Large-school football game previews

FRIDAY’S GAMES

Concord at Cardinal Newman, 7 p.m.
Calistoga at California School for the Deaf, 7 p.m.
Healdsburg at Piedmont, 7 p.m.
Elsie Allen at American Canyon, 7:30 p.m.
Santa Rosa at Petaluma, 7:30 p.m.
Miramonte at Analy, 7:30 p.m.
Fortuna at El Molino, 7:30 p.m.
Windsor at Montgomery, 7:30 p.m.
Ukiah at Casa Grande, 7:30 p.m.
Willits at South Fork, 7:30 p.m.
Cloverdale at McKinleyville, 7:30 p.m.
Rancho Cotate at Del Campo, 8:30 p.m.

CONCORD (0-0) at CARDINAL NEWMAN (0-0)

Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.

NOTABLE: A marquee matchup the first week of the season! Both teams captured North Coast Section titles last year. Concord defeated Rancho Cotate, 40-37, in the Division II final while Cardinal Newman took Division III honors with a 35-7 victory over Encinal … Concord lost its three top offensive weapons to graduation. Quarterback Ricky Lloyd is at Southern Mississippi on a football scholarship while leading rusher Alec Pica and receiver Kelly Starnes are also gone … Lloyd threw for 52 touchdowns last year while Pica and Starnes both scored 174 points … Lloyd’s back-up, Jacob Daynes, threw only one pass all season … Concord had nine juniors and 11 sophomores on last year’s squad … Newman has more experience at key positions. Matt Sullivan returns at quarterback and will have Stephen Tomasin alongside him at running back. Courtland Palmer will be one of the anchors on defense.

The pick: Cardinal Newman 21, Concord 14

WINDSOR (0-0) at MONTGOMERY (0-0)

Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

NOTABLE: Quite a contrast in coaching experience. This game will mark the first time the Jaguars’ Rob Gatrell has been on the sidelines as a head coach. On the other side of the field, Jason Franci will be starting his 32nd season. At age 67, he’s the dean of Redwood Empire coaches and also the winningest (226 victories) … Windsor is loaded this season with Christian McAlvain returning at quarterback and Jarod Leon, Darrian Roman and Chad Tolson joining him in the backfield. The receiving corps is deep with Taylor Biaggi, Kameron Richardson, Derek Hensley and Trey Tobon … Montgomery also has a returning quarterback in Danny McRae. He is expected to throw more this season … One of his targets will be sophomore Etienne Ezeff, whose brother Marcus was a standout for the Vikings and went on to play at Cal … Running back Eric Hartshorn has made a strong impression in practice. He comes to Montgomery from Rancho Buena Vista (San Diego County).

The pick: Windsor 21, Montgomery 14

RANCHO COTATE (0-0) vs. DEL CAMPO (0-1)

Kickoff: Friday, 8:30 p.m. (at Grant High School in Sacramento)

NOTABLE: This game is part of an event dubbed “Smackdown in Sacramento.” There are tripleheaders today and Saturday. One other Empire team was invited. Maria Carrillo plays Yuba City at 11 a.m. Saturday … Del Campo has an advantage over Rancho as the Fair Oaks school got game experience Aug. 26, losing 17-10 to Enterprise of Redding. The game was 7-7 after four quarters. Each team scored a field goal on their first overtime possession. Enterprise then scored a touchdown and Del Campo couldn’t answer … Del Campo was 8-3 last year and Rancho finished 12-2 while winning the NBL. The Cougars lost their opener to Pinole Valley, 23-21, and final game to Concord, 40-37. The last game was in the NCS Division II finals … Rancho has an outstanding defensive player in Vaimaa Taito and an outstanding kicker in Julio Mata.

The pick: Rancho Cotate 17, Del Campo 7

UKIAH (0-0) at CASA GRANDE (0-0)

Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

NOTABLE: Last year the Gauchos defeated their six Sonoma County League opponents and finished 11-2. That was such an outstanding team, quarterback Nick Sherry got a scholarship to Nevada-Las Vegas and wide receiver/strong safety Makana Garrigan accepted a scholarship to Nevada-Reno … Trent Herzog does have reinforcements from last year’s junior varsity team that lost only once in 10 games and, of course, they will improve with experience … JaJuan Lawson, the quarterback on that team, gets his first varsity game experience tonight … The defense has looked good in practice with five starters back from last year … Casa is very difficult to beat on its home field … Ukiah has plenty of firepower as quarterback Trevor Taylor will again be the signal-caller. He averaged more than 200 yards passing per game in ’10 … Chris Berg, the leading rusher on last year’s team that finished 4-6, is also back.

The pick: Casa Grande 28, Ukiah 21

SANTA ROSA (0-0) at PETALUMA (0-0)

Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

NOTABLE: The Trojans were the most-improved team over the second half of the SCL schedule. After losing the first five games, four of them shutouts, the team and the coaching staff jelled. Petaluma won four of its last six and got an NCS invite. That was Rick Krist’s first year as head coach. After playing for longtime coach Steve Ellison and then assisting him, Krist had the credentials to take over the program … Eric Hunsicker didn’t throw a pass for the varsity last year, but he’s looked sharp in practice … Running back Peter Maselli will get a lot of carries and Roman Jennings will likely be Hunsicker’s favorite target … Les Richardson begins his second season as head coach for Santa Rosa. His team was 3-7 last year. After allowing an average of 28 points per game, Richardson wants to shore up his defense this season. Reports from practice have been encouraging.

