Alright everyone, we’ve all finished out league previews, so you’ll have to wait for the special section to come out to see all that information, but I thought I’d go ahead and throw out some notes and some of my impressions of the EBAL teams based on what I got from talking with the coaches in the league.
Amador - Biggest news coming out of AV is that the fly offense is going to have a little tweaking this year. In the past, the QB has always lined up under center, but this year coach Rick Sira said they will have the QB in the shotgun most of the time. He said it should help with their play-action game and give them more flexibility with play calling. They’ll still be sending their flybacks in motion, but it will be interesting to take a look at this major change in the offense that was installed in 1990. Also, the Dons are not settled on a particular QB and will be using as many as 4 according to Sira.
Cal- Coach Tony Sanchez is fired up for this year. This is his fifth year at the school, so its his second group of players that he has had go through his program their entire HS career. Everyone saw the results last year with the first class he had all the way through and the success is only going to continue. The team lives in the weight room all year and you can tell — lots of big strong kids out there. Taking DLS out of the equation with Kylan Butler, Cal probably has the best backfield in the league and possibly the East Bay with senior Leroy Green and junior Reggie Davis. Kind of a thunder and lightning package. Bo Stompro filled in with a lot of success for N.Spalliero last year at QB and Sanchez is high on him.
DLS- I asked every coach how they felt about DLS coming into the league and how/if it changes anything. The consensus was that yes, DLS’s arrival changes the league landscape because it is that much harder to win a league title now. But everyone also agreed that they won’t change the way they do things because if there is too much focus on DLS, any one of the 6 other teams they play in league can beat them.
Foothill- Obviously the main story out of Foothill right now is the return of coaching legend Matt Sweeney. Sweeney and John Mannion will serve as “co head coaches” this year, which should only help Foothill return to the upper half of the league standings. The Falcons are kind of a unknown for me right now because I know how much they relied on Rob Andrews last year and he’s now at SDSU. INTERVIEW WITH ANDREWS He will probably be redshirting there, but there is a chance they may burn his RS so he can be a special teams guy this year.
Granada – Those who followed track and field in the spring know all about George and Jose Atkinson. As freshmen last year, they were the fastest kids in the 100 and 200 in the EBAL (once McAllister was hurt) and George went to the state meet in both events. Their father, George Sr., played for the Raiders. The only reason they ran track in the spring was to get faster for football and I’m expecting them to make an immediate impact for the Mats.
Livermore – It’s Mike Profumo’s first year as the head coach for the Cowboys and I have a feeling it’s going to be a long year for the ‘Boys. I was there to see them run sideline ladders and there was a lot of kids struggling to make the times. Profumo is encouraged by the enthusiasm, but knows its going to be tough finding replacements for RBs Brandon Williams and Rodney Neale.
Monte Vista- This is a team to watch no doubt about it. Yes, they lose McAllister to USC, but they’ve got a lot coming back off an NCS semi-finalist team from a year ago that beat SRV in the final regular season game. Most importantly, the entire offensive line. That’s going to be the key and they give time to JR star to be QB Brett Nottingham. He backed up McAllister as a sophomore and is primed for a big year. He’s got one of the nation’s best TEs in Zach Ertz (Stanford commit) to throw to and a 6-2, 230-pound RB in Dave Wilkerson to hand the ball off to. Wilkerson is just a junior but has already committed to Cal as a linebacker. He was first team all-ebal as a sophomore and will anchor the D.
San Ramon Valley- Expectations are high coming off an NCS title. Joe Southwick is the headliners at QB, but the Wolves don’t return any other starters on offense. Which has to be a reason to worry considering the talent returning at Cal/MV. Cole Huntley, a rugby player, who is getting some D-I football love as well, will serve as a good fullback and should be good for a couple pancake blocks a game, but the Wolves really need to find some receivers early on — Southwick is only as good as the guys he’s throwing to, so I think we’ll have to wait and see early on with SRV.
It’s a crapshoot this early, but here are my early EBAL rankings
1. DLS 2. Cal 3. MV 4. SRV 5. Foothill 6. Amador 7. Granada 8. Livermore