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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 20): Hot in the valley

Another day, another league. Today, the big one.

What’s new in the East Bay Athletic League?

Off the top, let’s address what isn’t new. De La Salle remains the prohibitive favorite to win the EBAL. After I get a chance to get over to Winton Dr., I’ll have a more in-depth preview of the Spartans. For now, you know the guys coming back. It should be extremely hard to score on DLS this year. Nothing new there.

Now that we’ve got that formality out of the way, what’s goin’ on in the rest of the league? Last year, San Ramon Valley and Monte Vista tied for second place, with the Wolves making it to the NCS Division I final.

And, I wouldn’t expect much of a drop off at SRV. There’s a ton of talent coming back, led by new quarterback Cameron Birse. He’ll have weapons, with Marcus De La Pena returning in the backfield and Matt Turner on the perimeter. Ryan Dunn returns at linebacker to lead the defense. Also, remember that the Wolves could have a game-changer at kicker, with Cal commit Matt Anderson back for another year. He’s ranked by Scout.com as the No. 2 kicker in the country.

Monte Vista has a few more question marks. The biggest is at quarterback, with Jeff Lockie now gone to Oregon. Having gotten to know Jeff a fair amount over the last year, you can’t underestimate the leadership intangibles MV loses with his departure. Of course, on the field the Mustangs have to replace a ton of production with him gone, and as I understand it, either returning safety Anders Turner or Nikita Zamora will be the man in coach Craig Bergman’s offense. I think with a new guy in Bergman’s spread offense, there could be some growing pains to work out.

One team I really expect to take a step forward is Foothill. What I like most about the Falcons is I think they have a group that can deliver on what Matt Sweeney wants his teams to lean on most: toughness. I think guys like Griffith Gates and Ray Hudson, who have been at the varsity level for a few years now, will be good leaders and I think with some room to move in that next tier down from De La Salle, I think Foothill could have a good season.

Another team I think will be in the hunt will be California. Now a junior, quarterback Cameron Owen saw a bit of time at the end of last season and I thought he looked quite good in the playoff loss to Freedom. Good mobility, good arm. He has Karris Johnson back at RB, Blake Guardino back at WR and, maybe most importantly, Shane Haley back at tight end. Haley is a matchup nightmare. They also have a good number of offensive linemen coming back, which could set Cal up well on offense.

At Amador Valley, the Dons finished 4-6 last season and are looking for improvement this time around. The biggest thing that I think will help them is a healthy Kyle Moreno, because I’ve seen Moreno put together a few really good games in his career. A full season of Moreno under center (or in the gun, as it were) could mean a return to the playoffs for Amador.

Moving to Livermore, the Cowboys took a significant step forward last season by getting an EBAL win over rival Granada. Looking at the roster, there were a bunch of juniors on last year’s squad, so I would think the momentum that coach Greg Haubner has established might definitely stand a shot of continuing. My main question, of course, comes from the loss of do-everything talent Damariay Drew. Tough to replace a guy like that, so we’ll see what Livermore has up its sleeve.

Across town on Wall Street, Granada is looking to move forward after a 3-7 overall record and last-place finish in league play. A couple guys I expect the Mats to lean on are the running backs – Casey Soltis, Matt Richards and Kyle Campiotti. Two of those guys I’ve seen on the baseball field and know they’re pretty dang good athletes. Quarterback Jeremy Mata graduated, so there’ll be a hole to fill there. As usual, I would not be surprised if Granada takes a turn upward, but I would think there’s some work to do.

Ben Enos

  • http://TheSchoolmarm TheSchoolmarm

    Good article.
    I’ve a few questions that maybe someone can answer. First and formost: what is the QB situation at DeLaSalle? There seemed to be no one in the wings last year.
    2. Is SR “adjusting” their defense from last year? A lot of yards and points against it last year.
    3. Glad to hear Matt Anderson is very highly rated as a kicker, but what happened during the off season. He didn’t put too many into the end zone on KO’s last year.
    4. Will Granada and Livermore be able to compete with the other 6? It’s been awhile since either has had a winning league record.

  • barefoot

    Based on the 7 on 7 results of summer, Foothill would win the EBAL, DLS included. Foothill has a strong passing game, possibly the best in the EBAL. Unfortunately for Foothill it’s not a 7 on 7 league. And, their quarterback isn’t good enough yet to guarantee wins in a shoot out like SRV was able to do with Klein. The strongest teams will be the teams with the best defenses. DLS’s D is in a league of its own, as usual. Like many of their teams, it really doesn’t matter if Hooper or Pucket or Williams is at QB. Scoring on them will likely occur in the 4th Qtr if at all. SR’s defense is its strength. If they win it will be because of their linebackers. Matt Anderson kicked a 65 yard field goal at Cal’s summer camp. Signed him on the spot. Have you forgotten the Atkinson twins so soon? With the obvious DLS exception, the chances of upsets in the EBAL are always high.

