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vol. 4. issue 71 bay area

August 22, 2013


Football + SportStars + Cal-Hi Sports?

Yes, please!

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ny repeat reader of this magazine knows our devotion to highlighting as many sports as we can. But that reader also knows that we always enjoy going the extra mile when it comes to football. We take a great deal of pride in our annual football preview issues, with the belief that each year we produce one that was just a little better than its predecessor. This year is no different. The addition we’re most proud of this preview can be found on pages 12-13. That’s where you can find an exclusive season primer column provided by CalHiSports.com’s co-founder and managing editor, Mark Tennis, as well as Cal-Hi Sports’ preseason state rankings. And the best part about Mark’s presence in this issue is that it’s not a one-time thing. In a mutual partnership that we expect to develop even further over time, SportStars has become the official print publication of Cal-Hi Sports. One doesn’t work long in the business of being a high school sports writer before discovering the presence that Mark Tennis holds across California prep sports. Tennis’ work has not only made him the authority for state records across all sports, but also established Cal-Hi Sports as the definitive voice in state rankings and All-State team selections. He has been my source and/or consultant on numerous stories over the years. When the prospect of forging a partnership materialized, it was a nobrainer. And the next no-brainer was making sure he debuted with this edition: King Football, baby. We’re also adding another element to the magazine in this issue, which we intend to keep as a longrunning feature. You don’t even need to turn the page to find it. At the bottom of this page we’re releasing our first comic strip, “Hooper.” The artist is a long-time East Bay coach who has been working on the character of Hooper as a side hobby for several years. He’s based the character off of various coaching personalities he’s met over the years and many of the scenarios that will play out are from actual stories told to him by coaches. The best part about the character of Hooper is that more can be added. Beginning with our next issue, we’ll have an email address set up for coaches to share anecdotes they think would be a good fit for the comic strip. As proud as we are of these two new wrinkles, the star of the football preview is football! It’s back! Flip through and get ready, and we’ll see you under the lights. ✪

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join our team PHONE 925.566.8500 FAX 925.566.8507 Editorial Editor@SportStarsOnline.com Editor Chace Bryson • Chace@SportStarsOnline. com Staff Writers Erik Stordahl, Jim McCue Contributors Bill Kolb, Mitch Stephens, Matt Smith, Clay Kallam, Bryant West, Dave Kiefer, Liz Elliott, Tim Rudd, Jonathan Okanes, Hunter Hewitt, Joe Stiglich Photography Butch Noble, Bob Larson, Jonathan Hawthorne, James K. Leash, Norbert von der Groeben, Phillip Walton, Doug Guler Intern Ryan Arter Creative Department Art@SportStarsOnline.com Production Manager Mike DeCicco • MikeD@ SportStarsOnline.com Publisher/President Mike Calamusa • Mike@SportStarsOnline.com

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Advertising & Calendar/ Classified Sales Sales@SportStarsOnline.com, 925.566.8500 Account Executives Erik Stordahl • Erik@SportStarsOnline.com, Phillip Walton • PWalton@SportStarsOnline.com Sac Joaqin edition: Dave Rosales • DaveRosales64@gmail.com Reader Resources/Administration Ad Traffic, Subscription, Calendar & Classified Listings info@SportStarsOnline.com Distribution/Delivery Mags@SportStarsOnline.com Information technology John Bonilla CFO Sharon Calamusa • Sharon@SportStarsOnline.com community SportStars™ Magazine A division of Caliente! Communications, LLC 5356 Clayton Rd., Ste. 222 • Concord, CA 94521 •info@SportStarsOnline.com www.SportStarsOnline.com

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your ticket to california sports admit one; rain or shine This Vol. #4, August 2013 Whole No. 71 is published by Caliente! Communications, LLC, 5356 Clayton Rd, Ste. 222, Concord, CA 94521. SportStars™© 2010 by Caliente! Communications, LLC. All rights reserved. Subscription rates: 24 issues, U.S. 3rd class $42 (allow 3 weeks for delivery). 1st class $55. To receive sample issues, please send $3 to cover postage. Back issues are $4 each. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission of Publisher is strictly prohibited. The staff and management, including Board of Directors, of SportStars™© does not advocate or encourage the use of any product or service advertised herein for illegal purposes. Editorial contributions, photos and letters to the editor are welcome and should be addressed to the Editor. All material should be typed, double-spaced on disk or email and will be handled with reasonable care. For materials return, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. SportStars™© and STARS!™© Clinics are registered trademarks of Caliente! Communications, LLC.

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The Magnet of Success Good players gravitate to good coaches, and De La Salle had one of the best ever for more than 30 years

Does De La Salle recruit? If they don’t, how come they’re always so good? It just doesn’t seem that a team could always have so many good players if there wasn’t something going on. B.K., San Ramon

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irst, I have to say I’ve known Bob Ladouceur a long time -- we’re not buddies or anything, but I can remember playing in a flag football league with him. I also remember covering his very early De La Salle teams, which were not all that good (a 3-0 loss to California-San Ramon still sticks in my mind). So given what I know of him, I don’t think Ladouceur ever cheated, ever recruited or ever stepped over the line. He’s just one of the best high school coaches ever. OK, let’s stop there for a second. “He’s just one of the best high school coaches ever.” Now, it took that long winning streak for most people to notice that about Ladouceur, but anyone who was around him in the early days knew something special was happening, and that special quality attracted players to De La Salle. Now those who saw those early teams didn’t see future

NFL players dotting the lineup, or big-time D-1 recruits. They just saw a bunch of pretty good athletes get the absolute maximum out of their ability and win championship after championship. At that point, two things happened. First, the De La Salle community started getting very, very into the football team, and a horde of boosters appeared — and from everything I know, those boosters weren’t shy about telling talented eighth graders they should go play football for the Spartans. Is that recruiting? Yes. Did Ladouceur recruit, or encourage others to recruit? No. That elevated De La Salle into the elite level, and soon into the national conversation. Then, any football player with talent didn’t have to be told about De La Salle — he knew about from the day his horizons widened beyond Pop Warner. And now boosters didn’t have to suggest to anyone that playing for the Spartans was the best thing for a future D-1 player because they knew it already. At that point, and at this point, De La Salle does not need to recruit, and I would be surprised if they did. Good players want to play for good coaches and good teams, and if a

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good football player in Contra Costa County never thought about playing for De La Salle, then he has the imagination of a guppy. And enough good players are going to turn that thought into action to keep the Spartans at the top of the heap for at least the near future — and if Justin Alumbaugh is the real deal, for years to come. And a final note about Ladouceur: Did you realize he’s still coaching at De La Salle? He’s just another assistant now, happy to be teaching and involved. Have you ever heard of any coach who’s had that kind of success quietly slipping into the background and giving up the leading role? No, a man like that didn’t need to cheat be successful, and De La Salle’s amazing success is simply the result of having one of the best teacher/coaches ever to grace a high school sideline out there every year. Though I’m as sick of Spartan dominance as anyone, you have to give credit where credit is due – and Bob Ladouceur deserves every word of praise he’s ever received. ✪ Clay Kallam is an assistant athletic director and girls varsity basketball coach at Bentley High in Lafayette. To submit a question for Behind the Clipboard, email him at clayk@ fullcourt.com

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with honor Top 5 Non-Football Thoughts for a Player During Double-Days We’re now deep into preseason football action. Players and coaches are grinding away under the hot summer sunshine at training camps across the country, striving to find the right combination of personnel and plays that will carry the team through to a playoff berth, and maybe even a championship. The days are long. Double, even triple doses of practice. Gatorade by the gallon. Blisters, bruises, bone-numbing exhaustion. So can you really blame a guy for letting his mind wander a bit during the course of camp? Here are the top five non-football related topics that cross a player’s mind during two-a-day workouts. 1. Lunch? — What is in my garbage-bag sized lunch sack? And when that isn’t quite enough to satisfy my gargantuan hunger, what is my backup plan? That freshman over there. I bet I can take at least half of his lunch and get away with it… 2. Cheerleaders? — This whole enterprise would be a lot easier to stomach if there were some out here rooting us on. 3. Dinner? — I think my mom said she was making two vats of spaghetti tonight. One for the family. One for me. That might just get the job done. 4. Did I leave the iron on? — What am I saying? I don’t iron. Man, this heat. 5. Midnight snack? — Do I have to wait until midnight? Is there a rule about that? ‘Cause that pasta’s only going to go so far. — Bill “I could still move that sled” Kolb

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Local non-profit organization, The Honor Group, has once again put together a pair of football events built around recognizing and celebrating our veterans — one at each end of the state. The NorCal edition of The Honor Bowl will take place Aug. 30 and will feature a season-opening showdown between James Logan-Union City and host Del Oro-Loomis. Kickoff for the game is at 7:30, but the event begins at 5 p.m. with a football scrimmage between the Placer and Nevada County Sheriff departments. There will also be a presentation paying tribute to local veterans. SportStars is the official media sponsor and will be on the scene. Come see us at our booth, play our Armchair QB game in a recliner donated by LAYZBOY of Roseville, sign up for a free digital subscription to SportStars and enter for a chance to win the helmet that’s featured on Page 14 of this issue!

LAYAR EXTRA: THE PERECT ROAD TRIP

If you feel like jumping in the car for a sunny weekend in Southern California, check out our preview of the Southern California Honor Bowl event at SportStarsOnline.com, or scan this page now with your Layar app.

red& gold

If you’re holding this issue, you’re probably a football fan. If you’re a football fan, there’s a good chance you like pizza. We feel it’s important then to inform you that Rocco’s Pizza in Walnut Creek plans to have three 49ers Legends — Roger Craig, Dwight Clark and John Taylor — on hand to sign autographs and meet fans from 3-5 p.m. on Sept. 7. We suggest getting in line early.

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He may be only an eighth grader but Evan Wolfe accomplished something that some never will in a lifetime. Wolfe tossed a perfect game on the opening day of the inaugural Intermediate Little League World Series when his District 57 team faced the Central Region team from Jenison, MI on July 30 in Livermore. Pleasanton’s bid to win it all fell short when they bowed out in the U.S. semis, but Wolfe gave the fans something to talk about for years to come. SportStars Magazine: What was the experience of throwing a perfect game on this stage? Evan Wolfe: It was just great for me because it was the first game and it’s always nice to start it off when you’re the home team. It shows you can compete with anybody around the world. … To do it for my team was just amazing. SSM: When did it set in that you had a perfect game going? EW: It started getting serious late into the game. I tried to stay calm and keep a straight face. … Put all your power into one pitch at a time. SSM: You play a lot of positions: pitcher, catcher, first base, third base. Talk about your versatility. EW: I like trying to keep wellrounded so I can play anywhere. Your coach will always have you to count on. … You need to have

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honorable mention

evan wolfe baseball . pleasanton national little league

bryson brigman The Valley Christian-San Jose senior infielder made the All-Area Code Games second team.

sarah klass Klass was a key performer in the 13-14 Age Group as the Crow Canyon Sea Lions claimed a ninth straight Contra County Swim Championship.

desire finnie Phillip Walton somewhere else to play when you’re not pitching. EVAN’S QUICK HITS Favorite athlete: Buster Posey Favorite baseball team: Giants Favorite class: Math

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The Berkeley senior guard was named by Cal-Hi Sports as one of its Cream of the Crop players after having a breakout summer basketball season.

