The Examiner breaks down this weeks prep football action.
SAN FRANCISCO SPOTLIGHT GAME
Kennedy (Fremont) (0-0) at Balboa (0-0), Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
An 0-3 record entering conference play last season wasn’t as unsightly as it seemed for Balboa football coach Keith Minor.
The Buccaneers played tough in losses to Kennedy of Fremont and Oakland Tech before dropping a lopsided decision to Bethel in their final nonleague game. And Minor said the experience of lining up against powerful East Bay opponents allowed his team to learn a valuable lesson.
“When I first got here, the powerhouses like Washington had a little bit of an aura about them and it could be intimidating for the kids,” Minor said. “But if you play a Friday night game at Oakland Tech and face teams like JFK, you’re prepared for the intensity of a league game.”
Balboa went on to go 5-2 in Academic Athletic Association play in 2006 and advanced to the playoffs for the third consecutive season. The Bucs open this year once again against Kennedy and Minor expects another tight, physical game.
“They’re always a good, solid team,” Minor said. “And this is turning into a nice little rivalry.”
TODAY’S SAN FRANCISCO GAMES
Mills (0-0) at Lowell (0-0), 3:15 p.m.
The run-first, second and third Cardinals used a surprise pass from Carter Rockwell to seize the momentum just before halftime in a 20-10 win over the Vikings in last year’s season opener. Now, senior Matt Jew will take the snaps for Lowell in its lone nonleague game against a Mills team playing for the first time under new coach Packy Moss.
Sacred Heart Cath. (1-0) at Burlingame (0-0), 7 p.m.
The Irish seem to be solid in the backfield, as quarterback Matt Loftus, running back Dasarte Yarnway and fullback Spencer Cameron combined for 303 yards and three touchdowns in an 18-12 win at Santa Cruz last week. Next in line is Burlingame, which features a dynamic passing attack and a solid defense led by cornerback Landis Nasser.
Lincoln (0-1) at Montgomery (0-0), 7:30 p.m.
A tough team will await the Mustangs when they arrive in Santa Rosa, as the Vikings went 11-2 last year and won the North Bay League’s regular-season title. To win, Lincoln will have to play a cleaner game than it did last week against Gunn of Palo Alto, when it committed five turnovers and allowed a blocked punt in a 28-26 loss.
SATURDAY’S SAN FRANCISCO GAMES
St. Ignatius (1-0) at Marin Catholic (0-0), 1 p.m.
St. Ignatius used a 35-28 win over Marin Catholic in the 2006 season opener as a springboard to a West Catholic Athletic League co-championship and a Central Coast Section title. This year, SI already has built up some momentum based on last week’s impressive 56-0 blanking of Verbum Dei of Los Angeles.
Woodside (0-0) at Riordan (0-1), 1 p.m.
The fresh-faced Wildcats will be challenged right away against a Riordan team that could contend for the WCAL title.
El Camino (0-1) at Washington (0-0), 2 p.m.
Colts quarterback Gerald Maranan threw a last-second touchdown pass as El Camino shocked Washington 12-7 a year ago. New Eagles coach Karl Finley hopes to avoid the same fate in his debut.
South Fork (Miranda) (0-0) at Burton (0-0), 3 p.m.
The host Pumas have perhaps their best team in the six-year history of the program and open up against a South Fork team that went 1-9 and was outscored 274-96 in 2006.
— Matt Elliser
PENINSULA SPOTLIGHT GAME
Serra (1-0) at De La Salle (0-0) (concord), today, 7:30 p.m.
Serra football coach Patrick Walsh recognizes the media blitz that comes with matching up against De La Salle, which is ranked 13th in the nation.
“That’s more about them than it is about us,” Walsh said.
Perhaps that is not entirely accurate though, as Serra — a team that has thrived on the underdog role as it did in its epic game against St. Francis last year — prides itself on being a school poised to compete against powerhouse teams.
“It automatically just pumps us up and gets us ready,” said DeLeon Eskridge, the 2006 West Catholic Athletic League Running Back of the Year. “That’s why it’s always good to play De La [Salle], because they aren’t going to back down.”
After rushing for 81 yards in last week’s 41-7 win over Buchanan of Clovis in the nonleague opener, Eskridge and Co. will indeed have to be ready to charge De La Salle’s lightning-fast defensive front.
De La Salle, where Walsh was a running back in 1991-92, has dominated Serra the last two years, though the Padres made a game of it in a 40-21 loss a season ago.
“They overpowered us,” Walsh said. “Yards were hard to get and our defense didn’t stop them well enough.”
Walsh’s prime objective though is to play the game; not to get caught up in the hoopla of taking on the top team in Northern California.
“It’ll be fun,” Walsh said. “It’s a win-win game for us. It’s the greatest measuring stick that we have [to see where we are to start the season].”
TODAY’S PENINSULA GAMES
Concord (0-0) at Hillsdale (0-0), 3:15 p.m.
The Knights, under first-year coach Brad Zucker, look to improve on their one-win season of a year ago and opened their schedule against a Concord team that snuck into the playoffs last season with a 5-4 league record.
Gunn (san jose) (1-0) at Carlmont (0-0), 3:15 p.m.
Carlmont’s revamped backfield will be tested after boasting the top back in the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean last season. This year, the Scots move up to the tougher Bay Division.
San Mateo (0-0) at Leigh (SAN JOSE) (0-0), 7 p.m.
The Bearcats, winless last year, will go up against a Leigh team that reached the second round of the postseason.
Jefferson (0-0) at Fremont (0-0), 7:30 p.m.
Jeff will look to revamp its line with a coaching staff of all former linemen when it travels to Sunnyvale.
South San Francisco (0-0) at St. Francis (1-0), 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors seek out the tough nonleague schedules and are poised to rematch a St. Francis team that downed South City 26-13 to begin last year.
Terra Nova (0-0) at Wilcox (0-0), 7:30 p.m.
After struggling to score points last season, Terra Nova goes up against a Wilcox team that surrendered just 31 points in four league victories last year.
SATURDAY’S PENINSULA GAMES
Miramonte (ORINDA) (0-0) at Capuchino (0-0), 1 p.m.
The debut of Mustangs coach Chris Chaika will be a daunting one against a Miramonte team that stormed into the third round of the playoffs last season.
Half Moon Bay (0-0) at Prospect (0-0), 1:30 p.m.
Both teams were identical in scoring prowess last season in that they each could explode in any game, but also could be held in check.
Independence (S.J.) (0-0) at Menlo-Atherton (1-0), 2 p.m.
After starting the year with a 21-13 win over Saratoga, M-A takes on an Independence team that was winless last season.
Los Gatos at Aragon, 2 p.m.
The Dons have the deepest set of skill players they have fielded in years to take on a Los Gatos team that traditionally handsAragon one of its only losses every season.
— Terry Bernal