Football practices have begun and the familiar sounds of pads colliding, and whistles blowing are back. Let’s take a look at what to expect in the VVAL and NBL this year.

Vine Valley Athletic League:

Vintage is the defending league champion. They rolled to a 6-0 league record. American Canyon and Casa Grande were right on their heels. Those three teams should be back in contentention, as should Napa. The Grizzlies went 0-10 last year, but are expected to rebound. QB Isaiah Newton and TE Brock Bowers will be key forces for the new look Grizzlies. Casa Grande returns with a new head coach, John Antonio. Antonio, a graduate of St Vincent high school and former head coach at Piner, expects the Gauchos to fight for everything this year. Casa Grande finished last year’s regular season on a very high note, defeating Petaluma in an epic Egg Bowl clash. The Gauchos will look to Miguel Robertson to run their offense, with Dom McHale being one of the top targets. American Canyon returns QB Vane Eschenburg to run their triple option offense under John Montante. They also return Linebackers Derrick Conner and Kekoa Wilson, who are now two year varsity veterans on the defensive side. The two lead the Wolves in total tackles last season. Petaluma, who has compiled a 36-19 record over the past 5 seasons under Rick Krist, return Jack Hartman at QB.

Jack Hartman will be a key contributor to the Trojans this season (Photo by Patricia Flores)

He only started one game last year, but it was the biggest one, the Egg Bowl. Hartman’s athleticism will see him at QB running the Trojan triple option offense, and at safety as the leader of the secondary. Jack Santos, another junior, will return to play on the offensive line and middle linebacker. Matt Salyers will anchor both the offensive and defensive line. Justin Siena, and Sonoma Valley round out the league.

North Bay League – Oak

Should we expect nothing less than Rancho Cotate and Cardinal Newman to be at the top of this league this year? Cardinal Newman returns QB Jackson Pavitt, looking to do big things this year. In 2018, he completed 77% of his passes, for 2,494 yards and 30 touchdowns, with only 3 interceptions. The Cardinals return leading rusher from last year, Shane Moran, and their third leading rusher, Clay Woo. They’ll be without their top 3 recievers from last year, but have Giancarlo Woods and Moran able to step into that role. Rancho Cotate also returns some big players from last season, including QB Jared Stocker. He completed 65% of his throws for 2,522 yards with 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. They also return their two leading rushers, Rasheed Rankin and Sumari Jones. Rankin rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. The Cougars air game this year should go through receiver Jack Reese. Reese caught 5 touchdowns for 215 yards on limited targets, since he was behind the likes of Connor Barbato, Riley Cronin, and Ryan Hupp. Analy, Windsor, Maria Carrillo and Ukiah round out the league.

North Bay League – Redwood

The Montgomery Vikings won the NBL-Redwood championship last year, going 4-0. The Vikings return Cole Hallin at QB, who completed 47% of his throws last year for 9 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. They lost a lot of talent on the perimeter. BJ Johnson, who is off to San Jose State University on a scholarship, Khameron Perkins, who also had time at QB, and Kaih Johnson. They’ll rely on Devin Rameriez to give them key yards on the outside. He’ll also be relied upon on defense as well as Joe Martinez. Santa Rosa will have QB Trevor Anderson back under center. Roman Correa and Randy Clay will be relied upon as weapons for Anderson on the offensive side. They’ll also see plenty of time on defense with Kent Gamble giving them a hand. Healdsburg, Piner, and El Molino round out the league.

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