Petaluma’s Trojans, for the last several seasons one of the Goliaths in the Sonoma County League, will definitely be in the David category as they move into the new Vine Valley Athletic League this season.
For the last several seasons, Analy and Petaluma have dominated SCL football. Petaluma enters the VVAL as one of the smallest schools in the new league.
Petaluma head coach Rick Krist pointed out that Petaluma and Sonoma Valley are the only Division 3 schools in a league that features two Division 1 schools in Napa and Vintage.
That doesn’t mean Petaluma is going to back down when confronted by the big guys.
“We like the challenge,” said Krist. “If we stay healthy, I think we can compete. We’ll have to play great to win in some games, but I think we can compete.”
Petaluma hasn’t completely cut ties with such traditional rivals as Montgomery, Santa Rosa, Terra Linda and El Molino. And, in the new league is Sonoma Valley, like Petaluma, moving over from the SCL.
Krist’s optimism is based in the reality of solid senior leadership provided by a corps of experienced veterans.
One of those senior leaders will be quarterback Cole Powers, who is expected to direct the Trojans’ option offense full-time this season after splitting snaps with senior Justin Wolbert last year.
Powers completed 20 of 40 passes last season for 428 yards and seven touchdowns. Although noted for his passing accuracy, Powers also has the speed to carry his share of the rushing load in Petaluma’s option offense. He gained 71 yards in just eight carries last season, scoring two touchdowns.
Krist said the senior benefited from attending a camp at Cal Poly during the off season. “He gives us some versatility we haven’t had in the past,” said Krist.
Playing behind Powers is talented sophomore Jack Hartman.
“He is a good football player and a good runner,” said Krist. “He will get some snaps.”
All-league Garrett Freitas returns to lead the running backs. Last year, he gained 655 yards on 70 carries, averaging 9.4 yards per carry, and scoring six touchdowns.
He is also dangerous as a kick returner. Last season, he averaged 26 yards per kickoff return and ran two back for touchdowns.
Also expected to get carries are senior Dominic Butts and Connor Pedersen, one of the area’s best wrestlers.
Derrick Pomi will start at fullback, a vital position in Petaluma’s offense, charged with getting the tough yards between the tackles, and being the lead blocker for the other running backs.
Krist has been impressed with junior Luis Lazano. “He has lots of power,” the coach said of the 190-pounder. “He would run through a brick house.”
Another potential fullback is senior Colton Prieto, a standout on Petaluma’s North Bay League wrestling team.
All of the fullbacks are expected to play. “The more guys we can rotate in the better,” Krist said.
One of Petaluma’s best receivers, Dax Hogya, will not be available for several weeks as he recovers from mononucleosis. Meanwhile, the Trojans will count on a basically inexperienced group that includes senior Jacob Havard, junior Tony Moeckel, junior Ryan Sullivan and senior Mac Shattuck.
An intriguing newcomer is senior Robbie Isetta, an outstanding basketball player who hasn’t played football since his freshman year.