It’s time to take a look at a league that could be poised for an uprising.
Can anybody end Berkeley’s three-year reign as Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League champions?
Berkeley has won at least a share of the ACCAL title for three straight years, which happen to be the three seasons the Yellowjackets were coached by Alonzo Carter. Berkeley shared the title with El Cerrito last year after a 13-10 upset by Pinole Valley in the regular season finale. That loss was Berkeley’s only ACCAL loss the past three years, as they compiled an 18-1-1 record and earned outright titles in 2007 and 2008.
Berkeley should still be good this year with QB Logan Murdock back for a third season on varsity and his second as the full-time starter. Michael Ned ran for over 700 yards last year as the backup to Rickey Galvin (now at Washington State) and will find some running room behind large left tackle Isaiah Henderson.
However, there is reason to believe some other teams are capable of contending. El Cerrito was a co-champion a year ago and while the Gauchos lost top receivers Andre Williams and Isaac Goins to graduation, quarterback Byron Thomas returns and linebacker/fullback Lyonel Louis is a force.
Alameda will be young up front as four of its five starters on the offensive line must be replaced. If they new guys can create some holes, talented senior RB Michael Cunningham should be able to add to his standout junior year when he rushed for over 1,413 yards. Tom Ruckman will enter his third year at quarterback for Alameda and is the other reason the Hornets feel like they can turn the corner this season.
Pinole Valley can never be counted out either. The Spartans won two straight titles in 2005-06 before Berkeley began its run and they will hope to get back to that dominance. LB Travis Feeney, who has committed to Arizona, will lead the defensive unit that will hope to shut things down for opposing offenses and give Pinole its chances to pull off some big wins.
De Anza, Hercules and Richmond combined to go 2-16 in ACCAL action last year and all three have strides to make before they can reach a contending stage.
It would appear that things should be a little more even in the league this year, especially within those top four teams. I’d say there’s a reasonable chance that you won’t see any team go undefeated in league play and possibly even two losses could earn a team a share of the title and there will likely be a lot of closes games decided in the fourth quarter.