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Congratulations to Justin-Siena, CIF North Coast Section Champs!

Friday night I braved the cold wind and rain to watch a team I’ve covered for the past three seasons earn their reward. The Justin-Siena Braves finished the football season the way seasons are supposed to end for the Braves: as section champions.

My first year covering my former school was 2010. Justin-Siena entered the season having lost to Fort Bragg in the championship game the year before. Most of that team had graduated.

The team that remained was demolished by almost every opponent they faced. The Braves won one game that year, and were on the wrong end of blowouts most of the season. It was the year that could’ve, would’ve, and should’ve been.

Roddrick Sweeney Jr. missed the first half of the season with an injury. The unanimous team captain returned in week five and rushed for almost 1,000 yards in six games. What would’ve happened those first four games had he been available?

Sweeney was also the victim of a bad call against Redwood. He stretched out his arm to get the ball over the goalline, but the officials ruled it a fumble instead of a touchdown. Redwood took over and never looked back.

I asked the official at halftime what he saw, and his explanation was that he saw the player down on the ground stretch out with the ball and drop it. As Sweeney put his hand back on the ball the Redwood defenders dove on it and recovered it. See the problem?

If Sweeney was on the ground when he reached for the end zone, it’s not a fumble. He is down and the play is over. If he’s on the ground when he touches the ball, the play is dead at that moment. I was standing right beside the official who made the call, and I can tell you he got it wrong because I saw the ball break the plane BEFORE it came loose. Therefore, it should’ve been a touchdown. How different would that game have been?

The 2010 football season will go down as a season of lost opportunities and unfinished business.

That was a rallying cry at the start of 2011. The Braves felt they had cheated themselves out of a chance at redemption and wanted to prove it.

Justin-Siena made the playoffs, but I’m not sure they really learned how to handle adversity during that season. There were times things would go wrong and they would quickly recover, and others they let slip away.

It all culminated with an overtime loss to Willits in the first round of the playoffs. The Braves thought the play was over, but no whistle had been blown. The Wildcats’ runningback kept going into the end zone for the winning score. Justin-Siena was heartbroken.

So for the third year in a row the Braves entered the season with unfinished business. This time, they finished it.

I could not be more proud of these young men. Marcus Armstrong-Brown has gone from struggling sophomore quarterback, to senior standout. Austin Connolly went from being one of the running backs to being THE running back (don’t worry Diano Pachote, you’ll get those carries next year). Brandon Weaver, Stephen Panis, all the seniors on this team have worked so hard for four years. They earned this section championship long before Friday night’s matchup was scheduled.

Congratulations to you all. You’ve made the Justin-Siena family very proud.

Justin-Siena (6-2, 3-2 MCAL) at San Rafael (1-7, 0-4 MCAL)

The Braves head to San Rafael for a rare Friday night road game. While Justin-Siena has been one of the top teams in the North Coast Section Div. IV rankings all year, San Rafael has been in the basement. For the second year in a row the Bulldogs will not be playoff eligible.

They remain the only team without a win in Marin County Athletic League play, and it’s not likely to change this week against the Braves. San Rafael will rely on a strong running game (only Justin-Siena has more yardage on the ground this season), but they have only 61 yards passing through eight games. The next lowest total is Novato’s 471.

Last week’s game against Novato wasn’t pretty on a number of levels for Justin-Siena, and when the dust settled they found themselves dropping a spot in the team stats. Herve Changeux’s 192 yards rushing is the most yards the Braves have allowed all year on the ground, and only one yard behind Jared Goff’s passing yardage from the game against Marin Catholic (also a season high against Justin).

Don’t expect lightning to strike twice, though. With no passing game to take away any pressure, the Braves should return to the number one spot next week defensively. Tamalpais, who passed the Braves, had San Rafael last week. Terra Linda, which overtook Justin in the offensive stats, was idle.

