Yes, it’s time again for your favorite summer time feature: 30 Questions to Kickoff, our annual journey to the start of the high school football season. If it seems like we’re starting this early this year, we are. The first day teams are eligible to play games in Thursday, Aug. 24. Yowsers! There will be a decent slate of games that weekend and everybody will be underway the following week on Aug. 31, meaning August football for everyone! That means an early start to 30Q-2-K. So early, that Ben and I are both still away on vacation as we post this. Thank goodness for technology on the ability to auto-schedule posts.
We’ll start this off with an ol’ favorite.
Who will be the East Bay Player of the Year in 2012?
Jimmy Durkin: There are some good candidates to choose from this year. Of course, last year’s player of the year was only a junior in Concord’s Olito Thompson. The record-setting running back will easily be one of the top players to watch this year. There are players like USC commit Michael Hutchings of De La Salle and Washington commit Darrell Daniels of Freedom. But I’m going to go with a guy who had already had two great years on the gridiron and could be poised for another one. That’s James Logan’s Warren Miles Long. The Northwestern commit will be a third-year starter at running back for the Colts. He racked up 2,859 yards during his sophomore and junior years for Logan. If he can deliver similar numbers, along with continuing to deliver strong play at linebacker, he could jump from his spot last year as a first-team All-East Bay running back up into the player of the year talk.
Also, with Logan competing as a independent, whatever numbers he does deliver will have some extra significance. The Colts are playing a solid schedule this year, with games against Reed-Sparks (Nev.), San Ramon Valley and Del Oro-Loomis the highlights. If he can near 1,500 yards and 20 TDs and help Logan make a deep playoff run, I think he could be a very strong POY contender.
Ben Enos: Jimmy has started the season with some outside the box thinking, which I like. Long is going to be a beast this season.
It feels wrong to me to not pick the defending player of the year here. Thompson was just a sheer force last season, and as crazy as it sounds, I think he has the potential to be a much better football player this season. I underlined football player because I think he’s going to get less carries and, as a result, play more on defense this year. I would not want that dude coming at me if I had the ball.
I really think Daniels is going to be a show-stopper this year as well. Not many players in recent memory have had his explosiveness on both sides of the ball. He’s also got a very good quarterback in Dante Mayes, and Daniels is going to be a leader this season for Freedom. If he lands this award come season’s end, absolutely no one should be surprised.
My pick though comes from the home of the defending CIF Open Division champs. I’ve covered De La Salle up close for the past two seasons, and I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with two of the smartest, toughest players I’ve ever met in Blake Renaud and Michael Barton. Both physical, instinctive players at the middle linebacker position who are going to be fantastic college players. Michael Hutchings has the ability to be that next leader of De La Salle’s defense.
I think this year’s defense at De La Salle could be scary good. You don’t see a collection of talent like that very often. I think Hutchings has that Renaud/Barton-type ability to lead both with his pads and his brains. Also, if needed, he can make plays on offense as well. I think if he fills the leadership void left by Barton, he will join that list of elite DLS linebackers.