It was believed at the beginning of the season the NBL was as balanced as it has been in a long time.
Now the league has the standings to prove it.
Two weeks to go and there are four teams within one game of the league championship.
To add to the closeness in the area, the NCL I can say the same thing.
The results also mean there will be no undefeated team in the area for the first time since 2010.
No. 5 Rancho Cotate 30 No. 2 Windsor 19
No. 3 Cardinal Newman 49 Ukiah 7
Casa Grande 19 No. 6 Maria Carrillo 13
No. 7 Montgomery 41 Santa Rosa 15
For the first half, Windsor showed why they had the No. 1 defense in the area. They held the Rancho Cotate high flying offense scoreless in a dominating performance.
Then came the second half.
The Cougar offense took over and their defense played like the best in the area. The combination led to a stunning turnaround as Rancho Cotate rallied from a 16-0 deficit to take a 30-19 win.
The win not only handed Windsor its first loss of the season, but turned the NBL race into a mess.
There was nothing fluky about the first half. The Windsor defense dominated Rancho Cotate holding an offense that average nearly 40 points a game, to four first downs.
Windsor wasn’t that imposing on offense either, but the special teams were. Barely a minute into the game, Mitchell Bruning blocked a punt, scooped it up and ran it in from three yards out to give Windsor a quick 6-0 lead.
Rancho Cotate went three and out and after converting a 4th down play, Windsor made it 13-0 on a one yard run by quarterback Jalen Roman.
It couldn’t have been a better start for the part of the packed homecoming crowd that was pulling for the Windsor. What they didn’t know at the time is that would be about it as far a cheering goes.
The Rancho Cotate defense, which has given up nearly 30 points a game on the season, held Windsor to two field goals the rest of the way. One of them was in the second quarter as Windsor carried a 16-0 lead into the locker room, which led to the halftime homecoming festivities having a celebration tone.
Then came the second half and it was all Rancho Cotate from the start. After stopping Windsor on its first possession in three plays, a punt backed the Cougars up to its own 10. They went on a long drive that ate up over eight minutes of the clock. Gunner Mefferd ended it with a one yard touchdown run, which was followed by a run by Carlos Franco for the two point PAT to make it 16-8 and the tone of the game had changed.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Franco scored from 35 yards out. Back up QB Cooper Nicks ran in the two point conversion and just like that it was a 16-16 tie.
Windsor got up off the mat. Jalen Roman got most of his offense on the night on a big run which set up a 25 yard field goal by Gedy Taveris to give back the Jaguars the lead at 19-16, with 8:33 to go.
Next was the drive of the year, at least so far, for Rancho Cotate. It started on a quick pass to Mo Ward who took it deep into Windsor territory. Next was the decision. Already in field goal range, Rancho Cotate went for it on 4th and 2 from the 20 and converted. Three plays later, Mefford hit Chris Taylor-Yamanoha who made a brilliant run on an 11 yard scoring play, which gave Rancho Cotate the lead for good with 3:59 to go.
The Rancho Cotate defense, who had been so dominating on this night, put the game away two plays later, when Danny Shelton returned an interception for the final score.
The win puts Rancho Cotate in good shape. Cardinal Newman, Rancho Cotate and Windsor are tied for first at 4-1, with Montgomery one game back at 3-2. Rancho Cotate has the schedule advantage finishing with Ukiah and Santa Rosa, who are both 1-7 on the season.
Meanwhile, next week Cardinal Newman is at Montgomery and then finishes the regular season with a home game against Windsor. Next week Windsor hosts Maria Carrillo.
Maria Carrillo missed a chance to move into the traffic jam among the leaders dropping a 19-14 decision to Casa Grande.
Casa Grande led the game from the start. Two Matt Abramo field goals and a touchdown catch by Jaleel Lawson gave Casa Grande a 13-0 lead in the first half.
Maria Carrillo kept trying to rally but couldn’t get over the top.
The Casa Grande defense looked like the unit from years past holding YSN365.com player of the week Alex Netherda to 55 yards rushing.
Casey Longaker led the defense with eleven tackles and also ran in a touchdown that gave Casa Grande a 19-7 lead in the fourth quarter.
Casa Grande is now 2-6 on the season and don’t look now, but they have a chance to qualify for the NCS playoffs. They finish the season with a home game against Santa Rosa and then go to Montgomery. They are 1-1 vs. Division 2 teams so a split will qualify them for a spot.
Cardinal Newman and Montgomery did what they had to do to stay in the thick of things.
Craig Lucey caught two touchdown passes and ran another one in from 56 yards out to lead Cardinal Newman to a 49-7 win over Ukiah.
Montgomery controlled things from the start in its 41-15 win over Santa Rosa.
The North Bay League champion will not go undefeated in league play for the first time since 2003.
Rancho Cotate defeated Maria Carrillo 2-0 to wrap up the school’s first ever NBL Boys Soccer Championship.
Aron Mendoza and Enrique Gomez scored goals for the Cougars who are 13-1-3 on the season and 9-0-3 in league play.
No. 9 Fort Bragg 35 No. 4 St. Helena 20
Cloverdale 25 No. 8 Middletown 7
Kelseyville 11 Clear Lake 8
Lower Lake 28 Willits 0
Fort Bragg did it to St. Helena again.
Two years ago St. Helena went to Fort Bragg with an 8-0 record and was defeated in overtime 22-21 in a game that was the difference for the NCL I Championship.