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Preseason Bowling Whether there is a regional bowl game, open divisions in every section, or just about any other tweak in format, the one factor for Northern California football that may never change is the dominance of De La Salle-Concord. The Spartans, who have won 21 straight North Coast Section titles, are heavy favorites to be unbeaten once again heading into this year’s CIF Northern California Open Division bowl game. They are going for their fifth straight state title and haven’t lost to a NorCal opponent (if you don’t count Fresno as being from NorCal) since 1991. The CIF itself also has contributed to a lack of much suspense for the Northern California bowl games in the Open Division and Division I since there are just four teams that will be eligible for the four slots. In addition to De La Salle or whichever team wins from the NCS, the other three teams will be the Central Coast Section Open Division winner plus the Division I and Division II winners from the Sac-Joaquin Section. One year ago, it was Sac-Joaquin Div. II champ Folsom that took a crack at DLS in the open division. And if the Bulldogs (with 15 returning starters) get past Granite Bay early on, they’ll most likely be in that game again with the CCS Open Division champ playing the Sac-Joaquin Div. I champ once again. Because of De La Salle and that format, analyzing the various CIF bowl divisions for Northern California becomes much more challenging for Division II, Division III and Division IV. In Division II, can a team other than from the NCS or SJS get into the bowl game? Due to the CCS having its own open division and the Northern Section not being traditionally strong, that’s not likely. Therefore, squads like Oakdale, Vista del Lago, Inderkum and American Canyon from the SJS and Clayton Valley Charter-Clayton, Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park and Casa Grande-Petaluma from the NCS should all be in the mix. In Division III, you can slot the NCS champion as one of the two NorCal bowl teams right now. El Cerrito, the favorite to win that title, is one of the most talentladen squads in the region regardless of class. But the Gauchos are no guarantee in the NCS with Marin Catholic-Kentfield and Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa still looming. Sutter earned the other NorCal bowl bid in the division last year, but doesn’t figure to be as strong. The CCS could be a factor, especially if Carmel (loaded with top skill players) can get past Palma-Salinas in an early game. Finally, in Division IV, that’s the one that gets confusing because of the SJS Div. IV bracket. If a school such as Central Catholic-Modesto or Capital Christian-Sacramento can come through and win that title, then that team (as history shows) has a very good chance of going all the way and winning the CIF Div. IV bowl game. If those two lose in the playoffs — and remember that teams have to win a section title to be eligible for a CIF bowl game — then that opens the door for others. On that list of contenders would be those from a smaller division in the SJS, such as Le Grand and Brookside Christian-Stockton, or those from other sections, such as McClymondsOakland and Ferndale. ✪ Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports, and publisher of CalHiSports.com. CalHi Sports is the authority in state rankings for football, basketball, baseball and softball, as well as the recognized state record keeper for all high school sports. Contact him at markjtennis@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter, @CalHiSports.

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Football Rankings

Some teams may have already lost by the time you read this, but all 20 look loaded for 2013 and should be in the running for section titles. Records are from 2012. 1. De La Salle-Concord (15-0). Counting from the second half of the 2009 CIF Open Division bowl game to just before halftime of last year’s game, DLS outscored their SoCal counterpart 125-8. Those four teams had a combined record of 55-2. 2. Centennial-Corona (14-2). Last year’s offense soared for more than 8,500 yards (new state record) and will have both QB Robert Webber and RB Tre Watson returning. 3. St. John Bosco-Bellflower (12-1). So. Section PacFive Division favorites with 10 major college recruits, including 360-pound tackle Damien Mama and junior QB Josh Rosen. 4. Serra-Gardena (14-2). Another SoCal team with talent coming out of its ears, the Cavaliers may have more major college recruits than St. John Bosco. 5. Folsom (14-1). As easy as it is to put DLS No. 1 in NorCal, it’s just as easy to slot the Bulldogs at No. 2 with 14 returning starers, led by record-breaking junior QB Jake Browning. 6. Long Beach Poly (12-4). Wtih State Junior of the Year JuJu Smith, can repeat as CIFSS Pac-Five champs. 7. Vista Murrieta-Murrieta (13-1). The Broncos were 14-0 two years ago and lost in a close game last year to Corona Centennial in CIFSS Inland Division final. 8. Oceanside (12-1). Head coach John Carroll says this year’s Pirates could be his most talented ever. They also get a crack at home in the early going against No. 4 Serra. 9. Mater Dei-Santa Ana (11-3). There are 15 returning starters for coach Bruce Rollinson, although he’s going to miss multi-talent Thomas Duarte. 10. Granite Bay (13-3). Early matchup with No. 5 Folsom will tell a lot, but even with loss Grizzlies will be tough in playoffs.

11. Mission Viejo (11-1). QB Ian Fieber will be headed to the Bay Area for college as he has committed to San Jose State. 12. Chaminade-West Hills (12-2). All-state running back Terrell Newby will be missed, but Eagles will be more than fine with Elite 11 QB Brad Kaaya (Miami) leading the offense and LB Rick Gamboa (Colorado) leading the defense. 13. St. Bonaventure-Ventura (11-2). The Seraphs remain among SoCal’s best behind junior QB Ricky Town (committed to Alabama) and TE Bryce Dixon (one of nation’s best). 14. Palo Alto (8-3). Last year’s record should end up looking like a blip compared to what the Vikings might be like in 2013. 15. Central-Fresno (11-3). No doubt the Grizzlies have the most talent of any team from the CIF Central Section, but they have yet to put it completely together in the playoffs. 16. Alemany-Mission Hills (9-3). The Warriors have dominated the Serra League in the CIFSS and have some strong returning players on defense. 17. Upland (12-1). QB Tyler Hilinski ranks as one of the top juniors at his position and will have big-time wideout Jeff Farrar. 18. Bellarmine-San Jose (11-2). The Bells nearly made it four CCS Open Division titles in five years and should be strong once again behind Elite 11 QB K.J. Carta-Samuels. 19. Oaks Christian-Westlake Village (8-3). Quarterback Brandon Dawkins will be a three-year starter and will have a number of explosive weapons at his disposal. 20. Clovis North-Fresno (12-1). Defending Central Section Div. I champs will miss graduated QB Christian Rossi, but may remain among state’s best due to returning top offensive, defensive linemen plus highly regarded junior LB Hayden Haupt.

For more teams, more analysis and updated state rankings, please visit CalHiSports.com today.

››› KNOW THE CODE, A quick look at the NorCal standouts at the Area Code Games. Third baseman Joe Gillette of Scotts Valley was the only player from the Bay Area who was named to the All-Area Code Games First Team after this year’s event concluded on Aug. 10. Gillette was lauded by the scouts for his outstanding defense and potential to hit at the next level. Others from the Bay Area or Sac-Joaquin Section who were chosen to the All-Area Code Second Team were 2B Bryson Brigman (Valley Christian-San Jose); centerfielder Derek Hill (Elk Grove); CF Tim Susnara (St. Francis-Mountain View); and 1B Chris Williams (De La Salle-Concord). All of the players were on the Oakland Athletics’ squad which compiled a 2-2-1 record during the week. Three pitchers from the A’s who were clocked in the high 80s or above with their fastball were Mitch Hart (Granite Bay), Joe DeMers (College ParkPleasant Hill) and Justin Hooper (De La Salle). Hart was the only one of the three to reach 90. Baseball fans are invited to check out the first Cal-Hi Sports e-book, “California: The Baseball Capital of the World.” Go to CalHiSports.com for more details or order the e-book today directly through Amazon.com or through iBooks at Apple.com.

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Central Coast Section.........................22 NorCal Top 20......................................28 San Francisco Section........................30 North Coast Section............................36 Oakland Section..................................40 Sac-Joaquin Section...........................42 SECTION CONTRIBUTORS: Chace Bryson, Mitch Stephens, David Kiefer, Jim McCue, Trevor Horn. Photographers: James K. Leash, Phillip Walton, Norbert von der Groeben, Jonathan Hawthorne.

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W Story by David Kiefer Photos by Norbert von der Groeben

hen K.J. Carta-Samuels’ high school football career is done, he may be most remembered for a title bestowed in a camp as much as a championship won on the field. Carta-Samuels, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior quarterback at San Jose’s Bellarmine College Prep, is one of the Elite 11. It sounds as prestigious as it is. Only 18 quarterbacks throughout the country secure an invitation to July’s Beaverton, Ore., convocation that has become the premier quarterback competition for recruiters. Ultimately, only 11 enter the inner circle. “It was a grueling six days,” Carta-Samuels recalled. “You had to be on point the entire time — attitude-wise, throwing-wise, everything. I remember not wanting to make a mistake, but wanting to shock people at the same time.” Carta-Samuels welcomed the unrelenting scrutiny, on the field and off. They were tested mentally and physically, with the result that could fluctuate on every drill. “You had to be perfect all the time,” he said. Carta-Samuels had to be perfect, but he wasn’t. A poor 7-on-7 performance caused him to tumble completely off the 11-player list completely. But perfection is fickle. “The next day I was perfect,” he said.

