16

Countdown to Kickoff Question #8: Can Washington defend its Mission Valley Athletic League title?

With the opening East Bay high school football weekend right upon us, we travel to Southern Alameda County for our next question.
Q: Can Washington defend its Mission Valley Athletic League title?
A: Quite possibly. Washington and coach Ken Wittmer’s track record over the past six seasons show that the Huskies are a consistent league contender. In the past six seasons, Washington has finished lower than second place in the MVAL only once (when it was 3-3 in 2011) and won two MVAL titles.


This season, Wittmer has a rebuilding job on his hands with his offense. Washington graduated quarterback Tylan Vinson, (last year’s MVAL Offensive Player of the Year), running back Nate Woudstra, and three starting receivers.
But senior quarterback Jordan Montoya has some varsity experience, and look for senior Emory Simmons to be used in a variety of different ways. Running backs Mark Colbert and Julian Nava will also see a number of carries this season.
Washington also continues its usual tough nonleague schedule. After opening at Amador Valley on Friday, the Huskies host Campolindo on Sept. 12, then face another Diablo Foothill Athletic League team (Alhambra) on Sept. 19.
I’m not saying that Washington is a clear favorite for the MVAL title. Newark Memorial, American and Moreau Catholic are among the teams who could claim that banner. But Washington has the track record to suggest that it will be right in the thick of the MVAL title chase.

Phil Jensen

  • Tri-City Dude

    Just saw the preview and predictions from BANG about the MVAL. Pretty much agree with everything except for switching Moreau and American.

    1) Washington- Graduated most of the offense from last year, including MVAL Offensive Player of the Year Tylan Vinson. Wittmer has a tough job trying to replace most of his offense, but he always seems to churn out great QBs and receivers. Plus it helps that the Huskies always schedule tough non-league schedules to prepare them. In the end, I feel that Washington will be able to repeat as MVAL champs even with a new crop of players on this team.

    2) Newark Memorial- Brings back a lot of experience and talent on the trenches. King Slocum, Murrell Anderson, Kevin Mamea, and Anthony Barajas will anchor one of the best O-lines and D-lines in the league. Will need to sort out the offense, including choosing a QB.

    3) Moreau Catholic- Huge loss with Jason Hinton being out for a good chunk of the season, but they still have strong armed Lucas O’Rourke and a lot of returning starters on offense that can put up a lot of points and yards in a hurry. If they can get off to a strong start, they may be in a good position to win MVAL when Hinton comes back.

    4) American- They are coming off one of their best seasons in recent years, and continue to have a strong running game with Jared Luty and Treyvon Jones as running backs. Their defense will need a lot of work though because they graduated the majority of an accomplished defensive front 7, so it may be sort of a rebuilding year for the Eagles.

    5) John F. Kennedy- Like Newark, the Titans have a talented and experienced O-line and D-line. Kaleem Abubukari, Joey Romero, and Jacob Murrieta provide good offensive weapons for Kennedy. They return quite a few starters from last year and bring in a lot of new, talented players, so I think this is a team to watch out for.

    6) Irvington- I’m never too confident in any team that brings in a new coach, but the job will be much tougher for Ross Eddings because the Vikings graduated a lot of players from last year’s team. Austin Walker, who is only a sophmore, will have to learn quickly as the new quarterback. Overall, too much turnover and a new coach will make this a tough year for the Vikings. On a side note, a player to watch out for is Dejuan Smith, a very fast athlete who can play both on both sides of the ball. He’ll be a playmaker for Irvington the next few years.

    7) Mission San Jose- Hate to offend anyone, but it will probably be the same story for MSJ as it has been the past decade or so. If they have any chance to win thier first MVAL game in over ten years, they will need a much more stout defense. Their passing offense is pretty good, with Adil Bari and Deion Sirwet leading the receiving core.

