Gauchos playing at championship level

The following blog entry is from Press Democrat Staff Writer Eric Branch:

An upset loss in its league opener to its cross-town rival would have a way of crushing some team’s spirit.

In the case of Casa Grande, it has only appeared to make the Gauchos very, very angry.

Casa Grande has followed its 21-14 loss to Petaluma in the Egg Bowl with four consecutive dominant performances, the latest a 38-0 whipping of Healdsburg on Friday in which it surrendered 55 yards, four first downs and limited the Greyhounds to an average of 1.7 yards a play.

After three quarters, when Casa Grande’s starters were removed, Healdsburg had 30 yards and two first downs.

“We took this like a championship game,” said Casa Grande linebacker Conner Waggoner, who returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown. “We said to ourselves we had to come out here and play like it was our last game of the season.”

The victory – combined with Petaluma’s 48-27 loss to Petaluma – gave the Gauchos at least a share of their sixth straight Sonoma County League title and continued a stunning string of domination.

Casa Grande has allowed seven points in its past 15 quarters. The only points the Gauchos have allowed came in last week’s 31-7 win over Windsor when the Jaguars scored against Casa Grande’s reserves in the final minute.

Not only is the Gauchos’ defense air-tight, their special teams, led by rocket-footed kicker Conner Derby, keep opponents pinned back deep in their own territory.

With Derby blasting five of his seven kickoffs into the end zone, the Greyhounds never started a drive beyond their own 35-yard line. After Derby’s kickoffs, they had an average starting position of their own 19-yard line.

Schedule change: Saturday’s game between Laytonville (1-6, 0-4) and Rincon Valley Christian (4-2, 3-1) has been moved from the originally scheduled kickoff of 2 p.m. to a 1 p.m. start. The game will be played at Santa Rosa High School.