In answering this weekend’s question about the Pittsburg quarterback situation, I made mention of the four-game gauntlet coach Victor Galli has scheduled for the Pirates to open the season. Which got me thinking about some of the other teams which have loaded their nonleague schedules this year, and led me to today’s question.
Chace’s question: De La Salle, Pittsburg and Las Lomas have all beefed up their schedules, but the team which has really put itself out there this season is California. After leading the Grizzlies to their first NCS championship game last season, Tony Sanchez is determined to keep building his program. And he’s clearly not afraid to take all comers. With nonleague games against Las Lomas, Bellvue (Wash.) and San Leandro, and then a full slate of EBAL games, Cal won’t play a single team who had a losing record in 2007 until Week 8 against Livermore. Is that too much? Will it help or hinder Cal’s shot at getting into the Division I playoff bracket?
Ben’s answer: I guess the answer depends on how good a team you think Sanchez has this year. And yes, this affords me another opportunity to mention big Bo Stompro, quarterback of the mighty Grizzlies.
Seriously though, Sanchez isn’t taking anything lightly this year. For their sake, I hope the Grizzlies can weather the early-season storm because if they don’t, the EBAL isn’t the place to make up ground on the rest of the East Bay.
Now, with the talent that Cal has, I could see them winning a few of those early games. Stompro has experience, LeRoy Green and Reggie Davis are great runners and the defense should be solid again. So, if the team is anywhere near as good as last year, this schedule puts the Grizzlies in the discussion at the end of the year.
There are really two schools of thought here. What Cal doesn’t want to happen is what happened to Skyline the last few years. The Titans have played an insanely tough schedule and the early-season losses have really taken a toll by the time the OAL season winds down. There’s a fine line that coaches need to walk, especially when a team isn’t as good as the year before.
That said, I’m happy to see more and more coaches doing this because they realize that with five possible state championship berths up for grabs, teams can realistically shoot for the moon. Las Lomas is doing the same thing, playing Archbishop Mitty-San Jose, Cal, Rocklin and Oakmont-Roseville. For the Knights it’s really not surprising because if they had beaten Novato in the NCS 2A title game last year, I think they would have had to do some campaigning to get to the state title game. Tougher schedules put these schools in the conversation on a statewide level and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.