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Gauchos get first-round bye

Casa Grande will wait and heal, while St. Vincent and Tomales begin their new seasons with old foes as the North Coast Section football playoffs begin this week.

Petaluma, which finished with a 4-6 overall record, but with a solid 4-2 Sonoma County League mark, did not apply for a spot in the Division 3 playoffs.

"We felt with less than a .500 record we would have a hard time getting in, and we wanted the kids to end with a good experience," explained Petaluma coach Rick Krist.

Casa Grande's Gauchos, seeded No. 4 in Division 2, draws a first-round bye and will open Saturday, Nov. 17 against the winner of Friday night's game between Concord (8-2) and Mt. Eden (6-4).

The lower half of the Division 5 bracket is made up entirely of NCL II/Bay Football League teams. Co-champions St. Vincent and California School for the Deaf both play at home Saturday afternoon, with the Mustangs hosting Calistoga and CSD meeting Tomales.

Time to heal

"The bye is a great thing for us," said Casa Grande coach Trent Herzog. "It will give us a chance to get some kids healed up. We've got a lot of kids who have been playing banged up."

Most important of the walking wounded for Casa Grande is quarterback JaJuan Lawson who suffered a high-ankle injury in last week's game against Cardinal Newman. Herzog said the Gaucho coaches talked about holding Lawson out if Casa would have had to play a first-round game this week. The coach said that with a week to heal and rest, the junior should be completely ready for the second-round.

Although Casa Grande has a multitude of offensive weapons, Lawson is the key. He has passed for 1,820 yards and 17 touchdowns and run for 622 more yards.

Casa Grande also needs healthier bodies on the offensive line, where it has lost two starters for the season and has others playing with aches and pains. The hurt in the front line forced the coaches to move 280-pound Elijah Qualls, the team's leading rusher, to center and insert junior John Porchivina into a starting backfield position.

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