Prep Football Previews: Small Schools

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Here’s a look at this weekend’s NCL I and II football matchups:

Willits (6-3, 1-2) at Middletown (8-1, 3-0)

Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last week: Willits lost to Fort Bragg, 35-0. Middletown beat Lower Lake, 51-0.

Notable: Middletown has already locked up the North Central I North title and will be playing to improve its seed for the North Coast Section playoffs. Five of the eight Mustangs’ wins have been shutouts. Middletown did not allow a point to its Lake County opponents (Lower Lake, Upper Lake, Clear Lake and Kelseyville). The Mustangs scored 205 against those rivals. Against Lower Lake, running back David Pike scored four touchdowns to give him 25. That’s a school record. Willits, despite injuries that depleted the running corps, is having a good season. The Wolverines were 3-8 last year and didn’t win a game in 2008. Rocco Seaton and Bryce Noel, who weren’t on the roster as running backs when the season began, have been forced into emergency roles. The offensive line, consisting of Ralph Saucedo, Quinton Bowldes, Sam White, Derek Carter and Eric Hossord, have played well for coach Nat Collicott.

Number to note: 0 — The number of points Middletown has allowed in its past two games.

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Lower Lake (4-5, 0-4) at Clear Lake (3-6, 3-1)

Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last week: Lower Lake lost to Middletown, 51-0. Clear Lake fell to St. Helena, 52-14.

Notable: It’s been a tough second half of the season for Lower Lake and coach Stan Weiper. For example, the night his team lost to Kelseyville, Weiper went straight to a Lake County hospital where four of his players were being treated. Three had concussions and one dislocated an ankle. That Kelseyville game turned out to be the second loss in what is now a four-game losing streak. Clear Lake had been moving in the opposite direction until being derailed last Friday. Prior to that loss, the Cardinals had won three straight. Quarterbacks Eddy Lyons and Steven Edwards have each completed 21 passes. Jamie Lopez is the leading rusher, but is averaging less than four yards per carry.

Number to note: 49 — Solo tackles by Clear Lake junior linebacker Jake Chapin.

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Anderson Valley (6-2, 4-2) at Laytonville (4-4, 3-3)

Time: Friday, 5:30 p.m.

Last week: Anderson Valley defeated Potter Valley, 68-64. Laytonville beat Round Valley, 41-20.

Notable: Behind all-purpose senior Michael Blackburn, Anderson Valley has averaged 55 points during its current three-game winning streak. As the Panthers quarterback, Blackburn has been more prolific running the ball than he has been passing. Going into the regular season finale, he’s already rushed for 1,440 yards. That’s an incredible 240 yards per game. The 5-foot 8, 170-pounder has passed for 636 yards on the season. Blackburn plays linebacker on defense, leading Anderson Valley with 64 solo tackles. It’s been a solid breakout season for the Panthers after finishing 4-5 last year. Laytonville will likely rely on its passing game to keep pace with Anderson Valley. Quarterback Jesse Hencz has thrown for 15 touchdowns and 1,228 yards. His favorite big play target is Selby Ford and the two have hooked up for six touchdowns. Ron Rosenthal is Laytonville’s leading rusher with 287 yards.

Number to note: 156 — That’s Blackburn’s point total this season. He’s scored 24 TDs and 10 PATs.

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Calistoga (5-4, 4-2) at Tomales (8-2, 6-0)

Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last week: Calistoga defeated Rincon Valley Christian, 35-0. Tomales won by forfeit over Mendocino.

Notable:  Jose Sanchez passed the 1,000-yard mark in the RVC game.  The junior fullback has 1,004 with nine touchdowns to his credit. As a sophomore, his season total was 230 yards. Calistoga has resurrected its season after an 0-3 start. With Sanchez leading the way, the Wildcats have gained five times as many yards on the ground than through the air. Tomales had won three straight prior to the forfeit victory over Mendocino. Mike Guerrero has averaged 10 yards per run for the North Central II champs. Quarterback Javier Isias’ passing numbers are solid.  The senior is completing more than 50 percent of his attempts with 11 TD passes and four interceptions. John Dalmolin has caught five passes, all for scores.

Number to note: 9 — That’s the sack total for both Rafael Torres-Feiner and Lincoln Fox of Calistoga.

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Rincon Valley Christian  (2-6, 0-6) at Round Valley (0-7, 0-6)

Time: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Last week: RVC was beaten by Calistoga, 35-0. Round Valley lost to Point Arena, 72-0.

Notable: Round Valley had to forfeit two games in the middle of the season, but has had enough players to compete the past three weeks. Quarterback Marcis McCarty is wrapping up his high school career and he’s thrown two touchdowns, but also seven interceptions. His favorite targets have been Kyle Tuttle and Nathaniel Davila. The Mustangs’ top rusher has been Vince Cordova. Rincon Valley Christian has lost five straight. Against Calistoga, the Eagles were down 14-0 after one quarter and 21-0 at the half.

Number to note: 3 — That’s the number of fumbles Round Valley’s Cordova has recovered this season.

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St. Helena (4-5, 3-1) at Upper Lake (1-8, 0-4)

Time: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Last week: St. Helena defeated Clear Lake, 52-14. Upper Lake lost to Cloverdale, 35-12.

Notable: Saints running back Charles Bertoli needs 15 yards to reach the 1,000 mark. The junior has carried the ball 148 times. A victory will mean St. Helena has improved over last year’s record of 4-6. St. Helena has won three straight, scoring an average of 40 points per game. Alex Quirici has caught six TD passes. Upper Lake has dropped eight straight after opening the season with a 27-0 win over Calistoga. The Cougars are averaging less than 10 yards per game through the air. The rushing game is led by Bradley Brackett. He’s picked up 355 yards, an average of 7.5 yards per carry.

Number to note: 38 — Upper Lake’s Bruce Tucker has been averaging that many yards per punt.

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Cloverdale (1-8, 1-3) at St. Vincent (2-7, 1-2)

Time: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Last week: Cloverdale defeated Upper Lake, 35-12. St. Vincent lost to Kelseyville, 44-7.

Notable:  St. Vincent quarterback Conor Brown enters his final high school game with 1,205 passing yards this year. The 5-foot 10 senior has thrown a dozen TD passes and has been intercepted eight times. Even though he weighs only 155, Brown is also the Mustangs’ leading rusher with 255 yards. Cloverdale will be trying to end its season with two consecutive wins after dropping its first eight. Last year’s North Central I South champs lost most of their top players to graduation. In 2009, the Eagles were 9-2 overall and 4-0 in league.

Number to note: 81 — St. Vincent’s Anthony Battaglia has made 33 solo tackles and assisted on 48 others.

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Potter Valley (3-4, 3-3) at Point Arena (4-3, 4-2)

Time: Saturday, 2 p.m.

Last week: Potter Valley lost to Anderson Valley, 68-64. Point Arena beat Round Valley, 72-0.

Notable: If these teams score like they did last weekend, the point total will be 136. Point Arena junior Dylan Johnson needs 32 yards to reach 1,000 on the season. Last year, the 165-pound runner had only 130 yards. The Pirates are finishing strong, having won four of its last five. Potter Valley, despite its losing record, is averaging 46 points per game. The Anderson Valley game marked the second time this season the Bearcats had been above the 60-point mark. They beat Rincon Valley Christian, 68-36, on Oct. 2. It’s been a very good season for Potter Valley after going winless in 2009.

Number to note: 80 — Point Arena’s Ky Laiwa has been involved in that many tackles this year. The senior is also averaging nearly 50 yards per punt.