After De La Salle, what can be expected from the rest of the East Bay Athletic League?
With the Spartans at the top and Livermore at the bottom, there are a lot of unknowns with the rest of the league. Here is a best case/worst case breakdown for the rest of the teams in the league:
With 14 starters back from a team that fell just a win shy of the playoffs, the Dons will definitely take a step forward this year and should be expected to qualify for NCS. The Dons return the third (QB Kean Stancil) and sixth (RB Dalton Turay) leading rushers in the league from a year ago and continue to evolve away from the Fly Offense that has been a staple at the school for many years. Expect to see Stancil in the shotgun with four wide and Turay in the back field on most plays in what should be an entertaining team to watch.
Best case: 3rd place — Probably should have beaten Foothill and Cal last year, if everything falls into place, Amador could be one of the area’s best teams.
Worst case: 6th place — It’s a safe bet the Dons will finish ahead of either SRV or Granada or Cal (plus Livermore), a 7th place finish would be a huge disappointment.
From a pure talent standpoint, the Grizzlies are among the best teams in NCS. But with a new coach, it leaves a lot of questions to be answered. RB/DB Reggie Davis had minor surgery, but said he’ll be good to go when they open up against Washington next week. He was hampered with injuries last year after bursting onto the scene as a sophomore — if he stays healthy, watch out. The Grizzlies will primarily run out of the I-formation according to offense new coach Eric Billeci and others within the program have called it the Wing-T.
Best case: 3rd place — If the coaching change is a seamless transition, Cal shouldn’t take a step back. One EBAL coach said you can put Monte Vista, Foothill and Cal in a hat and draw for who finishes in 2nd. I doubt they finish ahead of both MV and Foothill, but one is a possibility.
Worst case: 7th place — If the coaching change is a rough one, there are a lot of talented teams that could take advantage.
De La Salle is De La Salle. Best line, best skill players, best coaches.
Best case: Mythical national champs.
Worst case: Lose in a state bowl game.
Sean Mannion is back at quarterback, but every receiver who caught a pass a year ago has graduated. That shouldn’t matter. The incoming group of receivers as well as some seniors who will finally see the field are expected to keep the Falcons just as dangerous as last year. With perhaps the best coaching staff outside of DLS, Foothill will remain a top-five program in the East Bay. A 9-1 or 8-2 season is expected.
Best case: 2nd place — Beat Monte Vista and hold court against everyone else.
Worst case: 4th place — Lose to Monte Vista and drop another league game along the way.
George and Josh Atkinson make this a team to watch out for. With speed like that on offense, the possibilities Tim Silva has on offense are endless.
Best case: 4th place — Beating Monte Vista or Foothill would be a shock. Beating AV, Cal or SRV wouldn’t be.
Worst case: 7th place — It also wouldn’t be a shock if they lost to every team but Livermore.
With the region’s top defensive player (Cal-bound LB Dave Wilkerson) and the regions best offensive player (UCLA-bound QB Brett Nottingham), Monte Vista enters the season as the second best team in the section. Coach Craig Bergman is among the best offensive coaches in the state and there is a talented group of receivers coming in and Greg Johnson back at running back.
Best case: 2nd place — Some at MV would say a 1st place finish is best case, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Worst case: 4th place — Injuries (knock on wood) are probably the only reason the ‘Stangs would fall this far, but that’s why it’s called worst case.
The positive for Livermore is that last year’s QB Justin McPhearson signed a letter of intent to play collegiately at Azusa Pacific. For the Cowboys, it’s all about becoming competitive.
Best case: 3-0 in non-league against Dublin, Dougherty Valley and Liberty.
Worst case: 0-10.
San Ramon Valley
Of all the teams in the league, San Ramon Valley has the most question marks. New coach (although Mark Kessler has been on the staff for a few years), new offense (balanced to include more of a running game) and most talent lost (Joe Southwick, Byron Gruendl, Bryce Peterson, Garrison Goodman, Cole Huntley … the list goes on.). The consensus around the league is that the Wolves are going to take a big step back after winning the NCS 3-A title in 2007 and making the NCS Division-I semis last year.
Best case: 4th — The program has been too strong not to give it a chance to succeed, but we’ll have to wait until they host Oakland and Concord to see what kind of team the Wolves have.
Worst case: 7th.
Predicted order of finish:
1. De La Salle
2. Monte Vista
5. Amador Valley
7. San Ramon Valley