If you get any lessons from the pre-league part of the schedule, one would be- schedule carefully.
We have talked before about how some teams schedule a big time pre-league schedule, hoping things go right and they will have a state playoff berth in their future.  How you schedule does matter in that process.  One example of that is the 2011 Windsor team who went 14-0 and still didn’t make the state playoffs.
If I was running a program the last thing in my mind would be making the state playoffs.  There are too many “if” factors that have nothing to do with what happens on the field.  One of the “if” factors is the perception of how good people think you are.
Now I can’t blame some programs for scheduling with the state playoffs in mind.   Cardinal Newman has been to the state playoffs twice and in the last two years if Rancho Cotate and Casa Grande win their NCS Title games, they probably go too.
Probably is the key word, because when the meeting happens, you never know what they are going to decide.  Again look at the 2011 Windsor team and how that meeting worked out for them.
I could go on about what I think about the state playoff system, but it really gets away from the point of this which is scheduling for an attempt at success.
There were two games last week that were played that had me wondering what the purpose of playing them was.   The scores were predictable and really I’m not sure how that helps either program for league play.
Those two games were Santa Rosa-Deer Valley and Ukiah-Sutter.  If I’m those two programs I am getting out of that series now and looking at other possibilities.  Sonoma County League or NCL I teams would be more like it.
Maybe they should take an example of Petaluma who did schedule for success.   In the opening week the Trojans edged Santa Rosa 13-12.  Both of those programs are trying to get some footing.  Petaluma is going into league play 3-1, while Santa Rosa is 0-3.  The difference is all about who they scheduled.   There is little doubt that if the schedules were reversed, so would the records.
Good job to Petaluma.
No. 1 Analy (3-0) at McClymonds (Oakland) (3-0)
Yes, with league play starting the game of the week is the only non-league game.
With all the league openers, this makes the Game of the Week because it maybe the biggest game in Analy Football history.  If they win it they will have bigger ones.
Let’s assume that Analy wins the SCL.  I know what assume can mean, but it is not that big of an assumption.  If you ask anyone who is the favorite to take home the SCL crown they would say Analy.  The YSN365.com rankings have Analy at No. 1.  The closest SCL team to them is Petaluma at No. 9.  The PD rankings pick five big schools.  Analy at No. 1 is the only SCL team mentioned.
If Analy doesn’t win the SCL it will be considered one of the big all-time upsets.
Now of course, that isn’t what makes this game what might be the biggest in Analy football history.  Who they are playing and what could be at stake is.
Analy is meeting McClymonds of Oakland, who made the Division 4 Nor Cal Championship game last season, losing to Central Catholic 17-14.   They are hoping to go to at least that game this season.  Right now in the Division 4 power rankings, they are No. 2 behind Central Catholic.  So I guess you could say if the season ended today they would be in the Division 4 Nor Cal Title Game.
That leads us to Analy.  They are hoping for a state playoff berth too.   This is a must win for them for that hope to remain.    Right now they are No. 4 in the Division 3 power rankings.   If they do win the SCL, that isn’t going to help much in the power rankings.   This is a playoff game for them two months before the real playoffs.
Analy could end up as the same shoes as the Windsor team of 2011.  They could run the table and still not make it.  So to stay in the hunt they need to go undefeated.
For this game, if you go by power ratings, Analy has the edge.
If you go by human ratings the edge goes to McClymonds.  An example of that is the Chronicle rankings.  In its Bay Area Top 25 McClymonds is No. 15, while Analy, the only local ranked. is at No. 21.
Both teams are 3-0 and both teams are hoping the season ends with a state playoff game.
This game will decide if they still have hope.
NORTH BAY LEAGUE (All Games Friday)
Ukiah (1-2) at No. 2 Windsor (3-0)
Casa Grande (0-3) at No. 3 Rancho Cotate (1-2)
Santa Rosa (0-3) at No. 4 Cardinal Newman (1-2)
No. 5 Maria Carrillo (2-1) at No. 6 Montgomery (1-2) 
The league has taken a bit of a hit because of a pre-league play.  Windsor and Maria Carrillo are the only teams over .500.  The rest of them are not only under .500, but most have had one sided losses.
