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Water polo its own worst enemy?

Beijing’s 2008 Olympics, the event’s official Web site tells us, will run Aug. 8-24. Olympic water polo will run Aug. 9-23. But will the teams get to the appointed venues at the appointed times?

OK, so we’re being facetious, here. But at the high school level, the sport has problems that have nothing to do with the action in the pool. Postponed matches, changed times, games canceled (or occasionally added) with no notification beyond the team members. Schedules sometimes seem meaningless.

A few years ago, a coach of another sport called high school water polo a "logistical nightmare." He added that if he had been a water polo coach, he would not have lasted half a season.

Admittedly, things have improved since then. But the logistical mish-mash monster reared its ugly head at a school that shall remain nameless when those in charge took it on themselves to start with the varsity matches and follow with the JV instead of following the usual girls-boys pattern of varsity-JV-varsity-JV. Sadly, coverage had been planned in advance, and an opportunity to cover at least one potentially great varsity match was lost.

At its best, water polo is soccer in H2O, blending art with athleticism. Having covered an international match once many years ago, I can say the sport is action-packed and exciting. I’ve seen some good high school matches over the years, as well. But the sport’s logistical problems can drive some of us up a wall and down a creek.

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Mets, SF Giants, Notre Dame and College Park

Those who are of another generation, perhaps parents or grandparents of a current high school student, might recall the voice. New York transplants living in the East Bay might recall that voice as the original voice of the New York Mets. Bay Area fans of a generation ago might recall the voice calling Giants games. Then there was Notre Dame football on the radio, Notre Dame highlights on Sunday, and of course, the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day. For one sports fan, at least, a College Park High School home football game has a pleasant nostalgic appeal. And it has nothing to do with what happens on the field. Rather, it comes through the loudspeaker, as the gentleman who serves as the Falcons’ public address announcer – - and I’m not sure who he is – - sounds uncannily like the late, great Baseball Hall of Fame announcer Lindsey Nelson.

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FORECAST WEEK 6

It’s another week of flash forecasting, for me. But the last two weeks haven’t hurt me too much. So I’ll get right to it.

Before we do, though, let’s update everybody on the standings. I still lead with 28 points, Ben holds second with 24 and Curtis (after going 5-for-6 last week) has 22.

(6) Pittsburg d. Deer Valley: As much as I like the Wolverines and the explosiveness of Taiwan Jones, Deer Valley hasn’t seen a defense like the one Pittsburg will bring to Wolverines Stadium. The Pirates have their confidence back, and should clip the Wolverines by at least at touchdown. Score: 31-20.

(5) Freedom d. Ygnacio Valley: The Warriors have been a nice story so far — new coach, new players, same success. But stopping Diondre Borel will be a tall order for the YV defense. So if the Freedom defense only bends, and doesn’t break, against the 2xWing-2xTight then the Falcons will escape with a win. Score: 27-21

(4) Las Lomas d. Miramonte: Doug Longero has had the Matadors number for the past two seasons, and I don’t think that is going to change. The Knights will flex their defensive muscle and earn the big DFAL win. Score: 16-10.

(3) Pinole Valley d. Alameda: The Spartans are due for a letdown game, but it’s not going to be this week. Once again, PV wins in a shootout. Score:38-27

(2) John Swett d. Albany: As long as Santario Carson is on the field, the Cougars have little chance of stopping him. Still, I made it a two-point game because Albany scares me a little. You never know when they could find a groove. Score: 30-17

(1) Monte Vista d. Amador Valley: If I had any guts, I’d go with the Dons here, but the Mustangs have won five of the last six meetings between the two schools and will also have home field advantage. Plus, if Richie Storelee can continue to give MV a running game, look out. Score: 34-28.

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Keeping the momentum going

Got five out of six games right last week, with the one miss being my five pointer (Alhambra over CP). This week I’m aiming for perfection, but it’ll be tough with so many unpredictable games on tap. Let’s give it a shot.

