Capsule looks at Maria Carrillo/Concord and Fort Bragg/Healdsburg games

Maria Carrillo's Sam Atoe anchors the Puma offense and defense. (PD photo).

MARIA CARRILLO (7-4)
AT CONCORD (10-1)

Time: 7 p.m., Friday
Last week: Maria Carrillo defeated Dougherty Valley, 34-6. Concord defeated Tennyson, 50-6.
Notable: A balanced offense and stingy defense carried Maria Carrillo to a comfortable win in the Pumas’ playoff opener, but top seeded Concord has won 10 straight including quality wins over bigger schools. Seemingly every Pumas’ skill player contributed last week led by quarterback Sam Atoe’s 195 yards combined on the ground and via the air, running for two touchdowns and also passing for a pair. Backs Jake Delfino, Zach Bluestone and Emilio Pollock are fast and all receiving options if Atoe can roll out with Nick Pinney a big play threat at wide receiver. Equally impressive for resurgent Maria Carrillo has been a swarming defense led by Atoe and Anthony Ezrim as the Pumas have won six of seven. The Minutemen can score with anyone. Ricky Lloyd, one of California’s top prep quarterbacks, averages 325 yards passing per contest. Back Alec Pica runs for about 90 yards a game and was second in the Diablo Valley Athletic League for touchdowns. Concord’s defense has yielded yardage on the ground, though Trent Mahler is a stopper. The Pumas’ backs need a big game because the Minutemen are difficult to throw on – a product of the defensive backs practicing against Lloyd, who has committed to the University of Southern Mississippi.
Number to note: Going into the section playoffs, Lloyd had 39 touchdown completions against only 5 interceptions.
Pick: Concord, 48-20.
FORT BRAGG (10-1)
AT HEALDSBURG (7-3)

Time: 7 p.m., Friday
Last week: Fort Bragg defeated Berean Christian, 14-12. Healdsburg earned one of three byes in the 13-team field.
Notable: The first in a pair of Empire matchups featuring North Coast League and Sonoma County League teams – Middletown entertains El Molino on Saturday. Fort Bragg defeated Healdsburg for the Class 2A Redwood Empire title in 1999. The Greyhounds earned this year’s top seed by virtue of playing a tougher schedule, including its SCL slate. The Timberwolves are defending North Coast Section Division IV champions. Again, the Timberwolves have a balanced offense. Running back Caleb Cunha gets about 120 yards a game and quarterback Brandon Freitas often hits for big pass plays with Cody Ryden and Alfredo Huerta each averaging more than 20 yards a catch. After coming back to take the halftime lead last week, Fort Bragg’s defense made it stand. Linebackers Tyler Lander and Nick Ryken are an active pair that will need to help the defensive line limit Healdsburg’s small but elusive Carson Seanor, who has nearly 1,300 yards this season. While quarterback Max Opperman has been cleared to play after suffering a slight shoulder separation to his throwing arm two weeks ago, backup Luis Nieves will start. A strong armed student of the game, Nieves could benefit from the extra week of practice. With standouts, but no stars, Healdsburg’s goal is to play smart and hard. On defense, a lineman – Gary Randolph – and three linebackers – Travis Arreguin, Adam Hendrickson and George Brush – all average more than 7 tackles a game.
Number to note: Healdsburg has forced 27 turnovers – 15 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries – on the season.
Pick: Healdsburg, 20-14.

– Mike Coit