NCL II football preview: Three-team fight in four-team league


Tomales High School running back Willy Lepori fights for yardage against the Hoopa Valley Warriors on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. (Photo by John Burgess, The Press Democrat)

Tomales High School running back Willy Lepori fights for yardage against the Hoopa Valley Warriors on Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. (Photo by John Burgess, The Press Democrat)

The streamlined North Central League II features just four teams, but two were among the best Division 5 teams in Northern California last season and another has occupied a similar status for many years.

NCL II schools have cut ties with the Bay Football League, leaving last year’s co-champions St. Vincent and Calistoga as favorites this season. Tomales, with its storied postseason history, will be in the three-team fight for the title. Upper Lake was winless a year ago and faces an uphill battle in the new four-team league.

The teams’ league season will be made up of two meetings against each of the other three teams. Here’s a team-by-team look at the new NCL II:


The Wildcats were 5-1 in league last season, losing only to St. Vincent in Petaluma. The program has enjoyed a resurrection under coach Paul Harrell. He’s rebuilding this season after losing a gifted group of seniors who led the club to an 8-2 mark.

All-Empire wide receiver/defensive back Timmy Montanez will move to quarterback where the Wildcats can take advantage of his versatility. Edgar Avina is a 5-foot-9, 180 junior linebacker/offensive tackle who will play a vital role on both sides of the ball.

The Wildcats lost to Cloverdale in their opener last Saturday, 35-0.

Big game: at St. Vincent,
Oct. 4, 2 p.m.


Coach Gary Galloway returns a group of standout seniors from a team that tied for the title last season before falling in the first round of the playoffs to finish 7-3.

Even after St. Vincent’s season-opening loss, NCL II opponents begin the season looking up at the Mustangs.

Linebacker/tight end Sean Healy (5-11, 220), linebacker/running back George Sammon (5-10, 175) and running back/linebacker Zach Stichler (5-10, 180) starred as juniors and are among the best players in the Empire entering this season.

Junior Dominic Pedersen appears in line to play quarterback in the run-oriented attack.

St. Vincent lost its opener last Saturday, 13-6, against St. Bernard.

Big game: at Tomales, Oct. 17, 7:30 p.m.

The Braves, 3-3 in league and 6-4 overall last year, were the only team in the league to open 2014 with a victory, beating Hoopa Valley, 41-12, on Friday.

Coach Leon Feliciano is one of the top program builders in the Empire, so expect his club to be back in the chase with Calistoga and St. Vincent.

Lineman Dante Feliciano is a senior who will be one of the elite blockers in the area. The 6-2, 190-pounder anchors the Braves on both sides. Willy Lepori was one of the team’s leading rushers and linebackers as a junior. Quarterback Joel Gutierrez will be a key to the attack as Tomales eyes a spot among the NCS Division 5 elite.

Big game: Calistoga, Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m.


After a winless, last-place 2013 season (0-9 overall, 0-6 league), the club hopes to turn things around in 2014.

The Cougars had to use soccer players and strip the junior varsity team just to finish last season, and they have only a handful of players out this summer: Mike Di Andrea, Derek Di Andrea, Indo Drapeau, JT Dominguez, Jesse Campanero, Tyler Banks, Charles Edmonds, Chase Goetjen, Isaiah McBee, Junior Serrano, Nick Stith, Dylan Donelson, Elizah Jeremy and Rob Sanchez.

Upper Lake came up short in its opener last Saturday, falling 63-0 against California School for the Deaf.

Big game: Tomales, Oct. 4, noon.