(6) John Swett over Albany: The Cougars are starting to get thing going in the right direction these days, but they are a long way away from being BSAL title contenders. John Swett isn’t.

(5) Pinole Valley over Alameda: Those Spartans have a way of testing the nerves of any forecaster. Witness last week’s heart-stopping comeback win over Berkeley. Still, their offense will put up enough points to win this one.

(4) Pittsburg over Deer Valley: This has the makings of a pretty low-scoring game, considering both defenses have shined so far this season. But Pittsburg has a couple more playmakers on its roster, and should pull away in the second half.

(3) Ygnacio Valley over Freedom: Unlike the Pitt-DV affair, this has the makings of pretty high-scoring game. The key will be if YV can keep its ball-control offense on the field, and supreme playmaker Diondre Borel off of it.

(2) Amador Valley over Monte Vista: The Mustangs played very well defensively in beating California last week. But the Dons pose a greater physical test, and should do a better job of containing QB Drew McAllister from scrambling all over the place.

(1) Miramonte over Las Lomas: The Knights had a hard time beating the Matadors even in the best of years. Now that LL has lost QB Jordan Kerl to injury, they face an even tougher task. Miramonte wins, and becomes league title favorites.

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Friday Forecasting

Last week seemed to be an improvement for all of us, so I suppose I haven’t shown my true colors yet. Just you wait, this week I’ll probably miss them all.

(6) John Swett over Albany: This game represents an improved program in Albany against perennial powerhouse Swett in a good ole’ fashioned BSAL throwdown. The Cougars are getting better, but they’re not there yet. The Indians will win this one, and then head to the Nantucket for some clam chowder and cioppino (or maybe that’ll be me…).

(5) Freedom over YV: Run, run, run to victory. In the words of Lee Corso, not so fast my friend! Falcons QB Diondre Borel has established himself as a force to be reckoned with and I think he’s the difference maker in this one.

(4) Pitt over Deer Valley: Talk all you want about Amador v. Monte Vista, but in terms of pure football talent you can’t do a whole lot better than this game. The problem I have with DV is that Taiwan Jones seems to be the straw that stirs the drink and I think Pitt will make the combo of Renshaw and Masters beat them with the passing attack. They won’t.

(3) Miramonte over Las Lomas: And now we begin the picks that could really go either way. Supposedly Jordan Kerl is injured, but who knows if that affects LL (they did put up 62 last week, albeit against Northgate). I’m playing home field advantage here.

(2) Pinole Valley over Alameda: This is one of those games that cries upset, especially after PV didn’t play very well last week. The larger picture tells me that PV couldn’t stop the run last week but they did marginally better against the pass. Alameda would have to prove that they have a consistent rushing attack to win this one, and I don’t think they do. Then again, making this a two-point selection tells you I’m not too confident.

(1) Amador Valley over Monte Vista: I picked against MV in this same spot a few weeks ago and it worked. The Mustangs seem to have found a rushing attack since then, but their offensive machine will need to hit overdrive in this one to pull out a W.

This is shaping up to be one of those weeks where nothing is predictable. Here’s hoping I get a few right.

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Hoosiers Hysteria

It’s slowing starting. The first NBA games popped up on TV this week, and in a few weeks area high schools will lace up the high tops for basketball season.

Eli Holman, a senior at Richmond High School, is getting a jump on the season this week.

Holman, who verbally committed to attend Indiana University last month, will attend the Hoosiers Hysteria, (a Midnight Madness type atmosphere) to kick off the season on Friday. Holman will be sending a daily blog starting Friday about his experience.

A 6-foot-10 center, Holman missed all but four games last season after being suspended for making contact with an official but raised his stock over the summer with strong performances at the prestigious Reebok ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J. and the Main Event camp in Las Vegas.

Holman is expected to apply for reinstatement in early November to play his final year of high school basketball.

To read Holman’s account of the events check the East Bay Prep Sports blog at www.contracostatimes.com, starting Friday.

