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Boys Soccer: WSC, Pre-Season Rankings

The time has come to release the schedule for the Winter Soccer Classic, and to make the Pre-Season Top 15 official.
The WSC will start right when I return from England, where I will be making a pilgrimage to visit many Premier League grounds. The trip will also include a stop in Germany to watch Everton in the Europa League. More details to follow.
Without further adieu.
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Bishop O’Dowd’s Paris Austin headed to Boise State

Bishop O’Dowd High boys basketball player Paris Austin announced on Twitter this afternoon that he has orally committed to Boise State.
“I am truly blessed to have this opportunity and to be able to play at a high level,” he said in the tweet.
Rivals.com listed the 5-foot-11 point guard as a three-star player. He was selected first-team all-Bay Area News Group East Bay last season as a junior.

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Five East Bay football games to watch: Week 9

Tyler Henderson, right, and Acalanes will try to stay unbeaten in DFAL play against a tough Las Lomas team.

Tyler Henderson, right, and Acalanes will try to stay unbeaten in DFAL play against a tough Las Lomas team.

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.

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Realignment of the NCS’ Valley Conference is underway

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.

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Five East Bay football games to watch: Week 8

Nick Moore and Pittsburg have an important BVAL game with Liberty this week.

Nick Moore and Pittsburg have an important BVAL game with Liberty this week.

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.

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East Bay football poll — 10/21

Salesian and Kennedy-Fremont are newcomers to our latest East Bay prep football poll.

Team Record Points Last week
1. De La Salle (6) 7-0 90 1
2. Foothill 7-0 84 2
3. California 5-2 73 3
t4. Clayton Valley Charter 7-0 71 4
t4. Pittsburg 5-2 71 5
6. Campolindo 8-0 60 t6
7. San Ramon Valley 4-3 55 t6
8. James Logan 5-2 45 9
9. McClymonds 6-0 43 8
10. Concord 7-0 38 10
11. Freedom 5-2 28 13
12. Liberty 6-1 21 t14
13. Las Lomas 5-2 16 12
14. Salesian 5-2 14 NR
15. Kennedy-Fremont 7-0 6 NR

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.

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MaxPreps MLK Classic lineup announced

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.

 

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De La Salle football: An interesting note from the NCS Board of Managers meeting

Antoine Custer is one of several standout juniors on the De La Salle football team.

Antoine Custer is one of several standout juniors on the De La Salle football team.

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.

Stay tuned…