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He reclaimed his spot and made the final coveted list into high school football’s most exclusive club. “I was happy with the way I responded,” he said. “I was proud of myself for taking a bad situation and making it better.” For Carta-Samuels, the exercise proved something to others that he already knew about himself. While Bellarmine’s run-oriented double-wing offense showcases one part of his game — his legs — events such as the Elite 11 showcase quite another. “His greatest attribute is his arm,” Bellamine coach Mike Janda said. Carta-Samuels is a complete player, one that Vanderbilt University will welcome in 2014. In Nashville, K.J. will have a chance to succeed his brother Austyn, this year’s projected Commodores’ starter. It was Austyn who, in 2008, led Bellarmine to its first Central Coast Section championship in 18 years. The 21-0 victory over Valley Christian-San Jose in the Open Division championship culminated a 12-1 season and returned a program to the greatness it held in the 1980’s, when it annually ranked among the best in the state. Austyn brought a flash to the Bells’ conservative offense, beating defenders around the edge just as easily as he could loft a deep touchdown pass. But K.J. brings a different style: Smashmouth. The differences are physical — K.J. is noticeably stockier than his brother — and hereditary. It wasn’t long ago that K.J., four years younger than Austyn, followed his big brother everywhere. Everything Austyn did, K.J. would want to do too. Everything Austyn wore, K.J. would want to wear too. And when Austyn brought his friends over to play basketball on the driveway hoop, K.J. would join too. Take it easy on the little guy? Not a chance. “They were the worst trash talkers ever,” K.J. recalls. “They’d go on a rampage and rub it in my face. I couldn’t take it anymore and I’d cry to my parents every time.” Sympathy? “Not at all,” he said. Today, K.J. is thankful for the hard lessons. After all, his style is just as gritty — a quarterback who runs inside as much as he throws. K.J. was a team ballboy during Austyn’s years, intently following a team that featured tailback Usua Amanam, linebacker Michael Clay, and offensive lineman Kevin Danser. The passage of time has proven the quality of that Bells team. Clay starred at Oregon and is a rookie with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, Amanam is a fifth-year defensive back at Stanford and Defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl, and Danser, also at Stanford, is on the watch list for the Outland Trophy as college football’s top interior lineman. Austyn adds to that excellence from his perch in the vaunted Southeastern Conference. At Bellarmine, they took on the likes of Valley Christian running back Cameron Marshall (Arizona State; Miami Dolphins), Serra-San Mateo back De’Leon Eskridge (University of Minnesota, San Jose State), St. Francis-Mountain View tight end Rhett Ellison (USC; Minnesota Vikings), and Archbishop Mitty-San Jose tight end Anthony Miller (Cal). And that was just in West Catholic Athletic League play. 18

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“It was insane to watch,” K.J. said. “There were so many playmakers in the WCAL back then. I’d sit in the stands with my Pop Warner pads on, still in my pants because I’d be rushing from practice.” Until that time, K.J. wasn’t necessarily as passionate about the game as his brother, but those teams changed his thinking. K.J.’s destiny was all but sealed. “I would never have imagined I’d be in the position I’m in now, topping his achievements,” K.J. said. “ I feel like I’ve gone through high school twice. I went through his years and then I had my years.” But K.J.’s stardom — leading the Bells to a perfect season in the powerful WCAL and into the 2012 CCS Open final — was not as predictable as that of Austyn, who led the Bells to a 22-3 record as a starter. “His role in my life is a real important one,” K.J. said, while sitting in the kitchen of his family’s Saratoga home. “He was my idol. He was my older brother. I always looked up to him. When he would find success, I would want to do the same.” The foundation was largely established when Austyn began training under private coach Tom Martinez, best known for tutoring Tom Brady. K.J. was in middle school when he first tagged along. Shortly after, he began taking lessons himself. Martinez was an expert on the technical side of passing — hand position, elbow angle, release point, follow through. Just as Brady continues to hear Martinez’s voice in his head when he makes a throw, Carta-Samuels does the same. “He’d just grill you every time, yelling at you for whatever you forgot to do,” K.J. said. “I can still hear him saying, ‘Pee-yew, that stinks!’ Or, ‘That’s so bad it made an onion cry!’” K.J. credits Martinez, who died of a heart attack while on dialysis on Feb. 12, 2012, with making him the quarterback he is today. Now, young players like CartaSamuels will be the ones to carry Martinez’s legacy beyond the career of Brady. Still, Carta-Samuels remained somewhat overlooked. He was not pulled up to varsity as a sophomore during the postseason and by no means had the quarterback position locked as a junior. But between his sophomore and junior seasons, Carta-Samuels matured physically while focusing more intensely on weight training. “I just blew up,” Carta-Samuels said. “It came out of nowhere. I think I saw the potential, and that allowed me to grasp what I wanted to do and how hard I wanted to work for it.”

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Carta-Samuels took his new-found strength and confidence on the camp and 7-on-7 circuit, attracting attention and committing to Vanderbilt before the summer was out — and before he’d even played in a varsity game. Having his brother there helped, but K.J. also was intent on finding a strong academic school with a big-time program that was far enough from home to satisfy his quest for adventure. The camps and tournaments allowed him to showcase his arm in a way that Bellarmine’s offense won’t. Passing opportunities are limited and there is little sophistication when the Bells

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do throw. “I just throw to whoever’s open,” K.J. said. However, an emphasis on running also has its advantages. “I’m a pretty big kid,” Carta-Samuels said. “The offense we run is a pretty good one for the type of body that I am. I run up the middle all the time; I’m going to take some hits. All that running will give me good preparation for college.” The quarterback’s most memorable play for Bells’ coach Mike Janda was one that didn’t make the game story or result in a touchdown. In the CCS Open semifinal with Serra, Bellarmine faced 3rd-and-9 at the Padres’ 12. Carta-Samuels went wide on a sweep keeper, but “they knew it was coming,” he said. “I just tried to lower my head and got hit with five yards to go, but somehow I got the first down.” Janda described how Carta-Samuels “ran into a pile of Serra tacklers, and dragged them,” past the marker, while K.J. described the sensation akin to “Angels in the Outfield.” “It was like someone was pushing me,” he said. Last year, Bellarmine’s 11-2 season surprised many, including its quarterback. “I didn’t know the type of season we would have,” CartaSamuels said. “I did not think we could beat Serra twice. That was a shock to me. But it showed how much we worked to get to that point.” The Bells’ season ended with a shocking 13-10 overtime loss to St. Ignatius-San Francisco in the CCS final. It was a team the Bells had beaten in league play on the road during an 11-game winning streak. The season included six games decided by six points or fewer. Bellarmine carries a 15-game league-winning streak into 2013 – unheard of in this league. But Carta-Samuels said he is no closer to understanding what the Bells are capable of. Carta-Samuels has proven himself among the elite. He has the title. Now, he wants a championship. ✪

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The CCS does not set their divisions in advance of the postseason, so these are attempts at educated guesses as to which teams could fall where.

Chryst, Carta-Samuels lead a golden era for CCS QB’s Two of the nation’s top 18 quarterbacks invited to the finals of the Elite 11 Camp in Beaverton, Ore. last July were from the Central Coast Section: Palo Alto’s Keller Chryst and K.J. Carta-Samuels, of Bellarmine. No real surprise there. Chryst, a strapping 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior and son of 49ers quarterback coach Geep Chyrst, has been a top 50 recruit overall from the Class of 2014 for at least a couple years. The first day of the camp he announced he would hop, skip and jump across the street to Stanford for his college education and football career. “Everything just fit,” he said. The summer of 2012, before he had even taken a varsity snap for the Bells, Carta-Samuels announced he’d be joining his brother Austyn at Vanderbilt. Also big and physical, the 6-2, 210-pound K.J. Carta Samuels felt an immediate connection to the Tennessee campus and the coaching staff led by James Franklin. Former Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Elite 11 organizer and ESPN commentator Trent Dilfer gushed over both CCS quarterbacks. Of Carta-Samuels, Dilfer said: “I don’t know if I’ve trained a kid more trainable than K.J. Carta-Samuels… When we first saw him there were some real issues. But I told him, A, B and C are real issues and if you don’t fix them, this will be a long process for you. Now we’re looking two and a half months later and it’s unbelievable.” Of Chryst, Dilfer said: “Keller has been Steady Eddie. He’s very cerebral and has a calming influence, but shows some fire and excitement. Keller is a very artistic passer. He’s a graduate-level passer. He changes speeds and trajectories.” Two other Bay Area quarterbacks made the Elite 11 finals — Morgan Mahalak of Marin Catholic-Kentfield and Manny Wilkins of San Marin-Novato – a fact not lost upon Dilfer, who attended Aptos High. “I’m sensitive to this because I’m from that area,” he said. “It’s just a really good year for quarterbacks in Northern California.” Boy, is that a fact. Especially in the CCS. Perhaps its best season ever for quarterbacks. Besides, Chryst and Carta-Samuels, consider these five signal-callers: Nick Bawden (Los Gatos) — Already committed to San Diego State, Bawden has thrown for 1,677 yards and 14 TDs in his Los Gatos career and rushed for three touchdowns. Jack Heneghan (Menlo School-Atherton) — The first sophomore quarterback since John Paye to start at Menlo in 1983, he threw for 2,764 yards and 34 touchdowns last season as a junior and rushed for 452 more yards and nine scores. Jonathan Walters (Saratoga) — As a junior he threw for a CCS-best 3,503 yards and 39 touchdowns with just 13 interceptions. Connor Marden (Carmel) — Just a sophomore a year ago, and in only his second playing competitive football, the right-hander threw for 2,330 yards, 31 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Zach Masoli (Riordan-S.F.) — Tough to evaluate the rugged dual-threat quarterback due to Riordan being largely overmatched in WCAL play in recent years. Many believe he’s the best signal-caller in the WCAL, and with new coach John Lee taking the reigns, perhaps Masoli’s numbers will match his talent. — Mitch Stephens

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TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2012 record): Bellarmine Prep-San Jose (11-2), Palo Alto (8-3), Serra-San Mateo (9-3), St. Ignatius-S.F. (10-4), Oak Grove-San Jose (10-1). OFFENSIVE MVP: Keller Chyrst, QB, Palo Alto DEFENSIVE MVP: Matt Dickerson, DL, Serra SURPRISE CONTENDER: Valley Chrisitan-San Jose BREAKDOWN: There’s never any shortage of intrigue when it comes to the CCS Open Division. When the regular season ends and the eight-team field is set, this could be one of the most competitive fields in several years. Even the first-round games will be notable. If we had to pick out a top three right now, though, we’d settle on Bellarmine, Serra and Palo Alto. Bellarmine will have a dogged determination to return to the final after losing to St. Ignatius in OT a year ago, but the Bells aren’t even a lock to repeat as West Catholic Athletic League champs. Serra, even in losing star RB Eric Redwood to graduation, could very well be the team to beat thanks to a very physical defense led by Notre Dame-bound Matt Dickerson up front. Palo Alto has star QB Keller Chryst and an array of playmakers on both sides of the ball. Junior RB Kirk Johnson will have Valley Christian back in the conversation, also. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Serra over Palo Alto

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH: Wilcox-Santa Clara (8-4), San Benito-Hollister (8-5), Milpitas (9-4), Menlo-Atherton (6-5). OFFENSIVE MVP: Delshawn Mitchell, RB, Wilcox DEFENSIVE MVP: Squally Canada, DB, Milpitas SURPRISE CONTENDER: Piedmont Hills-San Jose BREAKDOWN: If everybody comes back healthy and focused, this looks like it could be Wilcox’s year for a title, assuming the Chargers don’t end up in the Open Division or Div. II — where they were ousted in the semifinals a year ago. Running back Delshawn Mitchell (1,640 rushing yds, 24 TDs in 2012) leads a talented class of seniors that will give Wilcox both depth and experience. Defending champions San Benito return RB David Stanton, who missed a few mid-season games a year ago but was big for the Haybalers down the stretch. He had 13 TDs in seven games, nine of those scores came after the calendar turned to November. Milpitas is always a contender in this division, and that shouldn’t change in 2013. Look for the Trojans to excel behind senior QB Ronnie Reed and Boise State-bound mutli-purpose back Squally Canada. Piedmont Hills should be back in the mix this season too after a dropoff in 2012. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Milpitas over Wilcox