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LIVE FROM MISSION VIEJO at DE LA SALLE

Well the big game has finally arrived, and even though it’s being nationally televised, there’s a good chance it’s not going to be on in your home (Comcast isn’t making any new friends this week). So we’re going to try something new for the EB Prep Sports Blog: I’m camped out here in a little corner of the Owen Owens Field press box where I plan to provide game updates and insights as the game unfolds.

As the pregame and game action unfolds, I will continue to update this posting on a fairly regular basis (especially after scoring plays) . Your only responsibility: Occasionally click the ‘refresh’ button on your browser to make sure you’re getting the most up-to-date entry. New updates will appear at the bottom of the post.

So, as judge and boxing referee Mills Lane would say, "Let’s get it on!"

6:58 p.m.: The stands are already at full capacity, and have been since De La Salle writer Curtis Pashelka and myself arrived at roughly 6:10. As we arrived to pick up our press passes, a sign was posted at the front of the school that read, "A ticket does not guarantee a seat." Needless to say it’s a standing-room affair at Owen Owens Field tonight.

Both teams are already on the field going through pregame warmups. DLS is wearing its usual home uniforms, dark green tops with silver pants, and MV is sporting colors reminiscent of Arizona State. The Diablos are wearing white jerseys with red numbers and white pants. Their helmets are a dark ASU-like yellow with a big red ‘M’ on the side.

7:10 p.m.: Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re aware of the magnitude of this game. But just in case, here are the basics: DLS enters the game as the No. 1 team in the state and Mission Viejo is No. 5. It’s the third meeting in the past three years between the schools, and the Spartans are still looking for their first victory. Mission Viejo won 17-14 at De La Salle in 2004, and 36-26 when DLS traveled to Orange County last season. As the state’s top team, the Spartans are favored, though both teams are trying to play up the role as underdog.

7:22: p.m.: There are rumblings that ESPNU’s current broadcast of the Central Michigan-Toledo college football game could go long and cause the start of the game to be delayed. Or, ESPN could simply cut away from that game, upset the five midwestern households who are watching the CM-Toledo game, and get this game started on time. Just a thought. As of now, the kickoff is still slated for 7:35.

7:29 p.m.: Times DLS writer Curtis Pashelka just finished his pregame radio interview with KDIA 1640 AM. In what could only be described as polished performance, Curtis pointed to the DLS running game as being the key to the Spartans success. Ball control, ball control, ball control. The Spartans just took the field to a roar from the crowd. Kickoff is still expected for 7:35

7:31 p.m.: De La Salle has won the toss and elected to receive.

7:45 p.m.: DLS Touchdown! The Spartans took the opening kickoff and drove 63 yards on seven plays (All but eight yards on the ground). Tillman Pugh capped the drive with a 19-yard TD run. It’s 7-0 with 8:57 left in the first quarter.

7:48 p.m.: Wow! That didn’t take long. Can you say 14-0? After holding MV to a quick three-and-out, DLS is back on the board after a Tim Maupin 32-yard touchdown run. Maupin now has four carries for 58 yards. I’d say the ground game is working for the Spartans. (Nice call, Curtis).

7:53 p.m.: The Diablos might have just caught their first break as the Spartans kickoff went out of bounds and allows MV to begin their drive at the 35-yard line. Two complete passes and the Diablos are now in DLS territory.

8:01 p.m.: Mission Viejo is on the board. The Diablos turned to the pass to get inside the Spartans 40 yard line, and then Brian Lockridge burned the DLS defense with a 38-yard  TD run. It’s 14-7 Spartans with 4:32 left in the opening quarter.

8:08 p.m.: Uh-oh. The fumbleitis bug has bit the Spartans again. Tillman Pugh, who fumbled inside the opponent 10-yard line last week, just did so again. An impressive 50-yard drive ends at the MV 2-yard line as Pugh had the ball pop out and the Diablos recovered…End of the first quarter, 14-7 De La Salle.

