PETALUMA — The Napa High football team was looking like a good homecoming opponent for Casa Grande in the first quarter Friday night.
The Grizzlies trailed 12-7 until Brock Bowers started catching touchdown passes, giving them the halftime lead and keying a big second half as they pulled away for a 41-18 rout.
“We started off a little bit slow,” Napa head coach Richie Wessman said after his team improved to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the Vine Valley Athletic League. “But then we picked it up and really hit our stride and played a fantastic second half. They’re a pretty good football team, so this was a great win for us.”
The Gauchos (3-5, 2-2 VVAL) served notice that this would be no easy win for the visitors on Casa Grande’s special night.
The Gauchos took the opening kickoff and a sustained a drive ending with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Miguel Robertson to Dominic McHale that gave the hosts a 6-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
Napa linebacker Kyle Jezycki picked off an errant throw from Robertson midway through the first quarter and returned it 48 yards to the house. Erik Vargas booted the first of five straight extra points to put the Grizzlies ahead 7-6. Robertson found Dominic Giomi with a 9-yard TD pass to get the lead back with a minute left in the quarter, but the conversion run was stopped short to keep it 12-7.
A combination of stout defense and yet another game-breaking play from Bowers, 30-yard scoring catch from Isaiah Newton, allowed the Grizzlies to take a 14-12 lead to the dressing room at halftime.
Bowers continued to rack up big numbers, on touchdown runs of 55 and 46 yards, before his 45-yard touchdown pass from Newton capped a 20-point fourth quarter for Napa.
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Having a healthy ankle made all the difference, Bowers said.
“It was pretty fun,” he said. “I felt like some of our players took them a little lightly in the first half, but fortunately we were able to focus up in the second half.”
One wouldn’t know it from his stats, but Bowers had been slowed by an injured ankle earlier in the season. But now when he turns on the jets, there’s no one who can touch him.
“Brock is a tremendous athlete and an incredible young man and he’s very difficult to play against,” acknowledged Wessman. “Hats off to him and the other 10 guys on the field who do a great job of creating space for him.”
Benito Saldivar led the Grizzlies in rushing with 108 yards on 18 carries and helped Napa extend its lead to 21-12 with a 7-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“He’s another guy who’s hitting his stride and doing a fantastic job,” Wessman said of Saldivar. “He’s a big part of us getting more consistent with our O-line play.”
After the comfortable win, Wessman was having no talk of the Big Game showdown against Vintage and a league title likely on the line looming just two weeks away.
“We’re focusing on Petaluma next week,” he smiled.