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FRIDAY FORECAST: The return of the pick ‘em

On our video blog, “Two Geeks and a Pigskin”, we’ve been telling everyone that they can pick alongside of us on the East Bay Prep Pick’Em Challenge. Now, I’m figuring that since I can’t even log on and pick, you certainly can’t. As a result, Chace and I are reviving the Friday Forecast (yes, I know I’m posting on Thursday. What can I say, I can’t wait for Friday!) here on the East Bay Prep Sports Blog. We’ll be picking 10 games each week and you can pick with us in one of two ways. The first is you can use the comment feature at the bottom of the page to post your picks. The second, if you’d like to remain anonymous, is to email your picks to us at benos@bayareanewsgroup.com or cbryson@bayareanewsgroup.com and we’ll tally the standings. Alright, enough logistics, here are my picks on this week’s group of 10.

Pinole Valley over McClymonds: Purvis makes the difference
Pittsburg over Freedom: Pirates have tons to prove after last week’s loss to Valley Christian
Miramonte over Campolindo: Home team wins “Lamorinda Bowl”
San Ramon Valley over San Leandro: Southwick continues the magic
Foothill over Berkeley: Mannion gets first win as Falcons coach
Las Lomas over Concord: Kevin Reed gets after QB, makes impact
DLS over Loyola: One question — which DLS QB has a better game, MacGillivray or Wayne?
Clayton Valley over Heritage: Eagles need a win in a bad way, should have won last week
Dublin over Northgate: Broncos bubble gets popped
Hayward over Amador Valley: Guillory injury hurts Dons, Farmers hungry after poor effort against Cal

Alright, there’s the slate. Make your picks. We’ll keep track of it for ya.
– Ben Enos

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EAST BAY GIRLS VOLLEYBALL POLL

Once upon a sideout, the Times used to have a high school girls volleyball poll. I wasn’t around in those days, but some of the veteran coaches were quick to make sure I knew about it and its popularity.

Evidently, as space declined so did volleyball coverage in the Times and the poll was ditched by the paper in the same manner in which the sport threw out the 15-point scoring system — a move received with mix feelings.

Of course, those who generally love volleyball weren’t too happy about it.

The last poll ran in 2000, when Jonathon Okanes, now the fabulous CAL football beat writer, used to roam your local high school gym.

Well, here on the East Bay Prep Blog, we’re bringing it back! (Take note of the exclamation mark)

This time it’s a little different. For full disclosure, this is strictly a coaches’ poll headed by Deer Valley coach Lou Panzella. Here’s how it works. Only coaches will cast their votes on teams in the EAST BAY and Panzella tallies them up, figures out the Top 10 and sends them my way. I then post the results here on the Blog.

I’ll write a little something above the Top 10 each week and then it’s up to you, the fan, the player, the coach, Wilson the volleyball from Cast Away (anybody really) to agree or disagree by commenting at the bottom of this entry. Here’s your chance to give your opinion. Show us how much girls volleyball means to you. Give us your insight, your analysis, your observations. You can E-mail me, Ricardo Sanchez Jr., at rsanchez2@bayareanewsgroup.com with any tips or ideas as well.

Here’s this week’s poll:

EAST BAY GIRLS VOLLEYBALL COACHES POLL

1. Amador Valley (solid behind Sophia Dunworth and Katie Gellerman)
2. Deer Valley (setter Iris Tolenada should guide the Wolverines)
3. Foothill (Can the Falcons overcome some recent injuries?)
4. Granada (Nice run to the quarterfinals at DV tourney)
5. Campolindo (Young but talented, lost in quarterfinals at DV tourney)
6. Castro Valley (won the consolation championship at DV tourney)
7. San Ramon Valley (Geesh, another strong team in the EBAL)
8. Carondelet (Cougars could be Deer Valley’s top challenger in BVAL)
9. Albany (Lost in the consolation championship to Castro Valley)
10. Las Lomas (Are the Knights ready to challenge Campolindo in DFAL?)