8:20 p.m.: After the Spartans defense forced the Diablos to punt, great field position for DLS was spoiled with another turnover. This time an interception on a tipped ball. But once again, the Spartans make sure it doesn’t hurt. Mission Viejo will punt again.

8:30 p.m.: DLS continues to ride Tim Maupin, and why not? The bruising back just keeps churning up yards. And when he’s not, he’s throwing a key block to spring Tillman Pugh who rumbled 35 yards for a TD. Unfortunately, the score was brought back by a holding penalty. The Spartans certainly haven’t helped themselves inside MV territory.

8:32 p.m.: When in doubt, give it back to Maupin. The senior RB just rumbled 15 yards for his second TD of the night and DLS is up 21-7 with 5:05 left in the half.

8:37 p.m.: The Diablos certainly responded in a hurry. MV goes 80 yards in 62 seconds and scores on a 9-yard pass from Kyle Kirchmeyer to Warren Reuland. It’s 21-14 DLS with just over four minutes to play in the half.

8:41 p.m.: And the hits keep on comin’ for DLS. Yet another turnover as MV earned another interception on a tipped ball. Kameron Krebs came up with the pick, and the Diablos take over at their own 37.

8:44 p.m.: Once again the Spartans’ turnover doesn’t cost them. MV goes three-and-out and DLS regains possession with 1:50 left in the half.

8:49 p.m.: DLS is unable to mount a quick drive, and eventually takes a knee to bring the first half to an end. We’re at halftime with the score 21-14 in favor of DLS.

8:54 p.m.: Some quick halftime thoughts — The Spartans made plenty of mistakes in the first half. But despite three turnovers and two TDs nullified by penalty, they still go into the intermission with a seven-point advantage. That should make DLS fans feel pretty good. The Spartans also outgained the Diablos 244-161. Maupin finished the half with 103 yards on 11 carries. I’m thinking he’s going to see the ball some more in the second half.

9:15 p.m.: Halftime has come to a close, and before we get to the second half, here’s one more eye-popping stat from the first half: DLS had 15 first downs, to just six for MV. Should the Spartans eliminate their mistakes, the could very well runaway with things in the second half. We shall see. The Diablos can set the tone; they will receive to open the third quarter.

9:29 p.m.: Ummm, about that setting that tone, well Bryon Colbert, Maupin and Pugh made sure nothing of the sort happened for the Diablos. A good MV drive ended in a Colbert interception and then Maupin and Pugh led the Spartans on a 79-yard drive. Pugh rambled in from 29 yards out to put DLS up 28-14 with 4:23 left in the third quarter.

9:42 p.m.: It’s dueling turnovers suddenly as Kirchmeyer throws another interception, and then DLS loses a fumble inside the Diablos’ 5-yard line for the second time in the game. Less than a minute left in the third quarter.

10:05 p.m.: Both teams have traded TDs. Pugh put DLS up 35-14 with 6:43 left in the game, but MV came back with an 80-yard drive behind back up quarterback Allan Bridgeford. Bridgeford threw a 3-yard TD pass to John Hunt and its 35-21 with 3:35 to play.

10:31 p.m: Despite another strong drive led by Bridgeford that closed the score to 35-28 with two seconds to go, DLS managed to hold on and earn the victory.

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Let’s do better, shall we?

Gawd, I was awful last week with my forecast picks. I will never have a week like that again. You have my word, faithful forecast reader. So let’s get to this week’s picks.

(6) San Ramon Valley over Irvington: I know Irvington will be revved up to play another EBAL team after being beat up by Amador Valley two weeks ago. But they should have been revved up last week, and they only managed a one-touchdown win over Kennedy-Fremont. SRV rolls.

(5) Alhambra over College Park: I hear this Brandon Rutley guy’s pretty good.

(4) Monte Vista over California: A huge crowd is expected in San Ramon tonight as the Mustangs come calling. The final score may be closer than expected, but it’s tough to ignore Monte Vista’s 29-1 record against the Grizzlies since 1975.

