It’s the midway point in our 30 Questions to Kickoff feature and so why not dive into taking a look at the Oakland Athletic League. Before the comments fill up the thread with the inevitable “When will the OAL join the NCS?” questions, just stop. It’s not going to happen, at least any time soon. I suppose the possibility does exist depending on who takes over as commissioner with Michael Moore Sr. having stepped aside, but too many high ranking Oakland Unified School District people have no interest in that happening. And there reasons for it are some valid ones. But I’ve ranted on that too many times and don’t want to again today. So let’s just look at this year’s OAL football.
The discussion has to begin with the two-time defending Silver Bowl champions McClymonds. The Warriors are 22-2 over the past two years and should be poised for another solid season, although their nonleague schedule is daunting. The first four teams on the schedule went a combined 35-9 last year. That’s Bishop O’Dowd (9-3), Minico-Rupert, Idaho (9-1), West Valley-Cottonwood (8-3) and Oak Grove-San Jose (9-2). While Mack should be a pretty good team this year, you’d have to think that’s going to be a tough start to the season. And only the West Valley game is played at home. (The Minico game is a neutral site at Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills, so at least Mack doesn’t have to take a flight like Minico does.
If Mack gets through that slate at 2-2, I’d be pretty impressed. It’ll also set them up to be very battle-tested for the OAL. They lose key players like QB/DE Eddie Heard and RB Harold Halcomb, but welcome a ton of talent back. On the OL, there’s Dajon Ford and Kevin Vaughn, two returning first-team All-City picks. First-team All-City SS Lavance Warren, who will also play RB, was just a freshman last year. Kelton Rennels, a second-team All-City center, was just a freshman. There were several other talented young players that should help Mack again be the favorite.
The rest of the league could be a toss up. Unlike Mack, most of the top players on the rest of the teams were seniors last year. Oakland Tech does have QB James Lewis, who was a second-team All-City pick as a sophomore last year. Castlemont RB Thomas Logwood was a second-team pick in his junior year last year. You’d have to think things are wide open for the other three playoff spots after Mack.
I like what Jamaal Kizziee has done at Skyline and while Jamal Mayo was a big part of the Titans success last year, I think he has the program headed in the right direction. Fremont has been steady under Isamu Falevai on the field, although forfeit losses have plagued the team and knocked them out of the playoffs last year. I’d expect the Tigers to bounce back. Delton Edwards usually finds a way to have Oakland Tech be competitive. Castlemont got in the playoffs last year when Fremont had to forfeit four games. Can the Knights use that sniff of the postseason to their advantage? Oakland has only won one game on the field in the past two years, so the Wildcats will hope to turn that around.
Overall, I think you have to look at this league as Mack’s to win, with the rest of the playoff spots completely up for grabs. If the season can go down to the wire with everybody in contention, that should make for some fun and interesting football.