Today, I tackle the Diablo Valley Athletic League. Can Concord repeat? Will another team take the throne? Let’s find out.
So, last year I picked College Park to win the league and Concord to come in second. Little did I know that the Minutemen were the team of destiny, rolling through the DVAL all the way to the NCS Division II title. You won’t see a team like that at Concord for a good long while, so judging them on that standard probably wouldn’t be wise this time around.
But, that’s not to say Concord is going to be awful. Far from it. The Minutemen should be formidable yet again. Jacob Daynes is the new quarterback and no, you shouldn’t expect him to be Ricky Lloyd. But, he should be able to run that offense effectively, and there’s plenty of talent around with four starting linemen back, Terrance Young and Jacob Smith back at WR and Olito Thompson in the backfield. Plus, the defense should be pretty good, led by big fellas Trent Mahler and Willy Thompson.
Who might take the throne? Well, I’m hearing good things about Northgate. The momentum gained from last year’s 9-3 season is carrying over, and several league coaches have said the Broncos looked good this summer. Cameron Stover, Matt Butler and Alex Cost are gone. In their place are Blair Schmidt, Sean Han, Jimmy Sharpe and new QB Shane Ryan. Don’t expect a major drop-off for Northgate.
College Park should again be solid, and this year the Falcons are a Division II school rather than D-I. That won’t matter right away, as CP scheduled a D-I heavy nonleague slate thinking they’d be back in the top division again. Where it will matter is in league, as those league contests will be doubly important for playoff eligibility. Daivon Ballard returns at running back and the new quarterback is Jordan Louis. I expect the Falcons to contend.
Clayton Valley and Ygnacio Valley are undergoing somewhat drastic makeovers due to graduation. YV lost 27 seniors off last year’s team, and Clayton is the youngest its been in coach Herc Pardi’s tenure. Questions surround both teams at quarterback, with Jamari Pope looking to continue his progression as YV’s man in charge and Mateo Gomez doing the same for Clayton. I do like both team’s running games though, with Anthony Barnett a solid option for the Warriors and the Eagles having a very talented pair of juniors in Jesse Medrano and Joe Prothroe. I like those guys a lot.
Mt. Diablo will look to continue the building process under Jerry Reese, but several coaches I talked to really like Reese and the job he’s doing. The Red Devils did well in passing leagues this summer, and if they can find some guys up front, the skill positions are fairly solid.
All in all, I think the league will come back down a little from last year’s high. It’s a tough league, but I think having Concord’s star power last year elevated it to a great league. This year, they’ll still need to prove it. Right now, you have to consider the Minutemen the favorite but it’s not the slam-dunk that they made it look like one year ago.