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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 10): Casting call

This might be the most fun I’ve ever had with a 30 Questions topic.

For those who haven’t heard, the book “When the Game Stands Tall” by former Contra Costa Times columnist Neil Hayes is being turned into a movie. The tale of De La Salle’s football team will be directed by Thomas Carter, who directed “Coach Carter”.

So, who ya got acting in the movie???

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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 9): Talking about the A’s and B’s

It’s not report card time, yet. No this question delves into the topic of the so-called “A” and “B” leagues that are a part of the new Tri-County Athletic League and West Alameda County Conference.

When we put out the call for 30Q questions, the topic of teams playing down in the “B” league, particularly in reference to the WACC, was a hot topic in the comments section. If you ask me, a lot of the chatter there was extremely misguided. Commenters are ripping coaches for asking down into the B league, calling them cowards, or just wanting to know why they would want their teams to play down.

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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 8): Hitting the trail

Today I hit one of my annual 30 Questions staples.

How’s recruiting going for the East Bay’s biggest talents?

From the start of the 2011 season, it was easy to toss around the label “year of the quarterback” when we had guys like Zach Kline, Bart Houston and Jeff Lockie ready to wreck shop.

This year, the quarterback pool is a little tougher to identify.

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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 7): Division II Drama

I’ve been enjoying the reader submitted questions, so today I’ll take on another.

What should we expect from Division II?

First, a quick refresher on how last year ended. Windsor walked off the field at Santa Rosa High as the champion, a 28-20 winner over Concord. It was Concord’s second straight appearance in the title game. In addition to the score, those of us lucky enough to be attendance saw perhaps one of the most superhuman efforts ever, as Olito Thompson carried the ball 54 times for 285 yards, setting the Northern California record for carries in a single game (props to North Bay guru Harold Abend for the stat help that night).

So, that’s how we left things last season. What can we expect this time around?

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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 6): Declaration of Independence

No, we’re not delving into American history here. We’re talking about James Logan, which will play as an independent for at least the 2012 and 2013 seasons. It’s a move that at least from the people I’ve talked to is pretty much universally praised.

I broke the story in January of Logan being granted competitive anomaly status, thus making it an independent. It passed by a 6-2 vote by the Mission Valley Athletic League and ratified by the North Coast Section’s Bay Shore Conference. What it means is the MVAL approved Logan’s request to withdraw from competing for a league title. Logan will still play a partial MVAL schedule (four games), but it will not factor in the league title race. Also, they will have a limited amount of all league selection. They’ll receive a maximum of four all-league selections, one for each game they win against MVAL competition.

The independence status doesn’t change a ton about Logan’s schedule for this year. But with Moreau Catholic set to join the MVAL, the Colts would’ve had only three nonleague games. Instead, they essentially get six (technically, every game is a nonleague game, but they’re required to play their final four games against MVAL teams). The schedule is daunting. The open with Nevada Class 4A runners-up Reed-Sparks (Nev.). They play NCS Division I runner up San Ramon Valley and the doozy is a road game Sept. 28 at Del Oro-Loomis, last year’s Division II CIF State Bowl representative. They also play San Leandro, Berkeley and Heritage.

The big reason for going independent is to be more battle-tested come playoff time. This isn’t a perfect solution, since Logan finishes the season with games against Irvington and Mission San Jose, not exactly the most challenging games. But they should get good tests throughout the early schedule and play in some bigger environments. With three-year starters RB Warren Miles Long and QB Jeffrey Prothro Jr., Logan coach George Zuber knows this is a time to go for it. This move was done with that in mind.

One complication is that by not competing in a league, they cannot earn designated league champion status to help them host a playoff game. They’ll have to hope to have a high enough seed and not get matched up with another league champ in order to bring a playoff game to Union City. That’s a calculated risk, but one Zuber was willing to take to step up the schedule and try to take Logan to the next level. I’ll be very interested to watch it play out.

 

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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 5): Taking the test

Today, I take on another reader submitted question. This one comes from YoMama.

Who has the toughest schedule coming out of the gate in Northern Cal this year?

Right off the bat, the answer is De La Salle. But, the answer is almost always De La Salle these days. No team actively pursues a challenge like the Spartans. What I will say though is this year’s schedule is not as tough as last year’s. I base that solely on the fact that DLS doesn’t have to travel across the country to take on a national-caliber team on the level of St. Thomas Aquinas. Subtracting a game like that automatically makes the schedule easier.

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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 4): Regional revolution

Today I tackle the very first question submitted by a reader. We planned on addressing it anyway, but kudos to Junior for throwing it out there.

Fellas,
I’d like a breakdown on the upcoming regional games: where will they be played? Will they have double or triple headers? How are the sites selected/what is the criteria?

Unfortunately, the answers to your questions don’t exist quite yet. The California Interscholastic Federation is still working on site selection, but from what we were told at the state basketball championships last season, they will be selected far before the games actually take place.

If I were to guess, I would say that yes, double or triple headers are likely. I don’t know the criteria offhand, but I would think they’ll look at places that have successfully hosted big high school football events before. That makes me think of somewhere like Sacramento State.

Don’t discount an East Bay site like Dublin High though. The North Coast Section has run some pretty good football playoff nights at Dublin. I wouldn’t expect to see it at a place like the Oakland Coliseum, because I doubt the CIF wants to get into all that. The NCS has a good relationship with the folks in Oakland and that’s why that works. I would think the JC/college level would offer good venues to choose from.

