It’s bounce back time for local football teams

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Casa Grande and Petaluma have just one more dress rehearsal before they step onto the Vine Valley Athletic League football stage. In their final pre-league games Friday, Casa Grande visits Maria Carrillo’s Pumas in Santa Rosa, while Petaluma is home to Del Norte’s Warriors from Crescent City.

Both varsity games kick off at 7 p.m.

St. Vincent will celebrate homecoming with a 2 p.m. game Saturday against San Rafael.

Trojans vs. Warriors

Del Norte’s Warriors are making the long trek from Crescent City with a team that has won its first three games, beating Moreau Catholic, 20-19; Yreka, 62-0; and, last week, LaSalle from Oregon (not to be confused with De La Salle of Concord), 42-7.

Del Norte is coming off an excellent 9-3 campaign last year that saw the Warriors finish second to powerhouse Eureka in the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 4 League and reach the second round of the Division 4 playoffs.

Del Norte has a new coach this season, with Nick White taking over the program after six seasons as assistant coach.

As evidenced by their 104 points in the last two games, the Warriors are a potent offensive team, with returning quarterback O.J. Calleja working behind a mostly veteran offensive line.

Running backs Levi Cox-Cooley and Chase Blackburn have limited experience but have shown they can play at the varsity level in the Warriors’ first three games.

Del Norte is expected to come running right at the Trojans out of a modified winged-T formation.

“They are a running team,” notes Petaluma coach Rick Krist. “They are big up front and they come right at you.”

Petaluma, 1-2 on the season, is hoping to turn back the dial to a week ago when it ran for 543 yards in a 53-34 win over Santa Rosa. The Trojans would just as soon forget last week when they rushed for just 38 yards in a 59-0 thumping administered by Foothill from Pleasanton.

Krist says he doesn’t expect the Trojans to be affected by the lopsided loss to the bigger and better team.

“We’re trying to be upbeat,” the coach said. “Our mindset is to be positive and practice hard.”

When things are headed in the positive direction, Petaluma can have a pretty devastating offense, with Joey Alioto, Dante Ratto and Randall Brazel running behind a solid offensive line. Both Alioto and Ratto ran for more than 200 yards in the win over Santa Rosa.

Gauchos vs. Pumas

Casa Grande travels to Santa Rosa to face a Maria Carrillo Puma team that is hungry for a win after losing to Redwood, 51-16, and Benicia, 34-7.

Maria Carrillo is trying to bounce back from last year’s 4-7 record (1-4 in the North Bay League Oak), with many new players.

The Pumas can, as they showed last week in the loss to Benicia, be dangerous. Jack Sherman gave the Pumas something to cheer about with a 76-yard touchdown run in that game.

Casa Grande comes into the contest with a 1-2 record, but played well in all three games.

A safety, caused by the punter stepping out of the end zone, turned the game around in a 44-21 opening loss to Windsor. The Gauchos bounced back to beat Montgomery, 32-10. Last week, Casa had a chance to win in regulation against San Marin before losing in overtime, 17-14.

Casa Grande coach John Antonio expects a tough game in the Pumas’ home. “They are going to be fired up to see us,” he said. “They are looking for a win.”

“For us, it is about getting off to a good start and not making mistakes,” Antonio added. “We have to finish. We can’t get in the red zone and not finish. We’re obviously not where we want to be yet. We just have to regroup and keep working.”

Mustangs vs. Bulldogs

After going 3-7 last season, San Rafael is off to a 2-0 start with wins over Albany, 20-15, and Richmond, 40-0.

St. Vincent celebrates homecoming with a 2-1 record, with wins over McKinleyville, 27-3, and Cloverdale, 28-7, before losing last week to Willits, 27-0.

St. Vincent coach Trent Herzog said the revitalized Bulldogs will be tough, but the Mustangs will be better prepared this week.

“We weren’t prepared for how good they were,” he said of Willits. “Hopefully this wakes us up.”

Last year, St. Vincent defeated San Rafael, 44-30. Herzog said he expects the Bulldogs to again be able to score points.

“They are explosive,” the St. Vincent coach said. “They have an excellent quarterback, and they are averaging more than 30 points a game.”

The Mustang coach knows something else. “We’ll be prepared. We will play with much more passion.”

Homecoming halftime festivities will be special, with St. Vincent honoring four recently retired teachers. Between them, Anne Trott, Gary Galloway, Sue Keller and Michael O’Toole have more than 100 years of service to the school.

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