The Examiner breaks down this weeks prep football action.
SAN FRANCISCO GAME OF THE WEEK
Lowell (6-0, 5-0 AAA) at Lincoln (5-3, 4-0), 3 p.m.
Motivation and rushing attempts will not be in short supply when the Academic Athletic Association’s top two teams meet. Lowell has a bye next week while the Mustangs finish up against winless Galileo, meaning the victor will likely claim the league’s regular-season title and earn the No. 1 seed in the San Francisco Section playoffs.
Lincoln has not beaten the Cardinals during the regular season in any of coach Phil Ferrigno’s six years at the helm, but the Mustangs have found a way to win when it counts, knocking Lowell out of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.
Running backs David Henderson (Lincoln) and Bismark Navarro (Lowell) get the headlines, but this will likely be decided in the trenches and on special teams. The Cardinals love onside kicks and, if they control the ball after a long scoring drive, it can be devastating for the opposing defense. For Lincoln, wide receiver-safety Mike Paolucci has a knack for making plays in big games.
Galileo (0-5, 0-4 AAA) at Mission (3-3, 1-3), 3 p.m., SOTA
Winless in league play a week ago, the Bears now control their own playoff destiny after defeating Burton 32-20 on Saturday. A victory over the winlessLions would set up a potential make-or-break game next week against Balboa.
St. Ignatius (4-4-1, 0-4-1 WCAL) at Bellarmine (8-0, 4-0), 7 p.m., San Jose City College
The Wildcats look to play spoiler against a Bells team that can clinch its first outright West Catholic Athletic League title since 1995. Bellarmine is led by star running back Usua Amanam (962 yards, 12 TDs), while SI quarterback Abe Waziri is second in the conference in passing yards with 1,247.</p>
Sonoma Valley (6-1-1) at Sacred Heart Cath. (5-3), 7 p.m., Kezar Stadium
Another tough game for the Irish as the Dragons are tied for first in the Sonoma County League and forced six turnovers in last week’s 25-13 win over Analy. Sacred Heart is looking for a victory in its final home game of the year.
Riordan (5-3, 2-2 WCAL) at St. Francis (4-3-1, 2-2), 7:30 p.m.
Daniel Cannon has 29 receptions in WCAL play with two games left for the Crusaders and is just eight shy of the record Pat McGlennon set 40 years ago at Serra. The Lancers are coming off an impressive 33-0 win over St. Ignatius in which quarterback Sam Scudellari went 12-for-12 for 169 yards and four touchdowns.
Burton (1-7, 1-3 AAA) at Balboa (2-6, 1-3), 2 p.m.
A virtual playoff elimination game for teams that have each lost three consecutive AAA games. Running back-linebacker Gen Kurakata is Balboa’s steady leader, while Burton quarterback Lonnell Britton is always a threat to throw deep.
— Matt Elliser
PENINSULA GAME OF THE WEEK
Carlmont (1-7, 0-6 PAL Bay) at Menlo School (5-3, 3-3), 2:45 p.m.
The records may not show it, but this is a huge game for Menlo School as the Knights hope to bolster their résumé for the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division playoffs.
For Menlo, winning its final two games shouldn’t be a problem, facing a pair of last-place teams in Carlmont and Jefferson. To be considered for an at-large bid for the Central Coast Section playoffs, however, the Knights also need some help from their nonleague opponent Sacred Heart Prep as Menlo will receive additional power point should SHP capture the Bay Football League title.
“We’re definitely a bubble team,” Menlo coach Mark Newton said. “We obviously have to win out.”
Newton said he will occasionally utilize senior Matt Corley at quarterback to spell starter Travis Boyce, who figures to lead the PAL Bay in passing. Also, Jerry Rice Jr. scored his second touchdown via kickoff return last week, an 85-yard runback.
FRIDAY'S PAL BAY GAMES
South City (2-6, 2-4) at Menlo-Atherton (7-1, 5-0), 2:45 p.m.
The Bears keep cruising along and finish their league schedule with a pair of teams with just three wins between them. South San Francisco couldn’t hold off Terra Nova last week, even with a lead after three quarters.
Burlingame (2-5-1, 2-3-1) at Woodside (2-6, 1-4), 7 p.m.
Woodside coach Steve Nicolopulos admits his team has struggled defensively this season, but an anemic Burlingame offense has suffered one of the lowest point totals in the Bay.
“We’ve had a little bit of trouble stopping people this season,” Nicolopulos said, “so it should be a good game.”
Terra Nova (4-3-1, 4-1-1) at Aragon (6-2, 5-1), 7:30 p.m., Burlingame High
Even though the two teams have already clinched CCS berths, this game will loom large in playoff seeding.
“It’s probably the difference betweenhosting and not hosting [the first round of the playoffs],” Aragon coach Steve Sell said.
FRIDAY’S PAL OCEAN GAMES
El Camino (6-2, 6-0) at Hillsdale (2-6, 2-4), 2:45 p.m.
Having already wrapped up the Ocean Division title, El Camino finishes its league schedule this week. Six-foot-3 defensive end Aaron McNab led the Colts’ defense in a first-half shutout last week and will look to shut down Knights running back Jerrel Brown, who busted out for 181 rushing yards against San Mateo.
Jefferson (0-8, 0-6) at Mills (2-6, 2-3), 2:45 p.m.
Mills is coming off two straight loses and a modest 56-yard outing from tailback Josh Uikilifi in last week’s loss to El Camino. Look for this to be a more prosperous running matchup, with underrated Jefferson running back Fabian Fiorentini coming off a 152-yard performance against Sequoia.
San Mateo (3-5, 3-3) at Capuchino (2-6, 2-3), 2:45 p.m.
After a winless season last year, San Mateo has an opportunity to finish above .500 in league play with a win in its Ocean finale. Cap is no pushover though. Remember, just three weeks ago it was battling El Camino for top spot in the Ocean, but have since lost three straight.
Sequoia (4-4, 4-2) at Half Moon Bay (4-4, 4-2), 7 p.m.
Second place in the Ocean is simply a standing of pride, as it is not a playoff qualifier, but it should make for one of the best matchups of the week in both teams’ Ocean finale. Sequoia is coming off another high-scoring win, a 47-21 dismissal of Jefferson. Half Moon Bay scored 44 points itself last week, so look for this one to be a slugfest.
— Terry Bernal