The MVAL guru is back. That’s right. Steve R. Waterhouse, after a great summer vacation, is ready to tackle some football. I’ve spoken to each MVAL coach and wanted to pass along some facts and thoughts on the upcoming season.
First, I must say this may be the most competitive league season in my seven-year tenure. In my time, there has been one constant _ James Logan _ which has won 15 straight league games and eight of the last nine league crowns. Irvington won the league title in 2005 (the first since 1984).
I chose Logan to win league for two reasons: 1) The Colts have 4,000+ students, the largest school in Northern California. They have more players to choose from, which fills positions like lineman and such in addition to some skill players. 2) And the other reason is after winning 15 straight league games, and numerous MVAL titles the past decade, I think they’ve earned the right to be my top choice.
Newark Memorial and Washington will also be quality teams. I think Newark’s defense will be one of the best in the East Bay. And no one can match up against Washington WR Rahsaan Vaughn. John F. Kennedy has a returning running back in Jerrell Walker, who I think will be one of the best in the East Bay.
Now for some team-by-team breakdowns in alphabetical order:
American: Sorry to say, but this could be a complete turn around from last year’s 6-5 NCS-qualifying season. The Eagles lost four key offensive players in QB Michael Kreitner, WR Andrew Stone, WR Jeremy Troupe-Masi and RB Dajon Johnson. One thing going good for the Eagles is their schedule that includes: Oakland, Tennyson and Dougherty Valley in non-league play. I also think American will beat Mission and battle with Irvington. Losses will include Washington, Logan, Newark, Kennedy.
Irvington: Key returners include QB Ken Kester and RB Jesse Herrera. RB Ross Larson TE/DE Trevor Ramos. Coming off a 2-8 season (1-5 MVAL), I don’t think Irvington has enough to do damage in the league. I expect somewhat of the same kind of year as last year. Maybe one or two more wins.
James Logan: This will be Logan’s toughest season in recent history. Losing an all-everything QB in Rashad Evans hurts a lot. As well as G Blake Lebeau among others. Logan has 11 new players on offense and nine on defense. Key returners and players whom I see as possible playmakers are WR/RB Brandon Arnold and LB Joe Mestre. Logan has a tough start this year with games against Monte Vista and Foothill. Deer Valley is a Week 3 game and then the Colts open MVAL play with Newark. After that, they play Berkeley. We’ll find out by Week 5 where the Colts stand. They were 11-1 and 6-0 MVAL last year and lost to Cal in the semifinals of the 4-A playoffs.
John F. Kennedy: I think Kennedy has the most dynamic RB in Jerrell Walker. They also return OL (all-leaguer) Derrick Jackson. I see Kennedy claiming wins over Balboa, Irvington, Mission and American. The Titans have a tough non-league schedule that includes Bishop O’Dowd, Clayton Valley and Granada. Keep in mind, the Titans are the league’s lone Division III team.
Mission San Jose: Expect more of the same from Mission. The Warriors have lost 16 straight MVAL games and that could get up to 22 by the end of the year. Mission’s hopes for a win would be Irvington and/or American.
Newark Memorial: The hard-hitting Cougars return five players on the DL led by Eric Banford. LB Anthony Sao is another guy to watch out for. RB Robert Hawkins is a key to the offense which lost the Gates twins (CCSF). The Cougars had the third-best defense in the East Bay last year and No. 1 in the MVAL. I expect Newark to be very competitive this year and have four non-league games to open the season (Alhambra, College Park, Milpitas and Arroyo). I see NM going 3-1 or 4-0. And if Newark beats Logan to open league season, I can see the Cougars winning league.
Washington: The most dymanic player in the MVAL and possibly the East Bay plays here _ WR Rahsaan Vaughn. No matter what anyone says about Washington’s win over Newark in the first round of the 3-A East Bay playoffs last year, I say Vaughn beat Newark. Vaughn scored two TDs that game and rushed for 100 yards. He went on to score two TDs in a semifinal loss at Pinole Valley. He has a fresh quarterback in David Ross. Ross is the younger brother of QB Tommy Ross, who had eligibility issues after he transfered from Kennedy last year. Tommy has since graduated.