Top 10 Northern California high school football games to watch this week (Oct. 21-23): Windsor seeks to knock off Cardinal Newman

While Week Nine doesn’t have as many huge-name title matches as the previous two weeks, there’s still a bevy of great games on Friday in NorCal high school football.

The first week of the season is known as “Week Zero”, which means last week was Week Eight. Here’s a look at the Top 10 Northern California high school football games to watch this week (Oct. 21-23), Week Nine of the California season.

STATEWIDE CALIFORNIA FOOTBALL SCOREBOARD

FULL SECTION SCHEDULES: NORTH COAST | CENTRAL COAST | SAC-JOAQUIN | CENTRAL | NORTHERN

TOP 10 NORCAL FOOTBALL GAMES TO WATCH

(All games are Friday at 7 p.m. unless noted otherwise.)

10. Antioch @ Heritage (Brentwood)

After a rebuilding phase in the spring, Antioch has taken multiple steps forward this season as a force in the Bay Valley Athletic League. The Panthers have already routed Deer Valley and Freedom, but it only gets tougher, starting with the Patriots before taking on Pittsburg and Liberty. Heritage has already lost to Pittsburg, but a second place finish behind the heavy favorite is tenable for both of these teams, in addition to Liberty. That’s a decent amount on the line, and regardless, it should be a very even match between two strong, hungry teams.

9. California @ Monte Vista

Speaking of turnarounds since the spring, Monte Vista has gone from 0-6 to 6-0 in the span of half a year. Other than their De La Salle match and a lopsided non-league loss against Jesuit, the Mustangs lost to Acalanes, California, Clayton Valley Charter, and San Ramon Valley by just one score each, with the Cal game going to overtime. However, with a lot of their core back as seniors, they’ve already beaten the likes of Liberty (Brentwood), James Logan, and El Cerrito, and won a defensive battle against Amador Valley to start league play on the right foot.

But Cal High is in the middle of a feel good story as well, so one of these teams will have to play the spoiler. The Grizzlies were only that overtime win away from going winless in league during the spring, and are now 6-1 with non-league wins including Dublin and Antioch. They’ve lost to De La Salle, but after beating Clayton Valley Charter in their league-opener, they must be charged up for a great chance to win the coveted EBAL – Mountain silver medal. Additionally, Cal’s Teddy Booras up against MV’s Dylan Devitt forms a standout QB battle.

8. San Benito @ Aptos – Friday at 7:30 p.m.

The rest of the games on this list are much more clear-cut as first place or second place matches in league. San Benito and Aptos have both lost to Salinas in league, and both pulled out wins against Palma. The PCAL is another league on this list where second place is an accomplishment, and these very evenly-matched squads would both be pumped to clinch such a finish on Friday.

7. Kimball @ Manteca

In another high-profile silver medal match, both of these squads fell out of VOL championship contention recently at the hands of Central Catholic, but the runner-up game could be an instant classic. While the Jaguars still have East Union on deck and the Buffaloes still have to beat Oakdale, whoever wins this game will be good position to claim second place. Both squads are 7-0 outside of facing the Raiders, and each has had one of the more explosive offenses in all of NorCal all season long. With Kimball QB Nicholas Coronado and Manteca RB/SB Blake Nichelson both ready to show out, there should be no shortage of highlights.

6. Pierce (Arbuckle) @ Paradise

Now to the first-place games. There was no Sacramento Valley League play in the spring, but Pierce and Paradise are ready to make up for lost time on Friday. The Bobcats won this match 31-21 in the spring as a non-league game, and a win at home as a pretty clear favorite would nearly cement a conference title.

5. Tulare Union @ Mission Oak – Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Tulare Union started the season with three straight losses against good teams, and has since reeled off four straight wins. Mission Oak, on the other hand, is not only unbeaten in league play, but is 7-0 overall. The Hawks will be a distinct favorite here, but not by much – the East Yosemite League championship has a strong chance to be a good one.

