Things continue to change at Piner High School and its football program. It wasn’t too long ago when wins were few and far between. Now they are winning enough to start calling them certain kind of wins.
In the opener against Ukiah, you can call it workmanlike, as Piner controlled things nearly from the start and took a 28-6 win in a game they weren’t threatened.
Piner took control of things of things early, thanks in part to two big kickoff returns and in part to a hot start by senior quarterback Noel Hernandez.
The first kickoff return started the season. Jesse Gutierrez almost broke it for the distance, before settling for a 35 yard return to give Piner its first offensive possession in Ukiah territory. Hernandez then completed two passes and scrambled for 14 yards to set up a first and goal. Niko Formosa scored the season’s first touchdown to give Piner a quick 7-0 lead.
Ukiah then gave the appearance of a shootout, going 79 yards in six rushing plays, scoring on an 8 yard run by Chandler Rickel. The big play on the drive was a 43 yard run by Chey Noda which gave Ukiah a first and goal at the 4.
The touchdown, in which Ukiah missed the extra point, was followed by another big kickoff return, this one by Isiah Roybal which gave the Prospectors the ball at midfield. Five plays later on a three yard tpass from Hernandez to Ty Simmons they had touchdown number two to make it 14-6.
Piner had two big plays on the drive. On the first on a 2nd and 13, they caught Ukiah in a blitz and Roybal took a screen pass 23 yards. One play later Formosa went on a 21 yard run one play before the touchdown..
Piner’s offense was clicking on all cylinders. After the turnover they went 79 yards that ended with Hernandez throwing touchdown number two, an 11 yard pass to Formosa to make it 21-6 midway through the second quarter.
Hernandez hit six of his first seven passes before the Piner offense settled down. He ended the day 15 of 25 for 166 yards and the two touchdown passes.
Three of the sacks were in the second quarter in which Ukiah had (-7) yards in total offense. They had the ball to start the third quarter hoping for a fresh start. On the first play a bad pitch set up another loss and after three plays they were forced to punt.
It was the second year in a row that Piner starts the season with a win. That may seem modest, but the 4-6 finish was the first time they had more than two wins since 2005.
Piner 28 Ukiah 6
Sonoma Valley 18 Redwood 13
Drake 33 Elsie Allen 0
St. Vincent 26 St. Bernard’s 0
After a scoreless first half, Dan Deely threw two touchdown passes and rushed for another as Sonoma Valley held on.
Deely had a double-double, passing for 109 yards and rushing for 113. His touchdown run gave Sonoma Valley an 18-7 lead midway through the first quarter.
Drake scored all its points in the first half in the win over Elsie Allen. Brothers Kevin and Reid Milers combined for two touchdown passes of 50 yards or more in the third quarter.
Derek Murphy returned a block punt for the game’s first score as St. Vincent defeated St. Bernard. Jack Richardson threw two touchdown passes in rushed for another.
The two teams combined for seven interceptions in a first half that St. Bernard’s threw 29 passes.
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