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30Q-2-Kickoff (No. 14): Who will beat the Dawgs?

Today, I’ll take on an entire league.

Alhambra enters 2010 as the defending Diablo Foothill Athletic League champion, but repeating may be another thing altogether. Who might knock the Bulldogs off their perch?

This year’s DFAL looks like an interesting race to me. Last year was something of a transition year for a couple programs and Alhambra took advantage, going undefeated in league play. Acalanes and Las Lomas finished in a tie for second and traditional powers Miramonte and Campolindo took their lumps a little. Dublin had a big win too, beating Miramonte, and Dougherty Valley continued to get accustomed to the DFAL.

So, where do we go now? Well, until further notice, I’ll call Alhambra the favorite. You have to, right? I think there’s a fair amount of optimism in Martinez because of the guys they have returning (see Trevor Davis, Jared Leaf, Rich Manuli, Maurice Poyadue and the like).

Last year’s second-place teams have some questions as well. Las Lomas has a new quarterback (Jackson Miller)¬†after the graduation of Lucas Gorton. What the Knights also have is a definite preseason contender for DFAL MVP in RB Marquis Waters. Waters is as explosive a runner as you’ll find in the East Bay, and that’s a great building block to start with. Also, we can’t expect the nonleague schedule to be nearly as tough as last year, when the Knights took on Rocklin (made a state bowl game) and Mitty-San Jose (won the WCAL) and got pounded. Morale should be a bit higher going into the league season this year.

Now, there’s a rumor going around that Acalanes is going back to coach Mike Ivankovich’s preferred offense, the double-wing, double-tight ground and pound attack. If that’s the case, there’s no telling how good the Dons will be. Big time runners Bo McSwine and Tyler Malley are gone, but QB Mike Leamy returns along with WR Trent Baker. I have a hunch that the passing game will still factor for the Dons. Plus, you can count on Coach I having them ready to go.

Staying in Lamorinda, you can never, ever count out Miramonte. John Wade is too good a coach, and when you look at the Mats’ roster from last year, you realize they had eight sophomores on it. One of them was QB Ross Anderson, and I would expect him to continue to get better. Of course, it helps to have a big fella like Ross Dolbec on the offensive line. He’s going to be tough to move.

In Moraga, Campolindo is dealing with the loss of QB Tommy Stephens, who graduated. The Cougars have a 2010 roster up already, and they list three signal-callers who will try to step in for Stephens. One is his younger brother, Brett, and he started as a freshman on last year’s NCS title winning baseball team. The others are Griffin Piatt and Nick Zolintakis. Whoever plays there will have a great target in Andrew Ahr, who had a good season last year. After going 3-3 last year, there are definite questions (judging by the weights listed, there doesn’t look to be a ton of size up front), but I’d figure the Cougars for a bounce back season.

For Dublin and Dougherty Valley, continued progress is the goal for this season. Dublin struggled with injury problems last year, and I continue to hear good things about QB Ed Achziger. He’ll be a junior this year. Dougherty Valley returns Michael Spivey, but his running mate last year, Jeremy Sites, has graduated. And, Spivey is listed as a running back on MaxPreps, so that means the Wildcats will have a new quarterback this year. We’ll have to wait and see how they look early in the season.

Well, that’s what I know at this point. DFAL fans, sound off. Who ya got this year?

Ben Enos