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Reunited

No, they aren’t Peaches & Herb, but Salesian graduates Drew Gipson and Dijon Edwards will be gracing the court with the same basketball team, again this year. Gipson, a guard, and Edwards, a center, are both members of the Santa Rosa College Men’s basketball team. The last time the duo shared a court together, they helped the Pride to a 24-7 record and an appearance in the North Coast Section Division IV semifinals in 2005. It will be an NCS Division IV affair for the Bear Cubs, who will also have Cardinal Newman guard Donald Weddington joining Gipson and Edwards this year. Weddington helped Cardinal Newman to the CIF NorCal title this season.

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Girls Bball: Miramonte’s tough schedule

Girls basketball season isn’t for another three months or so, but Miramonte already has set its schdule and once again the Matadors will play one of the toughest slates in the East Bay.

“It’s good for girls basketball and the fans,” coach Darrell Hirashima said.

I agree. Check out these match ups:

Dec. 8: Archbishop Mitty-San Jose (defending Division II state champs)
Dec. 11: St. Patricks St. Vincent (2007 D-IV state finalists)
Dec. 27-29: Nike Tournament of Champions (a premiere national tournament)
Jan. 3: St. Francis-Sacramento: (perennial Division II power)
Jan. 5: Berkeley (2007 state D-1 finalist)
Jan. 21: Clovis West (D-1 state first round)
Jan. 26: Yosemite-Oakhurst (D-III state quarterfinalist)

– Ricardo Sanchez Jr.

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Amador Valley wins DV tournament

DV TOURNEY RECAP and then some….

If the Wolverine Invitational is any indication of how the 2007 season will play out, then everyone out there should be worried about Amador Valley.

The Dons have the pieces in place to make a run at the East Bay Athletic League and North Coast Section titles, now all they have to do is put it together for a season.

In the tough EBAL, such a task is an arduous one, but nothing out of the realm of possiblity. The last few years, the team to beat in the EBAL has been Foothill. That may still be the case, but Amador Valley put everyone on notice Saturday, romping through the competition before losing its only game – not match—against Deer Valley in the final. Amador Valley beat the Wolverines 25-10, 21-25, 15-13 for the championship. The Dons also disposed of Sacred Heart Cathedral in the semifinals, a team that boasts the talented Gabrielle Jolly, one of the best players at the tournament.

Rich Cortez says the Dons are still learning and improving, especially with freshman setter Kelsey Williams running the show. Williams, who played middle blocker coming up in club volleyball, was converted when Cortez spotted Williams’ soft hands during camps and at practice. At 5-11, Williams could eventually become a force, just like Sophia Dunworth, who also began playing varsity her freshman season. Now Dunworth, who has orally committed to play at Duke, has evolved into a dominant go-to outside hitter and the 6-foot-1 senior was the best player at the tournament. She won’t have to carry the Dons by herself because she has Nikki Baker and Katie Gellerman to shoulder the load. Baker showed off her serving ability, with what can only be described as a running, jumping float serve with some heat on it that disrupted the opponents serve-receive. Gellerman’s experience at outside hitter is invaluable.

Foothill found its way to the semifinals before losing to Deer Valley. In a rematch of the NCS Division I championship, the Wolverines avenged the loss. Or course, these are two different teams from a season ago. Dusty Collins has his Falcons playing hard although being shorthanded. Betsy Sedlak, who dislocated her knee over the summer, returned this week and is showing progress having moved from middle blocker to outside hitter. Alaynah Fiedler, another starter from last season’s championship run, injured her achilles on the first match of the day and Andrea Davis, a sophomore who had earned a starting spot, hurt her ankle later on. Despite losing those two starters, the Falcons got itself out of pool play which included a win over Albany giving Foothill the tie-breaker over the Cougars. The Falcons then escaped with an impressive win over Maria Carrillo-Santa Rosa, a team many thought would make the final. Setter Kari Boughton and Sedlak were named to the all-tournament team.