This year another undefeated St. Helena team goes into Fort Bragg and leaves with its first loss.
Fort Bragg jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the third quarter and withstood a big St. Helena rally to take a 35-20 win.
Fort Bragg junior quarterback Kaylor Sullivan passed for 343 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his touchdowns went to Sophomore Lucas Triplett in the first half as Fort Bragg took a 21-0 halftime lead.
St. Helena had a chance to keep in close by driving the ball inside the Fort Bragg twenty twice but came away without any points both times.
Then on the first possession of the second half, William Pokorny intercepted his first pass of the season and returned it 65 yards for a score and Fort Bragg was cruising 28-0.
St. Helena was undefeated for a reason and got back into the game by scoring three third quarter touchdowns. Quarterback Jack Preston threw three touchdown passes to cut the lead to 28-20. Preston passed for 197 yards to put him over the 1,000 yard mark on the season. He also rushed for 120.
The big comeback lost steam and Brett Jacomella scored on a one yard run with 8:55 left to put the game away for Fort Bragg.
Back to Triplett who caught a season tying high ten passes for 147 yards. The other game he had ten catches in was in a 35-19 win over El Molino. In that game he had a season high 165 yards. The two touchdowns gives him 12 on the season.
Since 2010 St. Helena is 27-3 in NCL play. Two of the losses were to Fort Bragg.
The win moves Fort Bragg and St. Helena into a tie for first with two games left.
It was known that if Fort Bragg pulled off the win the evening would end with a three way tie for first. Most thought that the third team would be Middletown.
They were wrong.
Cloverdale joined the other two in the tie by going to Middletown and taking an impressive 25-7 win.
Middletown started the game with a 63 yard drive which was capped off on a 7 yard run by Wyatt Hall with 8:50 to go in the first quarter.
After that it was all Cloverdale starting off with the next drive. It was a thing of beauty that took 18 plays and over ten minutes that ended on a six yard touchdown pass from Greg Scaramella to Mason Meier which tied the game at 7-7.
That was the first of two second quarter touchdowns the two hooked up on in the first half as Cloverdale took a 13-7 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the Eagles turned it over to Luke Bernardi, who rushed for 128 yards on 24 carries. His 3 yard run in the third quarter to make it 19-6. Bernardi, who is a junior, has rushed for over 100 yards every game and is over 1,200 yards on the season.
Meier would finish things off with a one yard run in the fourth quarter.
Talk about the NBL being a mess, the NCL I is in the same shape. Cloverdale, Fort Bragg and St. Helena are 4-1 with Middletown, one game back at 3-2. The best Middletown can hope for is a co-championship. There is no way that Middletown can get a solo championship because Cloverdale ends the season with home game with the other two starting with Fort Bragg next week.
Elsewhere Isazah King rushed for 302 yards and passed for 175 more and had a hand in all four touchdowns to lead Lower Lake past Willits 28-0. King has rushed for over 1,300 yards on the season.
Lower Lake is 4-4 on the season.
In the fifth annual Bass Bowl, Elias Alvarez kicked a 36 yard field goal with no time left to give Clear Lake an 11-8 win over Kelseyville.
No. 1 Analy 34 El Molino 6
No.10 Petaluma 69 Elsie Allen 14
Sonoma Valley 21 Healdsburg 14
The best game of the night was between two one win teams. Tristen Mertins went 97 yards for the game winning touchdown with 8:37 to give Sonoma Valley a 21-14 win over Healdsburg.
Healdsburg drove late in the game, but was stopped inside the twenty.
Analy pulled away in the second half to defeat El Molino 34-6. Will Smith threw four touchdowns, three of them to Kerr Johnson.
Petaluma fell behind Elsie Allen 6-0 before taking a 69-14 win.
Seven different players scored touchdown for Petaluma.
Analy is 4-0 in league play. Petaluma sits at 4-1. Analy is at Petaluma to end the regular season.
St. Vincent 26 Calistoga 0
Tomales 40 Upper Lake 0
St. Vincent pulled away from Calistoga with three third quarter touchdown in a 26-0 win.
George Sammons did the damage again rushing for 127 yards and two touchdowns. He also went 82 yards with a pass for another touchdown.
St. Vincent has won four straight NCL II games to even its season record at 4-4.
No. 7 SRJC (5-1, 0-1) at No. 6 San Francisco (5-1, 1-0)
The Bear Cubs are on the road to meet a top ten team for the second straight week.
Last week ,Santa Rosa was Ranked No. 4 and they dropped its first game of the season to No. 3 San Mateo 24-21. San Mateo has moved to No. 2 in the state. American River is No. 1 and they only undefeated team left in the state.
San Francisco opened league play with a 62-7 win over De Anza. It was the second straight week they have hit the 60 point mark. The teams they did it against have a combined record of 3-7.
Three weeks ago San Francisco dropped its only game to No. 1 American River 13-0. In that game they were held to 160 yards in total offense. In the last two weeks they average over 500.
San Mateo goes to De Anza, who is the only winless team in the conference. Foothill is 1-5, everyone else in the conference is 5-1.
SRJC will be home the next two weeks against De Anza and Foothill.
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NEAT PACKAGE: UNDEFEATED TEAMS LOSE TO THROW RACES WIDE OPEN
It was believed at the beginning of the season the NBL was as balanced as it has been in a long time.