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH: Archbishop Mitty-San Jose (8-4), St. Francis-Mountain View (8-5), Los Gatos (8-5), Leland-San Jose (6-5), Aragon (8-4). OFFENSIVE MVP: Nick Bawden, QB, Los Gatos DEFENSIVE MVP: Landon Baty, DB, St. Francis SURPRISE CONTENDER: Willow Glen-San Jose BREAKDOWN: It’s always hard to predict which WCAL schools won’t make the CCS Open Division cut and trickle down to the lower divisions. It’s possible that defending Div. II-champ St. Francis does enough to warrant the bump this year thanks a good returning nucleus headlined by WR/DB Landon Baty (104 tackles, 5 INTs last season). And we could make the same argument for a reverse trip for Mitty, which reached the semifinals as the No. 7 seed in the Open tournament last year. The Monarchs return a handful of key players, including RB/LB Chandler Ramirez and do-a-little-bit-of-everything back Dakari Monroe. It could still be enough to crack the Open field, but if they don’t, they are immediate title favorites in Div. II. Los Gatos has a new coach, but could really thrive behind QB Nick Bawden, and perennial-contender Leland will have a good deal of experience after taking lumps as a young roster a year ago. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Mitty over Los Gatos

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH: Aptos (10-3), Saratoga (6-5), Burlingame (5-6), Terra NovaPacifica (6-5) OFFENSIVE MVP: Jonathan Walters, QB, Saratoga DEFENSIVE MVP: Jacob Moen, LB, Christopher SURPRISE CONTENDER: Christopher-Gilroy BREAKDOWN: Valley Christian-San Jose won this division a year ago, topping Aptos 51-20 in the final. We think the Warriors find their way back to the Open Division this year, which should pave the way for Saratoga and QB standout Jonathan Walters. Walters torched the CCS last season for a section-best 3,503 yards and 39 TDs. If the Falcons can round out their defensive unit, they should have a real shot at reaching the title game. Terra Nova could be another team to watch with playmaker Jaylen Jones lining up on offense. Runner-up Aptos remains a threat, as does a Burlingame team led by running back duo Keoni Keahi and Manase Palu. Christopher-Gilroy, despite just a 2-8 mark a year ago, could leap forward in a big way thanks to a slew of returning skill players and junior LB Jacob Moen (161 tackeles a year ago). CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Saratoga over Aptos

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2010 record): Seaside (11-1), Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton (12-1), Carmel (9-2), Menlo School-Atherton (10-3) OFFENSIVE MVP: Connor Marden, QB, Carmel DEFENSIVE MVP: Ben Burr Kirven, LB, Sacred Heart Prep SURPRISE CONTENDER: Scotts Valley BREAKDOWN: Connor Marden and the high-flying Carmel offense should have more than enough firepower to not only contend for a CCS crown, but potentially a CIF Bowl berth as well. Of all the divisions, this will be the one to watch if you’re one who enjoys offensive football. Seaside graduated standout Joseph Jakubowsky but returns WR Ronald Turner (11 TDs in 2012). Menlo QB Jack Heneghan threw for 2,764 yards and 34 TDs last season as a junior and also rushed for 452 more yards and nine scores. Defending-champion Sacred Heart Prep needs to replace the most pieces, but can never be counted out. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Carmel over Menlo

TYPE: CCS career rushing yards THE HUNTED: Toke Kefu, San Mateo – Established the section record by rushing for 5,439 yards from 2001 to 2003. THE HUNTER: Trevor Bearden, Live Oak-Morgan Hill – If Bearden can match last year’s season total of 2,176 yards, he would set a new CCS record of 5,653 career yards. He also rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore. For state record updates throughout the season, visit CalHiSports.com.

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In The Spotlight: Landon Baty DB, St. Francis-Mountain View

Landon Baty was at a track meet last April when news broke that head football coach Nick Navarro was leaving St. Francis High. The Lancers football team was coming off its first Central Coast Section championship in 10 years — an eternity for the Mountain View school. It’s true the title came in Division II — the Lancers did not qualify to play in the top-level Open Division — but it signaled something tangible for a program seeking a return to glory. Baty and the three other football captains — all track athletes — gathered quickly. The first reaction was denial, but the second was more productive. They gathered their thoughts, planned a team meeting and came to a consensus. “We wanted someone who’s been in our shoes,” said Baty, a MaxPreps All-Northern California first-team free safety. “We wanted a role model as a head coach. We wanted someone to believe in, who knows how to win here and knows how to bring back that winning mentality.” They took their ideas to athletic director Michael Pilawski. While they don’t know if they influenced the decision, they were happy with the choice: Greg Calcagno. The school’s junior varsity coach and alumni director, Calcagno was from rich St. Francis stock. The campus stadium was named after his father, Ron, who compiled a 233-59-3 record as head coach from 1972-

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95, and won 11 CCS and 12 West Catholic Athletic League championships. Greg went 24-2 in two seasons as the starting quarterback, leading the Lancers to their first perfect season — 14-0 — and a CCS Div. I title in 1982. He became Santa Clara University’s all-time passing leader and caught on with the New York Jets, though he did not play in a regular season game. Both father and son are in the St. Francis Hall of Fame. Baty comes from rich bloodlines himself. His father, Greg Baty, was an NFL tight end for eight seasons, mostly with Miami. And older brother Turner quarterbacked MenloAtherton to the 2008 CCS Large School title and is at City College of San Francisco after a season at Kansas. Baty is willing to become a cornerstone. In 2012, he had 104 tackles, five interceptions, 12 passes deflected, and two fumbles recovered. He intercepted three passes in a stunning 24-0 road victory at Serra that launched the Friars’ postseason run, finishing with three shutouts in four games and outscoring opponents, 124-7. “We came out, hit ‘em in the mouth, and took it to them,” Baty said. “We just rolled with it. We said, ‘You know what? Who’s going to beat us?’” This year, the speedy Baty will assume a greater role as the offense switches from a spread to a power attack. Baty will play running back, slotback, and return kicks, anything to help the Lancers add to their 15 CCS championships. “This is St. Francis,” Baty said. “You come here to win games. It’s preached everywhere. We’re excited about bringing it back to how it used to be.” — David Kiefer

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OFFENSe

QB — Keller Chryst (Palo Alto) 6-4, 220, Sr. Nation’s No. 33 recruit overall per247sports.com is Stanford-bound. QB — K.J. Carta-Samuels (Bellarmine Prep-San Jose) 6-2, 210, Sr. Trent Dilfer gushed about Vanderbilt-bound QB at Elite 11 camp. RB — Elijah Dale (St. Ignatius-S.F.) 5-9, 180, Sr. Rushed for 1,476 yards and 14 TDs for Open Div. champions. RB — Delshawn Mitchell (Wilcox-Santa Clara) 5-11, 185, Sr. Rushed for 1,640 yards, 24 TDs, caught 10 passes for four more scores. RB — Kirk Johnson (Valley Christian-San Jose) 5-11, 190, Jr. WCAL Sophomore of the Year rushed for 1,710 yards and 25 TDs. WR — Jaylen Jones (Terra Nova-Pacifica) 5-10, 180, Sr. Had 70 catches and 11 touchdowns last season. WR — Ronald Turner (Seaside) 6-4, 185, Sr. Of his 36 catches a year ago, 11 went for TDs. OL — Daniel Mendoza (Mitty-San Jose) 6-1, 250, Sr. First-team All-WCAL selection should keep Monarchs ground game moving. OL — Vita Musika (Milpitas) 6-1, 300, Jr. Helped lead Milpitas into CCS Division I title game in 2012. OL — Jimmy Leatiota (Wilcox) 6-2, 275, Sr. Paved way for 8-4 record and two 1,000-yard rushers last season. OL — Enzo Santos (Menlo-Atherton) 6-1, 240, Sr. First team All-PAL Bay Division center as a junior. OL — Patrick Finnigan (Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton) 6-2, 220, Sr. Big reason why SHP won CCS Div. IV title last year. UTIL — Squally Canada (Milpitas) 5-11, 185, Sr. Boise State-bound talent league’s top DB while also rushing for more than 900 yds.

Our pick for the best CCS-related game on each week of the season.  9/7 Marin Catholic-Kentfield at St. Ignatius-S.F., 1 p.m. 9/13 Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland at Valley Christian-San Jose, 7:30 p.m. 9/21 Mitty-San Jose at Palo Alto*, 7 p.m. 9/27 Oak Grove-San Jose at San Benito-Hollister, 7:30 p.m. 10/4 Bellarmine-San Jose vs. Serra-San Mateo**, 7:30 p.m. 10/11 Wilcox-Santa Clara at Palo Alto, 7:30 p.m. 10/18 St. Ignatius-S.F. vs. Bellarmine-San Jose**, 7 p.m. 10/25 Terra Nova-Pacifica at Menlo School-Atherton, 3:15 p.m. 11/1 Serra-San Mateo at St. Francis-Mountain View, 7:30 p.m. 11/9 Bellarmine-San Jose at Mitty-San Jose**, 7 p.m. * at Foothill College (Los Altos Hills); **at San Jose CC

defense

DL — Charlie Nelson (Valley Christian) 6-4, 275, Sr. Stock is rising quickly. San Jose State has offered. DL — Matt Dickerson (Serra-San Mateo) 6-5, 275, Sr. Has already committed to Notre Dame. DL — Nik Bell (St. Ignatius) 6-4, 230, Sr. Superb athlete, Bell will also catch passes as TE. DL — Andrew Jacobson (Sacred Heart Cathedral-S.F.) 6-4, 230, Sr. Leads a defense for new coach Ken Peralta that returns six starters. LB — Andrew Frick (Palo Alto) 6-1, 215, Sr. SCVAL’s De Anza Outside Linebacker of the Year in 2012. LB — Chandler Ramirez (Mitty) 6-1, 210, Sr. First team All-WCAL performer is also team’s top RB. LB — Maligi Maluia (South San Francisco) 6-2, 240, Sr. Linebacker & Utility Player of the Year in PAL Ocean last season. LB — Hamilton Anoa’i (Serra) 6-3, 210, Sr. Has major college interest but must produce. DB — Chris Hall (Riordan-S.F.) 6-1, 170, Sr. Versatile standout is also tremendous flanker and returner. DB — Landon Baty (St. Francis) 5-11, 185, Sr. Had 104 tackles and five interceptions for CCS Div. II champs. DB — Malcolm Davis (Palo Alto) 5-8, 160, Sr. First team All-Mercury News as a junior. DB — Nico Randolph (Oak Grove-San Jose) BVAL Mount Hamilton’s Defensive Back of the Year had four picks. K/P — Jesus Gonzalez (Milpitas) 5-8, 180, Sr. Led CCS in scoring with nine FGs – one a 49-yarder – and 77 points.

