When Amador Valley and Foothill meet on the football field Friday, there is no need for added incentive for either team, as this is the game that can define a season.
Over the years there have been times where the East Bay Athletic League title is up for grabs, there has been times when one school stands on top of the league and the other near the bottom and there have been times where nothing other than Pleasanton Pride was on the line.
It doesn’t matter – it’s irrelevant – the game will be hard fought and intense from the start to the finish.
Entering the game at 3-4 in EBAL play, the Dons need a win to finish 4-4 and be eligible for the North Coast Section playoffs. A loss and their season is over.
Foothill, coming off a 24-7 win over Livermore last Friday, stands 5-2 in EBAL play and 5-4 overall, having secured an NCS berth.
Both teams have suffered through injuries, but Amador did have a bye week last week.
“It was great to be able to give all the nicks from the season some rest,” said Amador coach Danny Jones. “And it gave us an extra week to get ready for Foothill.”
For Jones, who graduated from Amador and has spent some seasons as an assistant coach for the Dons, this is his first time as the head man for the big game. He is certainly feeling the emotion of the moment.
“I’ve had to remind the players that the first team that settles into the game will win,” he said. “It has settled me somewhat, but last week I was sitting up until 4 a.m. writing stuff out on the white board. I got to get some more sleep this week.”
It also is the first time for Jones to butt heads with Foothill coach Matt Sweeney, an institution, not only in Pleasanton, but throughout Northern California.
“I have always looked up to him,” said Jones of Sweeney. “It is a humbling experience and cool at the same time to coach against him.”
After losing all but one of their skill players from last year’s undefeated regular season championship squad, the Foothill Falcons started this season 0-3, but have since rebounded nicely. However, Sweeney knows better than anyone, what’s
happened through the season means little here.
“It’s always a tough game,” Sweeney said. "(Amador) is going to show up ready to go. It’s always a good old fashioned battle.”
Kickoff for the Battle of Pleasanton is 7 p.m. Friday on the Amador field.
The Foothill High boys’ varsity team pulled off a thrilling 9-8 victory over cross-town rival Amador Valley last Thursday. Foothill controlled most of the first half, ending halftime with a 3-1 lead, but Amador battled back, first tying it up, then taking a 6-5 lead in the third.
The teams fought back and forth in the final period, with Amador taking leads of 7-5 and 8-6 before Foothill rallied.
They fought back as Dylan Pottgieser scored the goal that made it 8-8. As time was winding down, Matthew Dotson scored the game winner.
Aaron Li had four goals and one assist to lead the way. Pottgieser (3 goals) and Dotson (2) closed the scoring. Harrison Carter had 13 saves in the goal. Senior Fabio Salvioni led the defense, with Matthew Kim and Jordan Nagra also
The Amador girls’ varsity water polo squad found success with an 11-3 win over Foothill.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Lady Dons found the back of the net twice in the second period and took a 2-0 lead into the half. The second half saw the Dons continue to control the game, outscoring Foothill 9-3 for the final margin.
Amador got goals from Mia Battilega (5), Alyssa Bergmann (4), Lauren Coching (1) and Talia Florio (1). Goalie Miara Pipe had 14 saves.
1) Amadors Nde Okoro (No. 6) needs to have a big game for Amador against Foothill this week. Credit: Mike Schaffer
2) Foothill's Jake Simons takes the handoff from Ben Wooldridge in the Fanlcons win over Livermore. Credit Kari Dukleth