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.”

Steph Curry on his favorite Draymond story: ‘The times him and coach Kerr get into it’

Warriors guard Stephen Curry appeared on The Bill Simmons Podcast for an in-depth interview covering a wide array of topics, including the sometimes volatile forward Draymond Green.

Simmons asked the three-time NBA Champion and two-time MVP for his favorite story involving Draymond. Curry pointed to the creative friction between Green and Warriors coach Steve Kerr. According to Steph, the two ‘get into it’ during practice periodically.

“You’re inside practice, and you don’t know whose side to take. I guess they’re both right, or they’re both wrong,” Curry told Simmons, who asked Steph what the two argue about.

“About a play call,” Curry said. “Or maybe something that coach Kerr has been thinking about for a couple games, about a tendency that we’ve been shading to and [Green’s] like ‘don’t over coach. We know what we’re doing.’ And coach is like, ‘well I know you know what you’re doing, but let me just help you along as I’m supposed to do and that’s what my job is to do, to point out things that could be important for us to win a championship.'”

The situation isn’t at all serious according to Curry, who sounds like he eats his favorite snack, popcorn, while the two go at it.

“The respect level between them two is at an all-time high, but they have their moments,” Curry told Simmons. “And it’s just amazing entertainment to watch.”

Curry didn’t mention Green’s emotional outburst toward Kerr during halftime of a 2016 game at Oklahoma City. Draymond was loud enough for ABC sideline reporter Lisa Salters to hear him from outside the locker room, and she reported the tirade, including some juicy details which can be found in this report by CBS Sports’ James Herbert.

The stress of that season has given way to two more Larry O’Brian Trophies, however, and Curry finds the dynamic between Kerr and Green entertaining. Green’s fire and competitiveness is one of the reasons Golden State is in the midst of a dynastic run, and winning’s the bottom line — for Curry, Green and of course Kerr as well.

Casa Grande falls flat in home opener, loses to Montgomery 35-7

Casa Grande couldn’t contain Montgomery’s passing attack early and failed to slow the Vikings’ run game throughout their home opener. The Gauchos allowed 28 points before their offense got on the board and lost 35-7 Friday.

“We’re not a good football team right now,” Gauchos coach Denis Brunk said. “It’s a great group of young men, but they have to figure out blocking and tackling. Until they figure that out, we’ll continue to lose.”

The Vikings amassed 499 yards in total offense, and 297 of those yards came on the ground. Kham Perkins had 137 yards on 13 carries, including a 76-yard touchdown romp in the third quarter.

Casa Grande finished with just 192 yards from scrimmage. The lone bright spot for the Gauchos, apart from a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from QB Jadon Bosarge to Cole Shimek, was wide receiver Dominic Mchale’s 70-yard kickoff return. The Gauchos failed to turn Mchale’s third quarter effort into points, however, and that wasn’t the only time the offense stalled in the red zone.

Casa Grande had the game’s first possession and went three and out, almost turning the ball over on a high snap to the punter. Montgomery went deep on their first third-down chance of the evening and connected. Quarterback Cole Hallin found B.J. Johnson for a 54-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead.

The Gauchos failed to move the ball their second drive of the game as well but forced a Montgomery punt on the ensuing possession. Faced with 4th and 2 near midfield, the Gauchos rolled the dice and came up empty as Bosarge was sacked. The Gauchos were 2-6 on fourth down on the evening.

Hallin tossed a 53-yard score to Devin Ramirez after the turnover on downs, and Casa Grande was in a 14-point hole in the first quarter. The Vikings relied on the running game the rest of the way to keep the Gauchos at a distance.

Still, Casa Grande had a chance to tighten the score near the end of the half, but they missed on two straight pass plays from the Montgomery 11-yard line. The drive was helped along by Viking miscues — they had 14 penalties for 115 yards.

More effective running by the Vikings culminated in a one-yard touchdown tote by Hallin in the third quarter, setting up Mchale’s return to Montgomery’s 17-yard line. Once again, the Gauchos missed connections on two pass plays to end their red zone opportunity. The score still sat at 21-0.

But a nice pass-break-up by Casa Grande’s Zac Register forced another Viking punt. The Gauchos drove to the Montgomery 12-yard line, aided by tough running from Julian Gaona and more penalties on the visitors. The Gauchos’ offense stalled, and Brunk opted this time for a field goal try by Ian McKissick. The 29-yard attempt fell just short.

Practical hopes for Gauchos fans came to an end as the third quarter buzzer sounded — Perkins ran 76 yards for a touchdown as time expired. It was 3rd and 6 play for the Vikings, and Casa Grande blitzed right by the runner and couldn’t catch up until he was in the end zone.

The Gauchos didn’t give up though and scored after a 65-yard drive. Bosarge evaded the defense for a new set of downs on a 3rd and 11 play and finished the march with his nine-yard pass to Shimek.

Down 28-7 with 9:49 left to play, the Gauchos defense allowed another score on a 33-yard run by Montgomery running back Jevon Heard, sealing their fate.

“The defense, we couldn’t hold the edge. Offense, we couldn’t catch footballs. We couldn’t do our assignments on run blocks. We were just a mess,” Brunk said. “On both sides of the ball.”

The Gauchos got off to a 0-6 start a season ago, and Brunk told his team that’s where they’re headed unless they renew their focus. “I challenged them. I said ‘do you want to go 0-10?’ If you want to win some football games, let’s make some changes.”

Changes start in practice, and Brunk plans on teaching his pupils some of the basics.

“Football knowledge,” Brunk said.” [We’ll] try to teach kids more football knowledge. We lack that right now.”

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.

Mark Davis a lot like Al, according to Raiders greats

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is becoming more like his late father, Al Davis, according to two Raiders legends with close ties to the organization.

Cliff Branch, a four-time All-Pro for the Raiders, and Hall of Famer Willie Brown talked about Davis from National Sports Memorabilia in Petaluma, CA.

“He’s just like Al,” Branch said. “Smart. Brilliant. He knows the game, and he knows that he needs to be a little more hands-on. That’s going to be the next step for him.”

Mark Davis, who has controlled the Raiders since 2011, guided his franchise to a 12-4 record in 2016, but the Raiders fell apart this season after starting 2-0. Their record sits at 6-9 after losing to the Eagles on Christmas night.

Jack Del Rio may be coaching to save his job, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.  Offensive coordinator Todd Downing will almost surely be fired, according to the same report.

“It’s been really hard on [Davis] because we were expecting to get back to the playoffs,” Branch said.

Branch does community and public relations for the Raiders and sometimes travels on the team plane. Brown, according to the Raiders’ website,  works for Oakland’s squad development department.

“He’s getting tougher, and meaner,” Brown said, with a chuckle, of Davis. “He’s having fun you know? It’s not as good when you’re losing of course, but he’ll get it all together.”

Davis has already made Oakland’s dreadful years that followed its Super Bowl XXXVII loss a distant memory.

“The era of bad drafts, and bad coaches,” Branch recalled. “[Mark Davis] brought in Jack, Jack has turned this thing around.”

The Raiders’ performance towards the end of the season, however, may be the deciding factor when it comes to Del Rio’s future in Oakland. Mark Davis, much like his late father, wants to win. And he’d rather not wait.

“His goal is to try and win a championship in Oakland before we go to Las Vegas,” said Branch, who earned three Super Bowl rings playing for Al Davis. “I have a lot of respect for Mark, and I think he’s doing a hell of a job.”