves (Napa) as the teams traded scoring blows throughout the game.

Petaluma led 14-7 at the end of the first quarter, 21-14 at halftime, and 28-21 after three quarters.

“This was a must win after we lost last week and didn’t play well,” Petaluma coach Rick Krist said. “Justin-Siena is good. We need to clean up our pass coverage for next week versus Vintage. That game will be big.”

Versus the Braves (0-2, 3-3) Petaluma relied on a heavy ground attack led by running back Garrett Freitas (257 yards, 20 rushes, 3 touchdowns), who scored on rushes of 38, 11 and 85 yards.

“Freitas had been out hurt the last two games and he came back with a vengeance,” Krist said. “Our offensive line had a great game - our whole offense did.”

Petaluma quarterback Cole Powers was 5-for-8 for 41 yards and one score through the air and he rushed for 99 yards on eight carries.

The Trojans led 31-28 with 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter when the Petaluma defense stiffened to prevent a go-ahead or tying score by the Braves.


The visiting Dragons (1-1, 2-4) went down with little resistance versus the Wolves (2-0, 2-4) in a VVAL game.

The loss dampened a promising start in league play for the Dragons after they won their opener last week.

“I didn’t get my kids prepared very well,” Sonoma Valley coach Bob Midgley said. “They (American Canyon) are a fast, physical team. … They took it to us pretty good.”

The game was effectively over by halftime as the Wolves led 34-0 at the break.

“We were a little banged up going into the game without taking away anything from American Canyon,” Midgley said. “We need to bounce back, get healthy and finish the season strong.”


In a VVAL meeting, the visiting Gauchos (1-1, 1-5) were smothered by the Crushers (1-0, 3-2). Vintage (Napa) built a 44-0 lead midway through the third quarter and cruised to the shutout. While holding the Gauchos scoreless, the Crushers broke out to a 16-0 first quarter lead and then added two touchdowns in both the second and third quarters.

“We didn’t play good football. We couldn’t capitalize on some of their (Vintage) mistakes, and that is when you get beat 44-0,” Casa Grande coach Denis Brunk said.

“A tough night for the Gauchos.”


In a non-league game, the host Cardinals (4-1) easily ran roughshod over the Grizzlies (0-5) of Reno. The Cardinals scored 17 points in the first quarter and 27 points in the second quarter for a 44-0 lead at halftime.

“We had some great special teams play,” Cardinal Newman coach Paul Cronin said. “We had some things go well for us.”

That was the case from the very outset of the game.

The Cardinals’ Chauncey Leberthon started the game with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 7-0 Cardinal Newman advantage. In the second quarter Leberthon also scored on a 60-yard catch reception via a pass from quarterback Jackson Pavitt to give Cardinal Newman a 31-0 lead.

The Cardinals host Rancho Cotate on Friday as the North Bay League-Oak play begins. Cronin said the team’s tough preseason schedule has prepared the Cardinals for the rigors of the NBL.

“It will be fun to get back to league play,” Cronin said.

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