Cardinal Newman at Modesto Christian
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Notable: These teams met in the season opener last year with the Cardinals winning at home, 48-20. Tonight the score figures to be closer, possibly much closer . . . When they met Aug. 24, 2012, Modesto was missing quarterback Jackson Finch, who had fractured his tibula and fibula in preseason practice. "He's back and at full strength," Cardinal coach Paul Cronin. "We scouted them in their scrimmage last week against Merced and two other teams. I was really impressed with him and the rest of the team. They're physical and return a lot of guns from last season." . . . Newman lost key personnel to graduation, including All-Empire Defensive Player of the Year Philip "Scooby" Wright . . . To win tonight, Newman will need to establish balance on both sides of the ball and first-year starters will need to overcome opening-night jitters . . . "I like our guys," Cronin said. "They've put in a lot of effort getting ready for the season and I'm looking forward to seeing how they play."
The pick: Cardinal Newman, 28-14
Santa Rosa at Petaluma
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Notable: Both teams finished with 4-6 records last year . . . Despite losing All-Empire running back Jahray Hayes, the Panthers offense should still be potent . . . Vince Jones is back for his third season at quarterback and his go-to receiver will be Alfredo Carretero . . . Gabe Roque is the top running back . . . The Trojans also have a three-year starter at QB -- Patrick Bailey. He got the nod over Brendon White earlier this week. "We'll start the season platooning the two," coach Rick Krist said . . . Gabe Medina will be the primary ball carrier. He missed a portion of 2012 with a quad injury . . . Krist is impressed by film he's seen of Santa Rosa. "The quarterback (Jones) is very talented," he said. "They have good size on defense and will be tough to handle."
The pick: Santa Rosa 21,