The BVAL seems to get deeper and deeper every year. And this may be the deepest yet. Ygnacio Valley and Pittsburg were picked to finish fifth and sixth, respectively, and I’m quite confident they could challenge for a league title in at least two of the other four leagues.
Here’s a few additional comments about each team based on their predicted order of finish.
De La Salle: A no-brainer at No. 1. The Spartans are as good, if not a better team than they were two years ago when they played for the CIF Division I state championship.
Deer Valley: In his first three years of coaching the Wolverines, Eric Bamberger’s teams have given De La Salle some of its toughest games of the season. In fact, Bamberger is the last BVAL coach to win a game at De La Salle. Barring any injuries, the Wolverines will have as good a shot at knocking off the Spartans than any other year.
Clayton Valley: If they are going to finish third, they will need a healthy Drew Menez. The UC Davis-bound senior is the best scorer in the league, but missed three games at the end of December with a sprained ankle. When healthy, Menez and the Eagles are legitimate contenders for the NCS Division II title.
Antioch: In 2002-03, the Panthers opened the year 10-2 and then went 5-9 league. That won’t happen this year. Antioch will certainly be tested, but this team is certainly good enough to go 9-5 or 8-6.
Ygnacio Valley: With the league considerably deeper thanks to Antioch, Mike Hansen will need to be seriously considered for Times Coach of the Year honors if he can lead the Warriors to a fifth straight BVAL season of .500 or better.
Pittsburg: Inexperience will hurt the Pirates more than anything this season. Still, their talent and athleticism will lead them to some upsets.
Liberty: Rob Lasher was the assistant coach during the Lions’ two very good years with Pat Cruickshank. He doesn’t have the talent that Cruickshank had the past two years, but he will get them to play hard and remain competitive. And for that reason, no team should travel to Brentwood lightly this season.
Freedom: The Falcons just need to keep their head up and play as hard as they can.
And just for fun, here are a few more BVAL predictions.
Coach of the Year: Drew Torres, Antioch.
Offensive Player of the Year: Menez, Clayton Valley
MVP: Justin Joyner, DLS
First Team All-league: Joyner, Lincoln Gunn (DLS), Mac Peterson (DV), Menez, Brandon May (Antioch).
Biggest upset: Antioch over Deer Valley (at Antioch)
Thanks for reading. Feel like predicting your own BVAL finish, post a comment.