30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 28): Surprise!!!!

Ben and I team back up again (as we will for the final two entries also) as also return to the world of reader-submitted questions. This comes to us from East Bay FB Coach.

Like every year, what teams will be the biggest surprises?


As implied in the question, this is a good one to ask and answer every year. Among last year’s surprises would be a team like Alhambra, which rolled up an 11-2 record and went to the NCS Division III semifinals after winning the DFAL. College Park was one of the surprise teams late, when it snuck into the playoffs with the expanded field and then upset No. 3 Amador Valley. Fremont of Oakland could fit in that category as well after starting 0-6 and then rallying to win its first Silver Bowl in school history.

That’s last year though. The question is about this year. One team I’m hearing to definitely keep an eye on, not necessarily as a league title contender but as a team that could be vastly improved, is American. The Eagles went 5-5 to make the NCS Division I playoffs as the No. 16 seed and are now a Division II squad. Shawn Wong returns as the starter running back and some MVAL pundits think American could have a real shot to finish in the top two or three in that league.

Another team that I won’t consider a league title contender but I’ve been warned to not sleep on is Kennedy of Richmond. It’s no secret that program has taken its beating the past few years with struggling to even field a team. They played just four games last year before having to shut it down and that came after a summer of uncertainty when it appeared at times that there wouldn’t be a season at all. Making last season all the more unfortunate was the fact that things appeared to be turning around in 2008 when Kennedy started the year 4-1, including a four-game winning streak when it outscored its opponents 189-25. But a five-game losing streak to close the year, including three losses by seven points or fewer, dashed the Eagles playoff hopes. A new coaching staff was hired way back in December with head coach Clyde Byrd (father of McClymonds graduate and Boise State center Thomas Byrd) taking over. He brought aboard Dan Shaughnessy, who embarks on his 51st year of coaching. The early hiring has allowed Byrd to developed an academic program and he said he now has 70 players participating throughout the program and will have 31-32 on varsity. Given those numbers (which are outstanding for a school such as Kennedy), there’s reason to believe a bit of a turnaround could be occuring and several BSAL coaches noted that the Eagles could give teams a scare this year.


Jimmy’s showing faith in the Eagles! I like it!

Alright, I’m gonna pick a couple as well. The first is from the ACCAL. I think Pinole Valley is a sleeper, not only for the league title but also for some playoff success. Word is that they have two monster defensive players, DE Antoine Davis and LB Travis Feeney. They also have a returning RB in Carvonte Hill. I think the Spartans are gonna be big, physical and tough to beat. And, there are more than a few people on the blog here that agree with me. So there!

And, while I’m showering praise on the Spartans, I’m gonna mention another ACCAL team at the same time. I came away from last year’s playoff game between Ygnacio Valley and Alameda extremely impressed with the tenacity of the Hornets. I think the duo of Tom Ruckman and Michael Cunningham gives them a heck of a start, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Alameda in the mix for the ACCAL title.

Lastly, I’m going to pick a traditional power that didn’t quite have the goods last year, Miramonte. The Mats return starting QB Ross Anderson, and a big time offensive lineman in Ross Dolbec. The guy I’m excited to see though is RB/LB John Coupin, who I thought was a standout two years ago when I watched Miramonte almost make the Division III championship game. I think John Wade’s teams don’t stay down for long, and the Mats are primed for a bounce back year.

Jimmy Durkin

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

  • s1lverngreen

    Go Kennedy Richmond! I am rooting for them! Home of the D’marco and De’ Andre Farr! Both were football studs in their day…


    Watch out for Dublin High. Returning QB in Ed Achziger who was injured mid-season last year. He is only a junior, can throw and run. Undefeated freshman team and some quality players wil be on varsity this year. Also have a couple of big transfers. Will be much improved. Played Granada even in their scrimmage

  • renegades10

    yes I was going to say Dublin too especially because they play in the DFAL. If not this year. next year that team will be up there in the standings looking at playoff spots.


