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.
Herzog points out another advantage to receiving a first-round bye for the Gauchos — they have played extremely well coming off a bye week. In the third week of the season, the Gauchos were beaten by Napa, 35-14. The next week was their bye week and they came back refreshed and ready to dominate Montgomery, 49-19.
Once again, the Gauchos are coming off a loss, 25-7, to Cardinal Newman, into a bye week.
The loss to Cardinal Newman was only Casa Grande's third of the season against seven wins. Their first year in the North Bay League the Gauchos finished with a 5-2 record.
Of Casa Grande's two possible second-round opponents, Concord's Minutemen would appear the most dangerous. They would bring an 9-2 record and a second-place standing in the Diablo Valley Athletic League into the contest.
Mt. Eden's Monarchs from Hayward would be 7-4 on the season coming into the Big House with a first-round win.
Not a good thing
St. Vincent's Mustangs are happy about getting a home game for the first round of the Division 5 playoffs. They are not happy with their first opponent. The Mustangs open with Calistoga, a team they beat, 47-21, just last week.