Emery capped a day of total frustration for visiting Tomales with a big rally in the second half to overhaul the Braves, 40-32, on a warm Saturday afternoon in Oakland.
The Spartans were outplayed in the first half and trailed 32-12, but they completely turned the game around after a blistering halftime dressing down by Ronald Parker and his coaching staff which could be heard far beyond the parking lot at McClymonds High School.
Emery came out with renewed energy and scored a pair of touchdowns in each of the final periods to pull out the come-from-behind win. The Spartans outscored Tomales, 28-0, in a second half that was punctuated with the game-winning score in the final stanza with only 3:38 remaining.
It was a game that the Braves and coach Leon Feliciano will be eager to put behind them.
Tomales arrived in Oakland at 10 in the morning expecting that the game would be played at noon. "We checked with Emery by e-mail and got there early enough to go through our pre-game routine," explained Feliciano. "Then, five minutes before the scheduled start they tell us that the game will be pushed back to 2 o'clock because of the rental agreement of the field. I felt badly for our kids. They were ready to play."
For a time it looked like the Braves would take out their afternoon of frustration and a two-hour delay on the Emery team. Tomales scored four touchdowns in the first half, led by some bruising blocking up front and some productive running by Anthony Feliciano and junior Willy Lepori.
Feliciano galloped for 17 yards on the first play from scrimmage, and the Braves scored on a 53-yard drive in only five plays. Feliciano bulled it in from the one-yard line to open the scoring.
By intermission, the Braves held a commanding lead and the game appeared to be heading down hill. Another touchdown run of one yard by Feliciano and a 13-yard gallop by Lepori to the outside gave Tomales a 20-point advantage.
Mixed into the scoring was a surprising 25-yard scoring pass from Joel Gutierrez to wide out Jacob Sampietro. Sampietro caught the Spartan defense completely out of position, and he was all by himself on the blown assignment.
Tomales converted a two-point PAT after all four touchdowns with alternating runs by Lepori and Feliciano.
The explosive Spartans, averaging 33.5 points per game, proved dangerous for the entire contest. A 62-yard breakaway run by quarterback Nate Walker late in the second quarter was a preview of the scoring that would follow down the stretch. Shifty halfback Ronald Kidd was equally as difficult to corral as the game moved on.
Walker threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in the big second half by the Spartans. Kidd scored the go-ahead touchdown with very little time remaining for the Tomales offense to respond. Walker had 202 rushing yards for the game.
Feliciano was not surprised by the ability of Emery (4-2) to move the football. "In all my years here, this is the most evenly matched our league has been," he said, "The playoffs will be even more competitive."