Windsor, Cardinal Newman, St. Vincent back in NCS title games

Sonoma County will have three well-known teams competing for the North Coast Section prep football titles this weekend.

Windsor is back in a section title game for the second straight year and will look to defend his Division 3 crown. Cardinal Newman and Marin Catholic will battle for the second straight season for the Division 4 title and in Division 7 St. Vincent hopes to continue their perfect season and win their second straight title.

Here are preview capsules for all three championship games.

Division 3: No. 2 Windsor (10-2) vs. No. 1 El Cerrito (12-0), Friday, 7 p.m., Benicia High School: There aren’t many teams like El Cerrito in all of Northern California. The undefeated Gauchos boast one of the best defenses in the entire state behind a number of elite athletes and potential Division I candidates such as three-star cornerbacks Warren Smith, who is a Washington State native, and Kamani Jackson, who is a native of Washington State has an offer from the state of San Jose.

Safeties Jermain Hargraves and Aaron Woodard, two- and three-star recruits respectively, anchor a defense that has allowed just 62 points in 11 games (one of their 12 wins was a loss).

“Their speed on defense is really something we’ve never seen,” said Windsor head coach DJ Sexton. “But we have some things that we do well that present a challenge that counteracts their speed. We really have faith in our children.”

The gauchos didn’t play a cupcake schedule either. They have victories over Amador Valley (7-3), Freedom-Oakley (27-13), Foothill (35-7) and Vacaville (14-9). They won each of their first two playoff games by 41 points, both games in which Tony McAdoo ran for over 200 yards. Junior quarterback Michael Vanhook is an offensive captain averaging 34.5 points per game.

Sexton and the Jaguars recognize the great task ahead, but feel up for the challenge.

“Are they going to do some really sporty things that lead to big games? They probably are,” Sexton said, “but if we can weather this storm and come through, we’ll make it a game by one goal late, I really like our chances.”

CalPreps Computer Prediction: El Cerrito, 28-21

Division 4: #3 Cardinal Newman (8-4) vs. #1 Marin Catholic (12-0), 7 p.m. Saturday, San Rafael High School: One of North Bay’s great rivalries is renewed this weekend. On Saturday, these Catholic powerhouses will play in a section title game for the fifth time since 2015. The Cardinals’ only win was in 2019, when they won a state title. The Wildcats returned the favor last year en route to their own state title.

Marin Catholic won 42-7 last year, but the Cardinals were without star running back Santino Acevedo, who was out with an injury. This time he will dress and lead a Cardinals team coming off a dismal 17-14 win over No. 2 seed Acalanes, won by sophomore Patrick Gardner with a last-second field goal .

The Cardinals will be the underdogs again this weekend but should have a chance if they can repeat last week’s performance, especially on defense.

“They’re good,” Cardinal Newman’s head coach Richard Sanchez said of Marin Catholic. “You are really good. We knew they were good. We saw them in the first half last weekend. But I’m glad we’re playing them again. That’s important to us.”

The Wildcats pull off a 20-7 win over No. 5 Del Norte in what head coach Mazi Moayed said was their “sloppy” game of the season. Junior running back Charles Williams, who has offers from Oregon State and San Jose State, rushed for 100 yards and senior quarterback Joey Cook, who won a state title with San Marin last year, rushed for 239 yards and three touchdowns.

CalPreps Computer Prediction: Marin Catholic, 31-14

Division 7: #1 St. Vincent (12-0) vs. #2 Clear Lake (11-1), 7 p.m. Saturday, Rancho Cotate High School: While the Mustangs are in the midst of their best season in school history and will be the favorite this season, they are preparing for a battle against a Clear Lake program that gave them trouble in the semifinals last year. The Cardinals actually led into the fourth quarter of that game before a late touchdown secured a 25-20 win for St. Vincent.

“That was the first thing I addressed after our game on Saturday,” said Mustangs coach Trent Herzog. “These guys played with us last year; They’re going to have confidence, they’re not going to be intimidated or scared of us, so we need to have a great week of training and have a really, really good game plan for these guys.

The Cardinals are more balanced offensively and have improved defenses this year, Herzog said. Last week, in their 28-22 win over Kelseyville, the Cardinals got four stops inside their 35-yard line on defense; got a 100-yard outing with two touchdowns from running back Hank Ollenberger, the North Central League I offensive MVP; and saw quarterback Jake Soderquist go 19-for-25 for 231 yards with two points and two picks.

The Mustangs also need to turn on wide receiver Ayden Williams, who had seven catches for 138 yards and a touchdown last week. Herzog said he could be the fastest wide receiver St. Vincent has faced all season.

CalPreps Computer Prediction: St. Vincent, 28-19

YYou can reach staff writer Gus Morris at 707-304-9372 or [email protected] On Twitter @JustGusPD.

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