  • The Ghost

    Barefoot,
    Your post is so weighted with DLS arrogance … and you are correct that Foothill had a very strong spring and are confident going into this EBAL season.
    The Foothill QB situation is still unknown. That said, they have a ton of talent and this could be a team to watch.
    DLS is and should be an independent … it’s not fair they are in a PUBLIC SCHOOL conference and they should play in a PRIVATE SCHOOL conference(Period).
    Order of finish:
    DLS
    Foothill
    California
    SRV
    MV
    Amador
    Livermore
    Granada

  • barefoot

    When you say not fair I assume you refer to DLS’s ability to draw from wherever they choose and the public schools boundary limitations. That is an advantage but it isn’t unfair. There are many current and recent examples of public schools doing the same. Seamus Finnegan transferred to MV to compete with Locke after Nottingham left. Kyle Kearns, a likely QB starter either this year or next for Foothill, is from San Ramon. Birse seriously considered transferring rather than play behind Klein. Read the SRV predictions written by this paper and see several transfers mentioned. For what its worth read post #59 under “casting call”

  • Turftoespain

    People seem to forget that the Spartans back when where just avg team that would have an avg season. And that was true for many of the sports teams. Let the haters say what they want..but bottom line is its a spirit and tradition that has matured over the years at De La Salle. Granted boys do apply to the school from all over, they take a competitive entrance exam,and with any luck you are one of the accepted 260 or so freshman. They tell you from the get go if you are at the school for sports you will fail..classroom is #1 priority. Parents and students have a vested interest in the school considering tuition is now at $14,000. With every sport at De La Salle there is an element of pride and a work ethic that transcends the classroom and the field and it grows through a consistent progression at DLS. You need only to observe each and every frosh student that try’s out for his respective sport….these little wide eyed, skinny, short, chunky, semi athletic, some tall, and yes these boy’s develop into champions. On day one its all equal and its the same at every school. But what makes it all come together ? and this is true of any consistently successful school. The key word is consistently suceeds, the general overall system has been bought into by teachers, coaches, parents and students. The are willing to enforce rules, personal resonsiblity, & work ethic become contagious along with spirit. It all = sucsess. I was fortunate to observe 125 freshmen go through football tryouts at DLS they all were bleeding the silver and green after day 2 it was max effort but the coaches see it all, the potential in a particular kid, the one kid who held on for that one last painfull second, the kid that is encourageing to others, the worker-bee silent kid who just seems to get a little better with each passing day….No Magic…No Reqruiting, No secret go juice, Just plain simple disipline and work ethic and some passionate coaches gives you the final 55 or so players for a frosh squad that become part of long line of the Brotherhood.

  • concrete17

    Barefoot….#4/above & 59/casting call, damned if you do & damned if you don’t, hooter to homer in only ten “30Q-2-Kickoff” editions….you know must be on to something when you have someone with a learner’s permit honking their horn and trying to run over you with with their “re-invented wheel”.
    Don’t always agree 100% but do look for your EBAL insights. Welcome aboard.

  • MiraMan

    Turftoespain,

    I have no beef with DLS and its football program, but to hear the freshman football team described as “little wide eyed, skinny, short, chunky, semi athletic” is a joke! Literally, I laughed out loud as I read it!! I’ve known a few kids that went to DLS as freshman and they were consistently pretty good athletes and pretty large kids with fathers who had played football and had expectations that their sons would do the same. The fact that 125 kids went out from a incoming population of 260 tells a rational person that football is a primary reason kids (and their parents) decide on DLS.

    If you really want to see “little wide eyed, skinny, short, chunky, semi athletic” kids, come to Miramonte or some of the other public schools for the first day of football practice! I guarentee you will get a whole new perspective!!

    As other posters say, its not DLS football that’s annoying, its some of the DLS posters that act as if DLS is at some sort of disadvantage. I think your post exemplfies that sort of silliness.

  • Prep Fan

    Good points MiraMan.

    I see where the EBAL principals have voted to allow DLS to drop from the EBAL for football this year, but they will still have an EBAL regular season, and will get the league’s automatic NCS berth. That seems really weird. Chances are they would win the league anyway, but what if SRV were to run the table this year? Would DLS still get the automatic bid and home field advantage even if they don’t win league?

    The way the BVAL did things to allow Pitt to be the league champ in addition to DLS would make more sense, but I’m not sure why the powers that be felt that DLS needed to be treated differently than everyone else anyway. Strange. I am for having them keep the same rules everyone else plays by, except for the obvious differences being a private school in an otherwise public school league.

