High school football previews: Saturday’s games


Three more North Coast Section football playoff games today will involve Empire teams. A look at the matchups:

Division 2: No. 9 Windsor (6-5) at No. 1 Casa Grande (11-0)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Last week: Windsor beat Rancho Cotate, 32-10. Casa defeated Alameda, 45-14.

Notable: This is a dangerous match-up for the Gauchos. On Nov. 1, they beat Windsor, 42-28, and it’s sometimes difficult for players to take a team seriously that they just beat by two touchdowns. Look what happened last Friday to Rancho Cotate. The Cougars beat Windsor, 43-14, early in the season. Then, last Friday in the first round of NCS, the Jaguars turned the tables with a 32-10 victory. Can it happen again tonight? While Casa is better than Rancho, overconfidence could equal the playing field … .The Jaguars had to win their final game to become NCS eligible and they responded by shutting out Montgomery. “The difference between early in the season and now is that we believe in ourselves and our potential,” coach Vic Amick said … Leading the rejuvenated Jaguars has been Colin McAlvain. “He’s playing as well as any opposing quarterbak we’ve faced all season,” Gauchos coach Trent Herzog said … .In five years at Casa, Herzog’s teams have been impressive: 49-12 overall and 26-6 at home … Gauchos quarterback JaJuan Lawson has completed 68 per cent of his passes good for 1,769 yards. He’s thrown 21 touchdowns to nine different receivers and has been intercepted once … John Porchivina gets plenty of ink for his running prowess, but not much for his defense. He’s Casa’s second leading tackler with 72. Miles Gardea leads the way with 87 … When asked what advantages Casa has over Windsor, Herzog responded: “Size, speed and experience.” … Gauchos kicker Matt Abramo didn’t play last week because of an injury and if he can’t go tonight, Gardea will once again deputize … For Windsor, linebacker Mitchell Bruning will likely miss the game because of a knee injury.

The pick: Casa Grande

Division 4: No. 9 Piner (6-5) at No. 1 San Marin (8-2)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Last week: Piner defeated St. Patrick/St. Vincent, 43-29. San Marin beat Marin Catholic, 49-14.

Notable: San Marin quarterback Manny Wilkens will play for Arizona State next year. “He loves to run,” Prospectors coach John Antonio said. “After scouting San Marin, I think the best player on the team is running back Kyle Chernoff. He’s the one we need to stop,” Antonio said. “Wilkens is going to get his yards but if we can contain Chernoff, we’ve got a shot.” The Mustangs score just under 40 points per game and the defense allows 17 … For the second week in a row, Piner will be the underdog. “We love this role,” Antonio said. “We’re not focusing on playing No. 1, we’re just focusing on playing another football game.”… The Prospectors are in new territory. This is the first time in 10 years they’ve made the playoffs and now they’re one of eight teams remaining in Division 4.

The pick: San Marin

Division 4-No. 11 Del Norte (5-6) at No. 3 Healdsburg (6-4)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Last week: Del Norte beat Justin-Siena, 14-6. Healdsburg had a bye

Notable: This is the second weekend in a row Del Norte has taken a long bus ride to play a game. Last Saturday, the Humboldt County team upset No. 6 Justin-Siena (Napa). The Warriors need to run the ball to be successful, “We’re going to try to get an early lead and make them play catch-up,” Greyhounds coach Todd Beth said. “It’s tough to come-from-behind running the ball on every play and they haven’t had a lot of success throwing it.”… Healdsburg is adept at throwing and running. Trystan Cleaver has rushed for 1,031 yards and averages 6.41 yards per touch. Quarterback Ramsey Wittke throws the ball 20 times per game and has completed 112 passes. He’s thrown 15 touchdowns … Ian Black leads the team in tackles with 140 (112 unassisted) … Jacob Sloma has 118 tackles and eight sacks … The week off allowed Healdsburg starters Jared Walker (ACL) and Tanner Cristando (shoulder) to heal … “I think we can execute our offense against their defense,” Beth said.

The pick: Healdsburg

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