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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 12): Surprise, surprise

By Ben Enos
Sunday, August 5th, 2012 at 10:00 am in 30 Questions to Kickoff, East Bay Football.

Today, we double up on a question we’ve gotten a lot over the last few years.

What team will emerge as the surprise of the East Bay in 2012?

Ben: I always enjoy this question, because no matter how smart I think I am, I almost always get it wrong.

To be fair, neither of us would’ve picked Campolindo in this spot last year. I think our track record on that one is pretty clear. I don’t think you could call the Cougars a surprise this year, but I wouldn’t expect them to drop off a ton. Will they make it back to Carson? We’ll see. But, I think they’re in for another good year.

My surprise team for 2012 isn’t really a huge surprise if you take a program’s history into account. I’m going with Foothill. In TE Ray Hudson and LB/DE Griffith Gates, the Falcons have two studs for senior leaders. They’re going to make plays, no question. Foothill also had a ton of juniors on the roster last year, and I think if those guys continue to mature and grow into starting roles, I think Matt Sweeney will have the team ready to roll. I also think that after De La Salle, the EBAL is there for the taking. I think this could be the perfect time for Foothill to get back into that 2 hole.

As an aside, I considered taking El Cerrito in a bit of home cooking. The Gauchos are gonna be good this year, and I think they’re better coached than people give them credit for. Remember that later this year.

Jimmy: Like Ben, I think El Cerrito is poised for a great year. But I won’t pick them because I wouldn’t really consider that to be a surprise.

My surprise pick is, like Ben’s, a team that is used to being very competitive. That’s San Leandro. The Pirates have been a very steady playoff team over the past couple decades, even if they haven’t gotten back to the NCS title game recently like they did in the Dennis Dixon and later Scottie Cordier years. But I think this team is back on the rise.

They looked great in their opening win over Berkeley last year and were competitive for a half with Bellarmine. Eventually, they took some lumps, losing to Tennyson, getting drilled in the regular season finale by O’Dowd and falling in a pretty competitive playoff game with Monte Vista. But they had a freshman quarterback last year. That’s right, a freshman in Stephen Johnson. And he’s an athlete. He showed that at times last year, even matching a state record with a 99-yard touchdown run. He also plays on the basketball team and runs track. So we’re talking about a primo athlete that the Pirates can build around for three more years. Can he become a Dennis Dixon type? I don’t know. But four years with a guy in your varsity program is a nice tool and I think the Pirates are well position this year to compete for the WACC Foothill title, albeit that league will be very competitive.

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  • junior

    I like these two surprise picks. Ben- what do hear about the transfer QB to Foothill? Sure hope SL returns to their old ways- they were a fun team to watch when they were strong.

  • Super Chieftains

    El Cerrito generally has the athletes, if they can stay academically eligible. Its the Coaching that has come into question. Since “Coach Millo” was jacked. Those who make the best “Coaching adjustments” at half time will win. When “Shag” spent some time there, they finally went to the N. Coast Championship but got out coached because the “O” coordinator was to stubborn to make the necessary halftime adjustments. The coaching group they have there now are young but work hard and do make a difference to those kids. Best of luck Kenny and Big Joe.

  • ManDown

    Look out for Alameda High as a surprise. They have a QB that can throw the ball very well and he has nothing but talent to throw to. The have a big stud WR (K. Doss) he will turn some heads this year and they also have one of the best junior athletes in the Bay Area. I am not sure of his name but he wore number 1 last season.

    Deer Valley will be another team to watchout for. They return starting QB with good talent around him. They will have one of the better defenses in the area as well. I think they challage Pitt for the top spot this season in league play.

  • Island chief

    We have a lot of key players back. We are too big and fast for these schools. We should go undefeated in the shoreline. I don’t like being labeled a surprise team when no one in this league can match up with us. It will shakedown like this

    1. Alameda
    2. Arroyo
    3. San Lorenzo
    4. Tennyson
    5. Mt.Eden
    6. Piedmont

  • BayAreaSection

    I wud like to see both teams (EC & SL) back in the pack of playoff teams. I wud also like to see a San Leandro vs. Vacaville game one day.

  • Prep Fan

    Junior, who is this transfer QB to Foothill? Are you referring to the kid who lives in San Ramon? I don’t think he’s a transfer, just a kid who enrolled at Foothill his freshman year. I’m not aware of any other QBs that might be transferring in.

    As for Foothill be a surprise team, they certainly have some good athletes coming back with Gates, Hudson & Holland leading the way. I don’t know how much help their getting from their JV team that went 2-8 last season, but CalPreps has them predicted for 3rd place in the EBAL this year behind DLS and SRV. I would be very surprised if they exceeded that expectation. But Sweeney is one of the top coaches around, so you can never count them out. Especially if they have a stud transfer QB coming in.

    http://calpreps.com/cgi-bin/2012/preview_viewer_league.pl?number=3&league=North_Coast:_East_Bay

  • DJ

    @superchief your right on about Ec they have a lot of talent most years and this year they have some studs but coaching from a standpoint of x’s and o’s has always been their downfall with a young head coach and a young staff of assistants not very creative offensive scheme for all those athletes they have but they teach these kids more than just football since most of these kids come from tough neigborhoods and family situations.But they are building a real football program.Good Luck to the Gauchos this season they should win league though Pinole and Salesian have athletes also they may surprise this year no team would want to face them in first round of playoffs

  • moreaufan2

    @superchief Hey u really have San Lorenzo finishing higher than Tennyson Mt Eden, and Piedmont? Or was that a misprint. I feel they cn be better than they were last season, but not taking third place

  • VC FAn

    My big surprise is Valley Christian Dublin.. They have a great offensive line two of them were invited to the USA Football team, McHone and Flynn for over 6’3 270 coming back are running backs Harris and Wikle. They were up on Salesian in last years playoff game until late in the 3rd QTR. El Cerrito will have some competition in the new TCAL Rock League.