El Molino recaptures Golden Apple trophy from Analy

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The jubilant rush across the field by El Molino High football players and their fans was equal parts relief and pride, as the Lions won their first Golden Apple Bowl in nine years and retrieved the huge apple-topped trophy from the vanquished Analy Tigers’ sideline Friday.

The Lions won the 55th playing of the West County rivalry game, 39-24, after tacking on another late takeaway and score.

With about eight minutes left in the game, Lions linebacker Colman Hayes intercepted an Analy pass at the Tigers’ 17-yard line and escaped into the left corner of the end zone to seal El Molino’s win on Analy’s home turf.

Hayes carried the Victory Apple trophy in the middle of a huge scrum of players and students afterward, bringing it to their side of the field and posing for photos with it.

“Colman is a stud,” his coach, Randy Parmeter, said above the cheering. “That guy just had an amazing night.”

Hayes was in the mix all night on both sides of the ball, menacing Analy quarterback Gavin Allingham and running backs Trenton Vogel and Kaden Fox.

He adds to his North Bay League-Redwood Division-leading 45 tackles, 32 solo and 15 for losses coming into the game.

The game used to be a league competition, but isn’t anymore since league realignment last year that put Analy to the NBL-Oak.

But that didn’t dampen the emotion of the rivalry.

Both teams were called for several personal fouls, which roused both groups of fans into near frenzies.

“It’s an emotional night,” Parmeter said. “These kids all know each other. It’s like, ‘I gotta get you before you get me.’”

The teams played evenly in the first half, trading scoring opportunities like clockwork, missed point-afters the only flaw in successful scoring drives for both teams.

In fact, neither team made a defensive stop until El Molino turned it over on downs toward the end of the second quarter.

El Molino led, 20-18, at the half.

In the third quarter it seemed as if both teams’ defenses kicked in – and offenses sputtered a bit – as El Mo turned it over on downs, Analy was forced to punt and El Mo turned it over on a Gary Gritsch interception on the next three drives.

But then both teams committed a slew of penalties that killed drives.

“We didn’t play well defensively for a while there,” Parmeter said. “Our penalties kept their offense alive. We gave up some big plays.”

After Analy missed a 23-yard field goal attempt — one of four clanks off the goal posts on the night — that would have given the Tigers the lead, El Molino took its first semi-comfortable advantage of the night.

Running back Jalen Hall ran for three straight plays before quarterback Weston Lewis took a keeper up the middle, ran to the left sideline and outpaced the defense for a 64-yard touchdown and 26-18 lead, with Cole Van Stone’s point-after.

Penalties, including a stretch in which five flags were thrown on seven plays, bogged down much of the second half.

Hayes’ pick finally gave the Lions breathing room with a 15-point lead.

Analy threatened, though, with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Allingham to Vogel to pull to 33-24 with six minutes left in the game. After initially lining up for a point-after kick, an El Molino penalty allowed the Tigers an opening to go for a two-point conversion.

But the Lions closed in on Allingham, who was forced into a low throw.

“Our defense played a big part in the game,” Hall said. “Our coach told us this week not to get too high or too low. It was a tough game.”

El Molino improves to 3-2 and Analy falls to 1-3.

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

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