Prep football preview: Vine Valley Athletic League contests begin
Petaluma and Sonoma Valley high school teams will start their Vine Valley Athletic League football play this week after a month of nonconference competitions and tuneups.
Casa Grande has a new coach, the third in as many years, who has led the Gauchos to a 1-3 record thus far.
But coach John Antonio has higher hopes for VVAL play with all-league running back Matt Herrera, quarterback Miguel Robertson, and receivers Dominic McHale and Dominic Giomi leading the offense.
Another new coach, Hervy Williams at Sonoma Valley, is bringing new life to the Dragons’ program, and is running mostly through quarterback Jake Baker.
Running back Adrian Alvarez is making a name for himself as well, with a breakout game of 184 yards against El Camino. The Dragons (1-3) are likely to be fired up after a drubbing by undefeated Piner last week.
Longtime Petaluma coach Rick Krist and the Trojans depend on running backs Joey Alioto and Dante Ratto. The Trojans are 1-3 in nonconference play.
Casa heads to Justin-Siena, Petaluma hosts American Canyon and Sonoma Valley welcomes Napa, all at 7 p.m. Friday.
In the North Bay League, divisional play doesn’t begin until Oct. 4, so most teams have another week or two of nonleague games to challenge themselves or score points for postseason strength-of-schedule consideration.
Rancho Cotate (2-1) has won two straight and will play at Pleasant Valley this week and Campolindo next week before diving into the NBL schedule against Cardinal Newman in the first week of divisional play.
Rancho, Pleasant Valley and Campo are all ranked similarly by MaxPreps, so those games should be good competition.
Newman (3-0) is ranked 43rd in the state and will be challenging No. 23 Liberty High on Friday and No. 705 Balboa in Santa Rosa — the Cardinals’ first game on their newly rebuilt field.
Piner, 4-0, has ruffled some feathers with its lopsided wins (244-0 point differential), but faces its most serious test this week as the Prospectors host Miramonte.
Miramonte went to the North Coast Section Division 3 playoffs last year, losing to El Cerrito in the quarterfinals, and is 3-1 this season.
While Piner’s quarterback Yonaton Isack is putting up some impressive numbers (1,383 yards, 345 yards/game, 25 touchdowns), so is the Matadors’ Matt Meredith, averaging 315 yards a game with 17 touchdowns and only one interception so far this season.
Piner has two goals: keep its unscored-upon streak going, and win the game against the higher-ranked opponent.
Forty percent of the way through the season, the cream is rising to the top of the statistical leaderboards.
Quarterback Jackson Pavitt of Cardinal Newman leads North Bay League-Oak Division quarterbacks with 200 yards per game, a 66% completion rate and quarterback rating of 121 in three games.
Billy Boyle of Windsor has more yards with 680, but in four games, and he has 10 touchdowns to Pavitt’s six. Pavitt has yet to throw a pick, while Boyle has 5.
Windsor (3-1) has two of the five leading rushers and two of the top five receivers, while Newman has three of the top five receivers and two of the leading rushers.
In the Redwood Division, two quarterbacks lead the field with double-digit touchdown passes: Yonaton Isack of Piner with 25 and Santa Rosa’s Trevor Anderson with 13.