Forget about all of that.
Before the season one NBL Coach was quoted as saying that two losses could get a championship.  To say that that would be rare would be an understatement.  The last NBL champion that didn’t go undefeated in league play was Cardinal Newman in 2003 when they went 6-1.    That a coach thinks that two losses might get you a league title tells you how balanced he thinks the league is.
The defending champion is Casa Grande.  The Gauchos have started a very unlike Casa 0-3.  Casa Grande hasn’t lost more than four games this century.  Is it because of what the power rankings tells us is the toughest pre-league schedule in the NBL or is it a rare down year?   Friday might be a clue when they travel to Rancho Cotate.
Speaking of Rancho, they are the only team in the league outside of undefeated Windsor,  who hasn’t been defeated by more than three touchdowns.  They are also the only team besides Windsor that has scored more points than they have given up.
This is the third season that Windsor has been in the NBL.  The first two seasons they went 3-4 in league play.  Each season they had one sided wins over Ukiah.
After opening against Santa Rosa, Cardinal Newman will play its next three games on the road.
Defense has been the key for both Maria Carrillo and Montgomery in the games they have won.   In their two wins the Pumas have given up an average of 13.5 a game.  In the Vikings only win, they defeated Dublin 18-7.
Defense in their win isn’t the only thing the two teams have in common.  Both are happy to have Analy in the rear view mirror.
No. 9 Petaluma (3-1) at Sonoma Valley (0-3)
El Molino (2-2) at Healdsburg (0-4)
Elsie Allen (0-4) at Piner (2-2)
Analy is the large shadow over the SCL, but they have the league bye so the other teams get opening night to themselves.  If I am the other teams, I wouldn’t worry about what Analy is doing until they are on the schedule.
Petaluma is the only team besides Analy that is over .500 and they don’t have to worry about Analy for a long time.  The two meet on November 7h in Petaluma.  That is the last week of league play.
Sonoma Valley is 9-3 in SCL play over the last two seasons.   Besides the two losses to Analy, the other was a 24-21 loss to Petaluma which was the last game of league play last year.  The loss cost Sonoma Valley a second place finish.
Sonoma Valley, along with Healdsburg and Elsie Allen is trying to get its first win.
According to the power rankings, Healdsburg has had the second toughest pre-league schedule of the SCL teams.  Only Analy has had a tougher one.
The two wins is as many wins as El Molino won last season and one more then they won in 2012.  This is El Molino’s first game that isn’t against an NCL I team.
NCL I (All Games Friday)
No. 7 St. Helena (3-0) at Kelseyville (3-0)
No. 8 Fort Bragg (2-1) at Lower Lake (2-1)
Willits (2-1) at No. 10 Middletown (2-1)
Cloverdale (2-1) at Clear Lake (3-0)
Where this league is going is anyone’s guess.  The league does have one claim that it can stick its chest out on.  There are seventeen leagues in the North Coast Section and this is the only league that every team finished over .500 in pre-league play.  Part of the reason for that goes under the heading of scheduling for an attempt at success (see above).
Kelseyville will try to reverse a trend from last season in which they also started 3-0.  Like this season they opened against St. Helena and dropped a 42-12 decision.
St. Helena is 19-2 in NCL I play over the last three seasons.    They are also ranked No. 5 in the State Division 4 Nor Cal ratings.
The other undefeated team is Clear Lake, who has outscored its opponents and average of 41-4.  Clear Lake hasn’t finished over .500 since 2009 when they went 6-5.
Middletown opened the season with a 33-7 loss to Salesian.  Since then they have given up seven points combined in wins over two SCL teams.
My email address is jacpasquini@comcast.net