OVERALL TEAM OFFENSE
School G Rush Pass Total Avg
1 Marin Catholic 9 1329 2332 3661 406.8
2 Terra Linda 8 1162 1354 2516 314.5
3 Justin-Siena 8 1974 489 2463 307.9
4 San Marin 9 1263 1379 2642 293.6
5 Novato 8 1559 471 2030 253.8
6 Drake 8 861 1032 1893 236.6
7 San Rafael 8 1778 61 1839 229.9
8 Tam 8 951 759 1710 213.8
9 Redwood 8 818 524 1342 167.8
OVERALL TEAM DEFENSE
School G Rush Pass Total Avg
1 Tam 8 880 502 1382 172.8
2 Justin-Siena 8 771 720 1491 186.4
3 Terra Linda 8 964 730 1694 211.8
4 Drake 8 805 983 1788 223.5
5 Novato 8 762 1052 1814 226.8
6 Marin Catholic 9 1087 1167 2254 250.4
7 Redwood 8 1334 1122 2456 307.0
8 San Marin 9 1409 1465 2874 319.3
9 San Rafael 8 1646 933 2579 322.4
Rushing
Player Carries Yds TD Yds/Carry
Austin Connolly 85 758 11 8.9
Diano Pachote 67 503 5 7.5
Marcus Armstrong-Brown 60 376 7 6.3
Stephen Lum 15 97 1 6.5
Isaiah Herrera 13 75 0 5.8
Tyler Whitehead 9 71 0 7.9
Gio Casilang 19 57 0 3.0
Robert Reynoso 6 32 1 5.3
Stephen Panis 1 8 0 8.0
Latno 1 -3 0 -3.0
TEAM TOTALS 276 1974 25 7.2
Passing
Player Complete Attempt Comp. % Yds TD INT
Marcus Armstrong-Brown 26 63 41.3% 448 4 4
Stephen Lum 3 3 100.0% 35 0 0
Finn Willard 1 1 100.0% 6 0 0
TEAM TOTALS 30 67 45% 489 4 4
Receiving
Player Catch Yds TD
Brandon Weaver 8 211 3
Liam Vlaming 5 63 0
Keagan Stanier 8 136 1
Austin Connolly 6 45 0
Chris Lenbauer 1 10 0
Tyler Whitehead 1 18 0
Nick Barrango 1 6 0
TEAM TOTALS 30 489 4

Justin-Siena (5-1, 1-1 MCAL) vs San Marin (2-5, 2-2 MCAL)

Not enough time for a full preview this week thanks to midterms, but my colleague Andy Wilcox has you covered.

Here’s my weekly stats update:

Rushing
Player Carries Yds TD Yds/Carry
Austin Connolly 61 629 8 10.3
Diano Pachote 48 356 2 7.4
Marcus Armstrong-Brown 48 315 6 6.6
Stephen Lum 14 90 1 6.4
Isaiah Herrera 12 72 0 6.0
Gio Casilang 17 54 0 3.2
Robert Reynoso 6 32 1 5.3
Stephen Panis 1 8 0 8.0
Tyler Whitehead 7 55 0 7.9
TEAM TOTALS 214 1611 18 7.5
Passing
Player Complete Attempt Comp. % Yds TD INT
Marcus Armstrong-Brown 17 47 36.2% 342 4 4
Stephen Lum 2 2 100.0% 29 0 0
Finn Willard 1 1 100.0% 6 0 0
TEAM TOTALS 20 50 40% 377 4 4
Receiving
Player Catch Yds TD
Brandon Weaver 7 205 3
Liam Vlaming 2 18 0
Keagan Stanier 6 98 1
Austin Connolly 3 28 0
Chris Lenbauer 1 10 0
Tyler Whitehead 1 18 0
TEAM TOTALS 20 377 4

And for the team stats:

OVERALL TEAM OFFENSE
School G Rush Pass Total Avg
1 Marin Catholic 7 1055 1787 2842 406.0
2 Justin-Siena 6 1611 377 1988 331.3
3 Terra Linda 7 1049 1075 2124 303.4
4 San Marin 7 965 1105 2070 295.7
5 San Rafael 6 1512 53 1565 260.8
6 Drake 6 666 819 1485 247.5
7 Novato 6 925 373 1298 216.3
8 Tam 7 713 709 1422 203.1
9 Redwood 6 630 330 960 160.0
OVERALL TEAM DEFENSE
School G Rush Pass Total Avg
1 Justin-Siena 6 401 626 1027 171.2
2 Tam 7 781 502 1283 183.3
3 Terra Linda 7 889 557 1446 206.6
4 Drake 6 577 709 1286 214.3
5 Novato 6 602 961 1563 260.5
6 Marin Catholic 7 959 902 1861 265.9
7 Redwood 6 764 863 1627 271.2
8 San Marin 7 1022 1253 2275 325.0
9 San Rafael 6 1266 762 2028 338.0

Justin-Siena (4-1, 1-1 MCAL) at Tamalpais (5-1, 2-1 MCAL)

The Justin-Siena Braves stole victory from Tamalpais last year with a last-second pass from Matt Lawson to Brandon Weaver after Tam failed to run out the clock on their previous possession.

Both teams look to be much improved this season, so expect even more drama on Saturday afternoon.

Tam brings the best defense (171.2 yards allowed per game) in the league against the Braves offense (347.6 yards per game), which is second only to Marin Catholic (391.5).

However, Tam’s offense (205.5) ranks 8th out of the nine MCAL schools. They’ll need to step up on defense, because it’s not likely their offense will get a dramatic jump against Justin. The Braves are right behind the Hawks on the defense standings (171.6 yards per game).

Here’s a look at the season stats so far:

Rushing
Player Carries Yds TD Yds/Carry
Austin Connolly 52 592 8 11.4
Diano Pachote 37 265 1 7.2
Marcus Armstrong-Brown 38 275 5 7.2
Stephen Lum 14 90 1 6.4
Isaiah Herrera 12 72 0 6.0
Gio Casilang 17 54 0 3.2
Robert Reynoso 6 32 1 5.3
Stephen Panis 1 8 0 8.0
Tyler Whitehead 5 30 0 6.0
TEAM TOTALS 182 1418 16 7.8
Passing
Player Complete Attempt Comp. % Yds TD INT
Marcus Armstrong-Brown 12 37 32.4% 285 4 4
Stephen Lum 2 2 100.0% 29 0 0
Finn Willard 1 1 100.0% 6 0 0
TEAM TOTALS 12 31 39% 320 4 4
Receiving
Player Catch Yds TD
Brandon Weaver 4 164 3
Liam Vlaming 2 18 0
Keagan Stanier 5 95 1
Austin Connolly 2 15 0
Chris Lenbauer 1 10 0
Tyler Whitehead 1 18 0
TEAM TOTALS 14 302 4

And the MCAL team stats:

OVERALL TEAM OFFENSE
School G Rush Pass Total Avg
1 Marin Catholic 6 839 1510 2349 391.5
2 Justin-Siena 5 1418 320 1738 347.6
3 Terra Linda 6 881 1002 1883 313.8
4 San Rafael 5 1452 34 1486 297.2
5 San Marin 6 658 1016 1674 279.0
6 Drake 6 666 819 1485 247.5
7 Novato 5 772 295 1067 213.4
8 Tam 6 630 603 1233 205.5
9 Redwood 5 574 267 841 168.2
OVERALL TEAM DEFENSE
School G Rush Pass Total Avg
1 Tam 6 572 455 1027 171.2
2 Justin-Siena 5 342 516 858 171.6
3 Novato 5 386 684 1070 214.0
4 Drake 6 577 709 1286 214.3
5 Terra Linda 6 833 494 1327 221.2
6 Marin Catholic 6 806 824 1630 271.7
7 Redwood 5 596 790 1386 277.2
8 San Rafael 5 959 673 1632 326.4
9 San Marin 6 962 1234 2196 366.0

*Stats for MCAL schools courtesy of MarinIJ.com. Stats for Justin-Siena courtesy of Bryan Metcalf and Andy Wilcox, Napa Valley Register.