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MISSION TRAIL: Carmel; Overwhelming favorite with 16 starters back from 9-2 team. MONTEREY BAY GAILAN: Palma-Salinas; Chieftains return six offensive returners including talented RB Brandon Olivares. MONTEREY BAY PACIFIC: Christopher-Gilroy; Don’t let 2-8 record of 2012 fool you, Cougars return 18 starters including RB/DB Rashon Mills. MOUNT HAMILTON: Oak Grove-San Jose; Eight starters back from 10-1 team, should breeze to fourth straight title. PENINSULA BAY: Menlo School-Atherton; In the year of QBs in CCS, Jack Heneghan should carry the Knights to a title. PENINSULA LAKE: Hillsdale-San Mateo; Knights feature lethal offensive trio of QB Cole Carrithers, RB A.J. Bernal and WR Brandon Butcher. PENINSULA OCEAN: Burlingame; Running tandem of Keoni Keahi and Manase Palu will carry Panthers to the crown. SANTA CRUZ COAST: Aptos; A 9-1 JV team and 12 returning starters back from a 10-3 team gives Mariners the edge. SANTA TERESA: Gunderson-San Jose; Talented 6-5, 285-pound tackle Mel Sotelo should pave the way for RB DeJon Packer. SCVAL DE ANZA: Palo Alto; Will benefit from great balance, coaching and rare talent and leadership of QB Keller Chryst. SCVAL EL CAMINO: Gunn-Palo Alto; Superb RB duo of Sean Lydster and Forest Larson to deliver Palo Alto-area SCVAL sweep. WEST CATHOLIC: Serra-San Mateo; Padres have the depth to bring home third league title since 2006. WEST VALLEY: Hill-San Jose; Heavy favorites return 16 starters and can pick off players from 9-1 JV team.

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1. De La Salle-Concord (15-0 in 2012) The more things change, the more they stay the same. Especially on Winton Drive. In January, the Spartans program experienced its most significant change in more than 30 years when the legendary Bob Ladouceur resigned as head coach and longtime understudy Justin Alumbaugh was appointed to the position. But few things will really change — Ladouceur is still a contributing member of the coaching staff, and the talent on the field is unquestioned. While it was the defense that came loaded with experience in 2012 — when the Spartans won their fourth straight CIF Open Div. bowl game — this year it’s the offense. Larry Allen Jr. (right) anchors an experienced offensive line in front of returning QB Chris Williams and Arizona State-bound RB Das Tuatalatasi (center). The defense should be just fine too thanks to Oregon State-commit Sumner Houston (left) up front, Washington State-bound Kevin Griffin at safety and emerging junior LB Simba Short. So yes, expect more of the same.

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2. Folsom (14-1)

3. Granite Bay (12-3)

Co-head coaches Kris Richardson and Troy Taylor have loads of returning talent from a roster that advanced to the Northern California Open Division Championship game before suffering its only 2012 loss to national power De La Salle-Concord. The Bulldogs’ potent offense can expect to fire on all cylinders under the direction of state recordsetting junior QB Jake Browning, right, who will have familiar targets in senior WRs Troy Knox and Rodney Ellison as well as backfield mate and fellow junior RB/LB Bailey Laolagi. If the defense pitches in and the line holds up, Folsom has a legitimate shot at a return trip to the regional Open Division final.

The Grizzlies will be without head coach Ernie Cooper for the first time in the program’s 16-year existence. New coach James “Skip” Albano is a former Granite Bay assistant who most recently coached in a Swiss professional league. Defense will be the key for the Grizzlies, who return the capable services of junior LBs Cameron Smith and Dylan Keeney, as well as senior DB Luke Bussey. The fly offense will remain, making senior RB Tony Ellison, right, key for Granite Bay’s defense of its Sierra Foothill League, Sac-Joaquin Section, and CIF State Bowl Div. I championships.

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4. Elk Grove (12-2) The Thundering Herd is a traditional power and have been a Sac-Joaquin Section title contender under head coach Chris Nixon in recent years. Elk Grove’s success will depend on the consistency and leadership of returning backfield mates QB Tommy Arnold and RB Wadus Parker (top right). Senior DE Bwon Canada will spark the Elk Grove defense.

5. Bellarmine Prep-San Jose (11-2) Vanderbilt-bound Elite 11 QB, K.J. Carta Samuels and the rest of the Bells have had an entire offseason to dwell on their CCS Open Championship overtime loss to St. Ignatius-S.F. It’s safe to expect a very hungry Bellarmine team when it opens up Sept. 7 against No. 9 El Cerrito.

6. Serra-San Mateo (9-3) The Padres lost their two games against Bellarmine by a combined six points in 2012, and it was by that very slim margin that Serra missed a shot to play into the CIF Bowl games. DL star Matt Dickerson and RB/LB Hamilton Anoa’i (middle right) hope to help close that gap.

7. Palo Alto (8-3) Keller Chryst is back for his third and final year at QB before crossing the street to attend Stanford next fall. But before he goes, he and the Vikings just might have talent for a run at the CCS Open title. The Vikings defense should be equally solid behind third-year DB, Malcolm Davis (bottom right).

8. California-San Ramon (10-3) Grizzlies coach Eric Billeci has been waiting for this team to come to fruition. Returning QB Cameron Owen will lead a balanced offense behind a strong, physical front. If a slightly less-experienced defense grows up quickly, Billeci will find the results worth the wait.

9. El Cerrito (14-1) No Gauchos team has ever featured this much returning talent. This is El Cerrito’s best window to grab its first NCS football title, and perhaps much much more. Can USC-bound LB Derik Calhoun, Cal-commit WR/DB Jalen Harvey (far right) and the rest of the Gauchos stay focued on put it all together?

10. Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove (7-5) Veteran coach Joe Cattolico retired and un-retired in the offseason to come back to lead the Eagles. The offense will be powered by seniors QB Deaundre Terrell and WR Wyatt Demps. Defensively, DL Earl Chism will set the tone along with Demps at DB. How much the running game contributes may spell Pleasant Grove’s fate. 11. Marin Catholic-Kentfield (14-1) 12. St. Mary’s-Stockton (9-3) 13. Freedom-Oakley (9-3) 14. Valley Christian-San Jose (7-6) 15. Burbank-Sacramento (12-1) 16. Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa (11-2) 17. James Logan-Union City (12-2) 18. Deer Valley-Antioch (6-5) 19. Del Oro-Loomis (7-5) 20. Pittsburg (8-4)

See how the NorCal Top 20 fared each Monday at SportStarssOnline.com, and get the new rankings every Wednesday morning. Scan here for the most current rankings.

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Lincoln’s climb to perennial SFS heavyweight began outside the lines

The evidence on the field is irrefutable. In 10 seasons at Lincoln High, football coach Phil Ferrigno has led the Mustangs to six San Francisco Section title games and five victories. Last season, Lincoln finished off an 11-1 season with a humdinger of a 22-21 win over defending champion Mission in the 89th Turkey Day Game on Thanksgiving. The Mustangs won an SFS-record four straight Turkey Day Games from 2005-2008, winning 36 games in that span. With returning first-team All-Academic Athletic Association standouts Tyree Marzetta, a relentless tailback and linebacker, and two-way lineman Justin Lee, the Mustangs are the favorite to repeat as section champions. “It’s been a blessing,” Ferrigno said. “When we started here, frankly, the place was in rough shape. But we had a plan, the kids bought in and right now things are looking awfully good.” Ferrigno maintains that while the numbers and records are large, it’s all the little things that few see that has fueled Lincoln’s massive success. And little of it has to do with football. The key is an unwavering commitment to grades, physical condition and one another. It’s old-school stuff like study hall, weight training and signing character contracts. It is simple stuff, really, written in black and white and sprinkled with Lincoln Cardinal and Gold pride. “It’s about self respect and respect for others,” Ferrigno said. “It’s about accountability. Ernie Abrea/MaxPreps.com Behavior. Grades. Buying into the greater good. The family. ... Hey, kids mess up and we do Davion Telfor give second chances. God knows I was no angel in high school. But everyone is accountable.” Setting the ultimate foundation is the team’s work in the weight room and on the track, led by assistant coach Phil Doherty who started a weightlifting team. “It started in the spring of 2003 and we lifted outside five days a week during seventh period,” Doherty said. “I started a weightlifting team after school.” Not coincidently, a group of sophomores went 7-0 the following fall on the junior varsity and when they got to varsity helped start Lincoln’s run to glory. They also qualified for Youth Nationals in weightlifting in 2005 and 2006. “The weight room and conditioning and speed work in track has been a huge part of our success,” Ferrigno said. “There’s no denying that.” Wearing teams down and winning tight games have been a Lincoln trademark. So is turning around lives, like last year AAA Co-Player of the Year Demetrius Williams, who was in-and-out of juvenile hall before committing to the Mustangs. The then senior rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown in the 2012 Turkey Day Game win over Mission and finished with 1,316 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. His career arc coincided with the Mustangs, who went from 2009 title game to 0-11 and 4-7 the next two seasons. “Across the board, we had a lot of kids not taking care of their business,” Ferrigno said. “It’s not difficult to fall off track. It’s a me-first society. The kids see it on TV and all around and our job is to simply turn it around to we-first.” —Mitch Stephens

BEST OF THE CITY 2013

TOP MVP CANDIDATE: Tyree Marzetta, RB/LB, Lincoln TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Kyle Nelson, QB, Galileo TOP DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: Isaac Straznickas, DL, Mission TOP NEWCOMER: Peter Graham, head coach, Washington BEST IN THE TRENCHES: Justin Lee, OL/DL, Lincoln TOP LINEBACKER: Ronzel Fox, LB, Galileo BIGGEST BREAKOUT POTENTIAL: Saadiq Anderson, RB/LB, Washington BEST TANDEM: TE/DL: Alvin Norman and Zachary Rowson, Lowell MOST LIKELY TO CAUSE BRUISES: Joshua Bonse-Davis and Davion Telfor, TE-LBs, Lincoln

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HOW THEY’LL FINISH (2012 record) 1. Lincoln (10-1)

5. Mission (7-4)

3. Washington (2-7)

7. Burton (0-0)

2. Galileo (4-6-1) 4. Lowell (4-6)

6. Balboa (2-7)

8. Marshall (1-9)

TOP 5 GAMES

8/31 9/7 10/18 11/1 11/9

Berkeley at Washington, 1 p.m. Lincoln at Riordan, 1 p.m. Lincoln at Galileo, 3 p.m. Lincoln at Washington, 3 p.m. Mission at Lowell, 2 p.m.