    I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this as details come out:

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/high-school-sports/ci_21321849/de-la-salle-football-team-agrees-not-be

  • http://bluedog2 George Manley

    In regards to DLS completeing their schedule in the EBAL and what looks like going independent next season…this was going to happen sooner or later…Every year a new crop of kids with great skills enter DLS and this doesn’t happen at the public schools…DLS each season rolled over the EBAL teams and racking up a 28-0 record which is unfornate, but this is what happened…It will be interesting to see who DLS schedules next season…The spartans have a well oiled machine which is almost unstopable…This coming Friday we will see how the 2012 team performs at the Pittsburg Jamboree….

  • junior

    George- would you mind amending your post to state:

    “…this doesn’t happen at the public schools… except in the SJS and the OAL”

  • Prep Fan

    Going to the old SJS standby. We’ll see how those schools fare this year in the NorCal game should they face DLS.

  • Junior

    No standby needed. Why are you afraid to admit public schools dominate the biggest section in Nor Cal?

  • MiraMan

    With regard to DLS having an auto birth to the Open Division, I think you folks have it backwards. This clearly benefits the other powers that be in EBAL. Think about it, the #2, #3, #4… teams in EBAL that make the playoffs will NOT be in the same division as DLS. DLS will be in Open Division and other EBAL teams will be in Division 1. Actually, it’s genius! Even if DLS doesn’t win EBAL, DLS will have to play Open Division while the other EBAL teams avoid them by going Division 1.

    Monte Vista, SRV and Cal have been trying to find a way to engineer a path to a NCS section title and now they have found one! In fact, not only is DLS out of their way in Divsions 1, but Logan, Pitt/Freedom and perhaps Berkeley/San Leandro also. EBAL leftovers will totally rule Division 1. Genius!! Totally wussy, but genius!

  • renegades10

    Open Division? Unless I missed something, when did NCS approve an Open division in football. As far as I know all the EBAL schools including DLS will be in the D1 bracket except for Livermore which I believe is now D2?

  • Prep Fan

    Right R10. There is no path to a section title being engineered. All D1 teams in NCS still need to go through DLS in order to win a section title or gain qualification for consideraton into the new regional games towards a state bowl berth. Nice try though.

  • MiraMan

    Renegades and Prep Fan,

    You are correct, the Open Division proposal failed. I thought it had passed. My mistake.

  • New2this

    @Turftoespain – nobody can take anything away from DLS they make the very most of every advantage they have.. yes they have advantages no boundaries and a line of kids wanting to get in – the can choose the cream of the crop of 4-5 counties.. This year a Pittsburg kid who applied for DLS was on the waiting list to get in – didnt score very well on entrance exam.. He attended DLS’s football camp when they saw him – 6’2″ 260 hybrid body of Islander decent the next day he was no longer on waiting list and placed on DLS JV team. This kid has played in pittburg feeder league for 2 yrs and just like that he was gone. Not blaming DLS if they come knocking let them in.. but dont say they don’t have advantages..

  • greenboy

    Just read this article where 1 NFL player donated $60,000.00 so students would not have to pay athletic fees…just seems a shame that the students of the MDUSD are headed into year 3 of this ordeal and no one is concerned because we are making it work…..

    http://www.nesn.com/2012/08/steelers-linebacker-lamarr-woodley-donates-60000-to-help-fund-school-districts-athletic-budget.html

  • CaliFootballFan

    http://www.denverpost.com/preps/ci_19465830?source=pkg

    Perhaps the NCS should take notes from what has happened in Colorado…..evidence of what these private schools that keep claiming no advantage, like DLS, are doing to the big picture of highschool prep sports. Sad…..

  • http://aol YoMama

    CaliFootballFan- you should also include, New Jersey, Ohio and Florida, Las Vegas also. Here’s the facts Jack, the Catholics are racking up big time college style programs across the country. You little jimmie’s better start saying your prayers and they won’t schedule you. :) )))) You Cali can conveert to Catholisism, send your kid to Catholic school and see if he can make the grade thru bad ass boot camp, if he can then another Spartan is born. Too bad success is always associated with advantages and not hard work.
    ALL the super stars have advanatges, public or private at some times of their lives. A lot of it is genetics and parent pressure, their parent(s) played a sport at a high level somewhere, their siblings also. Look at Bonds, Father MLB, uncle Cal track star and NFL, Aunt ex-olympic hurdler, brother minor leagues, the Bonds family spells talent.

  • http://aol BigDog

    Spartan bloggers, we made a big mistake not recruitig Olito Thompson from Concord High. 251 yds. last nite. Too bad the coaching and admin didn’t pay attention at the DLS camp 5 years ago. With the new transfer rules it’s not too late to get him for the opening game next week. Also that hot QB from Concord that went to Miss State, we should have got him too. Looks like the recruiters aren’t doing their jobs. Shucks ! Is Barefoot and pregnant listening?

  • http://aol BigDog

    Barefoot, sorry – I realized your a DeLa Guy.