  • Tony Gonsalez

    Tri-City Dude: I was going back and forth between American and MC, what it came down to with my deciding factor was how MC plays until Hinton comes back. If you look at the teams, MC is the only one who has their returning QB back from last year. All in all I’m looking forward to a good year.

  • Tri-City Dude

    It looks like most of the MVAL teams lost a lot of their offense to graduation. Moreau returns a large part of their offense, including O’Rourke and Hinton (when he comes back). Washington, Newark, and American have to replace their QB, RB, and some receivers. Your right though; it will be a very competitive year for the MVAL.

  • Troy Lambert

    How’s that analysis looking now? You wasted all your ink on the pretenders and missed the team rolling through the MVAL

  • Tony Gonsalez

    Troy. This is why they play the games.
    Trust me, after the first week of league play I was already looking at my predictions. You look at Kennedy, they are in rare company, not many teams can overcome from losing key players at key positions from last year, but to the players and coaches credit, they have don that and then some. It’s almost impossible to predict how a team will be when they are hit hard with graduation. Difference between this year’s Kennedy team and previous teams are they have a good passing game as well.
    American, difference with them this year is they are winning games they may normally have lost in the past. Moreau is playing like I had expected after their 0-3 start. Especially playing the entire season without Hinton and playing the last two games without Ison while making a change at QB. Washington has a good running tandem of Nava and Colbert, but Montoya is running for his life every single pass play.
    All in all, personally I think its great to see teams prove me wrong like Kennedy has done this year.

  • Troy Lambert

    From reading the various articles, it wasn’t just you. It’s easy to predict the usual suspects as being top teams if you don’t do your homework. The MVAL as a whole took a bit hit to graduation, but nobody took into consideration the J.V. teams coming up. Kennedy’s J.V. was 9-1 with a solid group of backs that have taken their show to varsity and they brought their QB too. They blew teams out last year with the exception of the one loss to Moreau. The writing was on the wall with all the returning linemen. Washington J.V. was horrible so they couldn’t provide any depth to an already depleted Washington team short on experienced veterans. American had a good J.V. team and returned a lot of veteran players so it’s no surprise they’re in the mix. Newark’s J.V. was average at best and their returning players the same, equals rebuilding year. Moreau is a bit of a mystery. Their J.V. was 10-0 and matched up well with the remaining varsity players so they should have been the season favorites. Even with the RB problems, they should have had a better record and were a disappointment. At any rate, a few of the schools have chosen to eliminate their freshman programs and are paying the price. I don’t think you’re going to see Washington dominate for awhile. So, next time take a quick peak at J.V. teams before you choose the usual suspects.

  • Tri-City Dude

    Troy, I’ll also admit that I did not look at the JV teams when trying to predict the MVAL. While I knew that Kennedy was returning a lot of players from last year as well as bringing up a lot of good players from the JV team, I didn’t think they would do this well based on past seasons. It is for that reason that I still thought Washington would win the league because Coach Wittmer has done such a good job at that school for many years, I figured he would be able to overcome the losses to graduation. Coach Damewood for Kennedy has done a good job building the program from top to bottom and providing a “farm system” for the varsity team.

    Overall, I am loving the parity in the MVAL. I think you would agree with me that Logan leaving the league was the best thing that could have happened to the MVAL; instead of Logan winning every year, there seems to be a different winner every year. People can say what they want about the MVAL being a weak league with weak teams, but I don’t know if there is any other league out there that is as unpredictable as the MVAL is. One year it is Newark, the next year it is Washington. This year, there could potentially be 3 MVAL champions between Kennedy, American, and Moreau. The Kennedy/American game will be huge this Friday.

  • Troy Lambert

    Agreed. Logan leaving the MVAL was the best thing to happen and gave an opportunity to the other teams and the parity has been fun to watch. Kennedy/American this Friday will be a good game. Wait, did I say “Kennedy?” NCS will offer a lot of good games too!

