Lots of variables in early-season cross country

Early-season cross country results can be deceiving in terms of team scores. Most teams are emphasizing mileage over speed early in the season, and many runners may be entering early-September meets tired. Also, some teams are shuffling their varsity lineups, and runners may be held out of races because of injuries.

Take, for example, the results of the Ed Sias Invitational on Saturday. College Park, the two-time defending California Interscholastic Federation Division II state girls champion, was third in the varsity girls race. But it was missing one of the area’s top runners, Nicole Pennes, who rolled her left ankle the day before the meet. Miramonte’s girls team finished out of the top 15 in the race, but all of its current top seven runner competed in the Iolani Invitational in Hawaii on Saturday, where it finished sixth. Campolindo, which won the Ed Sias team title with 132 points, ran one of its top runners, Laurie Finnegan, in the girls frosh-soph race,

Campolindo’s Chris Vizcaino, who finished eighth in the CIF Division III boys state championship race last year,  did not participate in the Ed Sias varsity boys small school race because of a hip flexor injury, yet the Cougars still finished third as a team in the race, which bodes well for them. Acalanes looks like the real deal with a second-place team finish in that race, and in the varsity boys large school race, De La Salle showed it has a tough front-running top-three runners in Tom Cox, Brendan Scanlon and Alex Harkins in winning the team title.


JV sports

A reader on our discussion board asks about JV sports coverage. Due to the large number of varsity sports and schools we do cover, we ask for your help in reporting JV and freshmen results. Here are the addresses reports on JV, freshmen, youth and club teams can be emailed to:

Valley Times/San Ramon Valley Times : vtsports@cctimes.com

Concord Transcript, Walnut Creek Journal, Contra Costa Sun, Pleasant Hill/Martinez Record: youthsports@cctimes.com

Ledger Dispatch, Brentwood News, Oakley News, Southeast Antioch News: ecsports@cctimes.com

Piedmonter, Montclarion, Berkeley Voice, El Cerrito Journal, Alameda Journal: hillssports@cctimes.com

West County Times: wctsports@cctimes.com

We ask that report include the final score and some statistical and scoring information. And please, first and last names!


The Fresno experience

The De La Salle High School football team’s first play from scrimmage on Saturday night against Clovis West was a 16-yard run by Ryan Nastor.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, it equaled their longest gain of the night.

De La Salle’s offense struggled to move the ball against the Golden Eagles, to say the least. But fans of the Spartans shouldn’t be overly worried. Just look at last year. Kevin Lopina could hardly be described as a prototypical split-back veer option quarterback. But as the season wore on, he reduced his mistakes and was ripping off long runs. So as long as the offensive line improves, De La Salle should get back to being a very good running team.

Speaking of Saturday night, about 5,000 showed up to see the game at immaculate Buchanan High. The stadium itself holds about 10,000 people and the field was perfectly manicured. Kind of lets you know how big a deal high school football is in the Valley.

I’m not sure what I was expecting as far as pre-game festivities at Buchanan High, but the parking lot was practically empty. There was a couple there who had WAY too much food for two people to consume, and there was three other college-age guys pouring beer into plastic cops as to not alert the Clovis po-po. Nice going, fellas.

De La Salle’s loss dropped it from USA Today’s Super 25. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/preps/football/poll/2005-super25.htm

Calhisports.com still had DLS ranked No. 6 in the state. http://calhisports.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=454302



Ready for some water polo?

What a weekend! First, the Sacramento Monarchs earn a trip to the WNBA finals. Then Fresno State puts the hurtin’ on Weber State (Oregon’s next!). As if things couldn’t get better, my trip to Candlestick, er, Monster Park, ends with a 49er win!

But I digress. Back to preps.

Right now, my mind is turning toward water polo, specifically East Bay Athletic League water polo. I’ll be heading out to Danville on Tuesday to see the Monte Vista girls play California in the league-opener. Several things come to mind when thinking about this matchup. Namely, what are the Mustangs going to look like? For years, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing standouts Stephanie Schnugg and Jessica Steffens do their thing in the pool. Translation? Totally dominate. In fact, the last time I saw Monte Vista in action, the squad was celebrating its dramatic victory over EBAL rival San Ramon Valley in the NCS final. (Mark your calendars. Those two teams meet next month)

But what about this season? Schnugg and Steffens are in college. Will the Mustangs be celebrating an NCS three-peat come November? Call me curious (it’s early, I know), but inquiring minds want to know.

To quench your water polo thirst, check out this site


DLS-Clovis West final

There wasn’t much to report scoring-wise from Clovis tonight until 7 minutes were left in the De La Salle-Clovis West game. That’s when the Golden Eagles knotched the game’s only score for a 7-0 victory over the Spartans. It’s De La Salle’s first shutout loss since 1979 (for history buffs, that was a 32-0 loss to Salesian). What do you think about this result?


