Empire football previews: NCL I rivals Kelseyville, Lower Lake to meet
Kelseyville will attempt to keep the good times rolling in Friday's football contest at Lower Lake.
On paper, the first-place Knights (6-1, 4-0 NCL I) should have a relatively easy time with the last-place Trojans (2-5, 0-4), but Kelseyville coach Erick Larsen said he is weary of Lower Lake’s passing game heading into the 7:30 p.m. meeting.
“Lower Lake is really going to test our secondary. This is a great game to prime us for the playoffs. Playing Lower Lake is just what we need,” Larsen said. “They can put points on the board quickly if you aren’t disciplined.”
The Knights are on a six-game winning streak after losing their opener 40-32 to Stellar Prep of Oakland. In the past three weeks, Kelseyville has vanquished three NCL I rivals — 22-15 last week over Cloverdale, 16-0 on Sept. 28 against Fort Bragg and 28-0 on Sept. 21 at Middletown.
Against Cloverdale, Kelseyville trailed 15-14 with 3 minutes to play before Knights quarterback Alex Garcia hit Zack Watkins with a 70-yard touchdown pass to pull out the win.
“That was a clutch play,” Larsen said.
Kelseyville is led on the ground by running back Jordi Lopez and by middle linebacker Robert Chavez on defense.
“We play a very basic defense and focus on fundamentals. We blitz very little, only four times all year,” Larsen said. “Offensively, we have been playing well. But teams have been packing the box against our run, making it tough sledding for us the last few games.”
Lower Lake is led by Elijah Hernandez at quarterback and Aries Brooke at running back.
In other games Friday:
CARDINAL NEWMAN Cardinals (6-1, 2-0) vs. WINDSOR Jaguars (3-4, 1-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Windsor High School
Cardinal Newman continues to be the cream of the North Bay League-Oak Division. The Cardinals have outscored their opponents 243-85 this season. ... Quarterback Jackson Pavitt leads the Cardinals offense with 1,340 yards passing (86-118) with 17 touchdowns and three interceptions. ... Windsor is tied for second place in the NBL-Oak with three other teams. ... The Jaguars have been outscored 229-92 this year.
MONTGOMERY Vikings (6-2, 2-0) vs. PINER Prospectors (3-4, 0-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Piner High School
The Vikings are looking strong in the North Bay League-Redwood Division after wins over Elsie Allen (2-0 forfeit) and 38-30 over rival Santa Rosa. ... Montgomery quarterback Cole Hallin leads the NBL-Redwood in passing with 142 yards per game (49-104 for the season with 9 touchdowns and 2 interceptions). ... Piner lost 42-20 to El Molino in its first league game. ... The Prospectors are second in the NBL-Redwood in rushing yards per game (172.5).
RANCHO COTATE Cougars (6-1, 1-1) vs. MARIA CARRILLO Pumas (3-4, 0-2)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Maria Carrillo High School
The Cougars wiped out Windsor 44-0 last week after losing to Cardinal Newman 42-21 the previous week. Rancho Cotate is also tied with three other teams in the NBL-Oak. ... Maria Carrillo is searching for its first league win after losing 41-35 last week to Analy and 70-35 the previous week to Ukiah.
NAPA Indians (0-7, 0-3) vs. CASA GRANDE Gauchos (2-5, 2-1)
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: Casa Grande High School
In a Vine Valley Athletic League matchup, the Gauchos look to keep momentum after two wins in their last three games. The Gauchos defeated Sonoma Valley 40-7 last week. ... Napa has been overmatched this season and is still searching for its first win. ... The Indians have been outscored 308-139.
Friday's other games:
Analy at Ukiah, 7:30 p.m.
Elsie Allen at Santa Rosa, 7:30 p.m.
Willits at Middletown, 7:30 p.m.
Fort Bragg at St. Helena, 7:30 p.m.
Cloverdale at Clear Lake, 7:30 p.m.
Roseland Collegiate at Branson, 4 p.m.
Calistoga at Tomales, 7:30 p.m.
Point Arena at Upper Lake, 7:30 p.m.
Petaluma at Sonoma Valley, 7 p.m.
Roseland University Prep at Crystal Springs (Hillsborough), 4 p.m.
Rincon Valley Christian at Stuart Hall, 2 p.m.
St. Vincent at Madison Park Academy (Oakland), 1 p.m.