With just two weeks left in the regular season, league championship races are heating up. Many teams trailing in the standings still have plenty at stake, such as improving their postseason seeding or becoming playoff eligible. Here’s a look at some of the top games of the weekend.
There’s still a long way to go, but the the North Coast Section’s Valley Conference has taken one big step in its realignment process.
Representatives from Valley Conference schools, made up of teams in the current BVAL, DVAL, DFAL and EBAL, met earlier this month and voted for a league alignment proposal submitted by Las Lomas principal Matt Campbell.
Las Lomas’ proposal calls for three large leagues.
There’s matchup between the top two ranked East Bay teams, but I have a hunch the best game of the night is going to be on the other side of Concord. While De La Salle hosts Foothill, Concord and Clayton Valley Charter will get together for one of the best rivalry games around. Here’s a closer look at those games and three others we think are worth keeping an eye on.
Clayton Valley Charter (7-0) at Concord (7-0), Friday, 7 p.m. — There’s much more at stake than a trophy in this year’s ClayCord Cup. Both teams come into the game undefeated and the winner will have the inside track to the DVAL title, along with the top seed in the NCS Division II playoffs. They both also have offenses that have been virtually unstoppable all season. Plus, both teams have numerous key returners from last year’s game, which Clayton Valley won 49-48 when Concord’s late two-point conversion try failed. The Eagles are led by running back Miles Harrison, who is averaging 12.4 yards per carry. The senior has 1,164 rushing yards and 15 TDs this season. Concord also returns its top skill guys, including QB Mitch Daniels, RB Malik Blackburn and WR Mason Knight. Those guys, along with an excellent offensive line, have the Minutemen averaging over 50 points and 500 yards a game. Concord hasn’t defeated Clayton Valley Charter in three tries since Tim Murphy took over the Eagles’ program in 2012.
Foothill (7-0) at De La Salle (7-0), Friday, 7 p.m. — In another game between unbeatens (a rarity to still have so many this late in the season), the best Falcons team in several years travels to Owen Owens Field. But it’s likely to be an uphill battle for Foothill, despite its rare collection of top-tier skill guys. De La Salle is well-rested coming off its bye week and has been demolishing all comers this season on its rise to a No. 2 national ranking in multiple polls. One of the biggest challenges for Foothill, which leads the EBAL after posting wins over California and San Ramon Valley for the first time since 2008, will be slowing De La Salle’s offense. According to stats on MaxPreps.com, the Spartans haven’t punted since they played Del Oro on Sept. 19. Their starters have sat the entire second half in their past two games against San Ramon Valley and James Logan, winning teams that are ranked in the top 10 in the East Bay.
Liberty (6-1) at Pittsburg (5-2), Friday, 7 p.m. — The BVAL has plenty of solid teams and many games left, but this could be a big one in ultimately determining the league champion. Pittsburg is in a two-way tie for first in the BVAL standings after winning its first two games a combined 84-0 and has four shutouts on the year. With seven defensive players getting serious interest from colleges (three have offers) it’s no wonder teams have so much trouble scoring on the Pirates. Liberty has come crashing back to earth a bit following a rare 5-0 start to the season. The Lions lost to rival Heritage 15-12 in their BVAL opener, then gave up a big lead to Antioch before holding on for a 24-18 win last week. But a win over Pittsburg would put Liberty right back into the league title picture.
San Leandro (3-4) vs. Bishop O’Dowd (3-4) at Burrell Field, Friday, 7 p.m. — The overall records don’t look special, but both teams are in the thick of the WACC-Foothill race. The Pirates are battle tested after an ultra tough nonleague schedule during which they were without standout QB Stephen Johnson and only won one game. But they’ve dominated in a 2-0 start to WACC-Foothill play and the UCLA-bound Johnson could return this weekend, making them even more formidable. O’Dowd lost yet another heartbreaker in its league opener before beating Berkeley 48-7 last week. Three of O’Dowd’s four losses have been by five points or fewer.
