As the North Coast Section Football playoffs move into the second round we welcome the Concord Minutemen back to Sonoma County.   They have become a yearly headline this time of year and turning into a Sonoma County Playoff rivalry.  The headlines haven’t always been good and they come in with a swagger that rubs some people the wrong way.

What you think about them, you can’t take away that the way they do things work for them.

We have talked all year how Piner has turned its program around.  Concord has done the same thing from a lower point then Piner started at and has taken it to a highest level. 

In 2001 they went 0-10. The next three seasons were back to back to back 1-9 seasons.  The last of those seasons was the first for head coach Brian Hamilton.   Two years later they were in the NCS playoffs.   In 2008 they finished over .500, in 2009 they won a league title and in 2010 they won a section title.

Concord made their first playoff Sonoma County appearance in 2008, traveling to Casa Grande and lost 38-12.  We didn’t know it at the time but that was the start of something.

Since then they have played at least one Sonoma County team in every year since then except in 2009.  In 2010 instead of coming here, the Sonoma County teams had to go there.  That is because they had a quarterback rewriting the school record book and led them to a 9-1 record and a No. 1 seed.

In the second round Maria Carrillo lost 46-20.

In the semi-finals it was Casa Grande again.   Concord led 26-0 in the fourth quarter and held on for a 26-21 win.  That game made headlines because of some minor pushing and shoving after the game.

Concord then won the school’s first ever NCS championship in an epic game at the Oakland Coliseum defeating Rancho Cotate 40-37.  When people ask me what is the best game I have ever been to, that is the one I think of first.

In 2011 the quarterback that broke school records had graduated.  In 2012 they had a running back who rewrote the record book.   They were a No. 7 seed and marched all the way to the NCS Championship game and traveled to Santa Rosa High School where Windsor finished off its undefeated season with a thrilling 28-20.  The week before they went to Rancho Cotate and took a 24-14.

Last year they went to where this Concord-Sonoma County thing started and that is at Casa Grande, where they took a 14-6 win.   Concord is 5-2 against Sonoma County teams since they first started the series of games in 2007.   There was also one regular season game that opened the 2011 season with Cardinal Newman taking a home 35-6 win.

The way Concord plays the game makes it a nightmare for coaches preparing for them.  That is because things you take for granted in most games you can’t take for granted against Concord. 

It starts with the basic thing that starts the game and that is the kickoff.  Concord could try an onside kick, not only on the one to start the game, but any kickoff during the game no matter the score.  So a team has to prepare for onside kicks.

If they are kicking off that means they have probably just score.   That means they scored a touchdown, because they don’t kick field goals.   That also means they had just tried a two point conversion because they don’t place kick period.   So a team has to prepare for two point conversion.

Heck they could fake a punt at anytime.   They don’t like to kick the ball period. If they could figure out a way to do a kickoff without the kick they would do that.

They are a fun team to watch, but if you are rooting for the other team, they that makes you nervous just the way they play the game.

I can live without its pre-game ceremony at midfield, but I wish more teams played the game the way they did.


Jalen Roman, Windsor…His hands were all over the first round win over Rancho Cotate.  He caught nine balls for 138 yards.  One of the catches went for 30 yards and set up a touchdown.  Another went for forty and a score.  He also put the game away with a 100 yard interception return with five minutes left in the 36-10 win.



No. 5 Concord (8-3) at No. 4 Montgomery (9-2)

CAL PREPS PROJECTION:  Montgomery by 5

No. 7 Las Lomas (7-4) at No. 2 Clayton Valley (10-1)

CAL PREPS PROJECTION:  Clayton Valley by 12


No. 9 Windsor (6-5) at No. 1 Casa Grande (11-0)


No. 6 Northgate (9-2) at No. 3 Miramonte (9-2)


In the series of Concord-Sonoma County team games this is the first time they play Montgomery.  That is because Montgomery has fallen back during Concord’s rise.  The only time that Montgomery made the playoffs since 2008 was in 2009. Tthe Vikings went to the NCS Championship game before losing to Eureka.   A second round game was set up between No. 6 Concord and No. 3 Montgomery.  Concord lost its opening game to Clayton Valley 48-28 to spoil that.

When talking about recent Concord above it was mentioned they had a big time quarterback one year and a big time running back the next.

