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.