Mt. Eden (5-1-1) at Piedmont (7-0), Friday, 7 p.m. — The team with the best shot at ruining an unexpected perfect regular season for Piedmont comes to town for a first-place showdown in the WACC-Shoreline. Both teams are 2-0 in league, tying for the lead. Piedmont’s defense continued to play well in a 46-0 drubbing of Arroyo last week. Mt. Eden, which beat Piedmont 69-48 last year, has only lost to unbeaten Kennedy-Fremont this year. After Mt. Eden, the remaining teams left on Piedmont’s schedule (Alameda and San Lorenzo) have combined for three wins. The Highlanders have a legitimate shot at an unbeaten regular season after going 6-6 overall last year. But they need to beat Mt. Eden, something they haven’t done since since both joined the WACC-Shoreline in 2012.
Bonus: John Swett (6-1) hosts Berean Christian (4-3) in a game for first place in the TCAL-Stone.
Salesian and Kennedy-Fremont are newcomers to our latest East Bay prep football poll.
|1. De La Salle (6)||7-0||90||1|
|t4. Clayton Valley Charter||7-0||71||4|
|7. San Ramon Valley||4-3||55||t6|
|8. James Logan||5-2||45||9|
|13. Las Lomas||5-2||16||12|
Also receiving votes: Amador Valley (4-3, 3 votes), Acalanes (6-1, 2). The East Bay Football Poll is voted on by the prep sports staff of Bay Area News Group East Bay. Records are through Saturday.
High school basketball returns to Cal’s Haas Pavilion on Jan. 19 for another year of the MLK Day Classic, hosted by De La Salle.
Here’s the schedule for the 18th year of the event.
Berkeley vs. El Cerrito, 10:30 a.m.
Franklin-Elk Grove vs. Newark Memorial, 12:15 p.m.
Salesian vs. St. Mary’s-Stockton, 2 p.m.
Sacramento vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F., 3:45 p.m.
Chaminade-West Hills vs. De La Salle, 5:45 p.m.
Archbishop Mitty-S.J. vs. Moreau Catholic, 7:30 p.m.
The North Coast Section Board of Managers met Monday to discuss a variety of topics. There was talk about the expansion of state football bowl games. And there was also an interesting piece of “new business” on the agenda.
That business was a request from De La Salle to play a “Week 00″ football game in 2015. A letter attached to the meeting’s agenda from De La Salle athletic director Leo Lopoz to NCS commissioner Gil Lemmon explains why the Spartans want to start their season a week earlier on Aug. 22 next year.
According to the letter, “The proposed opponent will be an out of state opponent and played in Texas against a school that starts earlier than California schools. The arrangement is necessary due to the difficulties of scheduling based on an agreement with the EBAL to fill our schedule with schools outside of league teams, and the fact that the success of our program has caused other California teams to avoid competition with our school.”
De La Salle has never played in Texas before. With the Spartans’ current crop of juniors, it’s not hard to see why it makes sense to travel to the high school football hotbed next year for the first time. De La Salle is currently 7-0 and ranked No. 2 in the nation by several publications.
Minutes from the Board of Managers meeting haven’t been posted yet on the NCS web site and De La Salle typically doesn’t discuss its upcoming season until its current one is complete and contracts have been signed.
Tennyson’s wild 85-77 overtime victory over Castro Valley on Friday set multiple North Coast Section records and was just short of a couple state marks. The combined 162 points and Castro Valley’s 77 points in a loss are both the most in NCS history in a single game. Both marks are also just barely off the state records produced when Porterville beat Tulare 86-79 in regulation in 2012. The numbers from Friday’s game will go down as No. 2 in state history.
Both Tennyson and Castro Valley rushed for over 500 yards in the WACC-Foothill league game where defense was virtually nonexistent. Tennyson quarterback Christian Silva completed 15 of 19 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for 260 yards and three touchdowns. Castro Valley’s Namane Modise and Damon Mitchell combined for 501 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
The game would have been high scoring even for basketball. Last basketball season, Tennyson never scored 85 points and Castro Valley hit 77 points just once.
- Pittsburg (4-2) at Heritage (4-2), Friday, 7 p.m. — A week after ruining rival Liberty’s perfect season, Heritage will try to take down the BVAL’s defending champion. The Patriots will be feeling good about themselves after Ezra Magalei hauled in a 21-yard touchdown catch with 1:37 left for the go-ahead score against Liberty last week. The Patriots, who went 1-9 last year, have now won three straight. But Heritage has only beaten Pittsburg once since the Patriots began varsity competition in 2007. That win was an upset in the 2010 NCS playoffs. Like Heritage, Pittsburg won its BVAL opener last week with its third shutout of the season. A challenging nonleague schedule paid off for the Pirates, who routed Deer Valley 50-0 last week.
