Prep football: Piner keeps rolling against Sonoma Valley

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SONOMA — The Piner High School football juggernaut has no brake pedal.

That’s fun for the Prospectors, who thrashed the Sonoma Valley Dragons in a nonconference game Friday, 71-0, to remain unbeaten – and unscored upon.

But it’s not so enjoyable for the team on the other end.

Despite being down at halftime 57-0, the Dragons kept their heads up and played hard through the running clock in the second half.

Meanwhile, Piner kept rolling in a season of records.

Now 4-0, the team has won as many games as the Prospectors did all of last year.

After their third score, in the first quarter, the Prospectors had scored more points than the team did during the entirety of 2018.

Asked at halftime if he would put in his second string or try new positions for less experienced players, first-year Piner coach Terence Bell said absolutely not.

“We don’t practice in games,” he said. “In fact, there are no backup players. Our JV isn’t even called JV, it’s called Varsity Act 1.”

Only 18 players put in time on the field last week, a plan Bell repeated this week.

That gave Sonoma first-year coach Hervy Williams hope that his larger team could wear out the Prospectors, whom he felt hadn’t really been put to the test, with a physical ground game.

But Piner was too much.

The Prospectors scored on 10 of 12 possessions in the game.

The only two unsuccessful drives were brief — a fumble on their second play from scrimmage in the first quarter and a pass the receiver coughed up with a minute to go before halftime.

Williams expressed disappointment at what he felt was Piner running up the score, still throwing passes in the second half instead of running out the clock with run plays.

Even before game time, each team had built up some emotions toward the other.

Earlier this week, Williams said his plan was to run it down the Prospectors’ throat. Friday, in the earlier junior varsity game, Sonoma Valley beat Piner, 50-14.

“We’re all brothers,” said Bell, who helps coach the junior varsity also. “If somebody beats up your little brother, you avenge him.”

The early game was a little chippy with 17 penalties in the first half alone, including personal fouls on both sides.

But Williams acknowledged that Piner prepared well for his squad, now 1-3.

“They had some big kids I didn’t see on film.” He said. “They executed how we knew they would. Our defense just didn’t get into a rhythm to stop them.”

The Dragons had a few big gains, but had too many three-and-outs to sustain scoring drives.

Piner quarterback Yonaton Isack, who leads the North Bay League in passing yardage, threw for nine touchdowns and 313 yards on 18 completions in 24 attempts.

Four receivers scored touchdowns: Isaac Torres and Michael Collins each had 3, Adrian Torres caught 2 and Jake Herman had 1.

Isaac Torres also scored on a 63-yard punt return.

Herman ran back a fumble recovery for a 13-yard touchdown.

“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Herman said. “They forced the fumble and my brothers were blocking me into the end zone. What am I going to do by myself?”

Piner will face its toughest challenge next Friday, when it hosts Miramonte, which went to the North Coast Section Division 3 quarterfinals last year and is ranked well above the Prospectors.

“That will be test, for sure,” Bell said. “It’s a passing vs. passing team. They’ve been at our last two games filming us.”

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @loriacarter.

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