With the football preview on its way to your door step Sept. 4, you are just going to have to wait for the Hayward Area Athletic League preview. But I do want to give everyone a list of possible HAAL story lines to watch for this season. This should be a fun year!
1. Bishop O’Dowd coach Paul Perenon is just five wins away from 200 in his amazing career. There is no question that he is going to reach that milestone this season and it should happen Oct. 11 against San Lorenzo. It couldn’t happen to a better coach. Simply amazing.
2. Tennyson has a strong chance to make its first North Coast Section playoffs apperance in school history. The Lancers have been one spot away from reaching the playoffs the last two seasons. This year the team should get over that hump.
3. Mark your calendars for Oct. 24. This will be when Bishop O’Dowd travels to Burrell Field to play San Leandro at 7 p.m. This could be the best O’Dowd-San Leandro game in some time. Both teams are going to be very solid this season.
4. Speaking of San Leandro, have you checked out the Pirates’ non-league schedule? They haven’t played this tough a non-league schedule in at least the last seven years. San Leandro opens with Valley Christian-San Jose, then gets defending NCS 3-A East Bay champions San Ramon Valley and closes with NCS 4-A East Bay runner-up California. The Pirates will open some eyes with a win in any of those games.
5. Don’t be surprised if Castro Valley stuns either San Leandro, Bishop O’Dowd or both. The Trojans have a lot of dangerous playmakers this season. Remember, it was Castro Valley that took the defending league champs (San Leandro) into overtime before losing last season.
6. Where will Chris Martin go? The junior linebacker at Bishop O’Dowd has offers from USC, Stanford, California and Notre Dame just to name a few. Let the Chris Martin watch officially begin.
7. Will O’Dowd’s Che’rod Simpson get enough carries to win the HAAL rushing title? The Dragons also have the very talented Mario Brown in the backfield. These two will most likely split carries, which will hurt their individual yardage total but will make the backfield at O’Dowd super scary.
8. San Leandro’s defense could be the best its had since the Nico Herron, Damion Owens, Scottie Cordier and Sir William McKenzie days in 2005. As usual, the question will be if San Leandro can stop the pass. The Pirates will find that out pretty quick (look at non-league schedule above).
9. Two new coaches enter the league: Mt. Eden’s George Mitsopoulos and Hayward’s Bill Bishop. The Farmers always have scary athletes and this year is no different with Dominique Jackson returning at running back. The question is: Can this team make it through adversity? If it can, expect Hayward to climb out of the hole it fell in last season.
That’s it for now, but there are still plenty of things to discuss about the HAAL. Let’s get the conversation going….