    If Kennedy can maintain their physical style of play an entire game and play good defense, I see them doing some good things in their league. They might even upset El Cerrito. We’ll see this Friday.

  • ManDown

    “70 players participating throughout the program and will have 31-32 on varsity” Are you serious? How many of them are eligible to play? How good is Kennedy? All this hype on this team but personally I can’t see them being that great after not getting to 500. in I don’t know how long. Give me a break!

  • gauchofan

    the el cerrito vs kennedy-richmond game will be interesting because both coach byrd and coach shaughnessy were helping coach kahn over at el cerrito last year

  • ManDown

    Gauchofan, How are the Gauchos looking this year? Ready to compete?

  • E_CULB

    Im shocked no one is talking about recent scrimmages from this past weekend. Especially the one at Arroyo a lot of teams where at that one.

  • GauchoFan I hear that Your starting QB & your D-1 prospect didn’t bother showing up to the scrimmage?? Lil family vacation or what?

  • MVALFremont

    I thought American looked good shuting Berkeley out until the goaline challenge at Arroyo

  • slpirate24

    mvalfremont i will have to disagree, i was there sat and berkeley looked like they went with back ups and they had a few long drives on american and as i recalled american didnt score, it was like berkeley offense was complicated they only ran i formation double tight and one wr, they was running the ball no secret thats what they did last year and still doing the same, i thought the big lineman henderson was a senoir didnt see him out there, we sure got enough of him and galvin last year n the playoffs. however american does have a few athletes on that team

  • anewdon

    did anyone like arroyo at there scrimmage
    i heard the new coach is somethiiingelse

  • brandonbeard

    I heard the QB from El Cerrito is hurt and might be out against Kennedy!! But not totally sure!

  • brandonbeard

    I did get a chance to See Mt Eden this weekend, and they have a long way to go, about 15 fumbles easy for the day, trying to run the spread option, but they have some guys who can play! But of course Salesian owned the scrimmage, and Albany was second best, they moved the ball easily on Mt.Eden, Salesian was a problem for both team to deal with! i only went so i could see Mt Eden and the Perenon Show, which wasnt much! Mt Eden was not able to score on either team. Salesian scored numerous times on both teams all runs over 20 yards for TD’s. Albany scored when they hit the air, they have 2 receivers who can go! But the running game is still a little suspect!

  • CHALKtalk

    As i break down these films i realize most coaches think alike. They all learned the same concepts have the same theories. Its a brain washing that makes u think illogical. or not think at all. I.E. If u program a computer its not thinking its only calculating what its been program 2 do. ( why do u call plays from right 2 left – when u read books from left 2 right all day long?)
    PROGRAMING. OH i know some fool back when football first started was right handed, so they read from right 2 left.
    TIME 2 EVOLVE PEOPLE my logic is perfect my play calling we be mathematically sound. I know y i’ve been callled and idiot SO MANY TIMES because idiots think alike LMAO

  • KillerD

    Surprises in Each League that will win 5 games or more:

    ACCAL: Alameda 7 wins

    Caf School Deaf:

  • KillerD

    Typing Error sorry here we go again:

    ACCAL: Alameda 7 wins

    BFL: Cal School Deaf 6 wins

    BSAL: Moreau 7 wins & JFK 6 wins

    BVAL: Freedom 6 wins

    DFAL: Dougherty Valley 6 wins

    DVAL: Northgate 5 wins

    EBAL: Granada 7 wins

    HAAL: Mt. Eden 3 wins

    Big 4: Eureka 9 wins

    Little 5: McKinleyville: 8 wins

    Marin: Redwood 6 wins

    MVAL: Mission San Jose: 5 wins

    North Bay: Ukiah: 7 wins

    North C 1: Fort Bragg 8 wins

    North C S: St. Helena 5 wins

    North C 2: Anderson Valley: 7 wins

    Sonoma: Healdsburg: 8 wins

  • ManDown

    JFK 6 wins? Why are you giving them all this hype? You are going off hear say and you are giving a team that played and lost 4 games last season 6 wins this year. They forfited the last 6 games because they didnt want to go against the best the BSAL had to offer. Who will those wins come against?

