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30 Questions to Kickoff: Tommy Boy and All That Kazzaz.

Let’s talk more offense today.

Chace’s question: Campolindo was among the surprise teams of last season, reaching the 3A East Bay championship and nearly upsetting Las Lomas. In fact, the Cougars nearly upended the heavily favored Knights earlier in the year when sophomore quarterback Tommy Stephens emerged on the scene and made the Campolindo offense suddenly much more dangerous. So what’s to be expected of the Cougars this season? Stephens is back, but star receiver Nick Mascheroni has graduated. Also gone are running backs Bo Richter and Luke Crossley. What is the Campo offense expected to look like?

Ben’s answer: I was in Moraga for Stephens’ coming out party against Las Lomas last season when he stepped in and ran a five-wide receiver offense to near perfection against a very good defense. So, am I a believer in Stephens as the next big thing at quarterback? Yep, count me in.

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30 Questions to Kickoff: Replacing Drew

We shift our focus back to the players today.

Ben’s question: Anyone who saw Monte Vista play last year knows that while the Mustangs had plenty of talent, the engine ran smoothest when QB/DB Drew McAllister was at the top of his game. He was Monte Vista’s unquestioned leader for most of his four years at the school and now, with McAllister gone to USC, the question becomes who will step into his leadership role? Will it be new QB Brett Nottingham? How about WR Taylor Brewster? Or could it be Stanford-bound TE Zach Ertz? And, perhaps most importantly, how will Nottingham respond to the complexities of coach Craig Bergman’s fast-paced offense?

Chace’s answer: Nottingham might not have Pete Carroll patrolling the Mustangs sideline this season, but rest assured, this is all part of Bergman’s plan. Continue Reading

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30 Questions to Kickoff: A hard look at West Co. football

Today we’ll get a little introspective.

Chace’s question: With the new league realignments occurring in the East Bay, De La Salle joining the EBAL, and Matt Sweeney returning to Foothill, the primary focus of the prep football world will be focused on the gridirons located in central Contra Costa County and the Tri-Valley area. But there was a time when some of the biggest games of the year were played on the other side of the Caldecott. West County football has somewhat spun into oblivion in recent years, and we’re wondering if it has a chance to become relevant again. Alonzo Carter’s hire at Berkeley seemed to peak the curiousity of many fans last year. But what more needs to happen for West County re-emerge on the prep football map?

Ben’s answer: First of all, it’s important to note that Pinole Valley made the NCS 3A East Bay final last year. Berkeley made the 4A playoffs and Encinal won one game in the 2A East Bay playoffs. So, there are a few teams for which things went well last season.

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30 Questions to Kickoff: Breakout players

The majority of local coaches are taking this week off. Not us. We’re in it to win it.

Ben’s question: Just as there were some successful newbies in the coaching ranks last season, there were a few players who left a lasting impact on the 2007 campaign. We were introduced to names like Diante Jackson, Patrone Wood II and Joe Southwick. And, while those big names return again this year, I’m left wondering who will fill their shoes as the breakout players to look for. Who will be this year’s suprise superstars on the gridiron?

Chace’s answer: There are several new faces that we expect to burst on to the scene. I’ll break it down by skill position. Continue Reading

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EC hoopster commits to San Diego

A little basketball news in the middle of our August football frenzy. Rivals.com is reporting that El Cerrito swingman Ken Rancifer, who transferred to El Cerrito from Skyline last season, has given an oral commitment to the University of San Diego.

Rancifer, who is probably closer to 6-foot-5 instead of the 6-foot-7 that Rivals says, is extremely athletic and extremely long. Should be a good get for the Toreros.

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30 Questions to Kickoff: Who is this year’s Cinderella?

Okay, walk-throughs are over with. It’s time to put the pads on this week and delve a little deeper.

Chace’s question: Two season’s ago it was Deer Valley reeling off a 10-0 regular season after a mediocre 2005. Last year it was Northgate, which began the season on a 13-game losing streak, and posted a mark of 5-5 — just missing the playoffs. So I’m wondering who will be taking the pumpkin carriage to paydirt this season? What program will be our feel-good story of 2008?

Ben’s answer: It’s real adventurous of me to pick a team that has won four NCS titles since 2000. But, after a 5-5 season in 2007, I’ve got to think Miramonte is a prime candidate for a bounce back. For starters, John Wade is too good a coach to let them stay down two years in a row. Add to that the return of quarterback/kicker Matt Lloyd and I think the Matadors have the potential to make the NCS playoffs and make a late run into the postseason.

Now, since picking always-solid Miramonte isn’t necessarily a big reach, let me throw out a name that’s a bit less familiar. Concord joins the newly-formed DVAL this year and it’s going to be up to the Minutemen to carry the torch for the spread offenses of the world in a league filled with run-heavy teams. You know what though? Concord’s going to score points this year. Write that down in pen, not pencil. Utah-bound WR C.J. Porter is back and is joined by QB Raymond Buford and RB Forrest Hightower. That’s a good start right there but add in the fact that Buford and Hightower are only juniors and there’s a ton of room for growth. I can see the Minutemen causing a host of matchup problems for the rest of the league and I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see them in the postseason.

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30 Questions to Kickoff: The new guys wearing the headset

Today’s question comes in much the same vein as yesterday’s, and it continues our line of questioning on coaching. While last year’s crop of new coaches was certainly a bit more high-profile, this year’s class has some big shoes to fill as well.

Ben’s Question: While not as high-profile as last year’s crop, this year’s group of new coaches has a definite set of challenges to contend with. This year’s new coaches include Antioch’s Randy Autentico, El Cerrito’s Kenneth Khan, Kennedy-Richmond’s Delo Hilton, Northgate’s Justin Lowell and Livermore’s Mike Profumo. So, just how well will these coaches fare in their first year?

Chace’s Answer: Though I haven’t had a chance to look into these program’s situation with much detail, I do know that the success of a new coach often goes hand-in-hand with what kind of players he inherits. Continue Reading

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30 Questions to Kickoff: Year No. 2 for the big coaching hires of ’07

Alright, it’s officially August. Smell the grass. Dust off the sleds. Two-a-days and “gassers” are just around the corner.

Thus, it’s time for our first of 30 questions we’ll be posting (six per week) as we lead up to the prep football season’s first East Bay kickoff on Friday, Sept. 5.

And what better way to start our inquiries by looking back to the big topic last year at this time — the new faces on the coaching carousel.

Chace’s question: Last year, several high-profile coaches took over at some very noteworthy programs. Alonzo Carter began at Berkeley, Tim Silva at Granada and Casey Moreno at Dublin. Each experienced highs and lows in the first season at their programs. Especially Carter, who was the only one to lead his team to a first-round playoff game, only to spend that night at home serving an NCS suspension. So, here’s question No. 1: What can we expect from these coaches and their programs in Year No. 2?

Ben’s answer: My crystal ball is a bit foggy so early in the year. But, that doesn’t mean I’m devoid of answers.

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