Area high school football teams start all over again this week.
After what were tough pre-league schedules, local teams get down to the serious business of league play this weekend. And, it will all be different for Petaluma, Casa Grande, St. Vincent and Tomales.
Casa Grande opens league play with a familiar opponent, going to Santa Rosa Friday night to face Montgomery's Vikings. Over the years, the two schools have developed an intense, but friendly, rivalry on the football field.
What is different this season is that their meeting is a league game, as Casa Grande joins the North Bay League for the first time.
Petaluma remains in the Sonoma County League, but will have a new opponent as it hosts Piner Friday night. Piner is moving from the NBL to the SCL.
St. Vincent and Tomales both begin play in the all-new North Central League II/Bay Football League, a hybrid NCL II league that now includes small-school teams from the East Bay.
St. Vincent starts at home with an early evening (5 p.m. kickoff) game against Stellar Prep from Hayward while Tomales begins its league season Saturday afternoon at St. Elizabeth in Oakland.
New league, old rivalry
The only thing new about the Casa Grande vs. Montgomery game at Montgomery is the league. The Gaucho and Vikings are longtime intense rivals, and it doesn't much matter what their records are going into the game.
Last year, Casa Grande enjoyed a 9-4 season, while Montgomery was a disappointing 3-8, and yet the Gauchos had to battle furiously to pull out a 14-10 win.
This season Casa is 2-1 going into the game, while Montgomery stands 1-2. However the team's are coming off distinctively different games. The Gauchos were idle last week after suffering a disappointing 35-14 loss to Napa. Montgomery, after losing back-to-back to Pinole Valley, 38-28, and Clayton Valley, 57-35, found its defense in a 40-0 win over Washington of San Francisco.
The game, on paper, looks to be an offensive showcase. Despite its 1-2 record, Montgomery has scored 100 points in three games, an average of better than 33 a game. They counted 40 against Washington last week playing without standout wide receiver Etienne Ezeff, who sat out the game with an ankle injury. He is expected to be back this week, creating more problems for a Gaucho secondary that must also be concerned with 6 foot, 7-inch tight end Dakota Row.
Montgomery quarterback Chris Hester had to learn quick varsity lessons last week when injuries forced him into the starting lineup. As the Viking scoring shows, he is having a productive senior season.
Leading ball carrier for the Vikings is senior Logan Francavilla.
Casa Grande is not without offensive weapons of its own. Led by quarterback JaJuan Lawson, fullback Elijah Qualls, running back John Porchivina and receivers Cole Boggs and Jarred Roberts, the Gauchos have scored 112 points of their own in three games, averaging better than 37 points a game.
But the teams went into last year's games featuring similar scoring machines and managed just three touchdowns between them. It is that kind of rivalry.
New season for Troy
Petaluma High's Trojans are definitely looking forward to the start of the SCL season after a very difficult pre-league campaign that has them 0-4 with just three points in their last two games.