By Ray Hamill — Both Del Norte and St. Bernard’s will be facing a little of the unknown this weekend, when they match up with teams from outside their section in the NorCal Regional playoffs.
Del Norte (12-1) will play at King’s Academy (10-3) in Sunnyvale, while St. Bernard’s (10-3) will play East Nicolaus (12-1) in Yuba City.
Both games will take place on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
But what can each expect against opponents they know little about?
St. Bernard’s vs. East Nicolaus
The Crusaders will be going up against a Spartans program well used to playing at this time of the year, and one that will be making a fifth straight appearance in the NorCal Regional playoffs, having now won five consecutive section titles.
Coincidently, East Nicolaus and St. Bernard’s each won a state title in 2015.
Head coach Travis Barker has built a dynasty of sorts at East Nicolaus in his six years in charge, winning 13 games in each of the past four years.
Offensively, the Spartans like to run the ball, and they do so well with a dangerous dual threat quarterback, senior Gavin Mcauliff, similar to St. Bernard’s Will Omey.
Mcauliff has rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season, while passing for an average of 116 yards a game and a total of 34 touchdowns.
He gets plenty of help on the ground from an offense that is averaging over 300 yards rushing a game and features four players with at least 500 yards this fall, including senior JT Stinson who has 856 yards and 12 touchdowns at an average of 7.8 a carry.
In three playoff games, the Spartans are averaging more than 52 points and have four receivers who have put up decent numbers all season.
Defensively, they rely heavily on a pair of sophomore linebackers, Garrett McCray and Jayden Bendure, who each have more than 100 tackles this year.
WHEN — Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE — At River Valley High School in Yuba City (just north of Sacramento).
RECORDS — The Crusaders are 10-3 and NCS Division-6 champions. The Spartans are 12-1 and are North Section Division-4 champions.
RADIO — MIX 95.1 FM
STREAMING — NFHS Network
TICKETS — Available here at GoFan.com.
Del Norte vs. King’s Academy
The Warriors won’t have to worry about a dual threat quarterback, but they will have to contain a dangerous offense if they are to move on to next week’s state bowl games.
The Knights have a two-pronged rushing attack that has put up big numbers on the way to a Central Coast Section championship, their second straight section title.
Senior running back Jayden Frazier has close to half of his team’s carries this season, rushing 176 times for 1,052 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Frazier also is a threat receiving and has 26 catches for 301 yards and three more TDs.
More recently, junior running back Noah Short has emerged as a second threat out of the offensive backfield, rushing for 541 yards and six TDs, much of that in recent weeks.
“Stopping those two kids is really important,” Del Norte head coach Nick White said.
Junior quarterback Antonio Gonzalez throws for 128.7 yards a game (1,673 yards and 15 TDs for the season), with four receivers putting up decent numbers.
Gonzalez, however, has also thrown nine interceptions.
Defensively, the Knights rely heavily on linebackers Short and senior Zach Lewman, the team’s two leading tacklers.
WHEN — Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE — At King’s Academy High in Sunnyvale (just north of San Jose).
RECORDS — The Warriors are 12-1 and NCS Division-5 champions. The Knights are 10-3 and Central Coast Section Division-III champions.
RADIO — KPOD 99.7 FM
STREAMING —NFHS Network
TICKETS — Available at GoFan.com.