Piedmont (2-2) @ Lincoln (1-0), Saturday, 2 p.m.
One of the Mustangs’ firmest tests during their current 18-game winning streak was their game against Piedmont last year, a 44-34 win that established Lincoln as a team with capabilities far beyond winning the Academic Athletic Association title. Sure enough, the Mustangs haven’t been beaten since, and the only game they’ve played that’s been closer was a product of a waterlogged field.
One interesting obstacle the Mustangs will have to face on Saturday is the enormous gap in game experience between them and the Highlanders. Lincoln has played just a scrimmage and one official game thus far, a 32-6 win over Capuchino back on Aug. 31. Since then, the Mustangs have taken back-to-back bye weeks, one of which was planned and one of which was the product of a scheduling snafu.
“I think it’s actually worked in our favor since we’re light on numbers,” Lincoln head coach Phil Ferrigno said. “It’s allowed us to stay healthy.”
The Mustangs were supposed to face Mt. Eden, but with an extra team joining the Monarchs’ league, the game was scrapped, meaning Lincoln will face a Piedmont team that’s already played four games. The North Coast Section season starts a week earlier than San Francisco’s, meaning Piedmont has already established its identity under new head coach John Trotman, who took the job in August after the prior head coach took an unexpected work promotion.
So far, the Highlanders have played just one close game, a 14-12 win over Fairfield-Rodriguez. They blew out Menlo School 31-6 and suffered a pair of lopsided defeats to strong teams in Justin-Siena and Salesian.
Of all the battles to take place on the field Saturday afternoon, perhaps the best one will be in the trenches as Lincoln’s Leo Gallegos tries to match Piedmont star lineman Patrick Selna, a 6-foot-6, 255-pound UCLA commit.
Mission (0-3) @ Oakland (2-1),
Friday, 7 p.m.
Despite three losses to open up the year, the Bears have been competitive in every game against quality opponents, and should they figure out how to replace last year’s offensive production, they’ll be a serious force. Mission has yet to break 20 points in a game, but the defense has been promising in all three games so far, allowing just 21 points to Sequoia last week. While Mission has been in close games, Oakland has exclusively played in blowouts, losing for the first time last week at Mitty. With the Wildcats already crushing Galileo, and Mission losing a tight but sloppy affair to Oakland Tech, there’ll be plenty of intrigue on both sides of the Bay Bridge as teams try to evaluate their opponents before league play begins.
Burton (2-0) @ St. Vincent de Paul (3-1), Saturday, 2 p.m.
The Pumas are rolling through their nonleague schedule, just as they did last year, but they’ll be facing arguably their toughest test of September as they head up to Petaluma to face one of the more consistent small-school programs in the North Coast Section. Last year, the Mustangs snapped their three-year string of losing seasons and gave reason to believe they’re returning to the form they showed at the start of the decade, including an NCS Championship appearance in 2012.
Balboa (0-2) @ Arcata (1-2),
Friday, 7 p.m.
Points have been tough to come by so far this season for the Buccaneers, who are without star running back AJ Velasquez for the season, after the senior tore his meniscus and ACL in practice. If there’s a team to reverse that trend against, it’s the Tigers, who are coming off a 20-7 win over Willits but had allowed 49 points in each of their prior two games. Should Balboa be able to settle in after a long bus trip, the first win of the season could certainly be in the cards.
Harbor (1-2) @ Lowell (1-1-1),
Saturday, 2 p.m.
With just one win last year, the Cardinals have already demonstrated tremendous progress and seem to have found a go-to running back in Benjamin Ng, who carried 38 times for 205 yards in last week’s tie with Harker. This week, Lowell will welcome a Pirates team that’s perennially been towards the bottom of the Central Coast Section this decade and has a win over a Lynbrook team that’s spent most of the decade in the same tier. Harbor will enter this week battle-tested, though. The Pirates faced Nevada Union last week and were handed a 73-0 beating by a foe that’ll likely be by far the toughest on their schedule.
Galileo (0-3) @ Rio Vista (4-0),
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Rams and Lions have become familiar with each other since meeting in the Northern California 6-A Championship in 2017, which Galileo won 20-14. Rio Vista got a minor level of revenge last year with a 54-30 win in San Francisco, and the teams will meet in the Delta on Friday night. Returning to the site of their NorCal championship will give the Lions another chance for first-year head coach Lamar Williams to notch his first victory, one that won’t come easy against a team that’s averaging 42.5 points per game so far this year.