Here are my picks…
Last Week: 7-3
Cabrillo at De Anza: Cabrillo allowed a chunk of passing yards last week against Los Medanos. De Anza enters as the second best passing team in the NorCal Conference. Normally that’d be enough to pick De Anza, but I like a bounce-back week by the Seahawks here. This team does not want to fall to 0-2. The defense needs to step up, though, and not surrender the big play. Of the 218 passing yards allowed last week, 114 came on just two scoring plays. De Anza QB Josh McCain has thrown 6 TDs in two games, but also seven INTs. Pick: Cabrillo.
St. Francis at Marina: Could Marina surprise St. Francis here? Sure. They were tied with the Sharks in the second half last year before St. Francis scored 18 unanswered points. It will be interesting to see how Marina comes out here, though, considering they didn’t compete in a 7-on-7 camp in July, didn’t compete in the SCCAL Jamboree in August, didn’t play in their first game against Santa Maria. They are technically coming off a bye. Will they be itching to hit someone and maybe knock St. Francis back on its heels, or will they simply not be ready. Whatever it is, I think St. Francis is must-win mode here, and I like what they did last week when they tried to establish the run with Jonathan Carmona. Pick: St. Francis.
Irvington at Santa Cruz: Another week, another spread-option attack to go up against for the Cardinals. Last week, against Watsonville’s spread option, the Cardinals allowed 44 points and 520 yards. This week they’ll try and slow Ariel Hercik and Jack Shank. I think this is a game Santa Cruz could win. It will be interesting to see what SC pulled from Irvington’s film against Acalanes, which held the Fremont school to just seven points. But while I think this game can help SC in the long run, the defense is still developing. Pick: Irvington.
Scotts Valley at Le Grand: Le Grand won the Sac-Joaquin Division V title last year. Its only loss came to Sierra Canyon in the CIF State Division IV bowl game. The Bulldogs lost some key skill-position guys from that team, but they also returned seven starters on defense, four on offense. It’s going to be another tough test for Scotts Valley, another long distance to travel. Pick: Le Grand.
Watsonville at Aptos: Two teams with a lot to prove. Watsonville wants to come out and show last week’s big win over Santa Cruz was no fluke, Aptos wants to come out and remind everyone that they still own the SCCAL title. Aptos still hasn’t won a game, either, and I see this being their first. The Mariners’ defense, aside from last week against a powerful Oakdale team, was solid against Encinal. I think that might be the difference in this game. Pick: Aptos.
Seaside at Soquel: Easily the biggest game of the nonconference schedule. Two high-powered teams running two different styles of offense. Both expected to win their respective leagues. Playmakers all over the field. Should be fun. I’m giving an oh-so slight edge to Seaside, though. The WRs should cause mismatches, and the line looked impressive at the jamboree. Would I be surprised if Soquel won? No, not at all. They’ll play a physical brand with the double-wing, and they won last year. Pick: Seaside.
MVC at Gilroy: Gilroy is going to compete with MVC. RB Brandon Boyd is leading the area in rushing yards, and Brandon Holler is a solid WR. But I’m wondering if Gilroy’s defense can keep pace with MVC’s offense. MVC has scored 118 points in two games, Gilroy has allowed 83. QB Nick Matiasevich hasn’t even played a full game yet [just two quarters against Del Mar, three quarters against Berean Christian]. I expect Gilroy to play close and score some points, but I think MVC’s offense, especially its ground game [Gilroy has allowed 813 yards rushing], will be the difference. Pick: MVC.
Hillsdale at SLV: As Jim Seimas pointed out earlier this week, SLV rarely plays poorly in back-to-back games. And last week, the defense forced seven turnovers in a loss to Edison [Stockton]. I expect that same defense to carry the Cougars to a win this week. Hillsdale beat SLV a year ago, but they lost the majority of that team — 24 of 37 players. They run the spread, which will be run by varsity newcomer Cole Carrithers. Pick: SLV.
Harbor at Mills: The Pirates are looking to rid themselves of last week’s loss to Stevenson, which ran all over Harbor to the tune of 236 yards. Mills is looking to win its first game this year, and just its second in the last two years. I expect Garrett Fonseca to have a big game, but the Harbor defense needs to step up in order to get a win. Pick: Harbor.
Gonzales at Pajaro Valley: The Grizzlies need to get going offensively early in the game to pull out a victory. Although Anthony Cantrell has been solid, others on P.V. need to step up. The Grizzlies haven’t scored in the first quarter this season, and are being outscored 42-7 in the first half. That needs to change. Pick: Gonzales.