  • Tony Gonsalez

    Guys,
    Most of you guys make very solid arguments. From my history of covering the MVAL and the HAAL, I’ve seen teams who have had great JV teams but they struggle at the varsity level. It’s so hard to predict who can elevate their games when they get to the varsity level. Everybody has seen me preview but at the same time I did state on there that this league was up for grabs so when you see perennial league powers like Washington and Newark Memorial struggle, it’s great to see teams like Kennedy, Moreau and American step up and make a run at the title.
    Moreau’s team started 0-3, but there are a number of factors for them winning 3 of their last 5. The change at QB did help, the basically went to a running team with mixing in a couple passes. Their starting QB, Regner, was the JV QB from last year. Their main RB this year was a starter just on defense a year ago in Ison. Cotter is doing a great job in not rushing Hinton back, he got his first carries on Sat and starting to show his quickness before his injury.
    All in all, its been incredible what Kennedy has done this year, not just their 9-0 mark, but the fact that they have done a tremendous job building that program as a whole. They have well over 100 players on the three levels during a year where other schools struggled or couldn’t field a freshmen team.
    Looking forward to a good one tomorrow night at Tak.

  • Tony Gonsalez

    One more thing, let me refresh everybody’s memory on my predictions in my preview back in August:
    1. Washington, 2. Newark Memorial, 3. American, 4. Moreau Catholic, 5. Kennedy, 6. Irvington, 7. Mission San Jose.

  • Tri-City Dude

    Just curious Tony, what happened to Lucas O’Rourke at MC? I knew that MC went to a different QB, but did Lucas struggle a lot or was he injured? Have to admit I haven’t gotten to see Moreau much this year, so I am sort of left in the dark about that one.

  • Tony Gonsalez

    Lucas has been healthy all year, he is more of a passing qb and has struggled this year. He comes in on certain plays and has done a nice job changing up the pace.

  • Troy Lambert

    I thought this game would be closer. It started out good, but American did not have an answer for Kennedy’s run game. I was suprised American started with a halfback pass. I think those type of gimmick plays at the onset set a different tone then marching down the filed and scoring. The exclamation point came at the end of the half with Kennedy’s goal line stand. That was a killer. I think there is no doubt Kennedy is the best football team in the MVAL this year, but beating Rancho Cotate is another story. That being said, I take my hat off to their season and wonder who it will be next year.

  • Tony Gonsalez

    The first play set the tone. If the RB makes a better pass, Wellington had the DB beat, who knows how that sets up the rest of the half or game for that matter.
    What was so impressive was after American took the lead, Kennedy did not panic at all, the did what they do best.
    Another big momentum killer for American was the WR pass that was picked off inside the 20. Very next play McKinnie goes 86 yards.
    You nailed it, first and goal from the 2 and Kennedy holds them.
    Kennedy is a team to look out for next season, they lose Jacob Murrieta and Kaleem Abubukari, but they return the other RBs as well as QB Sanute.
    They lose more on “D”, but should be fun to watch. American has both Jones, Luty and Diala back and should be good again.
    Moreau has Ison for two more years still.

  • Tri-City Dude

    Yeah, I thought the goal line stand to end the first half was a big killer for American. If they had punched in that TD, they can at least go into halftime knowing they are still within striking distance of Kennedy. In the end, you just have to give the Titans credit; they dominated time of possession, and they seemed to turn most of their possessions into touchdowns. And when American had the ball, Kennedy’s defense made the stops until the final quarter when they allowed those 2 receiving TDs to Wellington in garbage time.
    Overall, congrats to Kennedy for a great season. As for next season, I think the top 3 in MVAL this year (Kennedy, Moreau, and American) will be the top 3 next year as well. Question is who will finish where.

  • Tony Gonsalez

    From an offensive stand point, all three teams should be pretty dangerous with Jones, Luty, Diala, Ison, Regner, Den Bleyker, McKinnie, Kiester and Sanute all back. Big question that will be the telling tale on who could finish where is all three schools lose some key players on ‘D’. I see no reason these three teams shouldn’t finish in the top 3.