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It’s already showdown time in NBL-Oak

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With only a five-game season in the new North Bay League–Oak Division, Friday night’s big match up between Cardinal Newman High School and host Ukiah takes on a sense of urgency even though it’s only the second week of league play.

“Every league game is big now with only five league games,” Cardinal Newman coach Paul Cronin said.

Cardinal Newman (5-1 overall, 1-0 in league), Ukiah (5-1, 1-0) and Windsor (3-3, 1-0) are tied atop the NBL-Oak after wins in the first week of league play in the newly confirgured NBL.

Heading into the 7:30 p.m. clash with the Cardinals, the Wildcats are on a four-game overall winning streak, including a 70-35 victory over Maria Carrillo last Friday and a 50-0 win over Fremont (Oakland) the week prior.

“Ukiah is a good team,” Cronin said. “They have good speed and have an experienced and deep senior class.”

The Cardinals have won two straight — 42-21 over Rancho Cotate last week and 44-0 over Galena of Reno two weeks ago — and have relied on depth at wide receiver to power their offense and their strength at linebacker to lead their defense.

The Cardinals’ lone setback on the season was to Liberty (Brentwood), a team that is currently ranked No. 3 in Northern Calfornia by MaxPreps. Cardinal Newman, 19th in those same rankings, definitely showed its mettle in the showdown with Rancho Cotate in the NBL-Oak opener last week.

“We played well against Rancho. We are a talented team, and when you execute, things can go well. That’s what happened last Friday night,” Cronin said. “We have a lot of third- and fourth-year guys that have been in a lot of big games.”

Last year, the Cardinals handed the Wildcats a 70-13 loss in the old configuration of the North Bay League, which included eight teams. This season, the Wildcats have shown that they’re up to the task of competing in the tough NBL-Oak, their only loss coming in nonleague action at the hands of Eureka, which is currently 7-0 and sitting at 21st in the MaxPreps rankings.

Cardinal Newman has the No. 2 passer in the league in Jackson Pavitt (1,161 yards on 74-for-99 passing with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions). In last week’s offensive show for the Wildcats, running back Lucas Stanley and wide receiver J.J. Escamilla each had multiple touchdowns.

Ukiah has outscored opponents this season 261-118 while Cardinal Newman has bettered its opponents 198-71.

In other games Friday night:

SANTA ROSA Panthers (5-2, 1-0) vs.

MONTGOMERY Vikings (5-2, 1-0)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Place: Montgomery High School

The Panthers-Vikings historic rivalry continues in the North Bay League-Redwood Division (also only a five-game league season) with both teams having resurgent seasons. Santa Rosa won at El Molino, 43-12, last week in its NBL-Redwood opener. The Panthers are paced offensively by running back Jayvee Long, who leads the league in rushing with 1,240 yards on 168 attempts with 14 touchdowns. Montgomery won by forfeit against Elsie Allen last week and defeated Maria Carrillo, 37-30, in double overtime two weeks ago. Vikings quarterback Cole Hallin leads the league in passing with 852 yards, completing 49 of 104 passes with nine touchdowns and two interceptions.

WINDSOR Jaguars (3-3, 1-0) vs.

RANCHO COTATE Cougars (4-1, 0-1)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Place: Rancho Cotate High School

Rancho Cotate will attempt to rebound after its disappointing NBL-Oak opening game loss vs. Cardinal Newman last week, its only loss of the season. Despite winning big early in the season, the Cougars find themselves in the bottom half of the league along with Analy and Maria Carrillo, both 0-1 in the NBL-Oak. Rancho Cotate is first in the league in team defensive interceptions (7), first in team sacks (24) and second in team tackles (485). If Windsor wins, it will remain in a tie in the NBL-Oak with the winner of the Cardinal-Newman-Ukiah game. The Jaguars have been outscored this season 185-92.

SONOMA VALLEY Dragons (3-4, 2-1) vs.

CASA GRANDE Gauchos (1-5, 1-1)

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Casa Grande High School

In a Vine Valley Athletic League matchup between two of the three Sonoma County schools in the league, the struggling Gauchos look to right the ship after having a bye week last Friday night to recover from a 44-0 loss to Vintage two weeks ago. The Gauchos have been outscored this season 213-86. The Dragons have gotten off to a good start in the VVAL, including defeating Justin-Siena, 6-0, in a defensive struggle last Friday night. Sonoma Valley has been outscored this season, 112-65.

Also Friday night:

NBL-Oak

Maria Carrillo at Analy, 7:30 p.m.

NBL-Redwood

Piner at El Molino, 7:30 p.m.

NCL I

Willits at Lower Lake, 7:30 p.m.

St. Helena at Middletown, 7:30 p.m.

Cloverdale at Kelseyville, 7:30 p.m.

Clear Lake at Fort Bragg, 7:30 p.m.

NCL II

Branson at Calistoga, 7:30 p.m.

NCL III

South Fork at Anderson Valley, 7:30 p.m.

SATURDAY’S GAMES

NCL II

Roseland Collegiate Prep at Rincon Valley Christian, 1 p.m.

Tomales at Stuart Hall, 2 p.m.

Nonleague

Point Arena at Crystal Springs (Hillsborough), 1 p.m.