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Prep football preview: Piner, Santa Rosa meet for NBL-Redwood title

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Piner football by the numbers

Quarterback Yonaton Isack already has topped the North Coast record for most touchdown passes in a regular season, with 47 going into Friday’s game against Santa Rosa.

According to Cal-Hi Sports’ statewide records database and MaxPreps, he would become only the sixth in state annals to reach 50 TDs if he throws three Friday. He’s averaging more than five per game.

Isack passed Fort Bragg’s Kaylor Sullivan last game. Sullivan threw for 46 TDs in 10 games in 2015.

Other locals in the books:

41 – Jack Newman, Analy, 2016

40 – Newman, 2015

33 – Will Smith, Analy, 2014

33 – Jake Simmons, Rancho Cotate, 2017 (9 games)

For most passing yards, Sullivan is ranked eighth in the state, the highest of any local player. Isack is sixth in yardage for North Coast players going into Friday. He averages 308 yards per game in the air. With a big game, he could break Piner’s all-time record, set 18 years ago.

Other locals:

3,752 – Sullivan, Fort Bragg, 2015

3,285 – Newman, Analy, 2016

3,145 – Simmons, Rancho Cotate, 2016

3,127 – Evan Bridewell, Piner, 2001

3,038 – Sullivan, Fort Bragg, 2014

2,768 – Isack, Piner (9 games)

Isaac Torres, a junior wide receiver, has set the North Coast’s record for most receiving touchdowns in a regular season with 21 through nine games.

Others:

21 – Kerr Johnson, Analy, 2014 (in 13 games)

20 – Kalei Aukai, Santa Rosa, 2016

With one TD Friday, Torres would match the state record for most by a junior in a regular season:

22 – J.P. Shohfi, San Marino, 2014

21 – Torres, Piner, 2019 (9 games)

— Lori A. Carter

It all comes down to execution. Piner High School football coach Terence Bell and his counterpart at Santa Rosa, Russell Ponce, agree on that point.

While that word, “execution,” has become a bit of a sports cliché, it holds some truth: Whichever teams plays better football Friday night likely wins.

That’s a problem for the Panthers — no one has played better football this year against the undefeated Prospectors, who are 9-0 overall and 3-0 in the North Bay League-Redwood Division.

Santa Rosa is 3-5 overall and 2-0 in the NBL-Redwood.

Despite all that, if the Panthers win, they would rip the carpet right from underneath the high-flying Prospectors — or more accurately, rip the league championship banner from the Prospectors’ clutches in the final regular-season game of the year.

“If you execute, you stand a chance in any football game,” Bell said. “That’s why we coach our guys so hard. (Santa Rosa) poses a challenge for sure. We’re definitely not looking past them.”

That may be a little bit of a hard sell.

Piner has been darned near untouchable this season. The Prospectors have scored an impressive 500 points in nine games, an average of 56 a game. They’ve given up a grand total of 28 points in those same nine, the average of a field goal each.

No one scored on Piner until the fifth week of the season, when Miramonte managed two whole touchdowns in the 53-14 loss.

In comparison, Santa Rosa has allowed more points than it’s scored (283 to 237) and started out 0-5 before turning things around in the past three games.

Ponce and his Panthers aren’t conceding defeat, though he does acknowledge the mountain is high.

“They are bigger, faster, well-coached, play hard. They’re the total package,” he said. “We just have to play good football. You have to try harder than the other team. You have to execute better than the other team.

“They say, ‘How are you going to cover those guys?’ Our 11 have to play better than their 11. There is no secret sauce. If there was, everyone would be doing it.”

Both teams have had extended layoffs due in part to the Kincade fire and evacuations.

That’s been good for the Prospectors, Bell said.

“At first I thought we were going to be rusty and slow and forget what we started,” he said. “But these last two practices have be our best two of the year.”

For the Panthers, the nearly monthlong layoff has been beneficial, too. Starting quarterback Trevor Anderson broke his right (throwing) hand in a Sept. 20 loss to Maria Carrillo, but he’s back.

“The guys just stepped up” in Anderson’s absence, Ponce said. “The team just rallied.”

The cast off, Anderson is ready to take the helm of his team again Friday with what his coach called “a shot of adrenaline.”

The Panthers have another weapon, too, in Mason Frost, a first-year football player who burst onto the scene with 439 rushing yards against El Molino on Oct. 4.

That game put Frost, a senior, in the county record books forthe second-best single-game performance, behind Cameron Erion of Windsor’s 450 yards in a 2009 game.

