30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 26): Give me the Rock

Let’s keep going with a look at another one of our new leagues, the Tri-County Athletic League Rock Division.

This should be an interesting league. It’s not a powerhouse league, but it’s got a lot of good, solid teams. It’s a nice mid-divisional league. No Division I teams, but a mix of Divisions II, III and IV. Every team in this league should be competitive and there won’t be many — or any — weeks off. That being said, who’s going to win it?

I’ve got to start with El Cerrito. The Gauchos have been near the top of the ACCAL for the past several years and now they won’t have to deal with Berkeley anymore. Marcellus Pippins is a hot commodity on the recruiting trail and junior Jalen Harvey will be too as he enters his third year on varsity (no misprint, the kid was playing varsity ball as a freshman). They just scrimmaged Bishop O’Dowd on Friday, so they’ve got an idea of what good competition looks like. They’ve got a good nonleague challenge when they play Campolindo. Remember, last year the Gauchos were the closest team to beating the Cougars (aside from Washington Union’s win over them in the state title game) when they fell 16-13.

I think Salesian can also be in the mix. The Pride should hit league play with a 4-0 record in hand. The nonleague schedule isn’t very daunting. But if they develop some momentum there, they should be in good position. Guys like big Freddie Tagaloa and Marcial Malic are gone, but the Pride usually finds someone to fill the hole in the backfield and deliver for them. I expect a good season.

There are question marks after that. Pinole Valley is transitioning from the Steve Alameda era and welcomes Luke Bodwin as its new head coach. It’s a step up in leagues for Valley Christian and Berean Christian. There won’t be weeks off facing teams like Emery or St. Elizabeth, so they’ll have to be prepared for the grind. Both are solid programs (I think Valley Christian could turn into a small school powerhouse with the coaching and resources the Dublin school has) and I’ve got to commend them for requesting to move into a better league like this.

St. Mary’s is a playoff regular, but this schedule should challenge them more than in the past. The BSAL usually had a few gimme wins that the TCAL Rock won’t have. The league’s not the same meat grinder that the WACC Foothill is, but it’s good competition just about every week. St. Patrick-St. Vincent could take its lumps. The Bruins had a down year last year, then saw longtime coach Marlon Blanton leave to go to Jesuit.

Jimmy Durkin

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

  • Saw Pinole in the summer. They have the athletes to compete with EC & will beat them in the trenches.

  • DC

    i also think Pinole will compete – good D and RBs

  • mvalfan

    U cant forget about DJ Calhoun at EC either he is a junior LB and he will be the leader of that Defense!!!

  • dj

    Both Pinole and Salesian will probaly compete with Ec though ec is loaded their offensive and defensive lines are very inexperienced and they are breaking in a new Qb so should make for some interesting games

  • SalesainDad

    I think this will be a very competative league. I think Salesain, EC, and Pinole will definitely seperate themselves. Valley could be a sleeper. Salesian did graduate alot of key players, but they’re Oline has potential and they have returning senior Mike Page who played exceptional last year. Should be interesting.

  • VC Facn

    League Sleeper is Valley Christian experience is in the O&D Line.. They have two players that were invited to play for the USA Team in Texas 6’4 250 McHone and 6’4 260 Flynn. They have a 3 year starter at MLB AJ Harris who is being highly recruited and will be playing RB more this season.. The team that wins in the trenches usually wins the ball game.

  • teeazaleezy

    c,mon man!!!!! e.c. is defenitely the team 2 beat. they r loaded at every position. with the emergence of alot of battle tested juniors, the GAUCHOS ARE PRIMED 4 A TITLE RUN…..

  • Spartan83

    I ain’t even gonna lie … Pinole will need to play better than they did vs Montgomery if they expect to compete for a league title. Way to many mistakes and turnovers.

  • MiraMan


    I wouldn’t be to down over a 10 point victory over D2 Montgomery. They are a good program having a down period. Anytime you get a win over them it’s a pretty good night. Besides, I’d rather beat Mongomery by 10 than beat SLZ or De Anza by 100! What kind of chump pre-league are those for El Cerrito and Salesian???

  • I saw Pinole at Laney this summer. Good looking athletes tough. Looks like they’re going back to stuff on offense they use to run years ago when Steve Alameda 1st started coaching there. But the new HC didn’t seem to be able to get his guys to run his plays soundly & correct the simple errors 2 guys in the same area on pass routes constantly. I’m sure it hasn’t gotten any easier with pads on & running plays.

  • Amen Miraman Amen. EC just won the D3 championship by beating SLZ.

  • teeazaleezy

    @perkin and miraman….. pinole has had athletes b4, and hasnt produced!!! gauchos hav whooped them wit EAZE 4 outta 5 years. and WHO is MONTGOMERY????

  • Montgomery is from Santa Rosa, the home of Mel Gray. A very established football school from way back.
    They make the playoffs on many occasions in the past.

  • MiraMan


    Learn your history.

    Montgomery went 11-3 in 2009, 11-2 in 2006 and 13-0 in 2004. They won the D2 section in 2004, quarterfinals in 2006 and were in the sectional finals in 2009. They play in the NBL, the toughest league outside EBAL and BVAL (and some years NBL is tougher than BVAL) including Cardinal Newman and Rancho Cotate, so even in years they go 3-7 or 4-6 they are a battle tested bunch. Their coach has been coaching there for over 30 years and has a .660 winning percentage; quite an accomplishment given the tough league.

    El Cerrito may be the real thing this year, but its way early to tell. They certainly won’t get any respect playing hapless SLZ!!!!!!!