Saturday football previews: Petaluma at Piner caps SCL opening weekend

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Some of the Empire’s high school football teams did not play Friday but will take the field today. Here’s a look:

Petaluma (2-2) at Piner (2-2)

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Last week: Petaluma defeated Jefferson, 53-12. Piner lost at Hercules, 21-12.

Notable: Despite coming off two losses, Prospectors coach John Antonio reports his team had a very good week of practice … .”We needed to focus more and that’s what I’ve seen the last few days,” Antonio said … Piner’s defense has been working to stop the run because Petaluma does not pass often out of its triple option … Piner quarterback Noel Hernandez has completed 58 passes. He’sthrown for eight touchdowns and been intercepted five times … Running backs Niko Formosa and Isiah Carter both average nearly 6 yards per rush … On defense, Jesse Gutierrez and Matt Ainger lead the way with 18 solo tackles each. That’s one more than Peter Barbieri …Wide receiver Isiah Roybal (back) will sit out his second straight game …Trojans coach Rick Krist believes the key to the game is keeping quarterback Hernandez in the pocket. “He’s a very good passer and we must keep him contained.” … RB Gabe Medina was sensational in the win against Jefferson. He gained 200 yards on eight carries. Quarterback Patrick Bailey and Brandon Warweg also had outstanding games … “I’m pleased with the way we’ve improved in preleague,” Krist said. “The kids have shown a lot of perserverance.” … The winner today must be considered a contender for the SCL title.

The pick: Piner

Stellar Prep (0-3) at St. Vincent (2-1)

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Last week: Stellar lost to Analy, 49-6. St. Vincent did not play.

Notable: Coach Gary Galloway said Stellar is the most athletic team the Mustangs will face in the regular season. “They have a lot of speed, especially at the quarterback position,” he said. “We’re the more disciplined team and they played a tougher preleague schedule.” … Zach Stichler, who leads St. Vincent with 38 tackles, will miss the game because of an injury… The Mustangs haven’t played since a 12-7 loss to St. Helena on Sept. 14…. The closest game Stellar had this year was a 29-point loss to Oakland.

The pick: St. Vincent

California School for the Deaf (1-2) at Upper Lake (0-3)

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Last week: CSD lost to Calistoga, 32-14. Upper Lake lost to Lower Lake, 40-14.

Notable: Upper Lake is a young team with growing pains. “We’ve got some kids that haven’t played much until this year,” coach Alex Stabiner said. “It’s going to take time for them to feel comfortable.” The Cougars were in the game for a half against Lower Lake and trailed only 13-6 at intermission … Last year, today’s opponents played in Fremont and Upper Lake prevailed, 20-3.

The pick: Upper Lake

Potter Valley (1-2) at Mendocino (3-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Last week: Potter Valley lost to Anderson Valley, 34-8. Mendocino beat Rincon Valley Christian, 54-6.

Notable: “We’re pretty confident we’ll do well,” Cardinals coach Theron Miller said. “The kids have been playing at a high level and so far, we’ve outhit every team we’ve played.” Mendocino is averaging 56 points per game 17.

The pick: Mendocino

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