High school football: Saturday’s game previews

Ukiah at Piner

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Notable: The Wildcats boast the largest front line in the Empire. According to first-year coach Jeff Burrell, the group averages 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds … Running behind the big boys on offense will be Cheyenne Noda and Koa Sibley … For the second year in a row, Shane Bartz will start the season at quarterback. He missed part of 2012 with a concussion … Piner is coming off a 4-6 campaign, its best showing in nine years … Nine offensive starters, including signal-caller Noel Hernandez, return from that unit. Hernandez threw 32 TD passes last year … Another indication that the Prospectors’ program is on the rise is the 9-0-1 record turned in by the junior varsity in 2012.

The pick: Piner 27, Ukiah 21


Sonoma Valley at Redwood

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Notable: For the first time in 30 years, a coach other than Mick O’Meara will lead the Dragons onto the field today. Bob Midgley is now at the helm and he scouted his team’s opponent in a recent scrimmage at Dixon High. “Redwood has a good tailback and a pair of hard-running fullbacks,” he said. “So, our goal on defense, will be to force them out of the running game.” … Sonoma should have a potent offense. Dan Deely returns at quarterback and has quality wide receivers in Mitch Hood, Graham Herder and Tristan Mertens … Running back Austin Bailey will get his share of touches … Redwood was 1-9 last year and one of those losses was to the Dragons (36-0).

The pick: Sonoma Valley 28, Redwood 6


Potter Valley at Rincon Valley Christian

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Notable: After three seasons as an assistant coach, Robert Gray has taken over at RVC. “When it gets close to kickoff, I’m going to be as nervous as the kids,” Gray said. “The eight-man football game is all about quickness and we have some very good athletes. If we play smart, we’ll do fine.” … Freshman Paul Bartholo has been impressive in preseason practice and has earned plenty of playing time at running back and linebacker … Daniel Maples returns at QB and his main receiver will be Morgan Gusopodi … Last year, RVC went 5-5 and Potter Valley finished 5-4.

The pick: Potter Valley 48, Rincon Valley Christian 27


Elsie Allen at Drake

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Notable: When these teams met last year, Drake went back to San Anselmo with a 41-0 victory … The Pirates finished the season 6-6 while the Lobos wound up 0-10 … Drake has a 42-man roster this year close to twice the number Elsie Allen will suit up … “We’re quick but undersized,” first-year coach Madison Lott said about the Lobos … Quarterback Jalen Busby has impressed in practice … Drake was hard-hit by graduation but Deo Hallinan, who averaged better than 5 yards per rush, is back.

The pick: Drake 35, Elsie Allen 6


St. Vincent at St. Bernard’s

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Notable: Gary Galloway begins his 30th year as coach of the Mustangs. His record is 194-115-1 … Matt Tomlin, former Piner coach, has taken over as the head man for the Eureka school … When the teams met last year in Petaluma, St. Vincent won 34-21. The Mustangs went on to compile a 10-3 record and tie for the NCL II title while St. Bernard’s wound up 7-5 … St. Vincent lost half that squad to graduation but leading rushers Derek Murphy (nearly six yards per carry) and George Sammon (seven yards per touch) return.

The pick: St. Bernard’s 21, St. Vincent 14.

— Howard Senzell,
for The Press Democrat


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