(3) Pinole Valley over Berkeley: The Yellow Jackets have played a tough schedule and they should be prepared for this game. But the Spartans have scored like mad this year and should end up winning a shootout.

(2) Pittsburg over Clayton Valley: The Pirates needed a fourth quarter outburst to get by a game Liberty team. They’ll be in for a fight this week, too. But they won’t need any last minute heroics.

(1) De La Salle over Mission Viejo: Not winning would be a huge letdown for the Spartans, who circled this game on the calendar a long time ago. Mission Viejo’s good, but not having a manchild like Chane Moline anymore could be the difference.

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FRIDAY FORECAST WEEK 5

Believe it or not we’re already at Week five. And speaking of things difficult to believe, Ben is actually in second place after our first week of weighting games and taking points. We all took our lumps last week, but yours truly came out on top with 12 points, Ben finished with 8 and Curtis managed just 6.

This week’s games aren’t going to be any easier. In fact, I might just go out on a limb and say this might be the toughest six-game Forecast slate in the young history of this feature.

We don’t have a ton of time, so let’s get started. As a reminder, we weight our prediction from 6-1 with No. 6 being our most confident.

(6) San Ramon Valley (4-0) over Irvington (3-1): The Vikings may be the class of the MVAL this season, but the Wolves have just a little too much firepower. I look for something similar to the beating Amador Valley put on Irvington in Week 3. Score: 35-16.

(5) Pittsburg (3-1) over Clayton Valley (3-1): OK, the Pirates had what looks to become their annual scare against Liberty, and can now return to business against the Eagles. Clayton Valley was somewhat sideswiped by the double-wing, double-tight offensive machine of Ygnacio Valley last week. I expect a better effort from the Eagles, but not one that’s going to match the Pirates. Score: 28-10.

(4) Alhambra (4-0) over College Park (3-1): Forget Brandon Rutley (and it’s hard to do), but the Bulldogs won last week’s showdown against Las Lomas with defense. The Falcons deserve a lot of credit for their 3-1 start, but this could be a tough one for them. All the same, this one is going to be close. I think Alhambra’s defense gives them the edge. Score: 24-22.

(3) Monte Vista (3-1) over California (3-1): Losing to Foothill will have the Mustangs fired up for this one. As good as Cal has looked over the past two weeks, I have to think Monte Vista is just a little more prepared for this one. We shall see. Score: 33-27.

(2) De La Salle (4-0) over Mission Viejo (3-1): Gotta go with the Nation’s No. 1 team in this one. Plus, the Spartans always rise in big games. Score: 38-24

(1) Berkeley (1-3) over Pinole Valley (4-0): That’s right, I’m pickin’ the Yellow Jackets to take a trip to Upset City. Berkeley played a very tough preseason schedule that made them look a little worse than they are, I think. They are the only ACCAL program that plays anything resembling defense, so that could cause trouble for the high-scoring Spartans. Score: 27-21.

Let us know what you think. And don’t forget to come back to the blog Saturday night where I’ll be blogging live updates during the DLS-Mission Viejo game. 

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Friday Forecast

Just when you thought we weren’t forecasting this week, we shock you with late picks. Here’s my quick analysis of this week:

(6) Pittsburg over Clayton Valley: CV had trouble with Ygnacio Valley last week, so something tells me Pitt will be ok.

(5) Alhambra over College Prep: Try and stop Brandon Rutley. I dare you.

(4) San Ramon Valley over Irvington: This is a tough game but Corbin Louks just might find a way to pull this one out.

(3) Pinole Valley over Berkeley: PV has way too many weapons right now. I’m looking forward to this one though.

(2) Monte Vista over California: The Mustangs bounce back from last week’s loss with a good win over a solid Cal team.

(1) DLS over Mission Viejo: DLS doesn’t necessarily need to prove to the world that they’re good, but national TV? I bet they will.

See you all at the games!