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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 1): Player of the Year?

So today begins our 30-day countdown to the high school football season. As we go along, Jimmy Durkin and I will do our best to predict, prognosticate and generally make fools of ourselves in taking a look at what to expect from the 2011 football season.

Today, we  start with the same question we began with last year. Who will be this year’s East Bay Player of the Year?

Ben

OK, I get to do a little bragging right off the bat. Last year in this space, I predicted that De La Salle’s Dylan Wynn would win East Bay Player of the Year. As it turns out, I was right. Although, I should probably mark myself off a little for not mentioning Concord QB Ricky Lloyd, who I knew was awesome and came very close to taking the award himself.

This year is interesting, because we’ve got some ridiculously good quarterbacks in the mix. By now, you know all the names — Kline, Houston, Lockie, Watson, Anderson. Studs, all of them. At this point, you could pick one out of a hat.

For me though, I find myself coming back to the state’s best team as a starting point. And, while last year it was easy to point to a two-way stud, this time it starts under center with a guy who hasn’t lost as a varsity high school quarterback. That’s Bart Houston, and armed with a scholarship to Wisconsin and a host of talent around him at DLS, I’m thinking Houston is the guy to beat for POY this time around.

I gave some serious thought to his partner in crime, WR Anthony Williams, because Williams is going to be a force on both sides of the ball. But, in the end, I just think that a guy who has a chance to go undefeated for high school that also has the physical tools that Houston does is awfully hard to pass up.

Jimmy

This is always a very tough question to answer, even if Ben was dead on a year ago. The trio of talented quarterbacks in the EBAL are all capable. Only one will even be a first-team all-league pick, so trying to figure out who could emerge as an East Bay POY choice is even tougher. Last year’s pick was a two-way lineman who purely dominated, so why not look that way again.

That leads my to my choice … Salesian’s Freddie Tagaloa. The 6-foot-7, 310-pound Tagaloa is big, strong and extremely athletic. He’s still deciding between Stanford, Cal, Oregon and USC for his collegiate future, but he’s projected by many to be a future NFL prospect. He can still add size to his current frame and wreak havoc on his competition.

Here’s what’s working for him. He plays on a team that’s a heavy favorite to win its league title every year. The losses of quarterback Ikaika Woolsey and running back Aaron Prier could hurt, but Salesian should have another good season. Tagaloa plays both ways often and even though his future is as an offensive lineman, he could make an even bigger impact this season on defense. There are very few offensive lineman he’ll face who will be able to match up with him, so if he can keep his motor high defensively he could put up some numbers. It’s harder to judge a player’s impact as an offensive lineman, but he’ll provide great protection in the passing game and should open some holes in the running game. Also, the depth of talent at quarterback could lead to those players cancelling each other out and opening up the POY spot for Tagaloa.

Now here’s what works against him: Salesian plays in the BFL. Fair or unfair, that has an impact. The Pride will see teams such as Inderkum, McClymonds and Kennedy-Richmond during nonleague play, but with small schools such as Emery and the California School for the Deaf on the league schedule, the competition won’t be as great as what other players will face. That doesn’t rule him out (obviously, since I’m making him my preseason pick), but it’s something that gets weighed. He may end up being a longshot with as many talented playmakers as there are this year, but Tagaloa definitely deserves to be in the conversation to start the year.

Ben Enos

  • shinguard

    POY=Bart Huston will have a stellar year. DLS will mix it up running and passing…but Bart will get more opportunity to throw as the season progresses.

  • BVAL Expert

    I agree with Ben.. its going to be those players that will be player of the year.

  • S1lverngreen

    I have to side with Ben on his prediction, although I do see Tagaloa as a game changer. The big difference as I see it is the caliber of teams these two respective players will face during the season. Needless to say, Houston will be tested early by at least two of the best teams in CA and the nation.

  • scoop

    BART HOUSTON

  • Chs101214

    There could be a darkhorse like last year. Nobody predicted Lucas Dunne would have a breakout year as a senior who was stuck behind talented seniors the year before. But he was the legit EBAL MVP and was voted such instead of an early D1 commit teammate. In the same vein, Cals QB helps them to the Coliseum with an almost rock the Bay Area upset in week 10. Lots of talented players discussed, but you have to admire what Dunne proved last year.

  • Prep Fan

    Good points Chs. We all know the D1 and star QB names that have been discussed over the summer. However, there are probably a few DLS players that have not yet been mentioned who could step forward in their new starting positions. Likewise, there has been no talk of any players from Foothill, Deer Valley, Heritage, Logan, Amador Valley or Cal High and one or more of those programs could produce a few big names before the season is done.

  • http://Bluedog2 George Manley

    Unless some one over shadows Bart Houston and he doesn’t get injured…he should be the man of the hour for 2011…

  • Sky Walker

    I wanna know has any one seen Arroyo play this summer? Because chalktalk & some other experts on here are sayin they are goin to win the HAAL. I just ask how can Arroyo win with that “Bend, break, and bang out our pillowy a$$” defense? They gave up 61 points to a 5-5 Hayward team. Lost by 51 in the 1st round of a weak D-2 playoff bracket. Lost at home to a D-3 team by 30 points! Gave up 27 points and went to overtime with Tennyson? Gave up 24 points to Castro Valley? PUH-LEASE. Somebody tell them about SL’s run of titles in the league.

  • ManDown

    I can’t believe Pinole Valleys RB James Lewis wasn’t mentioned. IMO if PV runs the table this year in D-2, which is very possible, he has to be considered because he may have a year like Galvin did a few years ago. He could go over 2,000 RY in PV’s run first offense and expect to see him on defense more this season.

  • Prep Fan

    Miles Long of Logan could be in the equation too. He had a fantastic breakout sophomore season last year and if he improves this year he could be one of the top backs in NorCal.

  • thedude

    I think mandown has a good point. Is it only Quaterbacks that are being looked at?

  • renegades10

    I’m going to say the darkhorse, if you want to count somebody from DLS as a darkhorse, could be Michael Hutchings. With Joe Te’o out, who would have been my choice if healthy since he would be going both ways, Hutchings has moved to RB which he played as a freshman. He has looked very good catching balls out of the backfield during summer practice and 7on7 and was slated as one of the starters at RB going into fall camp with pads. Going both ways on a top defense and a run heavy offense, Hutchings could be POY as a junior. He’s about 6’1″ 210 right now and will be a load to bring down.

  • Free Monty

    Gosh people need to get off the Tagaloa train. Just because he is HUGH… Seen him at NFTC,FBU,and Cal Camp and have to say this kid will not start for at least three years at the next level. Nice Kid, but plays against inferior talent, and has shown up to be slow off the ball and dominated by most DL at camps