Simply, this is why they play the game.
Heading into the big rivalry game last Friday, with Amador Valley traveling to Foothill for their annual meeting in football, things looked to stack up favorably for Amador.
The Falcons were a team lacking depth, had some key injuries and coming off two straight losses. But when the Dons and the Falcons meet, regardless of records, anything can -- and usually does -- happen.
The Dons did indeed win the game, but the 14-7 overtime win was hardly easy. In fact, the Falcons could have won the game late in regulation, but the Dons came through by blocking a short field goal attempt in the final seconds.
It was their second blocked kick in the game.
"We came into the game feeling like we were hitting our stride," Amador Valley coach Danny Jones said, after his team dumped a talented Granada side convincingly in their previous game. "But as you have said, that crosstown rivalry game is always tough. We got their best shot."
Tied in the fourth quarter, the Falcons started an efficient march down the field, burning up yards and the game clock.
It honestly appeared not if, but when, the Falcons would win the game. But it was the Amador defense making the play of the night. Jones felt that the play reenergized his team as they were staring at another upset loss to Foothill.
"We felt like if we could keep them from getting a touchdown, we had a chance at blocking the field goal," said Jones. "Once we did, we pulled the kids together and told them we have another chance -- let's make the most of it."
Looking at the demeanor of both teams, you felt the game had swung to the Dons once the kick was blocked.
"Of course, you could see the shift," Jones said. "When that happens, it is tough mentally for a team to get back up."
Three plays into overtime, Amador had the touchdown lead and when Foothill couldn't match the Dons on their possession, the game was over.
The win also sheds some positive direction for the Dons. Last year they fell to Foothill, which started a downward spiral and they never won another game.
This year getting the rivalry win should kickstart the rest of the season for Amador even though the team is stuck in the overly strong East Bay Athletic League Mountain Division -- which means league games with Clayton Valley, California, Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley, not to mention a non-league game with De La Salle.
"Absolutely," Jones said, the win leading a positive kick start to the back half of the season. "Last year took its toll. This year we look at the remaining schedule and feel like we will be in the league games."
Amador girls' water polo
The Dons used a furious fourth-quarter rally to prevail over Northgate by a 12-11 final. Trailing 9-6 entering the final frame, the Dons outscored the Broncos 6-2 to pick up the thrilling win, getting the deciding goal in the last two minutes.
Evelyn McLaughlin had 5 goals to pace the Amador offense. Kate Harris scored twice, while Regan Braga. Olivia Vollgraf and Susan Swyers had a goal each.
Erin Brown had an outstanding game in the goal, facing 39 shots, allowing only 11 shots past her.
Brown also added a pair of assists, as did McLaughlin. Kate Hopkins, Vollgraf, Harris and Braga finished with 1 assist each.
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his Pleasanton Preps column, email [email protected]