4. Ripon @ Escalon

While the Indians are something of an underdog this week, they should be primed to lay it all out on the line for a league title. They only got three games in during the spring, and one of them was a close loss to Escalon. Ripon would also lose the first two games of this season, but has since rattled off six straight wins, with perhaps the most impressive ones coming in defensive battles against league foes Hilmar and Livingston. The Trans Valley League finished in a three-way tie between these two teams and Hilmar in 2019, with Ripon winning this matchup that year, so the Cougars might have a sense of revenge as well. They’ll be the clear favorite by a mild margin, and a repeat of their spring success against the Indians would result in a league title.

3. Foothill (Pleasanton) @ Dublin

The EBAL – Valley Division is a dogfight this season, but the way it’s shaking out, this game should decide it. Both teams only have two losses on the year, and not much separates them. On one hand, Dublin could be argued to have a slight edge thanks to signature wins over Liberty and Heritage of Brentwood, but Foothill beat Amador Valley 21-17 two weeks after the Gaels got shut out by them. Both have been equally dominant over their league foes so far. Each team has a sense that this is their year to win a league title on their continued rise as programs. And while both are set to keep developing as Bay Area public school powerhouses, one of them will be knocked out of the league title hunt this week.

2. Chico @ Pleasant Valley (Chico) – Friday at 7:30 p.m.

For the second week straight, the Panthers take on another Eastern League heavyweight in a potential Northern Section game of the year. They beat Foothill (Palo Cedro) 14-7 last week in a match between the CIFNS’ top-two ranked teams, but this one should be even more fiery. After winning 20-10 in 2019 for a league title, Chico has gone on a three-game losing streak to its arch rival. That started with Pleasant Valley returning the favor 24-3 in the 2019 Northern Section championship game, and the Vikings added fuel to it by winning not just one but two games against Chico in the spring. Whoever wins this will be in great position for a title in the section’s toughest league, but there’s a whole lot more riding on the game than just that.

1. Cardinal Newman @ Windsor

Get ready for what might be the most intriguing regular season game Sonoma County has seen in several or more years.

Cardinal Newman hasn’t lost a league game since 2014, but comes in as a clear underdog against Windsor. The Jaguars are 7-0 by a combined score of 334-88, with wins against good teams spanning across all of NorCal. The 5-2 Cardinals shook off a season-opening loss against San Leandro to beat some good teams such as Vacaville, Vintage, and De Anza, and have only lost again versus St. Mary’s (Stockton). But their streak is in major jeopardy – and that’s not all that makes this exciting.

Whoever wins this game still has to get through Rancho Cotate, a legitimate threat to finish atop the Sonoma County hierarchy as well, but this is game is likely a North Bay – Oak title match. And here’s what takes it to the next level. Windsor head coach Paul Cronin is with his first fall there after an unexpected switch during the summer following 18 years building Cardinal Newman into a NorCal powerhouse. Now Windsor has a chance to prove itself as the top team in not only the county, but perhaps the whole North Bay, from the very get-go.

MORE GAMES TO WATCH:

FULL SECTION SCHEDULES: NORTH COAST | CENTRAL COAST | SAC-JOAQUIN | CENTRAL | NORTHERN

In any given week of California high school football, there are dozens of great games to watch between top programs. Here are some other exciting NorCal matchups happening this week:

Half Moon Bay @ Burlingame

Oak Ridge @ Del Oro

Buchanan @ Clovis North

Clovis @ Clovis East

Coalinga @ Dos Palos

Elk Grove @ Franklin (Elk Grove)

Inderkum @ Yuba City

De La Salle @ San Ramon Valley

Lodi @ Lincoln (Stockton)

Leland @ Piedmont Hills

Vista del Lago @ Christian Brothers

Cosumnes Oaks @ Capital Christian

Union Mine @ Bradshaw Christian

Monterey Trail @ Burbank

Sutter @ Las Plumas

Shasta @ Enterprise

Saint Francis (Mountain View) vs. Bellarmine College Prep

Menlo-Atherton @ Terra Nova

Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep vs. Archbishop Riordan

King’s Academy @ Sacred Heart Prep

Benicia @ Acalanes

Las Lomas @ Miramonte

San Marin @ Marin Catholic

Del Norte @ St. Bernard’s

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