WCAL and EBAL are always tough, but how about that BVAL
The two leagues that have gotten the most buzz around the Bay Area since I started covering football 21 years ago, the wild-and-wacky West Catholic Athletic League and the East Bay Athletic League, have generally garnered the top teams, but the Bay Valley Athletic League has had its share of stars and top teams as well.
In fact, the last team north of Fresno to beat current state No. 1 De La Salle was a 1991 Pittsburg team that is currently one of the top two BVAL teams along with Antioch Deer Valley. Also, subsequent to becoming an independent, and between stints in the EBAL, the Bay Valley was home to the Spartans.
Several of the top Bay Area recruits come out of the league consisting of schools from East Contra Costa County. Topping the list is Joe Mixon of Oakley Freedom. The Falcons running back is one of California’s top recruits at his position, and has 45 college offers that he’s narrowed to a few.
Harris Ross of Pittsburg is right behind Mixon. When the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan, doubling as an XOS Digital ThunderCloud Recruit analyst, visited Pittsburg on Wednesday evening, Ross hinted something might change in his status. That night he switched his commitment from Hawaii to Oregon State, a place he is unlikely to de-commit from. Ross will just be the latest East Bay back to play in Corvallis. One of the Beavers’ best-ever is Ken Simonton (also from Pitt) while the team’s current starter is De La Salle alum Tarron Ward.
Everyone knew about the Deer Valley twins, Nsimba and Nzuzi Webster, but no one knew a thing about Malik Hutchings. Now he’s the talk of the East Bay after exploding onto the scene.
On Wednesday, the Caravan also paid a visit to Liberty of Brentwood. The Lions are young and a bit undersized; and technically they were 6-0 on the field heading into Friday but 4-2 after self reporting an ineligible player.
“We believe in high standards and integrity, and because it was the right thing to do,” said first-year head coach and Liberty history teacher Jeff Walters. “When I was checking grades I discovered a paper work error that allowed an ineligible player to participate and we didn’t catch it until after the second game.”
On Thursday the Caravan went EBAL, with stops at Foothill and California.
California, which handled Foothill 24-7 last week, looked solid, and has some new faces to boot. One of them is 6-5, 235-pound junior TE/DE Matt Snyder.
The offense, led by senior quarterback Cameron Owen, and big, bruising 6-0, 220-pound running back Blake Bierwith looked sharp while being put through the paces by head coach Eric Billeci.
“If only I could have that two-point loss to Pittsburg back,” bemoaned Billeci, A De La Salle alum.
The 35-33 loss to the Pirates could hurt the Grizzlies in the NCS Division I playoff seedings, and it could earn them a possible rematch with Pitt.
Over at Foothill, 6-3, 190-pound junior quarterback Kyle Kearns took a licking against California, but veteran head coach Matt Sweeney has a lot of young talent to go with Kearns, who is getting interest from SEC, Pac-12, Big 10 and Big 12 colleges, and senior RB Jamirr Holland, who has some Pac-12 interest himself.
A junior that looked very good was 5-11, 175-pound RB/CB Isaiah Langley. He’s not a straight-ahead runner but a kid that runs a 4.56 forty and gets to the outside quickly.
And finally the WCAL, called wild-and-wacky because anything can happen, and usually does.
Many say the league is a bit down this year but not Serra. The Padres came as close to beating De La Salle early this season as anyone in the state has the last five years. Despite having to go to a reserve quarterback early on, the Padres looked impressive in a 48-15 victory I witnessed against a very good Atwater Buhach Colony.
Head coach Patrick Walsh, another De La Salle alum, still has some players out, as does Saturday’s opponent Valley Christian.
After staying close to home tonight to cover the North Bay League Rohnert Park Rancho Cotate at Petaluma Casa Grande match-up, the Caravan will be in San Mateo tomorrow afternoon to see the Padres host the Warriors.
So far in six weeks the Caravan hasn’t witnessed an upset. Is this the week Mr. Kibosh makes a visit. Stay tuned.