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25 Players to Watch

By Jimmy Durkin
Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 at 9:08 am in East Bay Football.

Since I know there was a lot of interest in this list, I figured I would post it. It’s always a hard list to put together because it’s asking us to predict who will have great seasons, which isn’t always easy. A lot of very good players aren’t on the list. Every year we have guys who don’t make this list but end up having outstanding seasons. Two years ago, Encinal’s Jonathan Brown was a notable omission and he later was named East Bay Player of the Year so this certainly isn’t a comprehensive list of the players who will be the best in the area, but it’s a good start. Enjoy.

Jonathan Allen

Encinal, RB/LB

Allen will look to build off a solid junior season when he led the Jets’ balanced attack with 951 rushing yards and help Encinal get back to a third straight NCS Division III title game.

George Atkinson III

Granada, RB/DB

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound speedster is one of the East Bay’s hottest commodities in the recruiting game, with heavy interest from the likes of Alabama, USC, Notre Dame, Oregon, Cal and Miami.

Josh Atkinson

Granada, RB/DB

The twin brother of George checks in at 6-foot, 180, but possesses the same type of lightning speed and is generating a similar buzz on the recruiting trail.

Albert Bell

James Logan, LB

A second-team All-East Bay pick last year, the 6-foot, 190-pound Bell will lead a strong linebacking unit for the defending MVAL champions.

Javen Butler

Pittsburg, DB

After a junior season spent filling in at both safety and cornerback, Butler should emerge as one of the area’s best pure defensive backs as a senior.

Michael Cunningham II

Alameda, RB

Cunningham was one of the East Bay’s top rushers last year with 1,413 yards and is a big reason the Hornets believe they can contend in the ACCAL.

Travis Feeney

Pinole Valley, LB

A 6-foot-3, 200-pound athlete who can play anywhere from the defensive line to safety, Feeney already has committed to Arizona. He’ll lead a Spartans defense tasked with bringing an ACCAL title back to Jerry Deuker Stadium.

Roydon Fonua

Fremont, OL/DL

A monster at 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Fonua is generating plenty of Pac-10 interest and will have a big role in the success of the defending Silver Bowl champions.

Isaiah Henderson

Berkeley, OL

Henderson was a first-team All-East Bay pick last year. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound offensive tackle with a bright future enters his third season as a starter for the Yellowjackets.

Bart Houston

De La Salle, QB

As a sophomore, Houston learned on the job and led the Spartans to the CIF Open Division title. This year, he enters as a highly recruited junior hoping to get his team back to the state title game.

Jared Leaf

Alhambra, RB/LB

Leaf averaged over 8 yards a carry as the second option in Alhambra’s running game last year. This year, the burly senior will carry the load in the backfield and also lead the defense from his spot at linebacker.

Ricky Lloyd

Concord, QB

Lloyd ranked third in the East Bay in passing yards last season, throwing for 2,449 yards and 32 touchdowns in his junior campaign. With a scholarship to Southern Mississippi already locked up, he’ll look to bring the Minutemen another DVAL title.

Lyonel Louis

El Cerrito, LB

A physical force in the middle of El Cerrito’s defense, Louis received interest from Pac-10 schools over the summer. He’ll look to build on a solid junior season and lead the Gauchos to the ACCAL title.

Bryce McGovern

Monte Vista, WR/DB

McGovern returns after a record-setting junior season with a Northern California-record 106 catches and a state-record 2,063 yards. He also had 17 touchdowns and was a first-team All-East Bay pick.

Julius Mozee

Pittsburg, QB

Mozee threw for 1,828 yards and 21 touchdowns in leading the Pirates to the NCS Division I championship game last year. This season, he’ll be a senior leader on a team with high expectations.

Chris Musni

San Leandro, QB

Musni was among the East Bay’s most efficient quarterbacks as a junior, throwing for 1,568 yards and 23 touchdowns against just eight interceptions. He’ll look to build on that and help the Pirates compete for another HAAL title.

Hardy Nickerson Jr.

Bishop O’Dowd, LB

The son of the former NFL and Cal star and new Dragons coach Hardy Nickerson comes off a sophomore season in which he was a first-team All-HAAL linebacker. He’s got the talent and pedigree to be among the area’s top defensive players.

Marcus Peters

McClymonds, WR/DB

Peters already has received numerous offers, including several from the Pac-10, and is ranked the No. 13 recruit in Northern California by Rivals. He was first-team All-City as a receiver but should make his biggest impact defensively.