Piner football by the numbers

Quarterback Yonaton Isack already has topped the North Coast record for most touchdown passes in a regular season, with 47 going into Friday’s game against Santa Rosa.

According to Cal-Hi Sports’ statewide records database and MaxPreps, he would become only the sixth in state annals to reach 50 TDs if he throws three Friday. He’s averaging more than five per game.

Isack passed Fort Bragg’s Kaylor Sullivan last game. Sullivan threw for 46 TDs in 10 games in 2015.

Other locals in the books:

41 – Jack Newman, Analy, 2016

40 – Newman, 2015

33 – Will Smith, Analy, 2014

33 – Jake Simmons, Rancho Cotate, 2017 (9 games)

For most passing yards, Sullivan is ranked eighth in the state, the highest of any local player. Isack is sixth in yardage for North Coast players going into Friday. He averages 308 yards per game in the air. With a big game, he could break Piner’s all-time record, set 18 years ago.

Other locals:

3,752 – Sullivan, Fort Bragg, 2015

3,285 – Newman, Analy, 2016

3,145 – Simmons, Rancho Cotate, 2016

3,127 – Evan Bridewell, Piner, 2001

3,038 – Sullivan, Fort Bragg, 2014

2,768 – Isack, Piner (9 games)

Isaac Torres, a junior wide receiver, has set the North Coast’s record for most receiving touchdowns in a regular season with 21 through nine games.

Others:

21 – Kerr Johnson, Analy, 2014 (in 13 games)

20 – Kalei Aukai, Santa Rosa, 2016

With one TD Friday, Torres would match the state record for most by a junior in a regular season:

22 – J.P. Shohfi, San Marino, 2014

21 – Torres, Piner, 2019 (9 games)

— Lori A. Carter

Bell, meanwhile, trots out his record-breaking team led by Yonaton Isack, whose 47 passing touchdowns is already a Sonoma County best and is in the top 10 among all California quarterback regular-season marks. A big night could push him into the top five or even top three of the Cal-Hi Sports record book.

In 2015, Kaylor Sullivan of Fort Bragg threw 46 touchdown passes in 10 regular-season games.

Piner receiver Isaac Torres, a junior with 21 TD receptions, could also climb the state record ladder Friday. He is currently 14th in receiving touchdowns in the regular season. Derrion Grim of Stockton’s McNair had 31 in 2015, according to Cal-Hi.

For the Prospectors, though, the night is less about individual achievements than booking Piner’s first football league title in nearly a generation.

“When we first got together, (wide receiver) Jake Herman called it: This year was ‘Banner Season,’” Bell said. “That’s the No. 1 thing they’re super pumped about. That’s the main goal we’re focused on. It would be a shame to win nine games and lose the last one, not get the whole thing you were fighting for. We have to finish this movie the right way.”

The game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Santa Rosa.

More Friday games:

CARDINAL NEWMAN Cardinals (8-1, 4-0) vs. ANALY Tigers (1-8, 0-4)

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Analy High School

The Cardinals have clinched the NBL-Oak Division because, even if they lost, they would tie with Rancho Cotate, which they beat. That makes it five years in a row as solo league champs for the Cardinals, after a co-title with Rancho in 2014. Analy has struggled all year, winning its first game of the year — an overtime victory over Santa Rosa — but none since.

RANCHO COTATE Cougars (6-3, 3-1) vs. UKIAH Wildcats (4-5, 2-2)

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Ukiah High School

The Cougars built some momentum before October’s evacuations due to the Kincade fire, and they could use more heading into the playoffs. The Wildcats might need to win to get in — they’re in the tough Division 3, which includes Rancho, Windsor, Santa Rosa and some other good teams.

MONTGOMERY Vikings (0-9, 0-3) vs. HEALDSBURG Greyhounds (0-8, 0-2)

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Healdsburg Rec Park

Somebody’s gotta win between the defending NBL-Redwood champions and the program resurrected after taking most of last year off.

MIDDLETOWN Mustangs (6-2, 5-0) vs. CLOVERDALE Eagles (2-7, 1-5)

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Cloverdale High School

A win and the Mustangs run the table in the North Central League I, though they came up one game short when the Fort Bragg game was scratched because of the fire. The Mustangs won Division 5 last year and will play in Division 6 this year.

Also Friday:

NCL II

Roseland Collegiate Prep at Calistoga, 6 p.m.

NCL III

Laytonville at Round Valley, 6 p.m.

Saturday’s game

North Bay League-Oak

Maria Carrillo at Windsor, 7 p.m.

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

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