NCS football playoffs: Willits storms past El Molino
WILLITS — The Willits High School football team put its rushing attack on full display in a 41-7 drubbing of El Molino High School in a first-round North Coast Section Division 7 playoff matchup Friday night.
“We knew it was going to be a tough battle. They’ve played a lot bigger schools than we have. So that was the main thought, no matter what, we knew it was going to be a dogfight, especially at the beginning like it was,” Willits head coach Brandon Norbury said after the victory.
After winning five out of their seven league games, the Wolverines (8-3) entered the playoffs as the No. 3 seed.
“We’ve fought hard. We’ve gone through a lot with a couple injuries here and there, and people playing through injuries, but we’ve come together. One team, one family,” Norbury said.
The sixth-seeded Lions (5-5) secured their place in the North Coast Section Division 7 playoffs by outlasting Montgomery with a score in the final minutes to earn a 41-35 win in their final regular-season game 10 days earlier.
“They’re a great group of guys, they played hard, but I don’t think we ever reached our full potential. I don’t think that we came through in the big games. I think we struggled when it was prime time and that’s really it,” El Molino head coach Randy Parmeter said afterward.
“You can see if you go back and look at the Santa Rosa game, the Piner game and then this game here, under pressure we just fumble the ball and make mistakes.”
In an about three-minute period of game time, the Wolverines were able to put 22 points on the board in the second quarter thanks to some fumbles recovered by their defense and some even more amazing running from their offense.
Willits came out strong to start the game, scoring quickly as the Wolverines’ Jacob Arms ran for a 60-yard touchdown for an early 6-0 lead, following a failed 2-point attempt by Willits.
After stalling on two drives, the Lions got something going on a 40-yard run by the Lions’ DJ Ramalia that set them up on the opponent’s 15-yard line. On fourth down, Weston Lewis was able to find Jackson Dunkle on a 14-yard touchdown pass, giving them the 7-6 lead at the end of one quarter.
Following a defensive battle in the first part of the second quarter, Willits’ Arms ran the ball 80 yards down field. The Wolverines’ capped off the quick drive with a 5-yard touchdown run by Gabe McGinnis, giving them back the lead at 14-7 with less than six minutes remaining in the half.
On the very next play, the Wolverines recovered a fumble to give their offense the ball right back starting on the Lions’ 28-yard line. And Willits took advantage scoring on 23-yard counter run by Craig Stewart.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Wolverines came up big again, recovering the short kick after it bounced off an El Molino player. Willits struck again from the ground on a 33-yard rushing touchdown from McGinnis up the middle.
The Wolverines had scored 22 points with less than three minutes running off the clock and led 28-7 at halftime.
Willits carried the momentum into the second half with a big kick return by Corduroy Mayer to put them on the Lions’ 20-yard line, and on the next play Arms ran straight to the end zone, untouched.
El Molino looked poised to score again early in the third quarter thanks to some good running and a couple short pass completions by Lewis, but the Lions coughed up another fumble.
Willits led 35-7 at the end of the third quarter.
With the fog rolling in, the Wolverines continued to utilize their multi-run packages and in the fourth scored on a 2-yard run from Arms.