It’s time to take a look at the Oakland Athletic League?
Who will win the Silver Bowl and who will be the MVP?
The Oakland Athletic League has certainly become more interesting and a heckuva lot less predictable over the past few years. From 1980-2007, every Silver Bowl included either McClymonds or Skyline. The two schools met seven times and combined for 33 appearances and 21 victories. The past two years have marked the first time a Silver Bowl has been contested without one of those schools and have featured the only times in the Silver Bowl era that Skyline didn’t make the playoffs.
It’s opened things up for Castlemont and Fremont in consecutive years to both earn their first Silver Bowl titles in school history. And long last, every OAL school has earned at least one Silver Bowl title (Skyline still has an overwhelming lead with 16, followed by Mack and Oakland with five and Tech, Castlemont and Fremont with one).
So what’s in store for this year?
On paper, McClymonds should go into the season feeling very good about its chances. Of the league’s top five running backs (statistically), only the Warriors’ Earnest Marshal returns this season. Overall, he was third in the league with 881 yards and in league games he was fifth with 390. Mack also returns Marcus Peters, who was a first-team All-City pick at wide receiver and is probably the top college prospect in the league as a defensive back. Marshall will share carries with another returning running back in Denzale Johnson, who had 507 rushing yards last year. Terrance Silas, another WR/DB, will serve as a threat as well. The player you won’t be able to help but notice is Wendall Taiese, a man child at 6-6, 360 pounds.
Even though it lost plenty of talent, including league MVP Sione Tupouata, you can’t forget about Fremont. Lineman Roydon Fonua should be a two-way leader, as well as Siliveinusi Tomasi, who was a first-team All-City pick last year as a sophomore. The Tigers will certainly be able to push people around and if they can find somebody to run with the ball behind those guys, they’ll be a threat. And don’t get discouraged if they get off to a slow start, the Tigers started the season 0-6 last year before winning five of the final six games to take the Silver Bowl with a final record of 5-7.
Oakland Tech said good-bye to an extremely talented senior class, led by OL/DT Fred Thompson (Oregon State), RB/S Ryan Murphy (Oregon State), WR/DB DiAndre Campbell (Washington State) and WR/DB Edgar Gillies Jr. (Sacramento State). That leaves quite a few holes to fill. But Simione Havea was a first-team All-City center as a sophomore last year and senior Ricky Wilkerson and junior Cameron Manning were second-team All-City defensive lineman. Greg Pierson and Daren Duong, who shared time at quarterback, were both underclassmen. So while some big time talent graduated, there should still be enough left to make another run.
Castlemont and Oakland both break in new coaches with the Knights’ Russell White and the Wildcats’ Nelson Gifford. Castlemont has some talent coming back and quarterback Eakalafi Okusi was impressive at times last year, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Knights bounce back even with the big loss of coach James Barnes to Arroyo. Skyline struggled in Jamaal Kizziee’s first year, but did score a pair of upsets when it beat Bishop O’Dowd in nonleague play and handed Silver Bowl champion Fremont a loss during OAL action for the Titans lone league victory.
As for who will take the title, I’ll make McClymonds my early season pick and I’ll go with Marshall as my MVP, mainly because I don’t know if Peters will get enough opportunites on offense to make a major impact on that side of the ball and Marshall might be able to rack up some yards and TDs.
Alright OAL folks, I know we have a lot of you out there. Who will take the title?