30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 17) – Valley Livin’

Today, I venture into the Tri-Valley to take a look at the East Bay Athletic League.

I don’t think it comes as a shock that De La Salle is the favorite in the EBAL. If it is a shock, well, you’ve got some back reading to do.

Since I went over DLS a few days ago, I won’t touch on them in this post. Rather, I’ll focus on the rest of the EBAL, because I expect it to be the grind that it always is.

To me, the culture installed at Cal High is one that lends itself to prolonged success. I was thinking about what I wrote the other day and it dawned on me that while I was saying nice things about head coach Eric Billeci, I should’ve included a mention for assistant coach Dave Kravitz as well. Kravitz is an outstanding football coach, and I think that his joining the staff last year really helped the Grizzlies take that next step. Of course, they have questions to answer this year like who will step up and start on the offensive line and will Kevin Farley be the guy to step up at quarterback? But every team has questions and with guys like Armani Washington, Jerrell Dunn and Brian Krause coming back at the skill spots, I like Cal again this year.

At Monte Vista, the Mustangs are also looking for new offensive linemen. In fact, they have to replace the entire unit. How quickly they come together with quarterback Jeff Lockie will dictate how well MV comes out of the gate. Lockie’s presence is a big building block, and he’ll have guys to throw to, but they’ll need some runners to emerge and the defense to come together to get in the mix at the top. All in all though, I wouldn’t expect Monte Vista suddenly to drop off the map. You know the Mustangs are going to be good.

San Ramon Valley welcomes back Zach Kline under center, and Jordan Weiss is back at running back. The question here is who will emerge on the perimeter for Kline to throw to, and how will the defense adjust without the services of big-time playmakers Kyle Egan and Ben Teichman? Here’s a name to watch though, because I thoroughly enjoyed watching him play football last year — Michael Tagliaferri. He’s a Stud (gotta have the capital S if you’re on the USA National Team) on the lacrosse field, but he’s also a very, very good hybrid safety for the Wolves.

There are definitely questions around the rest of the league. Will Foothill continue with the double-wing offense it ran last year? Will Kyle Moreno continue his ascension as Amador Valley’s signal-caller and playmaker? What does Granada do without the Atkinsons? And can Greg Haubner’s boys take that next step at Livermore?

As usual, the league is going to be tough. You can count on that every year. I’m personally anxious to see if Livermore can take that next step because I continue to hear good things about the staff and the way things are headed. And, Damariay Drew is a playmaker, so they’ll have him to lean on.

Gonna be another fun year.

Ben Enos

  • InTheKnow

    Coach Kravitz has very little to do with that staff at Cal. No disrespect, just the truth.

  • Prep Fan

    Kravitz helped out with the coaching last season, but this season he is “just” the AD and not part of the football coaching staff. That doesn’t mean he isn’t talking football or strategy with some of the coaches or players, but I don’t think he is considered an assistant coach this season.

  • junior

    Billecci is smart enough to take advantage of a great football mind like Kravitz- no doubt.

  • ManDown

    It will be interesting to see who will finish 2nd, 3rd, and 4th with all teams looking to rebuild.

  • ManDown

    My prediction
    1.) DLS
    2.) MV
    3.) Cal High
    4.) SRV
    5.) Foothill
    6.) Livermore
    7.) Amador
    8.) Granada

  • Prep Fan

    When this current group of EBAL seniors were freshmen 3 years ago, it was a highly competitive league. DLS won the league, but did lose a game to SRV. SRV beat DLS and MV, but lost to Cal in a photo finish and also to Amador to finish with 2 losses. Cal tied for 2nd place with SRV and MV with 2 losses each, as they lost a heartbreaker to MV on a missed FG inside the 10 with 5 seconds left and to DLS in a fairly close game in the finale to decide the championship. Most of these seniors played freshman ball, but many of the top players then skipped over JV to varsity their sophomore years. I’m not sure how the bottom finished out that year, but my guess was AV fifth followed by Foothill, Granada and then Livermore.

    That may not have any bearing at all on what will happen this season, but I thought some folks might be interested.

  • Ebalfan#2

    Kline will be throwing early and often. If his line can give him time he will put up big numbers. He does not adjust well with pressure. San Ramon will figure out a way to use his talents and wolves will be #2.behind Sparta.

  • junior

    SRV’s bigger problem might be who will catch the ball. Going back to Soutwick’s SR year, the Wolves receivers drop ALOT of balls.

  • Black&Red

    Actually prep fan. Mv only lost one game that year to DLS freshman team. They thrashed SRV freshman team pretty decisively and finished tied for first with DLS at 9-1.

  • Prep Fan

    Black & Red, I will defer to your memory as it sounds like you are a MV person. I do remember Cal, MV and DLS all having 1 loss going into the final week when MV played SRV and Cal played DLS. I thought I remembered SRV winning something like 19-6, but it must have been MV winning. Like I said it was a highly competitive league that year.

    Did you happen to go to the MV-Cal frosh game that year at MV which I referenced above? That was one of the best youth football finishes I have ever seen. MV scored on like a 4th and 23 bomb with about 25 seconds left and went for 2 and made it to take a 1 point lead. MV then kicked it OB on purpose to avoid a runback. Then Cal somehow got a bomb down inside the 10 with about 3 seconds left and called TO, but the kick was low that would have won the game. Great stuff.

  • Black&Red

    prep fan. What was more amazing about that finish is the fact that Lockie was hurt that game, and sat out all game untill the end when the coach asked him if he had one play in him. That would be the 4th down bomb touchdown. He had not warmed up or thown a pass all game before that.

  • FNL680

    That same year Farley (both ways as a LB) picked Kline at the Cal 20 with 4:00 to go, Cal up by 6,, ran it to the SRV 20, then four and out. With 1:30 to go Kline lofted a blown coverage TD but Wolves called for motion…. Cal stops them twice more. Game over. In that MV game, Lockies bomb was more of hitch, pump bite by the corner, then a 30YAC. Farley got one play from his 40 with 12 ticks left, hit Dunn in double coverage at the 15, down at the 9, then the missed FG.
    If those games are any indication for this year, it’ll be exciting.

  • Prep Fan

    FNL, the motion penalty in the SRV game also brings up another memory. In the Cal-MV game, Cal had the game all but won with a 30 yard gain for a first down in the final minute, but the Farley pass to Walsten was called back due to an eerily similar motion penalty, which allowed MV to get the ball back and the chance to insert Lockie on the 4th down desperation pass.

    If I’m not mistaken, those two classics were played in back to back weeks, with the SRV game second. Also, I seem to remember Kline getting one last chance and getting the Wolves (almost) into FG range, but the kick (from Chris Mullin Jr.) hit the cross bar as time ran out.