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.