Prep football: Petaluma drops Vine Valley Athletic League opener 34-0

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Petaluma High’s Trojans gave up yardage grudgingly in their Vine Valley Athletic League football opener against American Canyon’s Wolves Friday night. The trouble for the host Trojans was that the Wolves didn’t give up hardly any yardage at all in a 34-0 win.

The loss was the third of the lopsided variety in succession for the Trojans, who are now 1-4 on the season — while American Canyon, one of the favorites for the VVAL title, won its fifth straight game without a defeat.

Petaluma never did get anything going offensively against the pack-hunting Wolves. At the half, Petaluma had netted just two total yards, while American Canyon had accounted for 185. Still, the Wolves led just 14-0 because the Trojans were playing inspired defense themselves.

Petaluma was overwhelmed by the Wolves’ larger offensive line and the hard running of 210-pound quarterback Vance Eschenberg and running backs James Larson and Ezekiel Anderson, but compensated with a swarming horde of tacklers and key defensive plays at crucial times by Jack Santos, Gianni Johnson, Joey Alioto, Mario Zarco and a host of others.

The result was a scoreless standoff until the final three minutes of the first half.

Short punts set up two quick American Canyon scores before the half was reached. One came on a 26-yard run by Larson and the other on a 13-yard spurt by Kaave Gaviola.

Things just never improved for the Trojans, who wore down as the game progressed.

Already without several key players even before the game started, the Trojans took an early hit when 290-pound two-way lineman Logan Wagers suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter and was lost for the game.

Two touchdown runs by Anderson of 58 and 18 yards in the third quarter put the game out of reach and reserve Vinnie Espejo broke open a 36-yard run for a final American Canyon touchdown in the fourth period.

Petaluma did have a couple of spirit-reviving moments in the second half, making a strong stand to stop an American Canyon drive on downs at the Trojan 22-yard line early in the fourth quarter and getting a 19-yard run by Alioto in the third period.

But Petaluma really never had a legitimate shot at blinking its side of the scoreboard.

Petaluma coach Rick Krist paid tribute to the Wolves, even as he praised his Trojans for their effort.

“We just couldn’t do anything against them,” he said. “They put nine or 10 guys in the box and we couldn’t do anything offensively. Their two defensive ends were great. They just swallowed us up.

“I was proud of our kids. The first half may have been the best defensive outing we’ve had this year.”

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