High school football preview: Saturday’s games

Cardinal Newman coach Paul Cronin, shown here instructing his team during practice in August, said he loves “being tested” against good teams like Saturday night's opponent, El Cerrito. (KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat)

Cardinal Newman coach Paul Cronin, shown here instructing his team during practice in August, said he loves “being tested” against good teams like Saturday night’s opponent, El Cerrito. (KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat)


Many of the top teams in the Redwood Empire did not play Friday night but will take to the gridiron Saturday. Here’s a look at three of the best matchups:

El Cerrito (1-1) at Cardinal Newman (2-0)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Last week: El Cerrito lost to Bellarmine, 28-25. Cardinal Newman defeated Novato, 41-9.

Notable: Following two facile wins, Cardinal Newman will get its first test of the season tonight and coach Paul Cronin didn’t hide his enthusiasm. “I love being tested,” he said. “I get a feeling of excitement when I’m about to find out where we stand.” … Providing the test is El Cerrito, ranked No. 62 in the state. The same poll has Newman at No. 140 … Newman breezed through its opening games winning by a combined 45 points while the Gauchos opened with a 34-14 win against Sutter before losing narrowly to Bellarmine (ranked No. 40) … This figures to be a high-scoring game as Newman comes in averaging 41 points and El Cerrito 31 … Playing at home is a big edge for the Cardinals.

The pick: Cardinal Newman 28, El Cerrito 20\


Casa Grande (2-0) at Napa (1-1)

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Last week: Casa Grande won at Heritage, 12-7. Napa defeated Paradise, 42-21.

Notable: Casa coach Trent Herzog calls Napa “as good as any team we will play all year.” … The Indians boast three athletes who will play Division I college ball: left tackle Braden Eggert (6-foot-7, 315 pounds), end Quinn May (6-foot-6, 205) and wide receiver Austin Aaron (6-foot-6, 200) … “We need to match them with our size and physicality,” Herzog said. “On offense we’ll need to control the ball and get (quarterback JaJuan) Lawson and (running back John) Porchivina in space where we feel we have an advantage in speed. On defense, we need to limit their big plays and get them off the field on third down.” … The Gauchos are tough at home, going 21-5 since 2009.

The pick: Casa Grande 20, Napa 14


St. Helena (1-1) at St. Vincent (2-0)

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Last week: St. Helena lost to Healdsburg, 16-14. St. Vincent beat Cloverdale, 21-6.

Notable: It’s the home opener for the Mustangs. They were 6-2 at Yarbrough Field last year … St. Helena has a solid ground game led by running back Sebastian Segura. He’s averaged 7 yards per touch on 22 carries … St. Vincent quarterback Jack Richardson has thrown for two touchdowns but has also had five passes intercepted.

The pick: St. Helena 28, St. Vincent 14


Piner (2-0) at Tamalpais (1-1)

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Last week: Piner beat Richmond, 50-0. Tamalpais lost to Petaluma, 7-0

Notable: Despite the lopsided score, coach John Antonio wasn’t happy with the way his Prospectors played last Saturday. “Too many mental mistakes,” he said. “If we play like that against Tam, we’ll get beat for sure.” … Even quarterback Noel Hernandez, who threw for four touchdowns against Richmond, found fault in his performance. “I made some bad decisions,” he said. “I threw balls that I had no business throwing.” Hernandez was intercepted twice … Antonio’s message reached his players and they responded with their best week of practice. “I truly believe we are ready for Tam,” he said … After being branded a pass-only team in recent years, the Prospectors are developing a running game. In their first two games, they’ve passed for an average of 209 yards and rushed for 150 … Isiah Carter is their leading ground gainer … Wide receiver Ty Simmons will miss the game with an injury.

The pick: Piner 20, Tamalpais 13


Petaluma (1-1) at Terra Linda (1-1)

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Last week: Petaluma defeated Tamalpais, 7-0. Terra Linda lost to Sonoma Valley, 42-14.

Notable: Trojans coach Rick Krist had praise for his defense, especially the line, following last Saturday’s shutout win. “It was a big improvement over how we played opening week against Santa Rosa (a 33-0 loss),” he said. “The defensive line made a giant step forward.” … Hunter Williams, Gabe Medina and Donovan Reece drew special praise from their coach … Home field the difference in this one.

The pick: Terra Linda 21, Petaluma 14


Sonoma Valley (2-0) at San Marin (1-1)

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Last week: Sonoma Valley beat Terra Linda, 42-14. San Marin lost at Northgate, 45-42.

Notable: Terra Linda’s secondary tried unsuccessfully to play man-to-man against Sonoma quarterback Dan Deely. The senior slinger wound up shredding the defense … The Dragons’ defense, on the other hand, has been solid while allowing a total of 27 points to its first two opponents.

The pick: San Marin 28, Sonoma Valley 21


El Molino (1-1) at St. Bernard’s (1-1)

Kickoff: 3 p.m.

Last week: El Molino lost to Justin-Siena, 54-0. St. Bernard’s won at Fort Bragg, 40-7.

Notable: Tough to get a handle on St. Bernard’s. The Crusaders lost their opener at home to St. Vincent (26-0) and then last week traveled to Fort Bragg and won easily … With a win today, El Molino will surpass its win total of 2012.

The pick: El Molino 20, St. Bernard’s 14


Clear Lake (1-0) at Upper Lake (0-1)

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m.

Last week: Clear Lake defeated Durham, 37-7. Upper Lake lost to Kelseyville, 68-8.

Notable: Adrian Adams threw two touchdowns passes in the Cardinals’ opening-season win … Garrett Harwood, playing his first varsity game, rushed for 68 yards on 14 carries … The Clear Lake defense smothered Durham’s spread offense.The Trojans were able to gain only 109 yards.

The pick: Clear Lake 47, Upper Lake 6


Marshall (0-2) at Tomales (1-1)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Last week: Marshall lost at Lower Lake, 53-30. Tomales defeated Elsie Allen, 52-6.

Notable: Ivan Gomez was a one-man wrecking crew against Elsie Allen. He rushed 15 times for 161 yards and returned the opening kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown.

The pick: Tomales 34, Marshall 6

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