Here are this weekend’s slate of opening-round games in the North Coast Section Division 1 football playoffs, all set for 7 p.m. Friday, and what brought them here:
No. 12 Dougherty Valley at No. 5 Pittsburg
- Pittsburg (8-2): Pirates coach Victor Galli has his team in its regular stellar form, led by running back Montaz Thompson (1,412 yards, 14 TDs rushing). The defense is stingy as usual behind linebacker Charles Ramirez (111 tackles, two picks, two forced fumbles), cornerback Jordan Parker (three picks) and lineman Iffy Joyner (seven sacks). Pittsburg held off two league opponents by seven total points but couldn’t halt unbeaten Antioch in its season finale and its second loss in a wild game after falling 49-42 to Monte Vista in September.
- Dougherty Valley (6-4): The Wildcats have their first winning record since 2007 in coach Nick Tisa’s fourth year at the helm. “We have good senior leadership,” Tisa said in September, noting those kids transformation from when he took over the program. “All they know is me, so they don’t know the old Dougherty. I definitely am getting calls from alumni, they’re excited.” He said that right after DV’s 5-0 start, though it won only once the rest of the way — a 34-7 victory over Acalanes. It’s pass-happy offense is powered by jack-of-all-trades Sam Tarasow (588 yards, six TDs rushing; 583 yards, 5 TDs receiving) and Hawaii-bound receiver Trey Hoskins (470 yards, seven TDs receiving).
- Winner plays: No. 4 Monte Vista (7-3)
No. 11 Dublin at No. 6 Freedom
- Freedom (6-4): The Falcons are on a three-game win streak since being downed by the BVAL’s top two teams, Pittsburg and Antioch, largely because of quarterback Joey Sweeney. The senior has 10 touchdowns and just one pick in the last three games, along with 779 of his 2,309 yards this season. Also integral is running back Ronnie Rivers (1,218 yards, 18 TDs rushing). Junior linebacker Kyle Harmon (109 tackles) leads a defense that has totaled 14 interceptions this season.
- Dublin (7-3): The Gaels started out 4-0, including wins over two eventual playoff teams, before nearly toppling defending Division 3 state champion Campolindo in a 14-10 loss. After shutting out Acalanes 17-0, they were edged 14-13 by Alhambra — two more playoff teams. Then Dublin won twice before falling 29-14 in its regular-season finale. Leading the way all season has been senior running back John Son.
- Winner plays: No. 3 Foothill (10-0)
No. 7 Amador Valley at No. 10 San Leandro
- Amador Valley (7-3): The Dons defeated playoff-bound California and San Ramon Valley back-to-back by a total of seven points, setting them up to enter their season finale against rival Foothill as potential spoilers for the outright EBAL title (though they lost big to the Falcons). Their leaders on offense this year are running back Ledre McCollough (1,016 yards, 8 TDs rushing) and wide receiver Grant Huggins (432 yards, 6 TDs receiving).
- San Leandro (6-4): The Pirates are on a six-game win streak since starting 0-4, including a 44-43 overtime victory over playoff-bound Tennyson to take the West Alameda County Conference-Foothill Division title. Three of their running backs have at least 500 yards and five touchdowns, a mark of a complex offense. Defensively the Pirates are led by defensive end Jahari Kay (65 tackles, 7.5 sacks).
- Winner plays: No. 2 Antioch (10-0)
No. 9 James Logan vs. No. 8 California
- California (6-4): A two-point conversion run by Justin Locklear for a 50-49 overtime win over Monte Vista two weeks ago kept the Grizzlies from going into the playoffs on a four-game losing streak. Their offense is a balanced attack led by Locklear (750 yards, 11 TDs) and helped by the junior trio of Cameron Norfleet, Trevor Leathley and Brandon Perrilliat who were huge in California’s five-game win streak during the season. It’s defense was also important, including defensive end Nick Friedel (53 tackles, six sacks), linebacker Pavin Virdee (63 tackles) and cornerback William Gin (four picks).
- James Logan (7-3): In coach George Zuber’s last season before stepping down to be with his family, the Colts have lost only two powerhouse teams: De La Salle, Clayton Valley Charter and Atascadero of the Southern Section, which was just a one-point loss in overtime. Otherwise they’ve been pretty dominant in a fully non-league schedule, including a 26-20 win over San Leandro and a 63-6 win over Washington.
- Winner plays: No. 1 De La Salle