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Preview and prediction: Northwood football vs. Escalon in CIF State 4-AA championship

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Where, when: Escalon High, Saturday, 6 p.m.

Streaming: NFHS Network

Analysis: The Timberwolves will face a well-prepared and surprisingly diverse opponent in Escalon, a school of 810 students located about 90 miles east of San Francisco.

The Cougars showed their readiness for a strong season in a 41-40 loss in overtime against visiting Buchanan of Clovis in late August. Two weeks later, Buchanan beat Liberty of Bakersfield, which is the team that handed Yorba Linda its first loss last week in advancing to the Division 1-A state final.

Northwood’s defense has been on point the past month but will encounter a multi-dimensional attack. Escalon, a two-time state champion, had been known for decades for its wing-T offense but has injected more passing in recent years.

“We have implemented some spread passing game concepts along with our play-action pass,” said Escalon coach Andrew Beam, whose offense features a nearly 2,000-yard passer (Donovon Rozevink) and a 2,000-yard rusher (Ryker Peters).

Northwood’s offense counters with running back Adam Harper, who has rushed for 2,452 yards and scored 30 TDs. The senior is the prime weapon, but QB Eugene Miyata can be a playmaker with his arm and feet.

Harper also keys Northwood’s defense as an aggressive, run-stuffing safety so his work load will again be heavy.

Northwood coach J.C. Clarke calls Escalon a “more sophisticated” version of the Kennedy of Delano team the Timberwolves edged 10-7 last week in the CIF Southern California Regional final.

“(They) make very few mistakes,” he said. “Should be fun.”

CalPreps projects Escalon to win 31-27.

Winner: Northwood

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