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Freedom’s Joe Mixon has all the attributes expected of a top national recruit, but his magnetic personality may be his finest trait Story by Chace Bryson Photos by Phillip Walton 32

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I

t all starts with the smile. Joe Mixon has the type of smile that ad agencies covet. It comes naturally and never looks forced. It radiates as an extension of Mixon’s contagious personality. This is the first thing Freedom High football coach Kevin Hartwig remembers upon meeting Mixon during the first week of his freshman year. “The thing that caught me — yeah, you’re looking at a man (physically) — but it was his personality,” said Hartwig, who’s about to begin his 12th season of coaching at the Oakley school. “When I talked to him for the first time, I just realized he was someone special.” Mixon aced his first impression with the coach, and less than a year later — after a standout season on the freshman team — he made a second impression, this time with pads on. “Before his sophomore year we took him to summer camp with the varsity using a waitand-see type outlook,” the coach said. “We got to camp and we just saw it was obvious.”

Mixon started for the Falcons as a sophomore, rushing for more than 1,100 yards and 13 TDs. Last season — despite being just one option in a spread offense which also featured Nevada-bound quarterback Dante Mayes and Washington-bound receiver Darrell Daniels —  he finished with 1,443 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 18 balls for 383 yards and seven more scores. That ability to hurt defenses in multiple ways — along with his 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame — sent his name rocketing up the recruiting charts. The scholarship offers came pouring in, as many as 50. He’s now among the Top 20 overall recruits in the nation. Handling the attention wasn’t a big deal, but refining the list of suitors proved to be difficult for the affable Mixon. This was a lesson he learned the hard way when he flippantly showed interest in receiving an offer from the University of Virginia and only a few days later the Cavaliers sent him an offer and had a coach on the Free-

dom campus. “Coach Hartwig knew I didn’t want to go (to Virginia),” Mixon said. “He told me ‘You’ve got to tell him no.’ But at the same time, they’d offered me only a few days ago. I didn’t want (the coach) to feel like I’d wasted his time. ... That was a wake-up call. From that point on, it got serious.” Hartwig laughs when recounting his version of that story. “That’s just Joe. He doesn’t like to disappoint people.” ◆◆◆ There was a time when Mixon struggled to find his smile. When he was 10, he and his family — Joe is the youngest of five with a brother and three sisters — moved from San Francisco to Antioch. He enrolled in fifth grade at Mission Elementary, but the transition wasn’t overly smooth. Mixon had yet to experience his growth spurt and became a target for kids to pick on.

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“For me, I couldn’t really handle everything,” Mixon said. “I won’t say I had to prove myself to everybody, but I didn’t like to be messed with. I used to get picked on all the time. I used to just get mad, and the anger just used to build up and I’d just snap.” Finding a way to cope with that wasn’t easy for Mixon, who would’ve much preferred to wear his smile and joke around. “He could get angry very easily,” longtime Mission Elementary employee Sherri Phillips recalled. “But he was also very respectful. You knew he was a good kid.” Around the same time, Mixon found that extra element of confidence and identity during his first year of football. He signed up for Antioch Youth Football, and because of his athleticism was initially placed in Jr. Midgets — three levels ahead of the normal one for his age group. That lasted only a day after his mom, Alisa, saw the size of the players on the field. He moved down to his regular age group and Joe maintains that was the only time his mom worried about her youngest playing football. Mixon, a fan of Michael Vick’s at the time, started out at quarterback. However, with another capable passer on the team, a wise coach asked if Mixon would rotate in at running back. “I went home and told my dad that they want me at running back,” Mixon said. “That’s the position he played, and he started coaching me up. ... The first scrimmage, I think the first five times I touched the ball I scored a touchdown. After that, it was a wrap.” Mixon’s dad, John, grew up in San Francisco and played running back for Daly City’s Jefferson High and then Troy University in Alabama. He had a tryout with the 49ers cut short by a severe knee injury, according to Joe. Mixon’s other major running back influence came when he got to Freedom and began working with assistant coach, Ron Rivers. Rivers did reach the NFL, retiring after a six-year career as a running back and return specialist with Detroit and Atlanta. “Both of them helped me a lot,” Mixon said, referring to Rivers and his dad. “I’d say one of the biggest things Rivers helped me with was reminding me to stay low to the ground be34

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cause I had a tendency to run upright.” ◆◆◆ Moving from Antioch to Oakley with his mom and enrolling at Freedom gave a moreconfident Joe a chance to start over. That’s the kid Hartwig met on the second day of classes back in 2010. It’s the one he stills knows today. “He’s been the role model of the campus,” the coach said. “There’s a lot of pressure in that, and he’s done a pretty darn good job of being that kid. ... And inside the program, he leads by example. He works hard. He’s first in every run drill we do, first in every line.” Mixon never wavers in his belief that Freedom helped re-shape him. “I came a long way,” Mixon said. “Coming here changed my whole life. I’m good in the classroom now. I can socialize with people now. I have a lot of friends here. And now football wants to make me go even further.” Where exactly will football take him? A major Division-I college to start. Mixon narrowed his choices to 10 on Aug. 2. He’s scheduled four of his five allowed official visits for the fall. He’ll be taking in Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Florida. As for now, he claims to have a complete and total focus on getting the Falcons another Bay Valley Athletic League title and deep into the North Coast Section Div. I postseason once again. Last year’s season ended in a rainy 33-18 NCS quarterfinal loss at James LoganUnion City. “(That loss is) still with me,” he said. “At the same time, that last game we made a lot of mistakes. I’ve got to get over it, and I feel this year it’s going to be a different story.” The Falcons should have a strong defense with a good returning nucleus on the defensive line and Mixon at free safety. However, on offense, Mixon is THE weapon. Who else can emerge around him will be the key to another championship year for Freedom. Hartwig will devise several different ways to get the ball into the 5-star recruit’s hands, but there’s no doubt opposing defenses will be scheming to stop him. This suggestion brings out the smile. “If teams want to bring eight men up (to stop me), fine. But I tell you, if they miss a tackle, I’m gone.” ✪

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El Cerrito stares down challenges, expectations and history Kenny Kahn feels the pressure. How could he not? As the coach of perhaps the most anticipated El Cerrito High football team in decades — maybe ever — Kahn assuredly feels the eyes on his program. And that means eyes on him, too. No El Cerrito team has come closer to winning a North Coast Section title than Kahn’s Gauchos did a year ago, falling to Marin Catholic-Kentfield 31-28 on a field goal with 22 seconds to go. And no El Cerrito team has has begun a season with more celebrated talent than Kahn’s 2013 squad, highlighted by three returning All-State players. There’s all kinds of pressure to spread around. “We talk about pressure as a group,” Kahn said. “It’s something that can do a number of things. As a force, pressure can create discomfort or cause an object to move. But enough concentrated pressure can also create something — like a diamond. There’s a belief here that with enough time and enough pressure, we can go out and do some tremendous things. “I feel pressure every day, but it’s the job I signed up for and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.” Kahn, a graduate of El Cerrito, has no doubt earned his position as well. Beginning his sixth season at the helm of the program, Kahn has yet to post a losing record with the Gauchos. The worst finish of his tenure was a 5-5 mark in 2010. But before last year’s 13-1 showing, Kahn’s teams had never won more than seven games in a season — so this is definitely new territory. But if one’s headed for new territory, it’s best to go there with the type of roster the Gauchos boast in 2013. The trio of returning All-State players includes receiver/defensive back Jalen Harvey (a Cal-commit), linebacker/running back Derik Calhoun (USC) and defensive back/motion back Adarius Pickett (undecided with up to 20 offers). The Gauchos also return starting quarterback Keilan Benjamin, a dual-threat QB who shined in the NCS championship game with a pair of touchdown runs as well as a scoring strike to Harvey. At 6-0 and 200 pounds, Calhoun will be the undisputed linchpin of what could be the most athletic defense in the East Bay. Pickett and Harvey fortify the secondary and returning all-league lineman Johnny Tolliver will key the push up front. “We did a lot with this team when these kids were sophomores,” Kahn said. “They shined as juniors and showed explosion, and this is the year they get to bring it all home. This a chance for them to rally around another and go and do what they love.” The road won’t be easy. The Gauho’s four-game nonleague slate includes Sutter, Bellarmine-San Jose, Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa and Campolindo-Moraga. Cardinal Newman (22 wins in last two seasons) is the only team of the four which HASN’T appeared in a CIF regional or state bowl since 2011. El Cerrito is certainly a candidate for a state bowl this season, but it will need to secure that elusive section title first — the program is 0-5 in NCS finals over its history.. “Coming up short was devastating,” Kahn said. “The initial blow has gone away, but the feeling still lingers for all of them, I think. They know we’ve got work to do.” — Chace Bryson

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Derik Calhoun

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TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2012 record): De La Salle-Concord (15-0), California-San Ramon (10-3), James Logan-Union City (12-2), Freedom-Oakley (11-2), Pittsburg (8-4).  OFFENSIVE MVP: Joe Mixon, RB, Freedom DEFENSIVE MVP: Sumner Houston, DL, De La Salle SURPRISE CONTENDER: Deer Valley-Antioch BREAKDOWN: The Big Green Machine is loaded once again and all signs point to a 22nd straight NCS title for De La Salle. The Spartans are renown for getting better throughout the schedule and it will be interesting to see what kind of pace they take under new coach Justin Alumbaugh. The subplots from the rest of the division should still be intriguing. Is Joe Mixon good enough to power a Freedom offense lead by a new sophomore QB? Can Pittsburg, led by talented RB Harris Ross, get past some offseason drama to tap into its seemingly unlimited potential? Did James Logan lose too much to graduation? And, with perhaps its best returning offensive unit in some time, how good might Harris Ross, Pittsburg California be? Finally, the league race to watch is in the Bay Valley Athletic League where we caution not to sleep on Deer Valley, who should be much healthier in league after lightening its nonleague slate this year. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: De La Salle over California

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2012 record): El Cerrito (13-1), Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa (11-2), Marin Catholic-Kentfield (14-1), Analy-Sebastapol (12-1), Campolindo-Moraga (10-2) OFFENSIVE MVP: Andrew Celis, WR, Marin Catholic DEFENSIVE MVP: Derik Calhoun, LB, El Cerrito SURPRISE CONTENDER: Acalanes BREAKDOWN: At least three programs in this division can be looked at as serious CIF State Bowl contenders — one of them, Marin Catholic, reached and nearly won the Div. III state bowl a season ago. The Wildcats no longer have QB Jared Goff, who recently won the Cal-Berkeley starting job as a true frosh, but replace him with much-hyped Oregon-bound senior Morgan Mahalak. Mahalak’s job will be to get the ball to Nevada-bound Andrew Celis as much as possible. El Cerrito is the most-talented team on paper. It came within minutes of defeating Marin Catholic in last year’s NCS title game. The Gauchos have never faced such high expectations to begin a season. How they handle that, along with a grueling nonleague slate, will determine their success. Cardinal Newman is a two-time CIF Bowl participant and knows the formula to get there. Analy and Campolindo must also be taken very seriously. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Marin Catholic over El Cerrito