Justin-Siena hosts Terra Linda

Busy week this week, so this will be a short preview. The Justin-Siena Braves (3-1, 0-1 MCAL) are hosting the Terra Linda Trojans (4-1, 1-1 MCAL) tonight at Dodd Stadium in Napa, Calif.

This matchup has seen some great games over the years. Greg Schiano would be proud of the time the Trojans forced a fumble and scored the game winning touchdown when Justin went for the kneel down several years ago.

More recently, the Trojans handed the Braves a surprising 23-19 defeat to open the MCAL season last year. Justin came out sluggish and fell behind early. No bonus points are awarded for valiant comebacks.

Here are the MCAL overall team offense and defense rankings entering this week:

OVERALL TEAM OFFENSE
School G Rush Pass Total Avg
1 Marin Catholic 5 636 1355 1991 398.2
2 Terra Linda 5 876 951 1827 365.4
3 Justin-Siena 4 1186 269 1455 363.8
4 San Rafael 5 1452 34 1486 297.2
5 San Marin 5 610 842 1452 290.4
6 Drake 5 582 746 1328 265.6
7 Novato 4 701 201 902 225.5
8 Tam 5 478 504 982 196.4
9 Redwood 4 431 258 689 172.3
OVERALL TEAM DEFENSE
School G Rush Pass Total Avg
1 Tam 5 488 382 870 174.0
2 Justin-Siena 4 326 467 793 198.3
3 Terra Linda 5 595 433 1028 205.6
4 Drake 5 425 610 1035 207.0
5 Novato 4 338 510 848 212.0
6 Redwood 4 393 635 1028 257.0
7 Marin Catholic 5 663 815 1478 295.6
8 San Rafael 5 959 673 1632 326.4
9 San Marin 5 891 1140 2031 406.2

And here are the Justin-Siena individual statistics through four games:

Rushing
Player Carries Yds TD Yds/Carry
Austin Connolly 38 510 7 13.4
Diano Pachote 32 257 1 8.0
Marcus Armstrong-Brown 29 173 3 6.0
Stephen Lum 12 90 1 7.5
Isaiah Herrera 12 72 0 6.0
Gio Casilang 17 54 0 3.2
Robert Reynoso 2 15 1 7.5
Stephen Panis 1 8 0 8.0
Tyler Whitehead 1 7 0 7.0
TEAM TOTALS 144 1186 13 8.2
Passing
Player Complete Attempt Comp. % Yds TD INT
Marcus Armstrong-Brown 9 28 32.1% 234 3 2
Stephen Lum 2 2 100.0% 29 0 0
Finn Willard 1 1 100.0% 6 0 0
TEAM TOTALS 12 31 39% 269 3 2
Receiving
Player Catch Yds TD
Brandon Weaver 4 164 3
Liam Vlaming 1 15 0
Keagan Stanier 4 65 0
Austin Connolly 2 15 0
Chris Lenbauer 1 10 0
TEAM TOTALS 12 269 3

MCAL FOOTBALL: Marin Catholic (2-1) at Justin-Siena (3-0)

Friday, 7 p.m.
Dodd Stadium, Napa, Calif.

Napa Valley Register preview

The Wildcats have won nine straight against the Braves dating back to 2002. To put that in perspective: I was starting my junior year at Justin-Siena the last time the Braves won.

While Justin enters Marin County Athletic League play with three straight blowout wins, Marin Catholic is coming off a heartbreaking loss to Vacaville. The Wildcats lost a fumble with 1:22 remaining, and Vacaville scored the winning touchdown with five seconds left.

Last season’s matchup came down to 30 seconds at the end of the first half. Then junior Jared Goff completed a dangerous pass over the middle for a 55-yard touchdown. The pass sailed right between the outstretched arms of a Braves’ defender. A little bit left or right and it would’ve been at least incomplete if not an interception.

That play was followed by a Justin-Siena fumble on their next possession. The ball skipped all over the place as Braves and Wildcats dove to recover it. Eventually it was Marin Catholic emerging with the ball in the endzone.