San Ramon Valley and Granada also advanced to the championship bracket however the Wolves lost to Sacred Heart Cathedral and the Matadors bumped into Amador Valley. With SRV, Granada, AV and Foothill reaching the championship bracket, it only solidifies the belief of the last few seasons, that the EBAL is the toughest league to play in.

Carondelet and Northgate had disappointing showings. The two teams have been perennial powers but are going through some growing pains and will need to get it together to compete for a championship in their respective league.

The Cougars have to worry about Deer Valley in the Bay Valley Athletic League. The Wolverines do not have a dominant hitter, but still plays tenacious defense and has a handful of players who can get the ball over the net. In other words, the Wolverines ability to force rallies gives them a chance to score points, and that’s all you can ask for. Junior setter Iris Tolenada is establishing herself as a solid setter and she’s bringing along hitters in Shauna White, Krystal Green and Sandra Foster. All three are learning how to deal with getting the majority of sets.

Campolindo, who hasn’t lost the DFAL title since the league’s inception in 2000, will have its work cut out for it. The Cougars are talented, but they are young, with three freshman starters. Senior Paula Inzerillo will provide leadership as the Cougars still managed to get out of pool play and into the championship bracket before a loss to Deer Valley in the quarterfinals.

— Ricardo Sanchez Jr.

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Two Geeks and a Pigskin: Wholesome fun or whimsical rubbish?

Some of you (and, judging by our ratings, not a whole lot of you) have found your way to our new video blog, Two Geeks and a Pigskin at contracostatimes.com. Before we get any further into the season, I figured I’d shed some light on how this idea came about in the first place.

We wanted to give readers something a bit more interactive and a bit more fun to spotlight our prep football season this year. As a result, Chace Bryson and I were recruited to give faces and voices to our coverage. We’re two weeks into it and, I gotta tell you, we’re having a blast. Along with our stalwart director, Karl Mondon, we’re planning on getting even more absurd and even more informative as the season goes on.

This week, we ran into an interesting twist. We’re now providing KICU Sports Focus a one-minute spot that will focus on the following week’s matchups from here in our newsroom at the Contra Costa Times. It’s a good relationship, one we hope continues for a long while because frankly, we’re writers and we don’t get much face time in front of anyone other than our mothers.

What that meant for this week was that Chace was the subject of our merciless mockery, something I hope is duly reflected in this week’s Two Geeks segment. I got to let out the inner seven year-old in me by running around the newsroom making faces and in turn we ended up with some script material.

The long and short of it is that you can tune in to KICU Sports Focus on Friday nights at 11 p.m. and watch Chace’s big-time TV debut. You can get a little behind-the-scenes action from the shoot on Two Geeks and a Pigskin by going back to the contracostatimes.com home page.

Another thing: The Friday Forecast has been expanded and is now a full-fledged contest on our high school sports page. It’s a big, green ad-looking thing on the right-hand side of the page. We’ll be picking there every week and we’ll update you on our picks here on the blog. I think our company has put some prizes up for grabs this year if you participate. Take a look and make some picks.

Finally, if you’ve got any ideas or comments for Two Geeks and a Pigskin, let us know. Want us to come to your school? We’re trying to figure out where to go next. Drop a comment here or email us at benos@bayareanewsgroup.com or cbryson@bayareanewsgroup.com.
– Ben Enos

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Girls Volleyball is here!

For the past 11 years, Deer Valley High School girls volleyball coach Lou Panzella has put together the Wolverine Invitiatonal, which many just call the Deer Valley tournament.

Panzella, the volleyball guru that he is, tries to use pinpoint accuracy when seeding this tournament. Usually he goes by last year’s finish and overall record. Most of the time he’s right on the money.

But this year things will be a lot tougher.

“Honestly, there’s like 10 to 12 teams that could win this tournament,” Panzella said.