  • KillerD

    Living on the Edge.

    Kennedy of yesteryear was a program to be terrorized, brutalized and out-athleticized and everybody is saying they are back.

    JFK beats:

    El Cerrito
    John Swett

  • DVAL Watcher

    Killer D ….Come on man, you are joking right? Who is going to lose to Northgate? They lost every game in league this past season by double digits. They haven’t beat Las Lomas in like the last 10 years. So, that leaves Dublin, Tennyson, Dougherty, & Valley Christian. So, where do they get those 5 wins?

  • ManDown

    What makes you think Alameda will beat Encinal? Have you seen them?

  • KillerD

    Looking forward to reading your predictions.

    Mine are just one man’s opinion

  • Chris’ Dad


    I like the picks. Where do you see Moreau’s 7 victories?

  • Watch out for Arroyo in the HAAL

  • footballfan

    Killer….the Big4 is now the Big3 and the Little 5 is now the Little 4. Arcata and South Fork can’t field teams. You really think Redwood will be that good this year, lol.

  • MVALFremont

    slpirate24-I’m not saying American would have beaten Berkeley on Saturday but I was impressed that American was able to hold their own a little. If Berkeley played more of their first teamers then yes Berkeley wou;ld have scored a few.

  • Don Juan

    All the haters need to come out and watch us smack Logan. Logan is doo doo. SL need to take good notes there’s gonna be a test on October 22nd. Coach Barnes got your coach read like a book. Outcoached, outplayed, & outscored.

    I say we win 41 to 20.

    Everybody gonna wanna be a Don after this one.

  • KillerD

    Moreau will go undefeated in non-league.

    Then win vs. John Swett, Albany.

    How they get their 6th and 7th win will be tough vs. St. Mary’s, JFK, Encinal or Piedmont.

    Watch out for JFK

  • KillerD

    ManDown you ask why Alameda will be Encinal?

    Encinal’s amazing run is coming to close, they have had a string of two years that some programs never have, ever.

    Alameda is on the rise, they Want the Jets badly, and the Hornets at home for the Island Bowl is the right pick in 2010.

    The Jets will fight and spit all their bullets, but the Hornets Stinger creates the difference with the Passing game this year.

  • ManDown

    I don’t know if they are coming to a end but they just might be a little down from years past. They have been good for the past three years and Alameda hasent even gotten close to a win in that span. Im not saying you are wrong but if Encinal has another good year what does that make Coach T?



    I guess that would have to make Coach T a damn good coach. And that coaching staff of theirs seems to be pretty enthusiastic as well. These guy appear to know what they are doing on the WEST END of that Island. They may have a roster of 22 players, but those players are men among boys. “22 players” not participants.

  • ManDown

    I agree. He has taken his team top the championship game the past 2 years and has gotten 2 players to Div. 1 football. I can’t really hate on that. Im just ready to see what he does without all the “STARS”

  • The Fan

    many teams predicted to be on the rise this year. gonna be interesting to see what teams like mt. eden, alameda, granada and moreau can do. like how alameda is lookin but no way that they beat encinal this year. granada looks as if tho they could pull of a few wins this year and improve from last year. same for moreau.

  • Sir, have you seen Alameda play? Have you seen Encinal play? If the answer is no then how are you making these calls. I’m not even gonna repeat what the Encinal kids were saying in the stands during the Hornet scrimmage or what the few Alameda high kids were saying during the Encinal scrimmage.

  • ManDown

    What was being said Mr. Hammond? We would like to know.

  • I have to get my questioned answered first then I’ll say.

  • c.sparks

    island bowl wont be close, 35-17 blowout AGAIN.

  • shabawler

    Pinole Valley..…DON’T SLEEP!!!!!

  • ManDown

    Nobody is sleeping on Pinole Valley. We all know they have some good players this year and are ready to get back to the top of the ACCAL. I can’t wait for the Alameda vs Pinole rematch.

  • norcalfball

    they have great athletes every year…just whether they put it all together or not…