High school football preview: Saturday’s games

By HOWARD SENZELL
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Division 2: No. 4 Montgomery (11-2) at No. 1 Casa Grande (13-0)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Last week: Montgomery beat Concord, 41-28. Casa Grande downed Windsor, 42-7.

Notable: When asked if he was surprised his Gauchos are undefeated heading into semifinals weekend, coach Trent Herzog responded: “If you’d told me at the start of the season we’d be unbeaten on Thanksgiving and that we went through NBL without a loss, I probably would’ve chuckled a little bit.” … Casa quarterback JaJuan Lawson has a couple of seasonal milestones in his sights. The senior needs 40 rushing yards to get to the 1,000 plateau and 119 to reach 3,000 combined passing and rushing yards. … John Porchivina, who began his high school career at St. Vincent (Division 5), leads Casa in several categories: rushing (1,313 yards), touchdown receptions (five), points scored (120) and tackles (75). … Montgomery running back Logan Francavilla needs 183 yards to reach 2,000 … When these schools played Sept. 27th, Casa prevailed, 30-12. Vikings coach Dean Haskins doesn’t think Saturday’s game will be a repeat. “We’re a different team,” he said. “We’re playing really good football now” … Haskins said his defense’s major objective is to contain Lawson and be sure-handed tackling. On the other side of the ball, quarterback R.J. Flores has to have a good game and the offense needs to find a way to control the tempo of the game … Casa’s Herzog is also looking for a more competitive game than the first meeting: “Once Flores took over at quarterback when (Elijah) Higgs got injured midway through the season, Montgomery knew what they wanted to do and that’s run the ball to set-up deep passes downfield. That’s what they do best, it’s what Montgomery’s always done. Their victories over Newman, Rancho and Concord have given them tremendous confidence. They’re a much better team than when played them in September, but so are we.” … Casa wide receiver Jonathan Weber and kicker Matt Abramo, who have been injured, are improving and their status will be determined at game time … The Gauchos are 27-6 at home over the past five years.

The pick: Casa Grande

Division 4: No. 4 Analy (11-1) at No. 1 Marin Catholic (11-0)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Last week: Analy defeated Cardinal Newman, 33-30. Marin Catholic beat Eureka, 49-14.

Notable: Marin Catholic has won 32 straight home games. The Wildcats’ last home loss was Oct. 18, 2008, when Notre Dame Prep of Scottsdale, Ariz., beat them … Analy visited the Kenfield campus for a playoff game in November of 2008 and lost, 49-8 … This year, Marin Catholic’s offense is a scoring machine. The Wildcats average 48 points per game and have been under 40 just once (a 31-20 win over St. Ignatius) … Analy also has a reputation for putting points on the board as the Tigers average 43 … Marin’s defense has been a little stingier, allowing eight points per game compared to 13 for Analy … For the second game in a row, the Tigers’ defense must contain a tall quarterback. Last week, it was 6-foot-5 Keaton Dunsford. On Saturday, it’s 6-foot-4 Morgan Mahalak. Against Eureka, the 202-pound senior was versatile as he completed 10 of 16 for 162 yards and ran for 87 more. He spent most of the second half on the bench after his team opened a comfortable lead by scoring 28 points in the second quarter. It will be up to the Analy defense, led last week by Kieran Newell, Jaxon Cantu, Justin Cox and TJ Acheson, to contain Mahalak … Analy has one of the most accurate passers in the Empire in Will Smith. He’s completed 95 of 145 passes for 1,545 yards despite splitting playing time with Jacob Royer. Smith has thrown for 23 touchdowns and has had two balls intercepted … Running back Ja’Narrick James went over the 1,000-yard plateau against Cardinal Newman. The diminutive junior saw so much action against the Cardinals, he got leg cramps. In the 10 previous games he played, he carried the ball 94 times. Against Newman, his number was called 25 times. James responded by running for 153 yards. Oh yes, he also caught four passes for 72 yards and scored four touchdowns, three on the ground.

The pick: Marin Catholic

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