High school football: Friday's game previews

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A look at Friday's Empire high school football games:

HERITAGE (0-1) at CASA GRANDE (1-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Heritage lost to Granada, 27-24. Casa defeated Eureka, 43-14.
NOTABLE: The Gauchos went up to Eureka and beat a school that had been 15-0 on its home field since 2009 … Casa opened the season playing like the best team in the Redwood Empire … At one point, the Gauchos led, 29-9 … According to coach Trent Herzog, quarterback JaJuan Lawson played superbly, running and passing with equal adeptness … Middle linebacker Jimmy Johnson had 17 tackles … Also having big defensive games were tackles Elijay Qualls and Conor Feeney and cornerback Joey Botai … Heritage is coming off a heartbreaking loss. Leading 24-7 on the road, the Patriots gave up three late TDs. The last score, a pass that was nearly intercepted in the end zone, came with 24 seconds left … Heritage, a Division I team from Brentwood, has made NCS five years in a row … The scouting report says the Patriots have speed and size … Quarterback Anthony Carter is a threat running or passing.
The pick: Casa Grande 49, Heritage 14

RANCHO COTATE (0-0) at ALHAMBRA (1-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Last game: Alhambra defeated College Park, 38-27
Notable: The Cougars’ defense will need to stop Taylor Poyadue in order to win this one. Against College Park, he caught one TD, ran for another and returned a kick-off 68 yards. He finished with 105 rushing yards and also intercepted a pass in the final minute … The Bulldogs led 24-0 before allowing College Park to get back in the game … Ed Conroy is beginning his 25th season as Rancho’s head coach … This Rancho team figures to throw more than those from recent years. Michael Courchaine takes over QB duties for the graduated Ricky Garcia. He has such a good arm that Conroy installed a spread formation, in addition to his usual I-formation … In Fono Misi, the Cougars have one of the best defensive players in the NBL.
The pick: Alhambra 21, Rancho Cotate 14

TOMALES (0-0) at ELSIE ALLEN (0-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last game: Drake defeated Elsie Allen, 41-0.
Notable: Can a school with 188 students beat one with an enrollment of 1,188? That will be decided when the Division 5 Braves go up against the Division 3 Lobos. Tomales has just the players to defeat a larger school like Elsie Allen. Back from last year’s team that went 9-3-1 and made it to the NCS Division 5 finals are Anthony Feliciano and Justin Brady. Feliciano rushed for 971 yards (seven per carry) while Brady was credited with 112 tackles … Elsie Allen was down 27-0 at halftime against Drake … Afterward, coach Larry Mahre said” “We’re young, we got a lot we can build on.”
The pick: Tomales 28, Elsie Allen 6

HEALDSBURG (1-0) at FORTUNA (1-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Last game: Healdsburg defeated Piedmont, 20-17. Fortuna overwhelmed El Molino, 48-0.
Notable: Huskies coach Mike Benbow describing his team: “We don’t have much size, but we have team speed. We are going to be quick and aggressive. We will win games on quickness.” … The players that scored 87 per cent of the team’s points last year have graduated … First-year Healdsburg coach Todd Bell was surprised at how well his young team played in its first game. Tristin Cleaver ran the opening kickoff back for a score and the Greyhounds never trailed. Cleaver later took another kickoff to the house; receiver Tanner Cristando came up with a 50-yard reception to get his team out of a hole and quarterback Scott Reynolds showed leadership quality in his fist varsity start … Coach Bell expects Fortuna to pound the ball into the line out of the veer formation. If the ’Hounds stop the run, they’ll win.
The pick: Healdsburg 21, Fortuna 19

TAMALPAIS (1-0) at PETALUMA (0-1)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Last game: Tamalpais defeated St. Patrick, 13-7. Petaluma lost to Santa Rosa, 42-21.
Notable: The Trojans lost center Nick Pruett (broken hand) in the Santa Rosa game … This season, Petaluma didn’t have a returning starter on offense or defense, so coach Rick Krist knew his young players would make mistakes and have jitters in the season opener … “We’ve had a good week of practice and worked on the mistakes we made in the Santa Rosa game,” Krist said. “Tam will be a tough opponent for us. They’re very athletic and have good speed. Scouting them, I was impressed by their quarterback and running backs.”
The pick: Tamalpais 34, Petaluma 13

