The varsity football Eagles are peaking at just the right time.
On Friday, Cloverdale scored its first North Coast Section playoff win in three years with a hard-fought, 28-26 home victory over No. 6 Berean Christian. When the dust cleared, Eagle’s head coach Greg Alexander reflected on the win.
“Our team played well and handled some adversity throughout,” he said. “Our defense played great and offensively we ran the ball well.”
The win advanced the Eagles (6-4) into the NCL Division 7 semifinals this Friday, Nov. 19 (7 p.m.) when they visit No. 2 seeded St. Helena (9-1).
The Saints are a familiar foe, having beaten Cloverdale, 49-6 on Oct. 8 en route to an NCL1 title. The Eagles were missing several players and their head coach in that game, so this week’s playoff match-will have a much different feel.
“St. Helena is a great team and they run a split back veer offense, which is very difficult to stop,” Alexander noted. “As with any option team we need to play assignment football and cannot get our eyes lost in the backfield. Our team is playing its best football of the season, so this game is a great opportunity for our kids. I know they’ll be ready,” he added.
Eagles’ gritty win
Friday’s battle with No. 6 Berean Christian was a testament to Cloverdale’s toughness and tenacity, doing what it does best — win in the trenches. The Eagles combined an effective ground game with some big plays through the air to put points on the board, and then relied on hard-nosed defensive play to seal the win.
“Our defense had two big time goal line stands in the third quarter,” Alexander noted. “David Alvarez had two rushing touchdowns, but our big plays came through the air.”
Junior quarterback Caden Axell hooked up with all-purpose back Diesel Cavallo for two scores, and receiver Gabe Wlodcarzyk made some huge catches, including a key deep reception on a critical third-down play to keep the chains moving.