Blake Renaud

De La Salle, LB/TE

The defending East Bay Defensive Player of the Year returns to his middle linebacker spot for this season after committing to Boise State in the offseason. An outwardly quiet but internally forceful leader, Renaud again will captain the Spartans defense.

Cameron Rowland

Foothill, WR/DB

Rowland enjoyed a phenomenal junior season, hauling in 59 passes for 897 yards and eight touchdowns in 2009. This year, he’ll be counted on to help a new quarterback take control of the Falcons offense.

Freddie Tagaloa

Salesian, OL/DL

The 6-foot-8, 300-pound junior has been on the radar of college coaches since his freshman year and again will anchor the line for a Salesian team in search of its ninth straight BFL title.

Tavita Taito

Deer Valley, DL

Highly recruited from the beginning of his sophomore season, Taito embarks on his junior year with hopes of helping the Wolverines win another BVAL championship.

Marquis Waters

Las Lomas, RB/DB

Waters finished the 2009 regular season tied with Berkeley’s Rickey Galvin as the East Bay’s scoring leader, finding the end zone 23 times as a junior. He returns this year as one of the region’s unquestioned top rushers.

Jacob Welter

Monte Vista, OL

Already a mammoth anchor on the Mustangs offensive line, Welter orally committed to Ohio over the summer. At 6-foot-5, 291 pounds, he’ll be counted on to protect the quarterback in Monte Vista’s pass-oriented offense.

Dylan Wynn

De La Salle, OL/DL

One of the most intense competitors in the area, Wynn was a first-team All-East Bay selection on both the offensive and defensive lines in 2009. He already has accepted a scholarship offer to Oregon State.

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  • http://ibabuzz.com Michael Cunningham II

    I did not quit football . From the get go I wasn’t even eligible to play . I had a 1.2, over the summer I had to work for one of my teachers to raise my grade up a whole letter grade just to become eligible for academic probation. I’m just someone who doesn’t believe in being able to participate in a privileged sport with a D average. What college would even want to offer me with that? So all the bashing, keep it coming. After talking to my father, teachers and peers I’m still playing. My team fully understands because we are a “family”, and that is what family is about. They have my back just like I would for them. In all, I will be playing football this season. I caused zero drama with this whole situation because like I said, we’re a family.

  • renegades10

    if he no longer has a passion for the game, then he is doing the right thing. if i had a teammate who didn’t have their heart into the game I would rather they not play even if they are the star player especially in a sport like football. look at singletary saying he respects what glen coffee did in saying that his heart just wasn’t in it anymore. nothing wrong with admitting. yes the timing is less than ideal and this is the star running back, but if he really is quitting for the reasons listed, then why bash him? it’s student-athlete not the other way around which seems to become the case more often these days. I have had teammates quit before for those reasons and guess what, I respected them even more for being able to say that they shouldn’t play because they just were not passionate about it anymore.

  • http://ibabuzz.com nfl

    lets all be real its not like alameda was gonna win anything. league please berkeley & pinole are gonna get in that a$$! playoffs? can someone tell me the last time they won a playoff game? the kid didnt even play defense so they have to replace a tailback yes talented but im sure they have serviciable back-up so will see how the respond saturday.

  • http://ibabuzz.com billjohnson

    wat is bod runnin on offense? r they believe’n cunningham is out or preparing it’s just a rumor?

  • http://aol Big Joe

    On Bill Johnson’s comments on Blanton and Nightingale, both talented coaches. Salesian should move to the BSAL. On dodging Justin, both teams have played Justin in the past and beat them soundly. On St. Pat’s playing Berean Christian- wasn’t this the team that beat St. Mary’s a couple of years ago?
    St. Pat’s had 2 opens several years back, tried to fill them with Cardinal Newman and Palma, both schools turned it down, why, a bigger program is not going to take a chance of an upset from a talented small school, they loose ranking, that came from both of those team’s coaches. St. Pat’s beat the heck out of a public school, Benica, 3 times their size, has played San Ramon and others in the past. I think Salesian could have played up a little with Javid Best, however it sure didn’t seem to hurt him.

  • Chs1012

    CIF 100m champ 5th (best) time in nation and 2nd fastest time nationwide-HS seniors- 200m + all time bay area season TD and yardage opens a ton of doors…Jahvid would’ve had the same seven or eight BCS D1 offers even if he were playing for the beloved Dons at DA or Potter Valley.

