A bit of a slow week for the East Bay with several teams on a bye before starting league play next week. But there are still some games worth watching. And with the DFAL moving all their games to Thursday this week for Yom Kippur, the opportunity is there to catch multiple games in one weekend. Here are picks for the top games of the week.
– Acalanes (3-1) at Alhambra (5-0), Thursday, 7 p.m. — Can Alhambra continue its turnaround season against a solid Acalanes team coming off a bye? It’s going to be tough. Last week, the Bulldogs survived a scare from a young Miramonte team in their DFAL opener, needing to rally from a 20-point halftime deficit to win 43-40. Grant Hill continued to be Alhambra’s top playmaker, catching a 49-yard touchdown pass with 2:21 to play for the go-ahead score. But Alhambra was burned by Miramonte’s passing game, allowing QB Ryan Anderson to throw for 372 yards (though Alhambra did pick off four passes). Slowing Acalanes QB Casey Harrington will also be a challenge. The Dons can run the ball, too, and they’ll be well-rested. Acalanes has won three straight since dropping its season opener 30-28 to Antioch. Don’t be surprised if this one is wild and high scoring.
– Miramonte (1-4) at Las Lomas (4-1), Thursday, 7 p.m. — The Matadors have just one win to their name this year after winning last season’s North Coast Section Division II title, but they can be dangerous in the DFAL. Just ask Alhambra. Miramonte piled up over 500 yards of offense in a heartbreaker of a 43-40 loss to the unbeaten Bulldogs last week. If they can limit the mistakes, they could be capable of ending Las Lomas’ winning streak at four games. The Knights have played well since opening the season with a loss to San Ramon Valley. Zack Fulks has been the catalyst on both sides of the ball in recent weeks. He’s intercepted three passes and rushed for close to 300 yards total in wins over Northgate and Dougherty Valley the last two weeks. Ben Wood, Las Lomas’ QB, is a threat with his arm and legs.
– James Logan (3-1) at Bishop O’Dowd (2-2), Friday, 7 p.m. — In its final tuneup before WACC-Foothill play starts, O’Dowd will face likely its biggest test yet in Logan. The Dragons have had mixed results so far in their first few games under new coach Napoleon Kaufman, winning a close one against Terra Nova but falling to St. Mary’s and Will C. Wood after holding second-half leads. After playing a series of close games, Logan is coming off a dominant win over Castro Valley. QB Christian Leota and the Colts had 565 yards of offense in the 43-0 win. Logan, which plays a freelance schedule, will use the O’Dowd game to gear up for its Oct. 11 date against De La Salle at Levis’ Stadium.
– De La Salle (5-0) at San Ramon Valley (2-2), Friday, 7 p.m. — The Spartans look like their usual dominant selves as they begin the local part of their schedule. Only in-section teams are left to face De La Salle in the regular season, beginning with San Ramon Valley. While the Wolves have had their ups and downs to start the season — a thrilling double OT win over Pittsburg but disappointing losses to James Logan and Foothill — they typically play De La Salle tougher than many East Bay teams. Last year, the Wolves even held a brief lead on the Spartans’ home field before eventually losing 47-21. San Ramon Valley will be tasked with slowing the Spartans’ stout rushing attack, led by Antoine Custer. The junior rushed for 257 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-24 win over Servite-Anaheim last week.
– El Cerrito (2-2) at St. Mary’s (5-0), Friday, 7 p.m. — This TCAL-Rock matchup is one St. Mary’s probably circled on the calendar months ago. Last season, behind a once-in-a-generation group of seniors, El Cerrito knocked off the Panthers 43-7 on its way to the league and NCS Division III section titles. But this year, St. Mary’s has its sight set on upending the defending champs and taking the TCAL-Rock title for itself. An experienced and talented defense, led by Ben Schrider, Aaron Mercadel and Ron Smith, have the Panthers 5-0. El Cerrito, on the other hand, is young and still trying to find its way. The Gauchos have been on both ends of blowouts in a 2-2 start to the year. Both teams handily won their TCAL-Rock openers last week.