PD Preps Insider: Gauchos reaping dividends of O-line musical chairs

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Casa Grande football team has taken one of its few weaknesses and turned it into a strength.

The Gauchos won games early in the season, but they did so without a stable offensive line as they waited for key blockers to come back from injuries.

With everyone finally back up front, coach Trent Herzog is going with a six-man rotation of players — something common on the defensive line, but a rarity on the O-line.

“We still have guys mixing and matching, but if you look at our team, it’s great,” quarterback JaJuan Lawson said. “We have six guys who can go in at any one time, so that if one goes out, we have another one that can step up. It’s actually getting to the point where it doesn’t matter which six are in, we can dominate with all of ’em.”

Casa Grande did just that against Alameda in its first-round North Coast Section playoff game last Friday. The Gauchos gave up four sacks, but all of them came in the second half when the backups had taken over.

The offensive numbers in the first half: 253 rushing yards, 329 total yards and 14 first downs, en route to a 45-14 win.

It’s unanimous

Salesian’s coach expects his team’s Division 5 football semifinal against Middletown tonight will be a much tougher test than what the Pride faced in a 42-20 win in the first round at St. Vincent.

“Middletown is way, way better than the team we just played,” Salesian coach Chris Nightengale said. “(St. Vincent) is a good team and winning a playoff game on the road is the toughest thing to do in sports.

“But it’ll be far more difficult playing Middletown up there.”

St. Vincent coach Gary Galloway agreed.

“Salesian will have their hands full next week,” he said, mentioning that he and Middletown coach Bill Foltmer are close friends. “Salesian won’t hit quite as hard next week because Middletown is just a big, physical, fast team that can really punish you.”

Rookie of the year

Windsor got a much-needed boost this season from senior running back Christian Roberge, who’s playing his first year of football.

Through eight games, he had rushed for 913 yards and six touchdowns. He averages 114.3 yards per game and 7.2 yards per carry.

He ran for 185 yards against powerful Cardinal Newman and had 68 yards on 14 carries last Friday in the Jaguars’ first-round playoff win at Rancho Cotate.

Not bad for a newcomer to the sport.

Volleyball survivors

The last volleyball team still standing in the NCS tournament is one of the smallest. In Division 6, top seed Anderson Valley made it through the bracket into Saturday night’s championship match at home against No. 2 seed Rincon Valley Christian.

Anderson Valley comes into the final with a 26-2 record. RVC is 19-9.

The championship match starts at 7 p.m.

The Press Democrat’s Michael Coit, Phil Barber and Ted Sillanpaa contributed to this report.

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