The Week 9 prep football slate is shaping up to be one of the best yet. After a Week 8 that featured one huge shake-up and multiple blowouts, this week could see a number of games that could go a long way in deciding league titles.
The biggest matchup, Rancho Cotate at Cardinal Newman, is The Press Democrat’s Game of the Week, and there will be a full game preview Friday. Rancho is the No. 3 team in the newspaper’s rankings and Newman is No. 2.
In the meantime, here are four other games to watch that will likely play a huge role in deciding who wins the Vine Valley Athletic League, North Central League I and North Bay League Redwood and Oak divisions.
No. 1 Windsor (5-2, 2-0 NBL-Oak) at Montgomery (3-3, 1-1 NBL-Oak), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Jaguars, the newly dubbed No. 1 overall team in our rankings, will look to build on the momentum of their 34-30 win over former No. 1 Rancho Cotate last week.
Next up is a Montgomery team that’s coming off a season-high 57-point outburst in a big win over Santa Rosa that snapped a three-game skid. The Vikings have been up and down all season, plagued by injuries and some inconsistent play, but have shown they can be one of the better teams in the area when they perform to their potential
In their three wins, over Ukiah, Bethel and Santa Rosa, they’ve outscored teams 124-14 and have only been held under 20 points once all season. Windsor is the favorite in this one, but if the Jaguars have any letdown coming off the emotional high of last week’s win, it could be an interesting night in Santa Rosa.
CalPreps computer prediction: Windsor, 35-27
No. 4 St. Vincent (7-0, 2-0 NBL-Redwood) at Ukiah (5-2, 2-0 NBL-Redwood), Friday, 7 p.m.
The top two teams in the NBL-Redwood square off in a battle that could very well decide the league title.
Ukiah comes in as winners of five straight, recently dispatching Maria Carrillo and Healdsburg to open league play. The Wildcats have only played St. Vincent twice since 2004 — both times in 2021 — and are 0-2. They lost last year’s league battle 15-8.
St. Vincent is coming off of its second win over Division 5 powerhouse St. Bernard’s-Eureka and could take over the driver’s seat in the NBL-Redwood with a win. The Mustangs still have to face Maria Carrillo at the end of the season, but a win over the Wildcats would give them the inside track to repeat as league champs.
CalPreps computer prediction: St. Vincent, 28-7
Cloverdale (5-2, 3-1 NCL I) vs. Middletown (3-4, 3-1 NCL I), Friday, 7 p.m.
The NCL I got a little crazy last week as Cloverdale, St. Helena and Willits all lost, giving Clear Lake a one-game lead atop the standings and opening the door for Middletown.
The Mustangs and Eagles are both tied for second in the NCL I and a win for either team would establish them as the clear-cut No. 2 team in the league. A win for Cloverdale would likely go further since it still has to play Clear Lake at the end of the season, while Middletown has already lost to the Cardinals.
If Cloverdale wants a chance at winning its first league title since 2009, Friday’s game is a must-win.
CalPreps computer prediction: Cloverdale, 28-21
Casa Grande (4-3, 2-1 VVAL) at American Canyon (4-3, 2-1 VVAL), Friday, 7 p.m.
This VVAL battle is also rife with league title implications. The Gauchos and Wolves are currently both tied for third in the league behind Vintage (4-4, 3-1) and Petaluma (6-1, 3-0). Both teams have already lost to the Crushers but are the last two teams that will play Petaluma to end the league slate and could play spoiler.
The Gauchos’ potent offense has shown its might in recent weeks as they’ve scored 121 points over the last two weeks, both big wins.
The Wolves, meanwhile, have put together a very solid season. All three losses have come against teams likely bound for the postseason and two of those losses were decided by a combined four points.
The Wolves are another team that’s better than their record indicates and will pose a stout challenge for the Gauchos. They’re led by dual-threat quarterback Kaleb Anderson, who has passed for 720 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception and leads the team in rushing with 836 yards and 12 touchdowns.
CalPreps computer prediction: American Canyon, 35-31
You can reach Staff Writer Gus Morris at 707-304-9372 or email@example.com. On Twitter @JustGusPD.