The best games of 2022
Monday marked the official start of the 2022 high school football season in the North Shore section. Over the next 2.5 weeks, Sonoma County teams will be donning pads and ramping up their workouts in preparation for opening night Aug. 26.
We start with the top 10 local games to watch. Here they are in chronological order.
Rancho Cotate vs. Las Lomas-Walnut Creek, August 26
The Cougars have won their last six meetings against the Knights, including a 7-0 thriller in the 2019 North Shore Division 3 Finals and a 38-35 season opener in the season. last. Another great battle should be at the rendezvous this year. While the Knights lost most of their skillful players from last year’s 8-4 squad that qualified for the NCS Division 3 Semi-Finals, they have been a stellar program under the direction of head coach Doug Longero and should give Rancho a good test for his openness.
Windsor to Escalon, September 2
Escalon is a powerhouse program for small schools in the Sac-Joaquin section that consistently punches above its Division 5 weight class. Last year, it went 12-2 and won an SJS title (the 10th in program history) before falling 21-14 in the NorCal quarterfinals to eventual state champion Marin Catholic. The Cougars return their starting quarterback, Donovon Rozevink, their top three runners and two of their top three receivers to this team. This will be Windsor’s second game of the season.
Montgomery vs. St. Bernard’s-Eureka, Sept. 9
Montgomery’s student body is nearly five times larger than St. Bernard’s, a private school, but this game should be more competitive than those numbers suggest. Under head coach Matthew Tomlin, St. Bernard’s has been another strong Division 5 program for most of the past decade. They were runners-up in the North Coast Section’s Division 5 playoff against eventual state champion San Marino last season and are returning star quarterback Drew Sisemore and most of their offensive weapons.
Analy vs. Petaluma, September 9
A throwback to the Sonoma County League days, this will be the first meeting between these schools since 2017, and it should be a good one. Analy owns the recent streak, winning the last eight clashes since 2011, but this year could offer a much more compelling game. Petaluma took a step in the right direction last year and brought back a few key players, including All-League First-Team quarterback Henry Ellis. Analy also looks like a rising program, led by returning quarterback Sammy Long. This one should be a good battle between two home teams that could go either way.
Saint Vincent vs. Saint Helena, September 10
A rematch of last year’s NCS Division 7 title match. Saint Helena is losing a ton of talent upon graduation from last year’s team which went 10-2. St. Vincent is also losing big chunks, like UC Davis-bound Dante Antonini, but bringing back plenty of returns — like running back Kai Hall, quarterback Jaret Bosarge, tight end/linebacker Nathan Rooks and emerging wide receiver Jack Davis – for another run at a section title.
Rancho Cotate to Vanden, September 16
Coming off a CIF Division 3-AA state title, Vanden could have a very good chance of repeating this fall. Quarterback Tre Dimes is back for his senior season after throwing for over 3,000 yards and 46 touchdowns for the Vikings last season, as is defensive end/lead linebacker Orion Null, who had 116 tackles, 29 for loss and a SJS-leading 16 sacks. The Vikings are just one of many behemoths Rancho Cotate has fielded for their non-league slate. This one has the makings of a shootout of epic proportions.
Rancho Cotate in Windsor, October 14
The second week of NBL-Oak play will feature a potential league tiebreaker. Oak coaches think Cardinal Newman and Rancho Cotate will be the top two teams, but Windsor could also be in the game. They have good numbers, good returns and continuity with their coaching staff, even after the departure of Paul Cronin.
Rancho Cotate to Cardinal Newman, October 21
Barring upheaval elsewhere in league play, this game could decide the NBL-Oak title. The Cougars snapped a six-game losing streak against the Cardinals in a 19-17 thriller last fall and are poised to be one of the best teams in North Bay again this year. They’ll have a chance to beat Newman in back-to-back seasons for the first time in over 20 years, but the Cardinals should be an improved team with a host of talented comebacks and a full offseason under head coach Richard Sanchez. .
Petaluma at Casa Grande, October 29
The Egg Bowl is always a local favorite, especially when Petaluma’s two public high schools are having good seasons. This should be the case again this year. The Trojans could be a dark horse to come out of VVAL with a host of talented comebacks, highlighted by senior quarterback Henry Ellis. They will seek revenge against the Gauchos after their Eastern rivals beat them 57-35 last season as they won the VVAL for the first time since its inception in 2018. The Gauchos will have to recharge as The Quarterback star Jacob Porteus and their top three receivers have all graduated, but numbers, talent and training are rarely issues for Casa.
Cardinal Newman in Windsor, November 4
This game may not have the same hype as last year, but the Windsor-Newman rivalry has become one of North Bay’s best in any sport. Windsor is looking to re-equip after a historic year which saw them win their second section title, while Cardinal Newman is looking to take the next step after a checkered, but still very successful 2021 campaign. This will also be the last week of the league and regular season, so this game could have huge implications for the league’s run and playoff standings.
You can contact editor Gus Morris at 707-304-9372 or [email protected] On Twitter @JustGusPD.