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2012 record): Clayton Valley Charter-Concord (14-1), Casa Grande-Petaluma (7-4), Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park (12-1), Concord (10-3), NorthgateWalnut Creek (9-3). OFFENSIVE MVP: JaJuan Lawson, QB, Casa Grande DEFENSIVE MVP: Tanoa Peleti, LB, Rancho Cotate SURPRISE CONTENDER: Mt. Eden-Hayward BREAKDOWN: Clayton Valley Charter took this division by storm in 2012 by mixing a gritty defense, an innovative look to the double-wing offense, and a general swagger brought on by new coach Tim Murphy. The Eagles also had an especially gifted tailback in Joe Protheroe who powered his way to a school-record 3,044 rushing yards. But Protheroe is now at Cal Poly, and several of the key names on the defensive side of the ball graduated, too. Murphy is a good enough coach to harness the momentum and maintain success with new faces, but CVC won’t surprise anybody in 2013. Casa Grande may have the best athlete in the division in JaJuan Lawson. In his third year behind center, Lawson has already thrown for more than 4,000 yards and rushed for more than 1,000. Rancho Cotate must fill holes on offense, but should have a very good defense. Concord will have fresh faces everywhere, but will not be a pushover. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Casa Grande over Clayton Valley Charter

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2012 record): Arcata (11-2), St. Helena (11-2), Justin-Siena-Napa (11-2), San Marin-Novato (7-7), Salesian-Richmond (9-3), Fort Bragg (10-2). OFFENSIVE MVP: Manny Wilkins, QB, San Marin DEFENSIVE MVP: Tyler Keil, RB, Arcata SURPRISE CONTENDER: Moreau Catholic-Hayward BREAKDOWN: This should be an extremely competitive division as several teams which blossomed a year ago have a good deal of talent returning. Justin-Siena is the defending champ and has a strong defensive presence returning. If the Braves can grow up fast on offense, they will be a serious threat to repeat. Arcata’s 11-win season in 2013 caught many by surprise after a 4-7 campaign in 2011. The catalyst for that turnaround was RB/DB Tyler Keil, who averaged 213 all-purpose yards per game and scored 177 points (27 TDs). He also had 48 tackles and 6 INTs on defense. San Marin will be fun to watch with Arizona State-bound, double-threat QB Manny Wilkins running the show, and the offensive nucleus for Fort Bragg’s big season last year is back too. Moreau Catholic may be the Bay Area’s best bet in this division behind Dennis Lee/MaxPreps.com multi-purpose back Jason Hinton and a good young Manny Wilkins, San Marin defense led by LB James Schreckengost. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Arcata over San Marin

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2010 record): Ferndale (12-1), California School for the Deaf-Fremont (10-2), St. Vincent-Petaluma (10-3), Middletown (7-4). OFFENSIVE MVP: Kyle Chambers, QB, Ferndale

DEFENSIVE MVP: Derek Murphy, LB, St. Vincent-Petaluma SURPRISE CONTENDER: Calistoga

BREAKDOWN: When it comes to small school football in the NCS, there’s no ignoring Ferndale. The Wildcats returned to the top of the mountain last year, winning their first NCS title since 2007 — and doing it in dominating fashion. Ferndale outscored its three NCS playoff opponents 108-35 last year. This year, star QB Kyle Chambers is back

behind center and has the ‘Cats as a heavy favorite to be the top seed in this year’s postseason draw. St. Vincent lost to Ferndale 54-13 in last year’s NCS final, but returns

some of its own game-breaking talent, including two-way standout Derek Murphy (1,100-plus yds. rushing, 17 TDs on offense, 108 tackles, 4 blocked kicks on defense). Multipurpose back Dylan Alvarado is a two-way talent that could put Calistoga in the title picture too. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Ferndale over St. Vincent

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In The Spotlight: Nsimba & Nzuzi Webster QB/DB & WR/DB, Deer Valley-Antioch

Nsimba Webster was born two minutes before his twin brother. There was no visual confirmation as to whether he gave Nzuzi a stiff arm to assure being first on the scene. However, those who know the brothers — and have followed their athletic endeavors over the years — probably can’t help but wonder. “We’re very competitive at everything we do,” said Nsimba, who’s about to begin his third year as the starting quarterback for Deer Valley. “We’re competing all the time.” Football video games? “Nsimba is better at Madden,” Nzuzi said. “But I’m better at NCAA.” Basketball? Both brothers played key roles in Deer Valley’s run to the CIF Div. I NorCal title game last March. “I’m probably the better driver,” continued Nzuzi, who shares almost the exact same body build as his brother at approximately 6-feet, 180 pounds. “Nsimba has the better jumper.” And it can go on and on. “I have to constantly remind them to keep the rivalry at home, because they bring it here a lot,” Deer Valley coach Rich Woods said. “Nsimba can get one over on Nzuzi because he has the ball and it all starts with him. He won’t throw it to his brother, and that makes him mad. Then one of them is pouting. It can be pretty funny at times.” But Woods knows that it’s a good thing. Because the competitive drive of the two seniors fuels an undercurrent of confidence from a senior-laden Wolverines team which just may find itself at the forefront of a very competitive three-way Bay Valley Athletic League title race.

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Defending-champion Freedom-Oakley is an early favorite due to having renown national-recruit Joe Mixon on both sides of the ball. And Pittsburg, a perennial power, should be right there as well. The margin dividing all three is razor thin. Deer Valley is the only team among them that has an experienced varsity quarterback — let alone one that passed for more than 2,300 yards with 25 TDs, plus ran for another 700 yards and nine scores. “Nsimba brings some real character to the offense,” Wood said . “He gets guys in the right spot, and isn’t afraid to step up and say the right thing when he’s supposed to. He’s been a starter at that position, and he’s just the kind of guy you want to have on your team.” So is Nzuzi, who last year emerged as a definitive two-way threat for the Wolverines. As a go-to target for his brother, he had 405 yards receiving and 6 TDs. Yet, he made an even bigger contribution from the free safety position on defense, making 71 tackles and tying a school-record with seven interceptions. “He’s just a ballhawk back there, and he finds the football,” Woods said. Both brothers are convinced the pieces are in place for a strong finish to their Deer Valley careers. “It’ll be a matter of just staying consistent every game,” Nzuzi said. “We have the talent. We just need to stay focused.” And competitive. ✪ — Chace Bryson

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Offense

QB – Morgan Mahalak (Marin Catholic-Kentfield) 6-3, 190, Sr. Wildcats won’t skip a beat behind Oregon-commit.

RB – Joe Mixon (Freedom-Oakley) 6-2, 207, Sr. Multi-threat back considered one of the top 20 recruits in the country. RB – Dasmond Tuatalatasi (De La Salle-Concord) 6-1, 186, Sr. Arizona State-commit to be feature back for state’s top team.

Our pick for the best NCS-related game on each week of the season. 8/30 James Logan-Union City at Del Oro-Loomis, 7:30 pm 9/7 De La Salle-Concord at Serra-San Mateo, 1 p.m. 9/14 Casa Grande-Petaluma at Napa , 7:30 pm 9/20 Campolindo-Moraga at El Cerrito, 7 pm 9/27 Granite Bay at Pittsburg, 7 pm 10/4 Foothill-Pleasanton at Monte Vista-Danville, 7 pm 10/11 Freedom-Oakley at Deer Valley-Antioch, 7 pm 10/18 California-San Ramon at Monte Vista, 7 pm 10/25 Pittsburg at Freedom, 7 pm 11/1 Concord at Clayton Valley Charter-Concord, 7 pm 11/9 Marin Catholic-Kentfield at San Marin-Novato, 2 p.m.

WR – Jalen Harvey (El Cerrito) 6-1, 187, Sr. Two-way Gauchos standout is committed to Cal.

WR – Andrew Celis (Marin Catholic) 6-0, 178, Sr. Nevada-commit caught 72 balls for 1,255 yards in 2012.

WR – Isaiah Langley (Foothill-Pleasanton) 6-0, 175, Jr. Should become top target of QB Kyle Kearns; holds offer from Cal OL – Larry Allen Jr. (De La Salle) 6-3, 250, Sr. Son of Hall-of-Famer will lead another staunch Spartans line.

OL – Tyler Whisenhunt (California-San Ramon) 6-4, 280, Jr. 2012 All-State Sophomore selection key to Grizzlies’ pass protection.

OL – Justin Rogers (Clayton Valley Charter-Concord) 6-2, 230, Sr. Joe Protheroe didn’t rush for 3,000 yds. last year without running lanes. OL – Jacob Hicks (Analy-Sebastapol) 6-4, 310, Sr. All-Redwood Empire selection helps makes Tigers offense go.

OL – DeAngelo Powell (Pittsburg) 5-11, 260, Sr. All-BVAL lineman will lead the way for explosive RB Harris Ross

UTIL – Jason Hinton (Moreau Catholic-Hayward) 5-10, 185, Jr. Had over 1,700 all-purpose yards and 17 TDs as a sophomore.

Defense

DL – Sumner Houston (De La Salle) 6-3, 260, Sr. Oregon State-commit has solid skill set, relentless motor.

DL – Brendan Landman (Monte Vista-Danville) 6-4, 200, Sr. All-EBAL defensive end will anchor Mustangs up front.

DL – Johnny Tolliver (El Cerrito) 6-0, 275, Sr. Gets lost among Gauchos several recruits; don’t sleep on athletic NG. LB – Simba Short (De La Salle) 6-2, 185, Jr. Had 51 tackles, 3 INTs as sophomore; already has offer from Ariz. St. LB – Michael Lazarus (Berkeley) 6-2, 201, Sr. Cal, Ariz. St. and Wash. St. among those vying for his talents.

LB – Noah Palega (Pittsburg) 5-8, 190, Jr. All-State Sophomore selection has habit of being where the ball is. LB – Derik Calhoun (El Cerrito) 6-0, 196, Sr. USC-commit is undisputed leader of a very talented defense.

DB – Nzuzi Webster (Deer Valley-Antioch) 6-0, 175, Sr. Had 7 INTs in 2012, and wasn’t afraid to lay a hit either (71 tackles) DB – Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito) 6-0, 185, Sr. Shutdown corner holds more than 20 offers from major colleges.

