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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 20): A look to the south

It’s time to head to the southernmost tip of the East Bay and discuss the Mission Valley Athletic League?

Can someone other than James Logan or Washington win the MVAL?

In the past 22 seasons of MVAL football, only once has an MVAL squad not named Logan or Washington earned an outright league title. That came in 2005 when Irvington went 6-0 to take the MVAL and eventually advanced to the NCS championship game. Before that, you have to go back to 1988 to find a tri-championship by Kennedy (not surprisingly the title was shared with both Logan and Washington). American’s championship in 1987 is the last outright title (other than Irvington in ’05) not won by the Colts or Huskies.

So yes, the odds are definitely stacked against another team in the league stepping up and winning a title. Since 1987, Logan has 15 outright championships and two other co-championships. Washington has four outright and two co-championships in that same span. For the last two years, it’s come down to the showdown between the Colts and Huskies to decide the title.

Will that happen again? It certainly looks as though it could. Both teams lost talented multi-purpose quarterbacks (Logan’s Jonathan Willis and Washington’s David Ross) and outstanding tight end/defensive lineman (Logan’s Toni Pole and Washington’s Cedric Lousi). Those guys will be tough to replace.

For Logan, youth could be a concern as the quarterback battle is between a pair of sophomores in Jeffrey Prothro and Ryan Bua, both of whom should see playing time in the early season. Two more sophomores, Damond Beasley and Miles Long, are competing for time at running back. That means two things. 1) Logan may take its lumps a bit, particularly early this season, and 2) The Colts should be REALLY good the next two years.

The strength for the Colts should be their linebacking unit, led by returning second-team All-East Bay pick Albert Bell, a senior outside linebacker, and senior inside linebacker Matt Haney, a first-team All-MVAL selection last year (along with Bell).

Much of Washington’s success will likely be based on the talented Deandre Carter, who will see action at wide receiver, running back, defensive back and in the return game. He’s probably the most electric player in the league and last year was a first-team All-MVAL pickĀ at both receiver and defensive back and a second-team all-leaguer at kick returner. Another name to watch for the Huskies that I’ve heard rave reviews about is Haniteli Lousi, the younger brother of Cedric. He plays offensive tackle and defensive end.

If someone other than Logan or Washington were to contend, it would likely be Newark Memorial. TE/DE Kendall Andrews should be a force after a solid first year of football last season. QB/DB Nick Pohndorf was a first-team All-MVAL pick defensively last year and the Cougars are always competing for a playoff spot. If the Colts and Huskies slip up, there’s a shot Newark could slide in and take advantage.

I’m hearing that good things are being said about what is building at American under fourth-year coach Nick Amato. RB Shawn Wong returns after earning second team All-MVAL honors last year for a team that did make the Division I playoffs (and was kindly greeted with a meeting with eventual state Open Division champion De La Salle). The Eagles are down to Division II this year, which tends to qualify much more teams for the playoffs than D-1, so the road to the postseason might be tougher even if the field isn’t quite as brutal.

Kennedy obviously has veteran coaching (46 years for Pete Michaletos qualifies as veteran, right?) and the Eagles should be competitive within the middle of the league’s pack. Irvington will break in new coach Zach Silvernale and try to get things turned back in the right direction. And then there’s Mission San Jose, which hasn’t won a game on the field since Oct. 20, 2007 when it beat a now defunct Wilson Prep team 10-6. That’s a stretch of 23 straight losses on the field (one loss, in 2008 to Albany, became a forfeit win, so technically the losing streak is at 18 games).

OK MVAL fans, let us know you’re out there. Who do you like this season?

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.