Today, I’ll take on another league.
Ygnacio Valley and Concord are the defending Diablo Valley Athletic League co-champions, but will another team rise back to the top in their always competitive league?
Of all the leagues in the East Bay, the DVAL might be the toughest to predict this year. You’ve got the defending champion Warriors and Minutemen, but you’ve also got teams like Clayton Valley and College Park that you always expect to be in the hunt because they’re so well coached.
On paper, you have to think Concord looks pretty strong coming into the season. Ricky Lloyd probably projects right now as the most-touted senior QB in the East Bay. DE Kevin Chase is getting Division I looks. And then there’s Alec Pica, who will be a two-way monster at running back and linebacker. And don’t discount their defense, led by MLB Sitani Malupo. There’s a good amount of talent in Minuteman Land this year, but health will again be an issue. They need to stay healthy to stay in it.
We’ve already covered the Warriors in depth, so I won’t go into too much detail here except to say that I wouldn’t expect the drop off to be as severe as people have made it out to be. They still have a solid core, and I would expect their game against Concord in the final week of the season to still have major league title implications.
A couple teams we haven’t talked much about are College Park and Clayton Valley. For the Falcons, it starts under center with returning QB Taylor Valdez. Coach Bill Kepler’s teams are traditionally good when the QB is returning, and I expect that veer attack to be in fine form this year. Also, let me introduce you to the name Oshry Elor, who will anchor the offensive line. At 6 foot 4, 330 pounds, I find it hard to believe many defensive linemen will move him around a lot.
Over at Clayton Valley, I think the Eagles have the pieces to have a pretty good year. It starts up front, with a solid trio of linemen in Nick Mazza, Kevin Jo and Rudy Ellison. They’ll protect improving junior QB Mateo Gomez, and they’ll create holes for RB Joe Protheroe, who has transferred from Mt. Diablo (according to their roster on MaxPreps) and who I thought was very talented last year.
The question for CV comes defensively because they’re losing a blue-chip player and leader in LB Vince Buhagiar. Now at Clayton Valley, Buhagiar was the heart and soul of that unit. If I know the Uglies though, they’ll find a way to fill that spot.
I think I said this last year too, but I’ve heard good things from summer camps when it comes to Northgate. The Broncos return talented RBs Matt Butler and Cameron Stover, two guys that really worked well in the double-wing, double-tight offense last year. They’re having a QB competition in training camp, but the key to success for them will be the line. If the offensive line, led by Ben Davidson, Max Levy and Dean Weeks, plays well then the Broncos could be the team to make a move this year, much like Mt. Diablo did in 2009.
Finally, Mt. Diablo is coming off one of the best seasons in school history and they’ll have to adapt to new coach Jerry Reese. A lot of the familiar faces from last year, QB Ethan Morrow, RB Deon Turner, Protheroe, etc. have transferred, leaving Reese with what looks like a clean slate to start anew. As a result, I can’t say I know a ton about the guys coming back. But, I’m anxious to see what Reese can do with those guys because he’s a good football man and he’s enthusiastic about working with the kids. That’s always a good starting point.