And there is the problem he faces. How do you rank these teams? Is it by record, reputation, potential?

I’m happy all I have to do as a journalist, and you as a fan, is show up and watch.

Here are few candidates anyway:

Foothill won the Deer Valley tournament last season and reached the Division I state championship match. Sounds like a clear-cut choice for the top seed, right? Well, yea, sort of.

But consider this: Despite being coached by Dusty Collins (one of the best in the biz), the Falcons still lost stud setter Christy Payne and middle blocker Felicia Willoughby. Both are playing collegiately at St. Mary’s and Virginia Tech, respectively. So outside of perhaps Betsy Sedlak, the Falcons reamain unproven.

Another team to watch is Campolindo, which did not attend this tournament last season because they were out participtaing in a national tourney in Las Vegas. Of course, the Cougars have gone down in history as the first East Bay team to ever win a state championship. Campolindo won the Division III state championship in 2006 but also lost the majority of its starters, with middle blocker Paula Inzerillo as the lone returner with any real playing time. So the big question is where do the Cougars go from here, having reached the zenith of their sport the season before? With a fairly young squad, we’ll see if the Cougars live up to their reputation of “they don’t rebuild, they reload.”

Other big names attending this weekend are Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco and Maria Carrillo-Santa Rosa, two schools that are perennially in postseason contention, and could find their way to the final.

Add local powers in Carondelet and San Ramon Valley into the mix and Panzella has his work cut out for him.

That’s not even mentioning Deer Valley. The Wolverines won the Bay Valley Athletic League and reached the NCS Division I championship match. They also took a hit, losing outside hitter Kendra Rowland and defensive gem Laura Riley.

The caliber of teams entered points to how popular a preseason destination the tournament has become. And with talents Sophia Dunworth (Amador Valley) and Jana Poole (Albany) expected to be in attendance, it should be a good day for volleyball.

“Last year we had a great tournament in terms of balance,” Panzella said. “That’s what you want, you want a lot of balance, a lot of good teams playing and that’s what we got.”

Without a clear-cut favorite, this tournament is up for grabs.

— Ricardo Sanchez Jr.

DEER VALLEY TOURNAMENT

n When: Saturday, Sept. 8
n Where: Deer Valley High School, North and South gyms.
n Time: 8:30 a.m., first match; Championship, 6:30 p.m. approx.
n Tickets: Adults $3; snack bar available
n Teams participating: Albany, Amador Valley, Antioch, Campolindo, Carondelet, Castro Valley, Concord, Deer Valley, Foothill, Granada, Liberty, Maria Carillo-Santa Rosa, Northgate, Sacred Heart Cathedral-San Francisco, San Ramon Valley, St. Patrick-St. Vincent.

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Independence Falls

As some of you already know (since you’re all devout followers of our message board), Independence, N.C. lost this weekend to Elder of Cincinnati at the Kirk Herbstreit Challenge (for what it’s worth, I think I should have a Challenge named after me).

I can see De La Salle fans rejoicing at this news. So, I guess my question is with Independence’s 109-winning streak over, is this the unbreakable record now? The new standard-bearer is South Panola, Miss. with a 61-game win streak. That’s an awful lot of ground to make up to catch the Spartans’ 151-game streak..

It’s not like Independence got wiped out. They had a sophomore at quarterback and he threw an interception in overtime to end the Patriots’ chance. That same quarterback, Anthony Carruthers, connected on 25 of 37 passes for 346 yards. I guess my comment is why the heck is a sophomore tossing 37 passes against a team the caliber of Elder? Let’s not pin this thing on that kid. Sounds to me like he did a stand-up job. De La Salle beat Elder last year by running the veer to perfection but, apparently, Indpendence wasn’t really up for duplicating the feat.

Well, the Spartanhood can rest easy this season. And next. And the one after that. Wake me up when someone hits 100.
– Ben Enos