30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 28): Games to watch
As you’ve seen the league previews pop up in your newspapers, you’ve seen three games to watch from each league. Now, Ben and I are going to each pick three games we’ve got our eyes on this season.
I’m going to start with a game that is in its third year of this series and is back on the island when Encinal hosts Serra-San Mateo on Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. The Jets hung with the Padres for a little while last season before being worn down on a Saturday afternoon. But two years ago at The Swamp, Encinal gave Serra all it could handle. The series shifts back to Alameda this year and the Jets will be looking to finally notch a win against the West Catholic Athletic League stalwart. Can they do it? I don’t know, but playing at home will be a huge advantage. It’ll be the first game with the beautiful new scoreboard in place. It’s not a must-win for Encinal. We saw last year that despite losing to Serra, the Jets were in position where they probably would’ve gotten the call to Carson if they had won the NCS title game against Cardinal Newman. But you can’t understand what a win against the Padres would do for the Jets confidence and their profile as a powerhouse. Beating a WCAL team definitely turns heads, especially from a Div. III school with around 25 kids on the roster.
My next game pits two of the better programs over the past two decades when Monte Vista hosts Pittsburg on the same night, Sept. 16, which makes it a tough decision for me on where to go. Pittsburg often seems to get that default No. 2 ranking to start the year. Last year, it sort of blew up in the voters’ faces when they started 0-5. It was a team that took a long time to jell, was surprised by Foothill’s offensive switch and faced a tougher-than-it-expected McClymonds team. It sounds like this year’s team definitely is deserving of that preseason ranking, but that’ll be decided on the field as we move along. This game should help us know a little bit about the Pirates. Monte Vista is always a team to watch out for. The offense is usually high octane. The QB play in this one should be fun to watch with the Mustangs’ Oregon-bound Jeff Lockie and Pitt’s Malik Watson.
Finally, I’m looking at the Sept. 23 game with Logan traveling to Brentwood to face Heritage. It was a good nonleague contest in Union City last year and I’d expect the same again. Heritage might’ve tailed off slightly from the team it had last year, while the Colts are a bit more experienced and I think should be very good. With that long drive, it’ll be a good test for Logan against a quality program. A win in that game will be the type that could show how ready the Colts are for the D-1 playoffs. For the Patriots, it’ll be a good test against a very good team and should help prepare them for the start of BVAL play.
No doubt there are other really good games, especially some of the great league battles that will ensue. For now, I stuck with three nonleague games because those matchups can vary from year to year (although all of these are games that were played last year) and can be interesting to see teams match up from different leagues. A league game I’m really looking forward to also is the Silver Bowl rematch between McClymonds and Fremont on Oct. 14 in the OAL opener at Curt Flood Field. Both teams should be very good again this year, so that’ll be fun.
As the guy that follows De La Salle, I’ve got several games to choose from. In fact, this week’s game against Bellarmine probably deserves to be on the list. But, I’ll put that aside for a moment because if you’re looking at the entire season, there’s no escaping what happens on the other side of the country Sept. 23. The Spartans head to Florida to take on St. Thomas Aquinas-Fort Lauderdale in a game that very well could be the national game of the year. I got a chance to watch Aquinas this weekend on ESPN, and yeah, the Raiders are for real. That was a fantastic Prattville team they beat. DLS will have all it can handle and more.
I’ll keep with our nonleague theme and pick one for this weekend. At Diablo Valley College this Saturday, Cal-bound Zach Kline and his San Ramon Valley squad take on last year’s CIF Division II champ Folsom. Now, Folsom had a good first half this past weekend against Grant, but Shaq Thompson took over to get the Pacers the win. This week, Folsom needs a win and it’s actually in coach Kris Richardson’s backyard (he’s a CP/DVC grad). And, it’s SRV’s first game in Kline’s senior season. Against a solid opponent, we’ll get to see how the Wolves stack up right off the bat. Plus, if you show up early, you get to see Ygnacio Valley-Acalanes first. Two games for one!
My third game also takes place this week. It’s a battle of 2010 section champions. Concord heads north to play Cardinal Newman in Santa Rosa in what should be a big time test for both schools. We’re pretty sure of Cardinal being good, but what will Concord bring to the table? I don’t necessarily think the Minutemen need to win to prove they’ll be good again this year, but they need to hold their own. A blowout would raise definite questions as we get into the meat of the season.
Again, Jimmy’s right in saying that there are going to be some superb league contests. I’m in the middle of trying to figure out how I can clone myself so I can go to both DLS-Cal and MV-SRV in the last week of the season. Talk about good games. Also, how bout a game like Berkeley-Pinole, which was decided on a 32-second drive last year? Or darn near any game between Pitt, Freedom, Heritage or Deer Valley in the BVAL? There’s going to be a TON of good action out there this year.