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Pleasanton Preps: Dons' football season comes to an end after smoke-delayed playoff game

Also: Amador girls win NCS cross-country championship

The North Coast Section Division I football brackets will show that Freedom beat Amador Valley 48-29 for an apparent easy playoff win last Saturday.

The truth is, though, it was a game the Dons played well in and could have come away with the win had it not been for two costly turnovers, both of which resulted in big-play touchdowns for Freedom. A 99-yard fumble return and a 90-yard interception return ended up being too much for Amador.

"We should have won that game," Amador coach Danny Jones said. "The kids played really well. Those two plays were a 28-point swing."

The fact the game finally got played was a big thing as well.

The Dons had been off since Oct. 27, as the team drew a first-round bye the weekend of Nov. 2-3. From there, the smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County postponed not only the game for three weeks but knocked out a chunk of practice time.

"You've been playing for 15 weeks, then don't get to play -- or practice -- for a period of time and that does have an effect," Jones said. "You can't help but have your fundamentals suffer when you can't get on a field. But both sides had to deal with it. Obviously, it's tough."

How the team would react to all the downtime was an unknown, as this is a situation players and coaches have never had to deal with before.

"You have kids that live for football and players that are seniors that can't wait to play," Jones said. "But then there are other kids that play other sports that can't wait for football to be over with. It's four weeks without playing and you would think you might have some kids that would check out."

That didn't happen to the Dons.

"Our leadership was so good this year that the team held it together," the coach said. "Our leaders kept the team together and motivated for four weeks."

Regardless of the postseason loss, the Dons had a great season, going 8-3. For Jones and his staff, it was a satisfying campaign.

"What a great group of seniors," Jones said. "I am going to miss those guys. But we also have a motivated group coming back for next season, and there's going to be a lot to look forward to."

Amador cross-country

The Amador girls team brought home the Division I team title at the NCS Championships at Hayward High on Nov. 20.

It was the first NCS championship for Amador girls since 1990, and the team swept the top three spots with Hope Bergmark finishing in first place with a time of 17:45, Derica Su in second place and Ashley Baudin in third place.

They were followed by teammates Becky Lawrence, Surabhi Kumar, Ella McCarthy and Rachel Dentler.

Then last Saturday, the Dons competed in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Meet at Woodward Park in Fresno. The team finished 16th, with Bergmark running 13th (17:59.2), Baudin 61st (19:06) and Su 84th (19:21.1).

The Amador boys finished third in the Division I NCS meet, with Aidan Boyle, Jack Gray and Aidan McCarthy qualifying to compete at state.

At state, Boyle was 34th (15:45.3), Gray was 44th (15:51.9) and McCarthy finished 53rd (15:57.2).

Foothill cross-country

Two runners from Foothill qualified for the state meet with strong runs at the NCS Championships.

Russell Sullivan was third in his race with a time of 15:02 and Shrey Shah was seventh in 15:28.

Also making strong showings were Arjun Subramanian and Prithu Kachare. On the varsity girls side, finishing almost in a tie were Sydney Cohen and Kate Battaglia, followed by Isabel Garcia-Flores, Kina Atkin-Yamaguchi and Samantha Symons.

In the state meet, Sullivan was 8th in the Division II race with a time of 15:26.9, with Shah coming in 69th in 16:14.18.

Amador Basketball Classic

The Amador boys basketball program will be hosting the 58th annual Amador Basketball Classic from Dec. 6-8.

The Dons will be competing against some of the top teams in Northern California, including St. Francis, Acalanes and De Anza.

Come see some exciting high school basketball. Ticket prices are $8 for adults, $5 for children and seniors, and free for children under 6 years old.

Game times for Thursday and Friday are at 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Amador opens play Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against De Anza.

Saturday the games are at 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m., with the championship game at 6 p.m.

Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact Miller or submit local high school sports scores, game highlights and photographs for his weekly Pleasanton Preps column, email him at acesmag@aol.com.

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