ARROYO (0-1) at UKIAH (0-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Last game: American defeated Arroyo, 12-0.
Notable: The Dons’ offensive output against American was just about nil (13 yards passing and 33 rushing) … Isaac Tapai, the 5-foot-7 QB, completed 3-of-9 passes and 185-pound running back Chris Harrison rushed for a team-high 18 yards … Ukiah lost the nucleus of last year’s 5-6 team when QB Trevor Taylor, running back Chris Berg and leading tackler Max Oswald graduated … The Wildcats do have some depth on the offensive and defensive line. That would be: Tyler Fields, Jake Krause, Jordan Morris, Brandon Acevedo and Jordan James … .Morris, who played safety in ’11, is now also the QB. “He’s an athletic kid and has shown he’s comfortable playing quarterback,” first-year varsity coach Bill Norbury said. “The coaching staff has confidence in him.” … The Ukiah junior varsity, coached by Norbury, finished 7-3 last season.
The pick: Ukiah 20, Arroyo 6

EL MOLINO (0-1) at JUSTIN-SIENA (1-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Last week: El Molino lost to Fortuna, 48-0. Justin-Siena defeated St. Mary’s, 47-14.
Notable: JS rushed for 344 yards on 39 carries against St. Mary’s … Austin Connolly had 168 of those … Depth will be a problem for EM. The Lions have 21 players on the roster, the home team will dress 35 players.
The pick: Justin-Siena 62, El Molino 7

SALESIAN (1-0) at MIDDLETOWN (0-0)
Kickoff: 5:30 p.m.
Last week: Salesian defeated DeAnza, 39-6.
Notable: Salesian High brings a 22-game win streak to Lake County. Two of those victories were in NCS Division 4 title games … Middletown teams do well at home, going 25-7 over the five previous years.
The pick: Salesian 34, Middletown 14

UPPER LAKE (0-0) at KELSEYVILLE (0-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Notable: Upper Lake will be one of the best small schools in the Redwood Empire. The reason: productive running backs Ward Beecher and Joe Valdez return from last year’s team that went 7-3-1.
The pick: Upper Lake 41, Kelseyville 6

POINT ARENA (0-0) at LAYTONVILLE (0-0)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Notable: PA returns six from last year’s squad which finished 8-1 … The player with the best stats is Marco Davila. He was the Pirates’ leading receiver with 328 yards and averaged six yards per rush … Laytonville is coming off a 2-6 season.
The pick: Point Arena 27, Laytonville 7

CLEAR LAKE (0-0) at DURHAM (1-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Durham defeated Colusa, 42-14.
Notable: Durham’s strong offensive debut was led by QB Josh Heath (15-of-24, 2 TDs) and running back Jake Wiley (74 yards) … Clear Lake is coming off a 4-6 season … Running back Luke Punzalan and lineman Josh Larsen lead the Cardinals.
The pick: Durham 34, Clear Lake 21

CLOVERDALE (0-1) at McKINLEYVILLE (0-1)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Cloverdale lost to host Calistoga, 28-20. McKinleyville was defeated by Fort Bragg, 14-7.
Notable: The Eagles boast six returning starters on defense and five on offense.
The pick: McKinleyville 28, Cloverdale 14

LOWER LAKE (0-0) at HOOPA VALLEY (0-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Notable: HV graduated 19 players from the team that won NCS Division 5 last year … Since 2009, the Warriors have a record of 26-7 and two of those years won NCS titles … Lower Lake returns more than half the starting line-up from last year (0-9-1) … QB Richard Tucker is adept at running the veer formation..Mike Warren anchors the offensive and defensive line.
The pick: Hoopa Valley 20, Lower Lake 7

CALISTOGA (1-0) at SOUTH FORK (1-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Calistoga defeated Cloverdale, 28-20. South Fork edged Swett, 22-19.
Notable: The Wildcats had lost 12 in a row prior to defeating Cloverdale.
The pick: Calistoga 20, South Fork 15