Week 1 Friday Football Scores

Hey, the first Friday night of what should be an exciting prep football season is done. Read on:

College Park 49, Clayton Valley 33

De Anza 32, Burton-S.F. 0

Freedom 35, Mt. Eden 6

Richmond 12, Albany 6

Mt. Diablo 43, Fremont-Oakland 13

Dublin 42, San Lorenzo 14

Mitty-San Jose 9, Las Lomas 0

San Ramon Valley 35, Campolindo 21

Pinole Valley 42, Hogan-Vallejo 6

Miramonte 36, Encinal 13

Piedmont 30, Northgate 0

Livermore 21, Concord 0

San Leandro 35, Pittsburg 7

Monte Vista 35, Antioch 0

Granada 27, Sierra-Manteca 14

Liberty 29, Newark Memorial 23

Benicia 33, American 6

St. Patrick 46, Tamalpais 6

Justin-Siena-Napa 60, Berean Christian 0

California 46, Vanden-Travis AFB 12

West-Tracy 34, Deer Valley 14

Argonaut 59, Hercules 28

Clear Lake 41, John Swett 24

Acalanes 24, Ukiah 6

Let us know which result you think is the biggest surprise.



The first time I covered a high school football game, I couldn’t understand the reality.

"How are these athletes able to take the physical beatings they do and why?," I wondered.

On the sidelines I witnessed guys going full-steam, disregarding any physical well being, and just plowing into each other. I mean, it’s one thing to see it on television or from the stands, but to actually be a foot away from a guy getting creamed, well, the sounds and sights are enough to make a sane person cringe, if not feel their pain. The funny thing is, they bounce back up and do it again. Why? I couldn’t understand. I thought, how does a guy work up the courage, or the crazy, to put his body out there in such a manner.

After attending a week’s worth of two-a-day practices, I realized these guys are more than prepared to do so. Weightlifting, conditioning and constant repetition of drills in practice — including the dreaded "gassers" — prepares them for those instances of violent controlled chaos. Under a sweltering sun (I was sweating just standing and watching) these guys were out there beating themselves up under 15 to 20 pounds of gear on. Why? How? It turns out, as much as they hate it, they love it, because of what it prepares them for.

And then it started to become clear. More so than catching a great pass or busting loose for a long gain, football players yearn to pound each other. With every grunt and growl in practice, the anticipation to lay someone out in front of an audience boils inside them. Friday nights are when they explode and let out an aggression people don’t truly understand unless they themselves have ever completed the second of two-a-day practices only because the guy next to them held them up and offered his support.

Until I spoke to these players and heard them eloquently, or not so eloquently, explain why they do it, I never understood. I used to think football players were just out of their minds, but now I’ve developed so much respect for them. These guys are a different brand.

I know I couldn’t do what they do. Your average Joe probably would never try.


Game 1 Jitters

There’s something special about your first time.

Covering a high school football game, that is.

They say it’s one of the toughest things you can do as a sports journalist — keep stats of a game while keeping track of play-by-play and trying to keep the sequence of events and the general tenor of the game straight in your head so that you can effectively write about it afterward.

Sure, Thursday wasn’t my first time at the dance, but it was my first game of the 2005 season, and it always takes a couple of plays to shake off nine months worth of rust. It’s a lot like being a player in that respect. Once you get smacked in the mouth once, you’re good to go. Until then, there are some jitters.

I was feeling especially jittery before Thursday’s Alhambra-Ygnacio Valley game at Mt. Diablo High School for some unusual reasons.

Thanks to my hare-brained idea to go through one day of two-a-day practices with the Warriors at the start of the season and the ensuing first-person account, not to mention the subsequent lengthy blog entry, I discovered that I was something of a minor celebrity at the game.

Several folks who read the special prep football section and saw my ugly mug in the paper took the opportunity to approach me and comment on the story.

Alhambra coach Dave Silveira had the line of the night when I spoke with him before the game.

"I’m talking to a crazy man," Silveira said with a grin.

"Yeah, I’ve been hearing that a lot," I replied.

"Deservedly so," he said.

YV tight end/defensive end Gary Graffort ran a close second.

"What’s up, Stonewall," he quipped, referencing my claim that I "stonewalled him" in practice.

Here’s where I come clean. I effectively blocked him a couple of times. Mostly, though, he got his hands on my pads and used that 6-foot-5 wingspan to drive me around like a bus.

After all the pregame chatter and jitters, I shook it off and got down to the task at hand. Then I remembered just exactly how lucky I am. I mean, I get paid to cover high school football. That, folks, is one heck of a lot better than working.