  • Hulkster

    Just wanted to put this out to everyone…Alameda has an EXTREMELY talented back up running back who want’s the ball. Cullins will open everyone’s eyes! Go Hornets!!

  • c.sparks

    ch1012. best had offers EVERYwhere buddy, and he came in second with an stress fracture.. on a side note.

  • Alameda Q

    I heard Culluns just quit to concentrate on his skateboarding career.

  • Alameda Q

    Hey Ruckman just quit to concentrate on student government.

  • Alameda Q

    Coach Cunningham just quit to concentrate on blogging.

  • Alameda Q

    OMG! Coach Rochlin just quit to concentrate on his anger management issues.

  • http://ibabuzz.com/prepcorner Jimmy Durkin

    This got caught up in the approval process since it was coming from a new user name and didn’t get posted right away so I think a lot of people missed it. But here’s a report of post No. 53.

    Michael Cunningham II Says:
    September 8th, 2010 at 1:51 pm e
    I did not quit football . From the get go I wasn’t even eligible to play . I had a 1.2, over the summer I had to work for one of my teachers to raise my grade up a whole letter grade just to become eligible for academic probation. I’m just someone who doesn’t believe in being able to participate in a privileged sport with a D average. What college would even want to offer me with that? So all the bashing, keep it coming. After talking to my father, teachers and peers I’m still playing. My team fully understands because we are a “family”, and that is what family is about. They have my back just like I would for them. In all, I will be playing football this season. I caused zero drama with this whole situation because like I said, we’re a family.

  • http://Ibabuzz Island02

    there has been a misunderstanding between my son n myself. When he was explaining himself I took as if he were walking away from the game. He is not leaving alameda football my apologies for the misunderstanding. It was interesting to see the responses.

  • W/Fan

    Renegades10 … anything you as the official DLS poser want to tell us about ballers not making grades or less than a 1.99 GPA for a one time waiver? Who is the player missing who made a diffrence… Just read the transcripts from todays LIVE chat ……. tick tock….tick tock… Note: to dval poster i know who you are NOT COOL!!

  • renegades10

    If you are referring to who I think you are, he is sitting out the season and dealing with those issues. no waivers or anything. That’s all I am going to say about the particular persons situation and I will admit that I don’t have all the facts on it. i love it when people try and point out that DLS kids get these magical waivers, when they forget that Cameron Colvin who was an All-American WR in 2003 had to miss the first five games of the season due to academic ineligibility. He got his grades up when quarter report cards came out and he was able to play. The team is moving on and doing just fine for themselves.

    As a note, yes I am a DLS supporter, I graduated from there. But I never consider myself the official poster or poser as you decided to write. I try to do my research and get all the facts on teams around the are rather then just ignorantly post for one squad. But keep the hating coming W/Fan. Nothing new to DLS.

  • http://ibabuzz.com nfl

    seems like gamesmenship from island02 hoping o’dowd would think his son aint playin. dirty pool ol’man. please stop talkin scholarship cuz a 1.2 gpa aint gettin u no scholly. c u at the nearest juco. maybe it was a negotiating ploy maybe doesnt have to come 2 practice everyday now.

  • http://ibabuzz.com billjohnson

    big joe ask blanton y he took marin catholic of his schedule same size catholic school? 48 & 55 pts to encinal the last 2 yrs come on i know encinal been good the last 2 seasons but if he’s as good as u say he is y have those games not been competitive? not sayin he shoulda won but atleast be in the game come 4th quarter he’s been gettin skinned by those jets!

  • http://aol Big Joe

    Good point, program down last couple of years- however in 06 and 07 won 21 straight, destroyed the Jets in 06, beat Salesian soundly with Best and scheduled numerous playoff teams. I beleive he lost to MC in 08 20-00.
    Marin Catholic is bigger than SPSV, they have only appx. 600. Not a good special teams coach, can coach defense and brought the Veer to SP. He’s produced several running backs over the yrs, 06 had 2 over 1800 yds apiece, 07 had 3 at 1000 plus, in the past had a couple of backs close to 2000 and one over 2000 yds.
    1 NCS championship and several league titles. He’s there for his players. He’s also steady, makes playoffs almost every yr and averages 8-9 wins a season. He needs to work on the passing game more to open up that Veer like DLS does.