After that game, Braves head coach Rich Cotruvo said he felt his team had given Marin Catholic their toughest test since the MCAL season began. They’ll have to do it again if they hope to extend their streak to four-straight wins.

STATS:

OVERALL TEAM OFFENSE
School G Rush Pass Total Avg
1 Terra Linda 3 640 625 1265 421.7
2 Justin-Siena 3 1047 165 1212 404.0
3 Marin Catholic 3 343 805 1148 382.7
4 San Rafael 3 1068 28 1096 365.3
5 San Marin 3 444 550 994 331.3
6 Drake 3 466 466 932 310.7
7 Novato 3 534 125 659 219.7
8 Tam 3 378 256 634 211.3
9 Redwood 3 281 199 480 160.0
OVERALL TEAM DEFENSE
School G Rush Pass Total Avg
1 Drake 3 130 275 405 135.0
2 Tam 3 302 130 432 144.0
3 Justin-Siena 3 207 236 443 147.7
4 Novato 3 311 360 671 223.7
5 Terra Linda 3 485 194 679 226.3
6 Redwood 3 245 635 880 293.3
7 Marin Catholic 3 429 603 1032 344.0
8 San Rafael 3 752 475 1227 409.0
9 San Marin 3 629 679 1308 436.0

TEAM LEADERS:

Rushing (Carries-Yards-TD): Marin Catholic – Akili Terry 58-294-2. Justin-Siena – Austin Connolly 29-473-7.

Passing: Marin Catholic – Jared Goff 47-87-803-2TD-1INT. Justin-Siena – Marcus Armstrong-Brown 4-14-165-3TD-1INT.

Receiving (Catch-Yards-TD): Marin Catholic – Andrew Celis 15-257-2. Justin-Siena – Brandon Weaver 3-150-3.

*Stats for Marin County teams courtesy of the Marin Independent Journal. Stats for Justin-Siena provided by Andy Wilcox and Bryan Metcalf.

Justin-Siena wins again, article posted

 

The Justin-Siena Braves improved to 3-0 with a rout of Piner Friday night at Dodd Stadium in Napa, Calif.

A link to my article has been posted on the “Justin-Siena football 2012” page.

The Braves had to battle not only the other team, but the officials as well. The first half was excellent, but they let the game get out of control in the second.

A late hit was called against the Braves when the d-line was pushed into Piner’s quarterback, but when the Piner line started piling onto the player after the whistle there was no foul.

It wasn’t the only time they missed a personal foul, either. There was also an illegal cut block on a blitzing linebacker. Cut blocks are legal in one-on-one battles between down linemen, but nowhere else. They are dangerous because of the potential for serious knee injuries.

I would love to be giving these officials praise because they were great for 90 percent of the game, but unfortunately the 10 percent they weren’t was irresponsible.

New article posted

A new article has been posted for Justin-Siena football on the 2012 football page. The Braves defeated El Molino 53-0 in their home opener Friday night in Napa, allowing the Lions only one first down.

Justin-Siena led 41-0 at the end of the first quarter. I tried to keep the score up-to-date on Twitter, but I was pulling triple duty in the first half between note taking, photography and online. On the positive side I was able to get some great images which I’ll post later in the week.

In the meantime, Justin-Siena is now 2-0 and will host Piner next week at Dodd Stadium in their final game before the Marin County Athletic League season begins.

Archives Updated

I’ve finally caught up with posting links to articles written for the Napa Valley Register. There are now pages for Justin-Siena Football 2010 and 2011, as well as an archives page for stories that aren’t part of any specific collection.

Most recent articles will always be at the top of the list, and please remember that all work is copyrighted property of the author and appropriate publisher.

Archives page and new photos

This morning I added an archives page to the articles section. This is where I will post links to articles written before this site went active. I’ve already posted my coverage of the 2011 Justin-Siena Braves football team, and will keep working backwards as best I can with more coverage.

I’ve also added a page to the photography section which includes selected photos from the 2011 football season. Again, I’ll keep adding more as I find time (a.k.a. nights I can’t sleep or days when I’m really bored).