High school football: Friday’s large-school game previews

Cardinal Newman at Modesto Christian

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Notable: These teams met in the season opener last year with the Cardinals winning at home, 48-20. Tonight the score figures to be closer, possibly much closer … When they met Aug. 24, 2012, Modesto was missing quarterback Jackson Finch, who had fractured his tibula and fibula in preseason practice. “He’s back and at full strength,” Cardinal coach Paul Cronin. “We scouted them in their scrimmage last week against Merced and two other teams. I was really impressed with him and the rest of the team. They’re physical and return a lot of guns from last season.” … Newman lost key personnel to graduation, including All-Empire Defensive Player of the Year Philip “Scooby” Wright … To win tonight, Newman will need to establish balance on both sides of the ball and first-year starters will need to overcome opening-night jitters … “I like our guys,” Cronin said. “They’ve put in a lot of effort getting ready for the season and I’m looking forward to seeing how they play.”

The pick: Cardinal Newman  28, Modesto Christian 14


Santa Rosa at Petaluma

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Notable: Both teams finished with 4-6 records last year … Despite losing All-Empire running back Jahray Hayes, the Panthers offense should still be potent … Vince Jones is back for his third season at quarterback and his go-to receiver will be Alfredo Carretero … Gabe Roque is the top running back … The Trojans also have a three-year starter at QB — Patrick Bailey. He got the nod over Brendon White earlier this week. “We’ll start the season platooning the two,” coach Rick Krist said … Gabe Medina will be the primary ball carrier. He missed a portion of 2012 with a quad injury … Krist is impressed by film he’s seen of Santa Rosa. “The quarterback (Jones) is very talented,” he said. “They have good size on defense and will be tough to handle.”

The pick: Santa Rosa 21, Petaluma 14


Pittsburg at Analy

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Notable: Of all the teams in the Redwood Empire, the Tigers have the toughest opening-season matchup. Pittsburg is ranked No. 51 in California and No. 417 nationally … The Division 1 school lost to state champion De La Salle, 35-13, in the second round of the playoffs last year … Meanwhile, Analy (Division 3) lost a number of players to graduation from the team that finished 12-1 … Pittsburg got ready for Analy by scrimmaging De La Salle. “They went toe-to-toe with De La Salle,” Tigers coach Dan Bourdon said. “We’ve got work to do.” … To be competitive, the home team will have to play mistake free.

The pick: Pittsburg 34, Analy 6


Pinole Valley at Montgomery

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Notable: This will mark the first time in 34 years the Vikings have played a game without Jason Franci as their head coach. Athletic director Dean Haskins, who played for Franci, has taken the reins … “The kids are real excited to get on the field for real and I’m feeling the same way,” Haskins said … Elijah Higgs will start at QB. Look for him to team up with wide receiver Etienne Ezeff throughout the evening … Among the new assistants helping Haskins are Marcelo Bautista, Jamon Heard, Albert Higgs and Russell Ponce … A year ago, Pinole hosted the Vikings and won, 38-28.

The pick: Montgomery 21, Pinole Valley 14


Eureka at Casa Grande

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Notable: This is a rematch of last year’s season opener won by the Gauchos, 43-14. Looking back, Casa coach Trent Herzog says that was probably the best game his team played all year. “We were healthy and after that we had a series of injuries to key personnel. We were never the same,” he confided … The Gauchos finished the year with a 7-4 mark … The Loggers returned the bulk of their roster, so they figure to be better. Still, it’s doubtful they’ll be able to stop quarterback JaJuan Lawson, running back John Porchivina and tight end Miles Gardea.

The pick: Casa Grande 48, Eureka 13


Windsor at Granada

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Notable: This looks like a tough road trip for the Jaguars. Granada is a Division 1 school and returns its quarterback and one of its leading rushers from last year’s team that finished 4-6 … QB Tyler Offill completed 80 of 153 passes for 1,141 yards and nine TDs. Running back Casey Soltis gained nearly 6 yards per touch … The Livermore school competes in the East Bay League … Windsor also finished 4-6 last year after a perfect season in 2011 … Taylor Tappin and Julian Tamayo are two of the best linemen in the Empire … Colin McAlvain returns as starting QB.

The pick: Granada 28, Windsor 7


Fortuna at Healdsburg

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Notable: Ramsey Wittke, who quarterbacked the Greyhounds’ junior varsity team last year, will be the signal-caller tonight. Scott Reynolds, the starting QB in 2012, moves to wide receiver … This is a revenge game for the Greyhounds. Last year, en route to a 7-4 season, the Huskies prevailed 37-0. “They whipped our butts last year and we plan on returning the favor Friday night,” Healdsburg coach Todd Beth said. “We’re a more veteran squad now. We’ve got the bulk of the team back from last season.” … The Hounds are loaded at running back where All-SCL players Jared Walker and Trystan Cleaver have returned.

The pick: Healdsburg 28, Fortuna 14


Willits at El Molino

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Notable: Both teams have new coaches this season. Nick Williamson takes over at Willits and inherits a squad that went 6-4, while Randy Parmeter will be guiding the Lions following a 1-9 campaign in 2012.

The pick: El Molino 20, Willits 6

— Howard Senzell,
for The Press Democrat


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