There is a reason they're called growing pains.
Petaluma High's varsity football Trojans learned some painful lessons Saturday afternoon when they were beaten by Terra Linda's like-named Trojans, 33-18, in San Rafael.
The loss dropped Petaluma's inexperienced Trojans to 1-2 for the young season, while Terra Linda's more rapid Trojans improved to 2-1.
"We had too many mistakes," noted Petaluma coach Ricky Krist. "We have a lot of guys who are still learning, and we are still making too many mistakes."
While Petaluma's Trojans had mistakes, Terra Linda's Trojans had quarterback Easton English, who mesmerized Petaluma defenders, completing 14 of 23 passes for 268 yards. It seemed every time Petaluma appeared to have Terra Linda stopped, the quarterback made something big happen with either a pinpoint pass or a scrambling run.
"Their quarterback played an excellent game," Krist complimented.
Despite the score, there were some good things for the Petalumans. After being pretty much befuddled in the first half, the Petaluma defense was staunch in the second, shutting the Marinites out after allowing five touchdowns over the first two quarters.
Jeremy Spaletta was a load on the Petaluma defensive front, ranging to both sides of the field to record nine tackles, seven solo, and a sack. Gabe Medina was also impressive with nine tackles, six solo. Defensive back Connor Dennison had a strong game defending against Terra Linda's passing attack, He was credited with eight tackles, six solo. The active Petaluma Linebacking corps was led by Kevin Crudo and Hunter Williams. Crudo had eight tackles and Williams seven.
Unfortunately, most of the defensive stiffness came in the second half after Terra Linda had put the game pretty much out of reach.
For the second straight game, Medina started the game in spectacular fashion for Petaluma, grabbing the opening kickoff right at the goal line, finding a gap to get to the right sideline and zooming away from the startled Terra Linda defenders all the way to the end zone. But, for the second straight game, his teammates messed up his spectacular, committing a blocking penalty that nullified the touchdown and moved the ball back to the 15-yard line.
Petaluma's disappointment was short lived. On the first play from scrimmage, Donavan Reece grabbed pitch from quarterback Patrick Bailey, and roared around the left side for the touchdown that had been denied Medina.
The PAT kick attempt by Greg Thomas was blocked, leaving Petaluma with a 6-0 lead that lasted only until Terra Linda's first drive. That took seven plays to cover 59 yards and ended with English bootlegging in from the 8-yard line. English kicked his own PAT to give Terra Linda a lead it never relinquished.
Things quickly spiraled out of control for Petaluma.
A fumble, the first of three Petaluma turnovers (two fumbles and a pass interception), gave Terra Linda a short field at the 43-yard line. Beau Reeve ate up most of those yards on one 31-yard gallop and scored himself from the 1-yard line. Petaluma went three and punt and Terra Linda drove right back, scoring on a fourth-and-17 connection between English and Kirby Dederian.
It went that way for the entire first half. Petaluma would seemingly stall its hosts, and English would pull a near miracle out of his bag of tricks.