Benefield: It was supposed to be a test, but Analy made it a blowout

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Make it 33.

The Analy Tigers roared to their 33rd consecutive Sonoma County League victory Friday night in a very convincing win against the previously undefeated Petaluma Trojans in Sebastopol.

What on paper should have been a solid contest between two, old rivals never really materialized. The Tigers wouldn’t allow it. They walked away with a 48-32 win.

Behind the arm of senior quarterback Brenden Medina, the Tigers threw, threw and threw some more.

Medina finished the night with 231 yards passing mostly to his is two favorite targets, Jacob Ponzo and Nic Visser. Ponzo tallied 169 receiving yards, including three touchdowns while Visser grabbed four catches for 93 yards including two touchdowns.

To set the tempo, Analy scored on the first play from scrimmage, a 61-yard bomb from Medina to Ponzo. Eleven seconds into the contest it was 7-0 Tigers.

Before the quarter was half over, Medina hit Ponzo again, this time for a 25-yard strike to make it 13-0 Tigers.

Medina than pushed in a one-yarder himself to make it 20-0 after one quarter. It was 27-0 before Petaluma got on the board.

It wasn’t supposed to look like this. Petaluma had rolled into the contest undefeated in its first four games of the season, piling on points with a pounding running game. And the Analy defense, well, it was a unit that so far this season had not showed its spunk.

The script was flipped in Sebastopol Friday night. A defense that had allowed nearly 42 points a game in its 1-2 start finally buckled down.

“Our defense is solid,” first-year Analy coach James Foster said. “I feel like that is a strong part of our team. Our guys like to hit and are not afraid to play downfield. That game was more telling of what our defense is than the first three games.”

Junior linebacker Anthony Lepori came up big on a couple of plays and was a key player in the third quarter when the Tigers stopped the Trojans on downs on four consecutive plays inside the 10-yard line.

But it was the offense that put the sparkle in the game. Namely some grab and goes by Ponzo and the incredible acrobatics of Visser – a guy who until this season was under center, not running routes downfield. It seems like Visser doesn’t like to catch the ball unless he has at least two guys draped all over him.

Petaluma coach Rick Krist can’t be upset with his guys’ coverage of the lanky Visser, the kid just elevates and comes down with the most uncatchable balls.

“He is amazing,” Medina said of Visser. “He goes up for me, no matter what. No matter where the ball is at, he’ll get it for me.”

Visser had the dazzle, but it was Ponzo announced the end of the Tigers’ two game skid, a mere 11 seconds into the contest.

“Ponzo has speed,” Medina said. “No one can catch him. Everything he does is good. It’s easy to get him the ball.”

The Trojans did not lie down. They put up their final points of the game with just more than a minute left to play on a 28-yard pass from back up quarterback junior Cole Powers to senior Riley Whisman that caught the Tigers looking.

This was a Trojans offense that came in averaging 44 points a game and hungry for a win against their league rivals. The first four games of the season hinted that this might be the year.

Trojans quarterback Justin Wolbert had three solid options on the ground: senior Jacob Rollstin, who was averaging 5.4 yards per carry coming into Friday night along with seven TD runs. Senior Justin Turner can run, too. He averages 7.5 yards every time he touches the ball. And when Wolbert keeps the ball, he is an effective runner.

But the Tigers kept plugging the holes.

And that means they keep their streak alive.

The last time Analy lost a league game when they fell to Casa Grande 10-9. The date? Oct. 21, 2011 – a year before the North Bay and Sonoma County leagues were realigned.

The win puts Analy at 1-0 in league play, essentially familiar territory. For the Trojans, it is perhaps the last time they will see their county rival for a while.

The North Coast Section is expected on Oct. 3 to approve a massive overhaul of leagues which will see Petaluma sent to a conference with St. Vincent and Sonoma Valley, while Analy will join a new “super league” of mostly existing SCL and North Bay League foes.

Krist said before the game he was sad to see the rivalry end, at least for now.

But after facing yet another version of the potent Analy Tigers, one has to wonder how sad he will really be to see them go.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 and at Kerry.benefield, on Twitter @benefield and Instagram @kerry.benefield.

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