This season they have both.

Quarterback Mitch Daniels has passed for over 2,900 yards and thrown 39 touchdown passes. That is an average of three a game and he has thrown at least four in five of the last six games.

The only game he didn’t throw at least four he didn’t throw any.  In that game running back Malik Blackburn, who has rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and scored fifteen of the team’s 18 touchdowns during the regular season, scored four in that game which was a 35-26 loss to College Park.

Both Daniels and Blackburn are junior as is the team’s leading receiver Mason Knight.

By the way Concord is 23 of 53 in two point conversions this season.  Remember they never kick the extra point.  It could be a tie with :10 left and they would go for two.

The other loss for Concord was to No. 2 seed Clayton Valley 49-48.

After a forgettable game in which they were shutout at Windsor to end the regular season, Montgomery bounced back with a shutout win over American in the opening round of the playoffs.

Logan Francavilla is one yard away from the 1,400 yard rushing mark and has scored 21 rushing touchdowns.

Montgomery welcomed back Elijah Higgs to the offensive in the win over American.  Higgs started the season as the starting quarterback before separating a shoulder.  He returned as a wide receiver and made an instant impact, catching four balls for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Junior RJ Flores, who has been the quarterback since the Higgs injury, has passed for over 1,300 yards and thrown 12 touchdown passes.  He has had his best passing games of the season two of the last three games.

Montgomery’s shutout loss to Windsor doesn’t seem as bad now.  Windsor advanced to the second round with a dominating 32-10 win over Rancho Cotate.   Windsor has won four of six with the two losses coming to Cardinal Newman and Casa Grande in wild games.

The win over Rancho Cotate sets up a Windsor-Casa Grande rematch.  Casa Grande won the first game 42-28 just three weeks ago.   That was the game Casa running back John Porchivinia rushed for a school record 301`yards.  Casa Grande scored the first two touchdowns of the game and it was a back and forth game after that.

Windsor has got it going scoring wise.  Since they lost to Maria Carrillo 21-14 which was its second loss that started league play, the least amount of points they have scored is 24.  The 28 points against Casa Grande is the second highest they have given up.


Montgomery vs. Casa Grande-Windsor winner



No. 5 Cardinal Newman (8-3) at No. 4 Analy (10-1)




No. 7 Acalanes (8-3) at No. 2 Campolindo (10-0)

CAL PREPS PROJECTION:  Campolindo by 17


No. 8 Eureka (9-2) at No. 1 Marin Catholic (10-0)—1 PM

CAL PREPS PROJECTION: Marin Catholic by 40

No. 11 Novato (5-6) vs. No. 3 El Cerrito (9-2) at DeAnza High School


You don’t necessarily use the playoffs to make a point.  It is all about winning and moving on.

Analy can do both at once.

Since its game three 25-13 loss to Miramonte, Analy has been about as dominating as a team can be.  But they have barely cracked the regional rankings.

It is something the local teams are used to, so it isn’t all about Analy.  For example, in the human Bay Area polls, No. 15 is the highest Casa Grande and its 11-0 record is.

The reason is that the Sonoma County doesn’t have much respect and the SCL has even less. Never mind the league has two other teams playing this weekend and never mind that Analy went on the road to beat D3 powerhouse Campolindo in this round last season.   Oh and yes, they started the season this season with a win over Pittsburg who is seeded No. 2 in the Division 1 playoffs behind DeLaSalle.

Analy couldn’t have asked for much of a better opponent to get some respect in both the regional and the local world.  There are few teams that have the track record that Cardinal Newman has and no team in the local area can match it.

This isn’t one of Cardinal Newman’s better teams.  It is the first team that Paul Cronin has had since he started coaching the school in 2003 that took more than one NBL loss.  Both of the teams they lost to have home games this weekend.

Analy started the season with the win over Pittsburg, which was one of the biggest win in school history. 

You can make a case this playoff game with Cardinal Newman would be on that list if they get this win.



No. 5 St. Mary’s (7-4) at No. 4 St. Helena (9-2)


No. 10 Piedmont (6-5) at No. 2 Fortuna (8-2)



No. 9 Piner (6-5) at No. 1 San Marin (8-2)…1 pm


No. 11 Del Norte (5-6) at No. 3 Healdsburg (6-4)

CAL PREPS PROJECTION:  Healdsburg by 10

Three of the four games in this semi-final bracket have local teams.

