Ex-Petaluma High coach Steve Ellison says new Ellison Field is ‘a jewel of a facility now’

Petaluma High School’s newly refurbished Ellison Field hosted its first football game since its extensive makeover, and before Friday’s game, there was one particularly interested observer.

It was Steve Ellison. Former head coach of the Trojans and the facility’s namesake.

He made his way to the new artificial turf, complete with end zones filled in with the school’s color, purple, with the look of a man who just landed on the moon. He had seen the place before but never like this.

Ellison eventually found Trojan coach Rick Krist. The two shared a word in the middle of the pristine playing surface.

“I said ‘I’m in awe.’ I mean, I’ve seen the field but I haven’t seen it with everybody here,” Ellison said. “I’m thrilled to see it.”

Ellison spent 31 seasons as Petaluma’s head man, compiling a 204-126-7 record according to John Jackson of the Petaluma Argus-Courier. His last season on the sidelines was 2009, when his team posted a 12-1 record, won the Sonoma County League championship and reached the North Coast Section semifinals. 

Almost a decade later, the field where Ellison made so many memories is not just a place the Trojans are proud to call home. It’s a facility the whole city, or at least the west side of town, can be proud of.

“It’s fantastic,” Ellison said. “It’s something that I always hoped we’d see someday. I think we’ve gone from a cozy facility to really, a jewel of a facility now. It’s beautiful. Everything about it. The field’s great, the whole surrounding area, it’s just fantastic. And I think it really speaks well for the Petaluma city schools, and Petaluma High School and Petaluma football, and all the other sports, lacrosse and soccer. I’m thrilled with it.”

Ellison has countless fond recollections of the old, natural grass field that would get markedly worse as the football season wore on. There was a reason for the renovation, after all. “They’re all great memories. Nothing changes it. Some of the great memories were probably because of the field and the way it was. You know the conditions weren’t perfect, but we never let it stop us,” Ellison said.

The Trojans couldn’t be stopped in the inaugural game at new Ellison Field either. They beat Terra Linda 21-7 behind two touchdowns from running back Garrett Freitas.

And with that, a new era of Petaluma High School football has begun — one that links the Trojans’ past with its present. Their home is no longer an old field with a new name. It’s a new field with the proper name. And those purple end zones really pop.

“I love this place,” Ellison said. “So now to see it dressed up, it’s really special.”

Petaluma High School football’s Garrett Freitas vaults Trojans past Montgomery, again

Freitas intercepted Montgomery twice in the end zone and provided the game’s turning point — a 61-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of Petaluma’s 21-7 win

Petaluma High School beat Montgomery of Santa Rosa to open its football season for the second year in a row, and just like last time, Petaluma’s Garrett Freitas stole the show.

He did so in a completely different way, however.

He intercepted Montgomery twice in the end zone and provided the game’s turning point — a 61-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of Petaluma’s 21-7 win.

Freitas scored two touchdowns on kick returns a season ago to lift his team to a 55-42 win over the Vikings. He said this year’s triumph had its own feel.

“Very different. I feel like it was a lot more intense, emotions were a little higher. It felt hard-hitting. They were after us for sure, they wanted last year’s game back,” Freitas said.

During the first half of play, it appeared Montgomery would get its revenge. But the Trojans were able to regroup, in large part because of Freitas’ interception in the end zone late in the second quarter. The play left Petaluma down just seven points, and halftime adjustments proved valuable.

“The whole first half, they were blitzing the “A” gaps,” Freitas said. “After we picked that up at halftime, we made the adjustment and [the] outside was wide open,” Freitas said.

Freitas’ 61-yard jaunt came on a 3rd-and-1 toss play, and it electrified the Trojan sideline.

“That got us pumped up, that was amazing,” lineman Nick Siembieda said. “The o-line saw that and we were like ‘I think we can do this the whole game.’”

Petaluma scored two more times — both on run plays in goal-to-go situations. Freitas closed the door on Montgomery’s last scoring chance with another interception in the fourth quarter.

“I went up to press [the wide receiver], he said some words to me, like, ‘you don’t want to do this’ so I backed up off of him. One of the kids on the [Montgomery] sideline yelled, ‘go up and get it,’” said Freitas, who actually did go up and get it. His back landed in the end zone for a touchback, all but ending the Vikings’ hopes.

Freitas appears improved on defense, but last season’s Sonoma County League Back of the Year’s scintillating running style acts as a catalyst for his team.

“Great feeling. So much energy,” Freitas said of his score. “I love it, not because of myself, but it gets the whole team going. Everyone picks up the momentum from that and it just turns the game around.”

Freitas provided the lift his team needed in their season opener once again. The only difference was how he did it. The 2018 campaign is just underway, and Trojan fans must be waiting to see what he does next.