- Las Lomas (5-1) at Campolindo (7-0), Friday, 7 p.m. — The Cougars have played one more game than the Knights, giving them a half-game lead and meaning Friday’s winner will have sole possession of first place in the DFAL standings. Las Lomas looks like one of two teams (Acalanes is the other) capable of ending Campolindo’s three-year reign in the DFAL. The Cougars’ 55-21 win over Alhambra last week was their 21st straight victory in DFAL play. Las Lomas has won five straight games this season. Both teams feature solid quarterbacks (Jack Stephens for Campo; Ben Wood for Las Lomas) and good running games.
- California (5-1) at Foothill (6-0), Friday, 7 p.m. — Like San Ramon Valley, California has been a thorn in Foothill’s side for several years. The Falcons finally beat SRV earlier this year. Perhaps this is also their year to beat Cal High for the first time since Eric Billeci took over as the Grizzlies’ head coach. The game is for the EBAL lead with both Cal and Foothill holding 3-0 EBAL records. Since the 40-28 win over SRV, Foothill has posted easy wins over Livermore and Monte Vista, winning a combined 92-7. Cal has won five straight after grinding out a 17-7 win over Amador Valley last week. Cal is the defending EBAL champion.
- San Ramon Valley (3-3) at Amador Valley (4-2), Friday, 7 p.m. — Amador Valley, which started the season 4-0, will need to beat the Wolves in order to avoid a three-game EBAL losing streak. The Wolves have also struggled lately. They briefly trailed against Livermore last week before winning 33-10. Before that SRV, lost to Foothill and gave up 70 points in a loss to De La Salle. Both teams need a win to avoid falling too far behind in the EBAL standings.
- St. Mary’s (7-0) at Salesian (4-2), Saturday, 1:30 p.m. — The only two teams still unbeaten in TCAL-Rock play get together to decide who gets to sit all alone in first place. Both teams are defending NCS champions. St. Mary’s is one of the hottest teams around and hasn’t lost since Nov. 2, 2013 — a span of 12 games. Though the Panthers won the NCS Division IV title last year, they lost three games in league play, including a 14-3 setback to Salesian. St. Mary’s hasn’t beaten Salesian since 2009 (though there were a few years when they weren’t in the same league and didn’t meet). Salesian, which won the NCS Division V title a year ago, has won three straight games.
The top 10 stays pretty much the same, but there are some changes after that in our latest East Bay prep football poll.
|1. De La Salle (6)||7-0||90||1|
|4. Clayton Valley Charter||6-0||71||4|
|t6. San Ramon Valley||3-3||57||6|
|9. James Logan||4-2||44||9|
|11. St. Mary’s||7-0||29||12|
|12. Las Lomas||5-1||20||13|
Also receiving votes: Amador Valley (4-2, 4 votes), Kennedy-Fremont (6-0, 3), Acalanes (5-1, 2). The East Bay Football Poll is voted on by the prep sports staff of Bay Area News Group East Bay. Records are through Saturday.
On the same day that he was honored for his selection to the U.S. Army All-American game, Kahlil McKenzie announced on Twitter that he lost his appeal with the California Interscholastic Federation regarding his athletic eligibility.
McKenzie, a Tennessee commit and one of the nation’s top college prospects, was ruled ineligible for his senior season by the North Coast Section for a violation of transfer rules after leaving De La Salle for Clayton Valley Charter over the summer. McKenzie’s family appealed the ruling with the CIF appeals board, but the three-member panel upheld the NCS’ decision. He won’t be able to play at all his senior season.
The senior defensive lineman posted his own statement about the matter on Twitter.
“I am of course disappointed but I understand God is in control and I am fully confident in this fact,” McKenzie wrote. “I’m gonna continue to support my team and school and help in whatever way I can to help us win games.”
Clayton Valley is 6-0 this season and beat Mt. Diablo 65-7 on Friday in its Diablo Valley Athletic League opener.