Today, I take on another reader submitted question. This one comes from YoMama.
Who has the toughest schedule coming out of the gate in Northern Cal this year?
Right off the bat, the answer is De La Salle. But, the answer is almost always De La Salle these days. No team actively pursues a challenge like the Spartans. What I will say though is this year’s schedule is not as tough as last year’s. I base that solely on the fact that DLS doesn’t have to travel across the country to take on a national-caliber team on the level of St. Thomas Aquinas. Subtracting a game like that automatically makes the schedule easier.
But, things are far from easy on Winton Dr., for many of the reasons YoMama gave when asking the question. Bellarmine is always good, Mullen-Denver is going to be good and St. Mary’s-Stockton will be solid as well. Three tough tests, then the East Bay Athletic League. If DLS is to get back to a bowl game, it will have to play an extra game too, making things even tougher. And, to top it all off, the Spartans are not playing a zero week game. That means 10 regular season games in 10 weeks. No byes.
So, you could guess I was going that direction with my answer. Who else has scheduled up this year? I’ll start with Pittsburg. I don’t think coach Victor Galli was necessarily looking to upgrade the schedule, but that’s what he ended up with. Clayton Valley, Cal, Monte Vista, Berkeley and Granite Bay make up a formidable five-pack of games, and if Pitt doesn’t come to play right out of the gate, they could very well end up in the same boat as 2010 when they had to rally to even make the playoffs. I don’t see that happening this year, but the Pirates will need to be ready to play from day one.
Another team that caught my eye is Foothill. Novato remains on the schedule, as does a Freedom team that could be very, very good. Nonleague play concludes for the Falcons with Las Lomas, always one of the most well-coached and prepared teams around. Then comes EBAL play, which is a whole other animal altogether. And Foothill finishes on the road at Amador, so a rivalry game on the road is also a bit tougher than usual.
Games against Reed-Sparks (NV), San Ramon Valley and Del Oro-Loomis have James Logan on the tough schedule radar too, but that’s not unexpected. The Colts wanted the freedom to schedule tougher, they got it by going independent and I think they scheduled accordingly. Good for them.
I also wouldn’t sleep on Bishop O’Dowd’s schedule, with games against Las Lomas, Mack, Valley Christian-San Jose and Sacred Heart Cathedral in the first four weeks. The good news for the Dragons is all four are at home.