Gauchos look good in playoff opener

Casa Grande was very impressive Friday night against Concord. Truthfully, Concord didn’t look any better than a couple of the Empire schools who didn’t make the playoffs, but part of that was Casa’s controling the line of scrimmage.

Casa is one of the hottest teams around here. The Gauchos are well-balanced. They have a good runner in Kahil Keys (229 yards on 28 carries last night), a good QB in Matt O’Brien (he threw for two TDs and ran for another, two good receivers in Matt Nadolski and Matt Gallo and a very good, physical defense.

Casa should have its hands full next week against No. 1 seed Clayton Valley, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Casa doesn’t at least stay close in that game.

Blaine Peterman had a real good game for the Gauchos at linebacker — he had an interception and fumble recovery — but for the most part it’s a defense of a lot of non-superstars playing well together. O’Brien and Nadolski are very good cornerbacks and can force teams to look for other ways to move the ball rather than pass. Last night, Concord couldn’t run at all against Casa, but at times did move it through the air.

Casa’s X-Factor played a big part in the game — placekicker/punter Conner Derby. Derby was 7-for-7 on kickoffs into the end zone, which also meant Concord was always starting out on its own 20 yard line. Forced to punt, the Minutemen always seemed to be giving Casa the ball around midfield. Derby kicked a 27-yard field goal and missed a 33-yarder. He also put two punts inside Concord’s 20.

If there was anything disappointing about Friday’s game it may have been the crowd. The stands were only about three-quarters full, including Casa’s large marching band. It was a chilly night and there’s always that steep NCS admission ($8 or $9 dollars) to contend with.

The funniest thing was when a ref, obviously over the age of 60, when questioned about a call, blurted, “This isn’t my first rodeo.”

All in all it was a good night for the Gauchos and for North Bay football. Everyone is thinking a Clayton Valley-Cardinal Newman championship game in two weeks, but maybe someone like Casa may make it an all Sonoma County final.

We’ll see.