The much bigger question to tackle is how will these teams be picked and, I hate to tell you, not much will change from the way things are now. Teams will be selected to compete in the Northern California regional championships (ie. Open, Division I, II, III and IV). So, you’ll still see a selection, just one week earlier. Yes, it gives more teams a chance to get to Carson. Does that outweigh the earlier start date, the addition of an extra game and the physical toll it will all take on players? Well, that’s a matter for future debate.

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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 3): ROCKing the STONE

Following up on the theme of yesterday’s post about the new Western Alameda County Conference, it’s time to talk about our other new league: the Tri-County Athletic League.

The TCAL (couldn’t get more original with the name, eh?) essentially blends the former Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League with the Bay Shore Athletic League. So those two league are gone and the TCAL is the new product. Four schools (Alameda, Berkeley, Encinal, Piedmont) left those leagues to join the new WACC, leaving 12 full-time TCAL members. However, St. Joseph Notre Dame doesn’t field a football team. That would’ve dropped the TCAL to 11, but Berean Christian and Valley Christian-Dublin joined the fold to make the TCAL a 13-team commodity for football.

The Rock Division, which is the A Division, has seven teams: Berean Christian, El Cerrito, Pinole Valley, Salesian, St. Mary’s, St. Patrick-St. Vincent, Valley Christian. Pretty interesting league if you ask me. For Salesian, it’s an obvious step up from playing in and dominating the Bay Football League. We’ll see how they handle the likes of El Cerrito and Pinole Valley. I think they are still capable of doing very well. El Cerrito could prove to be the favorite. Marcellus Pippins is a stud with a lot of college interest. The rest of the league should all be pretty solid.

The Stone Division features Albany, De Anza, Hercules, John Swett, Kennedy and Richmond. On paper, there’s not a ton to get excited about there to be perfectly honest. But it’s definitely a league that should be competitive. You’re going to see a team win a league title that hasn’t generally been competitive in the old league configurations. And competitive equity is one of the key aspects of this realignment and I believe that will be achieved.

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30Q-2-KICKOFF (No. 2): Bring on the WACC

Get ready to become acquainted with the word realignment. Something tells me you’ll be hearing that word a time or two over the next month. That’s why we’ll waist no time going into one of the major results of the realignment of the North Coast Section’s Bay Shore Conference.

What happened to the HAAL and what is the deal with the WACC?

After more than 50 years of existence, the Hayward Area Athletic League is gone. Cue the tears (and yes, for me, a former HAAL athlete, there is some sadness to see the HAAL disappear). But the disappearance of the HAAL could lead to some great competition in plenty of sports, including football.

Essentially, all of the former HAAL — minus Moreau Catholic — joins the new West Alameda County Conference. The conference is broken up into the Foothill League and the Shoreline League. (They went with calling it a conference, rather than a league. And it’s broken up into leagues, rather than division. Really, it’s apples and apples here. The WACC is a league and the Foothill and Shoreline are divisions, for all intents and purposes).

Four new teams join the remaining HAAL members to make up the 12-team conference. Each league has six teams.

The Foothill (A) League contains: Berkeley, Bishop O’Dowd, Castro Valley, Encinal, Hayward and San Leandro. That’s a pretty darn good league. Outside of Hayward, which has had some lean years recently, all those teams are fairly competitive. Castro Valley isn’t as strong as it once was, but had a decent year last season. But the battle between Berkeley, O’Dowd, Encinal and San Leandro will be fierce. I’m really looking forward to a lot of those games.

The Shoreline (B) League contains: Alameda, Arroyo, Mt. Eden, Piedmont, San Lorenzo and Tennyson. There’s no mistaking that the dip between the two leagues is significant. But Alameda has had years in which it was a strong program, Arroyo has shown promise from time-to-time, Tennyson has made the playoffs back-to-back years (the only two playoff appearances in school history) and Mt. Eden has a 200-plus win coach in Paul Perenon. While I know we’re going to get comments from people bashing the quality of this league, the Shoreline should be very competitive and that’s what the point of this league set up is. The best teams get to compete at the top and the other guys get to compete at a more equitable level. I think that’s what we’ll see this year.

Both leagues will receive an automatic berth to the NCS playoffs. I know some contend that the B league shouldn’t, bu that’s the way it is. If it were up to me, I’d give the B league the automatic berth but maybe drop the automatic home game. That way a B league winner would need to be a top 8 seed to get a home game. I don’t see that happening, but that’s something I’d like to see eventually. Anyways, there should be plenty of interesting topics throughout the year as this new league gets underway.

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30Q-2-KICKOFF (Day 1): Who will be the best in 2012?

Yes, it’s time again for your favorite summer time feature: 30 Questions to Kickoff, our annual journey to the start of the high school football season. If it seems like we’re starting this early this year, we are. The first day teams are eligible to play games in Thursday, Aug. 24. Yowsers! There will be a decent slate of games that weekend and everybody will be underway the following week on Aug. 31, meaning August football for everyone! That means an early start to 30Q-2-K. So early, that Ben and I are both still away on vacation as we post this. Thank goodness for technology on the ability to auto-schedule posts.

We’ll start this off with an ol’ favorite.

Who will be the East Bay Player of the Year in 2012?

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