High school football previews: Saturday’s games

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

No. 16 Alameda (6-4) at No. 1 Casa Grande (10-0)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Last week: Alameda beat Arroyo, 54-24. Casa Grande defeated Cardinal Newman, 40-28.

Notable: Casa coach Trent Herzog says Alameda is faster than any team the Gauchos have played this year. “They’re quick, athletic and have playmakers all over the field,” he said … The Hornets’ offense revolves around quarterback Elijah Hernandez. He’s thrown 16 touchdown passes and is also the team’s leading ground gainer … Alameda finished tied for second in the West Alameda-Shoreline League with a 3-2 record … Casa, fresh off the first undefeated league season in school history, did it by rolling up an average of 431 yards per game on offense while the defense allowed an average of 15 points … Quarterback JaJuan Lawson has thrown 18 scoring passes and has been intercepted just once … Running back John Porchivina rumbled for an average of 117 yards per game. …Porchivina is also the second leading tacker on the team with 68. Miles Gardea’s 83 is tops … Nine players have at least one interception with Zakk Molina and Brad Freitas leading the way with three apiece … The punting game has also been solid with Jeff Anderson averaging 35 per kick … “The team is excited with the great opportunity we have in front of us,” Herzog said. “The players have been focused and competing in practice and they’re excited to play Alameda as it’s something new.”

The pick: Casa Grande

No. 12 Drake (6-4) at No. 5 Cardinal Newman (7-3)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Last week: Drake defeated Tamalpais, 27-21. Cardinal Newman lost to Casa Grande, 40-28.

Notable: Coach Paul Cronin says this is the best throwing team he’s had during his Newman tenure. The passing game revolves around Keaton Dunsford. Against Casa, he threw for 364 yards while completing 26 passes. The 6-foot-5 senior threw for two touchdowns but was also intercepted three times by a very good Gauchos’ secondary … The leading receivers in the Casa game were: Dylan Kolman, Kevin Lucey, Ryan O’Leary and Kasey Mansen … The Cardinals won the first down battle against the Gauchos, 18-11, and ran 69 plays compared to Casa’s 50. However, Newman wound up with only 29 rushing yards …Drake has played one Sonoma County team and that was Elsie Allen (a 33-0 win) … The Pirates’ offense revolves around quarterback Kevin Miles. He’s their leading rusher and also has thrown 10 touchdowns. However, he’s been intercepted a dozen times.

The pick: Cardinal Newman

No. 10 Sonoma Valley (7-3) at No. 7 Acalanes (7-3)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Last week: Sonoma Valley lost to Petaluma, 24-21. Acalanes beat Alhambra, 31-18.

Notable: Sonoma got a scare when Dan “Mr. Everything” Deely sprained his ankle during the Petaluma game. The quarterback/defensive back was gimpy early in the week, but should be 100 percent for Acalanes. Despite missing two games with a concussion, Deely has passed for 1,202 yards and rushed for 474 … Gabe Bernstein, one of the Dragons’ top runners, no longer has concussion symptoms and will see considerable action. The junior played just a few snaps in the Petaluma game … The Dragons lost to the Trojans on a last-second field goal but before that missed several scoring opportunities in the red zone. “We dropped passes where the man was wideopen,” coach Bob Midgley said. “If we don’t play better on both sides of the ball against Acalanes, we’ll lose. We match up pretty well with them and if we play like we can, we have a good chance of coming away with a win.”

The pick: Acalanes

No. 5 Salesian (5-5) at No. 4 St. Vincent  (7-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Last week: Salesian lost to Valley Christian, 21-12. St. Vincent defeated Calistoga, 27-14.

Notable: Salesian has won the Division 4 championship two of the past three seasons and this year drops to Division 5 … St. Vincent is making its sixth NCS appearance in seven years. The Mustangs went all the way in 2005 and ’08 … Defense has been the calling card for the current team as St. Vincent allows an average of 10 points per game … Gary Galloway has been the Mustangs coach for 30 years and this is the first time one of his teams has played Salesian … St. Vincent has won four in a row and running back Derek Murphy has put up gaudy numbers during the streak. The 170-pound senior has run for 546 yards on 91 carries over the past month. In the past two years, Murphy has scored 41 touchdowns. Ray Tamblyn set the school record of 48 in 1997-98 … The Mustangs are 9-3 on their home artificial turf field over the past two years … This isn’t one of Salesian’s better teams and a combination of defense and Murphy’s running will get the win for St. Vincent.

The pick: St. Vincent

No. 6 Calistoga (9-1)  at No. 3 Ferndale (7-3)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Last week: Calistoga lost to St. Vincent, 27-14. Ferndale beat South Fork, 49-23.

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Notable: Ferndale ended the regular season with a five-game winning streak … Calistoga had its dream of an unbeaten season snapped in its last game … The Wildcats were penalized 15 times in the loss to St. Vincent … Dylan Alvarado is doing it on both sides of the ball. On offense, he’s rushed for 1,842 yards (205 per game) and he also leads the Wildcats in tackles (73) … Danny Alfaro has kicked 45 extra points … Ferndale won the Little 4 Conference for the 15th time in the past 21 years … “They’re big and physical,” Calistoga coach Paul Harrell said. “However, we’re quicker and if we can capitalize on our speed, we’ve got a great chance.”.

The pick: Ferndale

No. 12 Fort Bragg (5-5) at No. 5 St. Mary’s 6-4

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Last week: Fort Bragg beat Clear Lake, 28-22. St. Mary’s defeated Pinole Valley, 55-14.

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Notable: There was good news in Fort Bragg this week. Zach Smith’s knee has responded to treatment and he will play today. The senior running back, who sat out the Clear Lake game, has rushed for 1,302 yards (163 per game). Last Friday, coach Roy Perkins moved quarterback Tyler Ashby to running back and he responded by gaining 152 yards … Smith anchors the defense from his linebacker position … “I think our offense will do fine against St. Mary’s,” Perkins said. “Our problem all year has been defense. We start four sophomores and a freshman.” … Fort Bragg gives up 31 points per game … St. Mary’s is 2-3 in its last five games, but for the season the Albany school is 5-0 at home.

The pick: St. Mary’s

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