Life in the semi-pros with the Nor Cal knights and the North Bay Rattlers
They have cheerleaders at semi-pro football games. They have semi-pro cheerleaders. At halftime the five of them went out to the 50-yard line of the Rancho Cotate High School football field in Rohnert Park and put on a li'l halftime show.
I'm not a dog. Nevertheless, I really really felt like chasing Frisbees. The girls were good, but the halftime show could have used . . . something. Maybe a semi-pro Frisbee dog.
There was a semi-pro field announcer. Semi-pro concession stand. Semi-pro refs — one with a microphone, so the semi-pro spectators had a clue. There must have been about a hundred of us, maybe two, counting players' wives and such, and their kids, who were running around on the sidelines, playing catch.
Girls from Hooters were trolling the stands, handing out coupons for a chicken wing special. And members of the North Bay Bruisers, Sonoma County's roller derby team, were rumbling back and forth across the aluminum bleachers, in their skates, trying to sell raffle tickets.
Hedgehog, semi-pro photographer, was down on the field taking some pretty decent pictures of things. Including: a nice sideline catch, a runner crossing the plane of the end zone, and — late in the second quarter — a punter about to get creamed.
He was Angelo Jeffereys of the Nor Cal Knights, who double-dutied as a running back. And probably the play would have drawn a roughing-the-punter call in the NFL, because the punt blocker got more leg than pigskin.
Semi-pro refs are not flag shy, either, far as I can tell. I think there were two or three penalties on that play alone, and at least one of them was a personal foul. Oddly, though, none were for roughing the punter. Who wasn't getting up.
One of the North Bay Rattlers tended to him — the same guy who I'd seen seeing to the injured Knight's quarterback earlier in the half, on the Rattlers' sideline.
Semi-pro football is rough. Not semi-rough. Rough rough.
But (as I might have mentioned) I'm not a dog. I'm a semi-pro sports writer. I was sitting just under the field announcer's booth, in the sun, scribbling semi-legible notes on the back of a grocery receipt and just generally enjoying my Saturday.
I love Sonoma County. The air up there, the pace, the ten degrees it has on the city this time of year . . . There are many reasons why the North Bay is one of my favorite bays, but the Rattlers, their semi-pro football team, isn't one of them.
Not that they're not good. Oh, they're that — a little overly so, is the problem. They win by scores like 85-0, 60-0, and, last Saturday against the Knights, 56-6.
The Knights had their moments: Two or three quarterback sacks, an interception . . . Early in the first quarter, trailing only 7-0, Jeffereys boomed a professional-quality punt which briefly changed the complexion of the game, field-positionwise ...
After that, and a 15-yard facemask penalty against the Rattlers, the Knights had almost even seemed to be "in it."
But they couldn't capitalize, and fifteen game-clock minutes later when Jeffereys finally hobbled off the field after the roughing-the-punter non-call, the sense of in-it-ness was long gone. It was 28-0.
It was 35-0 at the half.
But here's the thing: There are twelve teams in the West Coast Football Association. At least one of them is capable of beating the Rattlers: The Pacifica Islanders. They already met in the regular season (Rattlers 25, Islanders 17), and will likely face off again for the league championship in June.
If you're a football fan, like me, you're going to want to see that rematch.
Meanwhile, the Nor Cal Knights, even with last weekend's lopsided loss, are 3-2 on the season, which puts them in the middle of the pack. They need a quarterback. (They went through three of them, each as ineffective as the last, against the Rattlers.) But against most WCFA teams, on any given Saturday, they are liable to give you a good 'un.
These guys are big. Fast. Talented. Brave-bordering-on-maybe-crazy. I mean, it's not the S.F. Women's Flag Football League, but it's fun.
There are teams in Modesto, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Reno . . . And the Knights play their home games at Castlemont High School, in Oakland. Check it out.
West Coast Football Association
www.wcfanetwork.com . Click on "application" for info about joining the league.