NCS SEMI FINAL PREVIEW: TWO OF THE BEST LOCAL TEAMS PLAY FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP SPOT
The NCS didn’t do the fans any favors by scheduling both local games on the same night. It seems they could have tried to split things up and that probably would have helped the gate of both games. But instead, two games will be played at the same time within five miles of each other. Add to it both Division 3 semi-finals are on Friday night.
Three local teams are left in two divisions. In one division, the showdown the local fans were looking for is here and in the other; the one the section and state is looking forward to is one week away.
DIVISION 3 (BOTH GAMES FRIDAY AT 7 PM)
No. 3 Rancho Cotate (9-3) vs. No. 2 Analy (12-0) at Santa Rosa High School
CAL PREPS PROJECTION: Rancho Cotate by 9
KSRO 1350 AM-103.5 FM GAME OF THE WEEK…BROADCAST TIME 7 PM
FRIDAY 7 PM
No. 4 Bishop O’ Dowd (7-5) at No. 1 Campolindo (11-1)
CAL PREPS PROJECTION: Campolindo by 17
Analy and Rancho Cotate have more in common than controversial wins over Petaluma in the last three weeks.
Both teams also have pretty good offenses, in fact they are the two best scoring teams in the area.
Analy is No. 1 at just under 50 points a game, Rancho Cotate is averaging 42. Analy has scored at least 27 in every game, while Rancho Cotate has scored at least 35, except for a 54-14 loss to Antioch in Week 3.
This is expected to be a high scoring game. The Cal Preps projected score is 40-31 Rancho Cotate.
The deciding factor might be which defense will make that game changing play. Who has that defense is debatable. Numbers wise Analy has the edge, giving up 15 points a game, while Rancho Cotate has given up a little over 24. Those numbers can be deceiving because Rancho Cotate has played a tougher schedule. This is the probably the best offense Analy has played this season. It is a close call with Rancho Cotate who has played Antioch and Cardinal Newman, two teams that are still playing and have averaged over 40 points a game themselves.
Two thirds of Analy’s offensive yardage have come through the air. That is despite most of the games they have played have been so one sided, that they didn’t need to pass in the second half.
Junior quarterback Jack Newman rarely played in the second half and has still passed for over 3,200 yards and has thrown 50 touchdown passes. He has a choice of receivers. Four are over 400 yards in receiving and two of them, Scuyler Van Weele and Osiris Zamora have double figures in touchdown receptions.
Zamora, who is a junior, has also rushed for over 800 yards and has scored 13 touchdowns that way.
Rancho Cotate has more of a balanced offense. Running backs Danny Shelton and Moziah Ward could go over the 1,000 yard mark in this game and have combined for 27 touchdowns.
Quarterback Gunner Mefferd has passed for nearly 2,900 yards and 35 touchdowns. Those are solid numbers, but he has been up and down. He has hit the 300 mark in three games, including in the loss to Cardinal Newman when he threw for a season equaling high of 321 yards and four touchdowns. Then there is the other side. In two games he has passed for 100 yards or less, his worst game was last week’s win over Petaluma in which he threw for 75.
If you want to follow one player and be pretty sure you will see some of the big plays of the game, keep an eye on Rancho Cotate’s Chris Taylor-Yamanoha. The senior showed why he has received so many offers from so many colleges, before settling on Louisville. He has been the leading receiverg for the Cougar,s yardage wise, in all but one game and has caught 20 of the team’s 33 touchdown passes, with at least one in every game. He also rushed for three touchdowns and on defense he has seven of Rancho Cotate’s fourteen interceptions. If you don’t notice No. 6 having an impact one way or the other, Rancho Cotate will be in trouble. It is doubtful you won’t notice him.
These are two proud and successful programs which are used to being in the playoffs and winning games once they get there.
The last time Rancho Cotate missed the playoffs was in 2003. Since then they have 14-11 playoff record and twice they have reached the NCS Championship game. Of course, that doesn’t count 2001 and 2002 when they won back to back NCS Championships. In those two seasons they went a combined 24-1-1 and when mentioning the best local teams of all time, those two teams are near the top of the list.
Speaking of being on the list of best teams of all time, Analy is making its mark. The Tigers have reached the playoffs every season since 2008 and has gone 9-7. The real success has been the last four seasons. Overall they are 47-4 and this is the fourth straight season they have made the semi-finals. In each of the last three, the season has ended in this semi-final round.
This has the looks of being one heck of a high school football game.
No. 3 Fortuna (12-0) at No. 2 Cardinal Newman (10-2)…FRIDAY 7 PM
CAL PREPS PROJECTION: Cardinal Newman by 10
No. 4 Moreau Catholic (11-1) at No. 1 Marin Catholic (10-1)…SATURDAY 1 PM
CAL PREPS PROJECTION: Marin Catholic by 10
The Cardinal Newman-Fortuna game has the same feeling as last week’s Fort Bragg-Marin Catholic game. You have a state power hosting an undefeated team.
There are some similarities between the undefeated teams. This is one of the best teams in Fortuna history. It is the first time in school history that they have won twelve straight games and is their first undefeated team since 1987. That is until they lost to Marin Catholic in the NCS semi-final game that season.
In some ways, that is where the similarity ends. There isn’t much debate on them being in Division 4. According to the North Coast Section the school has over 800 students. The Huskies are in the Del Norte Big 5 League, which is the same league as Eureka. That is a five team league that has four Division 4 teams and one Division 3. They are the only team in the league that finished over .500 and got out of the first round of the playoffs.
Fortuna doesn’t have it stats on MaxPreps, so the information for them is sketchy at best. Last week in a 36-7 win over Piedmont, running back Dante Vigger rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns and as a team they rushed for 285 yards. In the first two playoff games they have outscored opponents 77-7.
Fortuna’s best win was over Orland 21-14 in late September. Orland is 11-1 and is playing for a spot in the state playoffs this week in the Northern Division.
The closest you can compare Cardinal Newman and Fortuna is one matching opponent, who Fortuna played twice. In its league, Fortuna plays some teams twice and one of them was Del Norte and they beat them 37-13 and 47-27. Cardinal Newman met Del Norte to open the season and won easily 62-19.
Fortuna has been in the playoffs since 2007 and has a record of 8-8. In 2013 as a No. 2 seed went to the Division 4 championship game where they lost to No. 5 St. Mary’s 49-21.
Of course Cardinal Newman is used to being here. They have been to the playoffs in every season since 2004 and in that season they were good enough to make the playoffs, but were on probation. Since then they are an incredible 23-7 in the NCS playoffs, has won three section championships and has been to the state championship game twice.
The last time the two teams met was in 2002 with Cardinal Newman taking a 42-12 win. In 2001 Fortuna won 16-7. Both were season openers.
This is expected to be a minor bump in the road before the game with Marin Catholic next week.