After St. Helena takes its shot on Friday, it is SCL day on Saturday.

St. Helena is the second straight NCL I playoff opponent for St. Mary’s.   Last week they defeated Fort Bragg 48-13.  That compares about even when St. Helena met Fort Bragg in league on October 25th and took a 47-7 win.

St. Mary’s has a balanced attack. Quarterback Ian Bonde needs two yards to go over the 2,000 yard mark and has thrown 23 touchdowns.  Running back Lorenzo Logwood went over the 1,000 yard mark last week  and scored his 15th touchdown. 

St. Helena also played a NCL I team in its playoff opener defeating Kelseyville 47-20.  Running back Sebastian Segura rushed for a school record 270 yards to go over 1,600 for the season.   He also scored four touchdowns to give him 18.

Piner goes to part two of the dreaded No. 9 seed.    Part one was going on the road to try to get a tough win.  That was accomplished.

Part two is a trip to the No. 1 seed.   This No. 1 is San Marin who was the clearest choice of any No. 1 seed this side of De La Salle and as big of favorite to win the section.  After getting a first round bye, they have been sitting around for two weeks since they were hammered in Marin County League Championship game by Marin Catholic 49-14.

San Marin is led by quarterback Manny Wilkins, who has committed to play college ball at Arizona State.

Like San Marin, Healdsburg hasn’t played in two weeks as they also had a first round bye.

They meet Del Norte who upset No. 6 Justin Siena 14-6 last week.   They are one of four double seeds that made it to the second round and one of two teams that need a win to get to the .500 mark.

The win over Justin Siena was the first of the season for Del Norte over a team that is over .500.

Keep an eye on the only game that doesn’t involve a local team.  No. 10 Piedmont won its first round game in a wild 54-50 win over Moreau Catholic.  In the game running back Jason Hunt broke a NCS rushing record by going for 473 yards.  He did that in 51 carries and also scored five touchdowns.



No. 5 Salesian (6-5) at No. 1 Middletown (10-1)

CAL PREPS PROJECTION: Middletown by 16

No. 3 Ferndale (8-3) vs. No. 2 Valley Christian (8-3) at Chabot College

CAL PREPS PROJECTION: Valley Christian by 10

Salesian and Middletown can’t seem to get away from each other.  After meeting twice in the Division 4 playoffs in a four years period, they both move to Division 5 and here they are again.

Middletown has started its season against Salesian  every year since 2006 and it has been a series dominated by Salesian.

The few times that Middletown has won the game between the two, bad news soon followed.  The only game that Middletown has officially won was the 2008 season opener by a one sided score of 49-20.  Later that season in the first of the two meetings in the playoffs Salesian defeated Middletown 22-21.

The other playoff game the two teams met in was the 2010 Division 4 championship game which Salesian rallied from a 21-7 deficit to take the title 28-21 in overtime.

At the beginning of this season, Middletown defeated Salesian 21-14 for what looked like its second win over Salesian in the ten they have played since 2006.  Wrong.  Middletown played an illegal player and they had to forfeit the game.

So here they are again.

Since that opening game, Middletown has dominated, outscoring opponents an average of 45-3.

Salesian has struggled at times this season, but looked like a championship contender last week, defeating St. Vincent 42-21.

To say Middletown is due for some good news in its series against Salesian is an understatement.

Maybe this will be the time.



Modesto (5-5) at SRJC (6-4)


SRJC is rewarded with a bowl game that they are hosting.

They are meeting Modesto who finished in a three way tie for second in the Valley league one game behind league champion Fresno.

Expect some points.  Modesto has scored at least 60 points in three games and has given up 60 in two others. 

The two teams have three common opponents which SRJC went 2-1 against while Modesto lost all three games.   The win for SRJC was 30-23 over Fresno.

The football game is part of a busy day at SRJC.   Both the Women and Men soccer teams are hosting first round state playoff games.  The No. 5 Woman game is at 11 am against No. 12 Ohlone.  The No. 3 Men play at 2 pm against No. 14 Merritt.

The big day for SRJC ends with the Men basketball team hosting San Francisco at 7:30.  SRJC has started its season 3-3 with two of the losses to San Francisco who are 5-1.

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