30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 22): In the Foothills

Let’s continue to take a look at our leagues. I already wrote about the West Alameda County Conference’s realignment, but today I’ll talk more about how the WACC Foothill League will look.

There’s a decent argument that the WACC Foothill could be the most interesting league to watch in the East Bay. How often do you have a league that includes three defending league champions? That will make for a lot of fun.

The top four teams in this league are pretty clear. You’ve got defending HAAL champion Bishop O’Dowd, defending ACCAL champion Berkeley, defending BSAL champion Encinal and San Leandro. I would expect those four to finish in the top four in the standings, but I have no idea in what order. Castro Valley probably comes in next, although the Trojans are coming off a pretty good season and seem to be on the upswing. In the old HAAL, this could be a team you’d be looking at as a top-three team.

Starting with O’Dowd. The Dragons have what teams always yearn for: a returning experienced quarterback. Dominic Miroglio, who recently committed to play baseball at UCLA, is back for his third season as O’Dowd’s starter. He’s got a big arm and can rack up some big yardage games. Kevin King is dynamic and will be a Pac-12 DB when he makes his decision. Dominic Gomes and De’zhon Grace were the Dragons top two receivers last year and both are back. I like the way O’Dowd stacks up and they may be the favorite.

Encinal is a team that I have a hard time counting out, based on their track record of the last four years. I think they may not be as equipped this season as in years past, but I have no doubt they’ll be competitive and be in the mix. Corey Sails should lead the way at running back and it looks like Austin Ve’e will take over at QB. The Jets are well coached and always possess a pesky, swarming defense and deceptive offense. They’ll be right there.

San Leandro also can very well be in the mix for a title. The Pirates were young last year and they’ll be more experienced this year. Their two QBs from last year, Stephen Johnson and Jose Ferreira, are back for their sophomore and senior year, respectively. Anthony Fotu will anchors the lines and the Pirates should fight for a title.

Berkeley, like Encinal, will see a big jump in its league competition. The Yellowjackets might be ready for it though. If I recall, QB Xavier Williams got hurt in the opener last year but is back for his junior season. Another junior, Lamont Smith, made some nice plays in Berkeley’s playoff loss to Pittsburg last year. I remember being impressed with his potential. I think that combo, whichever serves as the starter, gives Berkeley a nice situation at a key position.  Berkeley also has a great weapon in kicker Sam Boyden, a first-team All-East Bay pick last year. I like Berkeley to also stay in the mix late.

As for Castro Valley and Hayward, I just don’t see them being able to contend with these teams in the title mix. I think in a normal situation, Castro Valley could be a playoff team. But with nonleague games against Cal, Monte Vista and Freedom, along with league games against O’Dowd, Berkeley, San Leandro and Encinal could make it tough for the Trojans to get that needed .500 record. They’ll probably be underdogs in all seven of those games, meaning they’ll need at least two upsets.

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.

  • ManDown

    1. BOD- Should be one of the top 5 programs in the Bay Area. They have one of the best situations around.
    2. Berkeley- Underachievers
    3. Encinal- I think they will be better than we all think. Started 5 sophomores last year on varsity and they will all be back.
    4. Castro Valley- Have a solid line coming back with some decent athletes that will help them beat both SL and Hayward.
    5. San Leandro- Getting worse by the year. Fotu is a beast in the trenches.
    6. Hayward- Should in in B league but have the players to get it done in the A league

  • I agree with mandown in his rankings.

    Encinal in the 3rd spot is probably right but what does that mean 7-3, 6-4 or 5-5. At 6-4 or 5-5 where do you seed them 9th or lower?

    Also how does Encinal react to starting the playoffs on the road ? They did not look good on the road vs MC in the 2nd round last season.

    Lastly with a +20 in schedule difficultly and no cream puff teams to rest on can the Jets survive the season with enough players to make a post season run?

  • junior

    Watching those top 3-4 duke it out is going to be entertaining.

  • Old Former Meddling Coach

    @New League expert. The loss to Marin Catholic was simply this. The Kids were looking past them while they were looking right at us. The Coaching Staff can’t be faulted. But i think that quite a few of the kids thought we had it won already. Joe T, And The Jets will not let that happen again. They’ll be in Shape and ready for any and all comers. They can only play us with 11 at a time. Jet Pride!

  • Old Former Meddling Coach….All the teams need a supporter like you..But in the MC game…MC came to play and the Jets just never got going….And if the Jets and MC should meet again, I’m afraid the out come will be the same….MC has a lot to draw on while the Jets don’t…but I sure wouldn’t count the Jets out…they will be a team to watch…

  • FB Guru

    I heard NCS is only going to grant 1st Rd playoff games to League Champions. From Rd 2 and beyond higher seed will host. Good Change!

  • Prep Fan

    That would be a nice change. 1 home playoff game for a lower seeded league champ is plenty. Hopefully what you heard comes to fruition.

  • Guest2

    That Sam Boyden is the secret weapon for the Yellowjackets! He’s no underachiever!

  • ManDown

    Had a buddy tell me yesterday that Encinal only has 18 players on varsity. With numbers like that they wont be able to last a whole season in this new league.

  • Old Former Meddling Coach

    @Mandown. We’ll be fine and well have our usual number of Players when the season starts. We play 11 at a time and I think My Jets will be just fine.We’re like the Marines.. Quality, Not Quanity! 😀 Jet Pride!

  • Perkins thanks for the link great article and audio interview with coach T.

    It seems Coach T was very honest about the team and the season.