The pick: Petaluma 28, Santa Rosa 7

ELSIE ALLEN (0-0) AT AMERICAN CANYON (1-0)

Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

NOTABLE: If Lobos coach Larry Mahre drove down to Los Banos to scout American Canyon on Aug. 26, he had to be impressed. The Wolves defeated Pacheco High, 49-18. The game was never close as AC led, 35-12, at the half. The team from the Southern end of Napa County punished Pacheco with a bruising running attack. The Wolves threw only three passes. Quarterback Justin Corpus carried 10 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Robert Wilkes scored three TDs while amassing 151 yards and Charles Spencer gained 117 … American Canyon is a second-year school and has no senior class … Elsie Allen dropped out of the North Bay League for football and is an independent … Daniel Gutierrez, Michael Aristondo, Bryant Carlson and Jan Valente give Elsie Allen a solid offensive and defensive line.

The pick: American Canyon 28, Elsie Allen 14

FORTUNA (0-0) AT EL MOLINO (0-0)

Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.

NOTABLE: This is the fourth straight year these non-conference foes have met. Fortuna holds a 2-1 edge, winning 28-24 in 2008 and 44-7 in 2009. El Molino traveled to Fortuna and won 14-7 last year. The Lions went on to get a bid to North Coast Section and finished the year with a 7-5 record … Athletic Director Mike Roan stepped down at the end of the season and turned the reins over to one of his assistants, Matt Transue … The Lions were hit hard by graduation, losing quarterback Mike Pierson and running back Joe Douglass … Chet Lambert, who was voted to the SCL All-Star team, is back and will be the Lions’ principal ball carrier … El Molino’s junior varsity was 1-9 last year.

The pick: Fortuna 35, El Molino 14

MIRAMONTE (0-0) at ANALY (0-0)

Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

NOTABLE: Analy definitely had a revenge motive preparing for this game. Last year, the team from Orinda beat the Tigers in the season opener (21-7) and then knocked them out of the North Coast Section playoffs (17-3). To make matters worse, defensive catalyst Mark Adams suffered a knee injury in the first meeting and only played sparingly on offense when he returned. Adams is back at full strength will be a main cog in the Tigers defense … Jake Zanutto is a three-year starter at quarterback and has added 20 pounds to his 6-foot-5 frame. His arm strength has definitely improved … Quarterback Ross Anderson, who engineered the two victories over Analy last year, will again be the signal caller for Miramonte.

The pick: Miramonte 21, Analy 14

HEALDSBURG (0-0) at PIEDMONT

Kickoff: Friday, 7 p.m.

NOTABLE: It was no contest when these teams met in their season opener last year. Healdsburg prevailed, 46-0. Piedmont didn’t get much better and won only two of 10 games. The Greyhounds finished 8-5 and made it to NCS where they lost 10-0 to Middletown … Quarterback Max Opperman had a solid season as a junior, completing 60 of 103 passes, eight of those for touchdowns … Adam Hendrickson, All Empire wrestler of the year in 2010, also returns. Playing linebacker, he made 60 solo tackles and was in on 37 others.

The pick: Healdsburg 28, Piedmont 7

MARIA CARRILLO (0-0) VS. YUBA CITY (0-1)

Kickoff: Saturday, 11 a.m.

NOTABLE: This game starts day two of the invitational dubbed “Smackdown in Sacramento” being played at Grant High School … Yuba City suffered a tough loss in its Aug. 26 opener. Playing at home against Cosumnes Oaks, the Honkers had the lead in the fourth quarter. However, Cosumnes scored a late touchdown and decided to go for the two-point conversion rather than kick the extra point and go into overtime. The strategy worked and Yuba City walked off the field a 22-21 loser. Last year, YC averaged 33 points per game while posting an 8-4 record … Maria Carrillo was 7-5 last year and made it to the second round of the NCS Division II tournament, losing to eventual champion Concord, 46-20 … Defense will be the strong suit of this Pumas team. Last year, they limited opponents to 17 points per game and seven starters return from that unit.

The pick: Yuba City 21, Maria Carrillo 7

EUREKA (0-0) AT PINER (0-0)

Kickoff: Saturday, 3 p.m.

NOTABLE: Last year these two met for their season opener in Eureka and it was no contest as the Loggers won, 75-0. That started Eureka on its way to a 7-3 campaign. Piner won only once in 10 games … John Antonio has taken the controls at Piner and is the school’s third coach in the past four seasons … Thirteen starters return from 2010, including bruising running back Justin Pillsdorf and Cameron Eisenhauer (the Prospectors top receiver) … Last year, Eureka averaged 40 points per game while yielding just under 17.

The pick: Eureka 49, Piner 14

— Howard Senzell, for The Press Democrat