30 Questions to Kickoff: Eagles rising?

We interrupt all this breaking news to bring you our daily feature…Remember, it’s all about football here.

Chace’s question: So as we begin to go deeper into our individual league previews and team outlooks, a few teams continue to be intriguing. One of these teams is Clayton Valley. Since winning seven games (and tying De La Salle) in 2004, the Eagles are just 16-17 over the past three seasons. That’s a lot of rebuilding. But now Clayton Valley is in a new league and it has a three-year starter at quarterback. So do the Eagles breakout of their funk of mediocrity in 2008?

Ben’s answer: It’s interesting how much a quarterback has to do with the success of a high school team. In this instance, I think Joey Levine has the key to the kingdom. Now, it’ll be what the rest of the team does around him that makes all the difference.

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Patterson commits to Oregon

Pittsburg RB/DB Avery Patterson, ranked No. 49 overall in the Rivals.com California Preseason Top 100 players to watch, has orally committed to Oregon, according to Rivals.com.

Patterson might be one of the fastest players in the East Bay. Rivals lists his 40 time at 4.33 seconds. He’ll be a cornerback at Oregon but this year he’ll see plenty of playing time at running back for coach Victor Galli and the Pirates.


Public hearing on future of OAL set for Thursday

I have a story that should make it into tomorrow’s papers (at least the Oakland Tribune), but just wanted to get the word out and get a little discussion going here about the future of the Oakland Athletic League. There was a lot of chatter, particularly back in June, that the OAL was looking into the possibility of joining the NCS. I’ve talked to a lot of people about the topic, both formally and informally off the record, and my opinion was always that this was a longshot to happen because quite frankly, almost nobody wanted it to.

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30 Questions to Kickoff: Can Diante throw to himself?

We’ll go in our backyard for this one.

Ben’s Question: I roamed the Las Lomas sideline for more than a few games last season and I was continually amazed at the plays that WR Diante Jackson made. The guy is big, he’s fast and he’s got incredible hands. Last year, he developed quite a rapport with QB Max Yago and he benefited from having guys like Corey Paclebar and Danny Ward to share the load. This year, Paclebar, Yago and Ward have departed and Jackson is the Knights’ unquestioned top threat on offense. Faced with that reality, who will throw Jackson the ball and who will step up to help take the load off his shoulders?

Chace’s answer: The lucky person set to inherit Diante Jackson as his go-to receiver is Lucas Gorton.
The junior quarterback was a backup to Yago as a sophomore, and even got some time under center during a few blowouts. Continue Reading


30 Questions to Kickoff: Dive! Dive! Dive!

One of the major topics that is bound to come up several times in the next couple weeks is the new league alignments. And part of that realignment, is actually, a brand new league! The newly-formed DVAL (Clayton Valley, College Park, Concord, Mt. Diablo, Northgate, Ygnacio Valley) is quite intriguing on paper, and leads to our question for the day.

Chace’s question: Looking at the offensive philosophies of some of the DVAL programs, and you almost wonder if the ‘D’ in DVAL stands for dive back. Ygnacio Valley, Northgate and College Park all employ very run-heavy offensive attacks, and each have proven to be successful at it. With the Warriors and Falcons each having talented backs returning to their offensive scheme this season, they could certainly be considered favorites for the first DVAL title. So how will the pro-style offenses in the league stack up? Can they stack up?

Ben’s answer: The answer to the second question is yes, but with a caveat. The reason I say that is because we’re going to need to see in the first few weeks if the pro-style teams, the Clayton Valleys and the Concords and even the fly offense of Mt. Diablo, are improved from a year ago.

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30 Questions to Kickoff: Will the real Deer Valley please stand up?

Lets journey down Highway 4 to Antioch today.

Ben’s question: Two years ago, Deer Valley went 10-0, upset Pittsburg in the regular season and seemed to be on top of the high school football world. Of course, the Wolverines got upended in the playoffs by that same Pittsburg squad, bringing their season to a screeching halt. In 2007, Deer Valley managed to rebound well, finishing with a 7-3 record but narrowly missing a spot in the playoffs.

So, which Deer Valley will show up this season? The 10-0 world beaters or the fringe playoff squad of a year ago?

Chace’s answer: My guess would lean toward a blend of the two. I don’t necessarily see the Wolverines reeling off a 10-0 regular season, but I do see them making a return to the postseason in 2008. Continue Reading


30 Questions to Kickoff: Sideline up-and-comers

Well, it’s a little late in the day, but we’re still getting things done and making big plays. Today we’ll stick to the coaching ranks.

Chace’s question: So yesterday we talked about the return of Matt Sweeney to the Foothill sidelines, and the obvious impact it will have on the Falcons. But coaches like Sweeney, Bob Ladouceur (De La Salle) and Herc Pardi (Clayton Valley) are pretty much household names to East Bay prep football fans. Who are the up-and-comers, or the most underrated coaches out there right now?

Ben’s answer: When it comes to new coaches, I’m excited to see if Justin Lowell can keep the improvement going at Northgate. Now-departed coach Darin Owens gave the Broncos something to believe in last year and Lowell knows the kids, will run the same system Owens did, and is a young face for the kids to work with. I think Northgate could continue to improve.

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30 Questions to Kickoff: Welcome back

Today’s question takes us to Pleasanton, home of the Alameda County Fair.

Ben’s question: Perhaps the biggest coaching hire this season wasn’t really a hiring at all. Foothill’s Matt Sweeney, after spending a year away from the sidelines, is back to lead the Falcons this season. There’s no doubting the man’s chops. I can’t remember the last time a Sweeney-led football team had an unsuccessful season. This time around though, he inherits a young team that didn’t necessarily set the world on fire last year. So, that begs the question. What kind of an impact will Sweeney have in year one of his comeback?

Chace’s answer: Nobody can argue that John Mannion had an almost impossible job last season in replacing Sweeney. Still, he managed to get the Falcons to a 6-4 finish and keep their string of playoff appearances alive. And, with the exception of Rob Andrews and Austin Day, the Falcons were fairly unproven heading into last season.

Enter Sweeney, a master motivator who already has a team eager to erase last year and make a name for itself. Continue Reading


30 Questions to Kickoff: A Bear of a Schedule

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.

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30 Questions to Kickoff: Who will play Captain Jack for the Pirates?

From Lamorinda to East County, we roll on with another question about offense.

Ben’s question: The summer rumor came true and the 2008 season will open with Pittsburg coach Victor Galli looking for a steady hand under center. According to a release we got from coach Galli, last year’s QB Mario Hill Jr. is no longer with the team. That means the Pirates need a quarterback. The good news is whoever fills that spot should have plenty of talent to work with but the question remains: Who will captain the Pirates offense?

Chace’s offense: Coming to the Pirates rescue should be senior Joe Lewis. Pittsburg coach Victor Galli thought highly enough of Lewis as a sophomore in 2006 when he made him the backup to senior Kraig Pifer. Lewis decided to take a year off from football in 2007 to focus on baseball. But now he’s back, and he should have a plethora of talent to work with. Continue Reading