Saturday’s high school football previews, Week 1

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Some of the Empire’s high school football teams did not play on Friday, but will instead take the field today. Here’s a look at some of today’s best matchups:

CHURCHILL COUNTY VS. CARDINAL NEWMAN

Kickoff: 5 p.m., at Loomis

Notable: This is one of five games in the NorCal Honor Bowl series being played this weekend. The purpose of the series is to educate students, coaches and the community regarding the needs of military veterans…”We appreciate receiving an invitation to play one of the games,” Cardinals coach Paul Cronin said. “I think it’s a credit to success of past Newman players and coaches that have always tried to play the games with great class.”…Churchill finished 10-2 last year and its JV team wound up 7-1…The Greenwave boast seven players weighing 230 or more, including 310-pound Abraham Barrera…The Churchill varsity has compiled a 24-9 record over the past three seasons…Cronin admits to being nervous leading up to the season opener. “Every year you have sleepless nights before games because we are nervous and want our student athletes to have a great experience in their football season.”…Last year, the Cardinals finished 8-4 and the JV was 10-0. Among the varsity returnees are eight defensive starters, including linebacker Pat Evans and safety Kasey Mansen … Jordon Brookshire, one of two sophomores on the team, will start at quarterback for the Cardinals.

The pick: Cardinal Newman

MONTGOMERY AT NAPA

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Notable: This will be Marcello Bautista’s head coaching debut. He’s been a Vikings assistant for 10 years. “The only difference is dealing with paperwork and red tape,” he said…Wide receivers figure to play an important role in the outcome. Keyshawn Norris possesses good speed and great hands, according to Bautista while Napa’s Austin Aaron has already verbally committed to Cal…Since last season, Montgomery quarterback RJ Flores has become a stronger, more accurate passer…Kiel Brown is the Napa QB and impressed coach Troy Mott in practice and a summer passing league…The Indians use the triple option and pistol on offense and a 4-3 set-up on defense…”We watched Napa scrimmage against Antioch,” Bautista said. “They’re big and physical and should be a true test for us.”

The pick: Napa

PINER AT DEL NORTE

Kickoff: 3 p.m.

Notable: The Prospectors traveled north to Del Norte on Friday and held their walk-through practice at St. Bernard’s High…”It’s going to be a tough game for us,” Piner coach John Antonio said. “Del Norte is a good football team, a real good team. We’ll know where we’re at after this game.”…The Warriors run a lot of option plays and like to use the sweep…Tony Martignoli will start at quarterback for the Prospectors. “He’ll take about 60 percent of the snaps and Tyler Okiyama will take the other 40 percent,” Antonio said. “The two will also switch off at wide receiver.”…Piner will be without wide receiver/safety Justin Tauaefa. He’s out with an injury.

The pick: Del Norte

ST. BERNARD’S AT ST. VINCENT

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Notable: St. Bernard’s is coached by former Piner head man Matt Tomlin…St. Vincent traveled to Eureka last year and returned to Petaluma with a 26-0 victory. Following the loss, the Crusaders won eight of 10 and tied Ferndale for the Humboldt-Del Norte Little 4 title…St. Vincent also tied for a league title sharing the NCL II crown with Calistoga. The Mustangs finished 7-3 overall…Expected to lead the offense this year is running back George Sammon.

The pick: St. Vincent

CLOVERDALE AT CALISTOGA

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Notable: After losing its first four games in 2013, the Eagles finished the season by takng four of six…Calistoga won eight times last year including a 42-13 victory over Cloverdale …The Wildcats’ Danny Alfaro, who set school offensive records last year, has graduated but quarterback Timmy Montanez returns.

The pick: Calistoga

ANDERSON VALLEY at POINT ARENA

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

Notable: The NCL III foes played twice last year. Anderson Valley won the first game, 54-34, and lost the second meeting, 46-28 … The Panthers finished the year, 6-3, and averaged 48 points per game … Point Arena is coming off a 4-4 season and averaged 39 points per game … Only three seniors are on the Pirates roster: Gabe Bernal, Tyler Rasmussen and Rolando Marquez.

The pick: Point Arena

MENDOCINO at ROUND VALLEY

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m.

Notable: The Cardinals are coming off two unbeaten seasons and have won 19 in a row dating back to Oct. 8, 2011. Their last loss was to Potter Valley, 39-37 … Round Valley did not field a varsity team last year.

The pick: Mendocino

CALIFORNIA SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF at UPPER LAKE

Kickoff: 2 p.m.

Notable: The Cougars were 0-9 last year and have a new head coach. Frank Gudmundson took over for Alex Stabiner … CSD wound up 4-6 in 2013 and finished the year with three straight losses.

The pick: California School for the Deaf