DB – JaJuan Lawson (Casa Grande-Petaluma) 6-1, 195, Sr. Two-way talent stars at QB for the Gauchos, but is also impact safety. DB – Mason Knight (Concord) 5-10, 170, Jr. Free safety could be the newest playmaker for Minutemen defense. PK – Chris Hill (Marin Catholic) 5-11, 170, Sr. Hill converted 7 FGs and 66 PATs for Wildcats in 2012.

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BAY VALLEY: Freedom-Oakley; Falcons are one of three teams in a dead heat; we give them the edge because of RB Joe Mixon. DIABLO FOOTHILL: Campolindo-Moraga; Consistency still makes Cougars team to beat, but rival Miramonte is on the rise. DIABLO VALLEY: Clayton Valley Charter-Concord; Eagles have big holes to fill, but will not lack for confidence; Concord lurks. EAST BAY: California-San Ramon; Should be the year everything comes together for an experienced Grizzlies squad. HUMBOLDT-DEL NOTRE BIG 5: Arcata; Tyler Keil (213 all-purpose yards/game in 2012) may be region’s most explosive player in a decade. HUMBOLDT-DEL NOTRE LITTLE 4: Ferndale, The Wildcats machine shows no signs of slowing as QB Kyle Chambers returns. MARIN COUNTY: Marin Catholic-Kentfield; QB Morgan Mahalak and the Wildcats have too much talent for San Marin-Novato to catch them. MISSION VALLEY: Newark Memorial; RB/DB Fred Tidwell should star for Cougars team which will be pushed by upstart Moreau Catholic-Hayward NORTH BAY: Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa; Cardinal should hold off Casa Grande-Petaluma behind QB Keaton Dunsford, strong offense. NORTH CENTRAL I: Fort Bragg; QB/RB combo of Tyler Ashby and Zach Smith returning = bad news for opposing defenses. NORTH CENTRAL II/BAY FOOT: Calistoga; Returning talent everywhere; RB/LB Dylan Alvarado should be best two-way player in the league. SONOMA COUNTY: Analy-Sebastapol; Graduation claimed some big names in the Tigers aerial attack, but defending champs remain favorite. TRI-COUNTY ROCK: El Cerrito; If the über-talented Gauchos don’t run away with this league, something’s gone very wrong. TRI-COUNTY STONE: Hercules; The gap between Titans and the rest of the league was substantial in 2012. WAC-FOOTHILL: Berkeley; Young squad from a year ago should be even better. LB Michael Lazarus will lead strong defense. WAC-SHORELINE: Arroyo-San Lorenzo; Dons, Mt. Eden have a shot this year while Tennyson rebuilds after losing stellar 2013 class.

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Heavy OAL favorites, McClymonds wants 2nd chance at CIF bowl berth Gone is the 2012 Oakland Athletic League’s MVP, graduated senior Keith Williams. Gone too is the OAL’s 2012 Coach of the Year, Curtis McCauley, who is now associate head coach at Berkeley. But McClymonds High School athletics — particularly its football team — is extremely pliable. The Warriors always have loads of athletes, a winning attitude and over the last couple decades a rock solid assistant coach in Michael Peters. Now, Peters is the team’s head coach. No worries. No drop-off after the Warriors’ 9-4 season in 2012 and entrance into the CIF Northern California small-school bowl championship game. “He’s been in our program forever,” said standout junior tailback and defensive back LaVance Warren. “He’s our offensive coordinator. We’re still right in the flow of winning.” McClymonds did more than flow during OAL play last season. It was more like blow(out). The Warriors outscored league opponents 242-21 and then opened the playoffs with a 54-0 win over Fremont before knocking off Oakland Tech 38-14 in the Silver Bowl. But McClymonds was brought back to earth by Central Catholic-Modesto in the NorCal LaVance Warren title game, losing 42-12. “We learned we needed to get stronger and in better condition,” Warren said. “We had a lot of jitters that game. We got down 21-0 real quick and never recovered. That won’t happen again.” The Warriors are loaded with a fantastic junior class, which features 2012 All-OAL performers Warren (defensive back), offensive lineman Kelton Runnels, defensive end Shaquan Washington, linebacker Janiero Rodriguez and offensive lineman Jah’Quille Menefee. Warren (5-foot-7, 170 pounds) was the only first-team member, Runnels, Rodriguez and Washington were second team and Menefee was honorable mention. Combine that with the return of all-around standout Lavon Washington and linebacker Jermaine McCann Caluya, both seniors, and Peters has an outstanding core to work with. Quadrey Westley and Daishawn Shannon are other strong running backs, giving the Warriors depth and versatility. Firstyear quarterbacks Brandon Vonderwerth and Emoni Fountain are fighting for a starting job. The biggest concern — literally — for the Warriors is replacing Division I offensive lineman Kevin Vaughn and Dajon Ford who paved the way for Kenyatta McGee Jackson. All graduated. Runnels and Menefee should be the mainstays. “We have a good sized line for sure and some really good guys,” Warren said. “We don’t have a bunch of guys, but the ones who are out there are really working hard.” McClymonds will need to work extremely hard to get through the nonleague schedule unscathed. The Warriors open on the road at Sac-Joaquin Section power Highlands-North Highlands then host perennial state smallschool power Ferndale. It then gets a much-anticipated rematch at Central Catholic, which is ranked sixth nationally in the MaxPreps small-school rankings. “(Central Catholic) definitely taught us some things,” Warren said. “Hopefully we can show them that they were good teachers.” —Mitch Stephens

5 PLAYERS TO WATCH

HOW THEY’LL FINISH (2012 record)

1. WR-DB Lavon Washington (McClymonds) — The 5-11, 1. McClymonds (9-4) 4. Fremont (4-6) 185-pound senior is the best player on both sides of the ball and he’s already committed to Washington. 2. Oakland Tech (8-4) 5. Castlemont (0-5) 2. RB-DB LaVance Warren (McClymonds) — The league’s 3. Skyline (6-4) 6. Oakland (3-5) second best player on both sides of the ball and he’s only a junior. 3. OL Jean Claude (Skyline) — First team All-OAL as a junior, led Titans to a 6-4 record. 9/7 Ferndale at McClymonds, 7 p.m. 4. QB James Lewis (Oakland Tech) — The 6-1, 200-pound 9/27 Skyline at Clayton Valley Charter-Concord, 7 p.m. senior looks great on a highlight reel. 10/4 Menlo School-Atherton at McClymonds, 7 p.m. 5. LB Jacquese Steen (Skyline) — Another standout junior 10/18 Skyline at Oakland Tech, 3:30 p.m. 11/16 Oakland Tech at McClymonds, 2 p.m. also first-team All-OAL as a sophomore. Score Digital Content: Scan SSM With LAYAR Upload photos and team stats! www.SportStarsOnline.com

TOP 5 GAMES

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Inderkum-Sacramento adds Pistol to its arsenal, puts first SJS title in its sights Take a moment and guess which Sacramento-area football team has won at least 10 games a season since 2007. Go ahead. … Figure it out? Well, tucked away in the shadows of Sleep Train Arena in Natomas, the Inderkum Tigers have reeled off that impressive feat under long-time Wing-T guru Terry Stark as the head coach. Despite all the regular season wins, Inderkum, though, is without a Sac-Joaquin Section banner hanging from the rafters. With the talent returning from 2012 that was 122 seconds from a Division III championship game after falling 28-21 to Vista del Lago-Folsom in the semifinals, there are high expectations for this season’s group. Returning Division-I recruit CJ Spencer at QB along with his three main targets at wideout and a host of running backs, Stark began implementing the Pistol offense to utilize the strength of his skill players. ”I wanted to get better at our passing game,” Stark said. “You look at our stats and we have added 300 to 400 yards a year in passing yards. I’m not changing to the Pistol, I am adding it into the WingT. It gives us a few formations that we can throw from and get the ball downfield.” Seniors Khalil Hudson and Tyler Dean, and junior Larry Hardy combined for 987 receiving yards and six touchdowns last year. Spencer, who has offers from UNLV, Eastern Washington, Army and UC Davis, says the brotherhood he and the rest of the team have built on “love and trust” is a driving factor. “It’s love and trust, for real,” Spencer said. “We love each other. We are always hanging out. We trust each other. We are a family.” It won’t be easy for Inderkum this year. Their strong non-league schedule includes road games at Monterey Trail-Elk Grove, Casa Roble-Orangevale and Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove. Mix in a home game against Rocklin before opening Tri-County Conference with a road game at Yuba City and the team should have an early indication of how the season will play out. “This means everything to me,” Spencer said. “This is my last year in high school, last year playing football here. I am working hard every year so I don’t leave with a sour taste.” Senior Terrence White almost didn’t return for his senior season. After averaging 20 points a game for Inderkum’s TCC-champion basketball team, the running back and cornerback waited until the summer to return to the team after flirting with the idea on concentrating solely on hoops. “I was pretty serious. I just really wanted to focus on basketball,” White said. “But I was talking to my family and they said, ‘Don’t quit. You’ve been playing all this time, just keep playing and see what happens.’” Along with White, junior outside linebacker N.J. Falo, who has an offer from Colorado, will lead the Tigers on defense. Former Inderkum standout Dylan Akins lost his life in a single car accident in July. The Tigers have dedicated this season in Akins memory and will honor him prior to the season-opener against Jesse Bethel-Vallejo on Sept. 6. “I think they are a lot closer than most of our other teams,” Stark said. “They have been friends since junior high and it shows out here. They like it here, it’s a home for them.” ✪ — Trevor Horn

CJ Spencer

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TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2012 record): Granite Bay (13-3), Burbank-Sacramento (12-1), Franklin-Elk Grove (12-1), Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills (12-2), Downey-Modesto (10-2). OFFENSIVE MVP: Tony Ellison, RB, Granite Bay DEFENSIVE MVP: Ngalu Tapa, DL, Burbank SURPRISE CONTENDER: Grant-Sacramento (5-6) BREAKDOWN: Granite Bay has ridden hot streaks to the past two Div. I titles, and extended last year’s streak through the CIF State Bowl Championships. The Grizzlies return fly-back Tony Ellison to carry much of the ball-carrying load, but new coach James Albano will lean heavily on a strong defense featuring LBs Cameron Smith and Dylan Keeney. Burbank’s roster has speed and athleticism on both sides of the ball with QB Ernest Jenkins, RB/CB Calvin Green, DL Ngalu Tapa, and LB Benjamin Jones. Grant made its 23rd consecutive playoff appearance last year, but the Pacers were slowed by injuries making a return to glory a real possibility. Junior Deondre Grays could be the program’s next shining star. Franklin hopes to keep the momentum it built in a breakout 2012 season, and RB/LB Joey Banks will be pivotal to a successful Wildcats’ encore. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Granite Bay over Burbank

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2012 record): Folsom (14-1), Elk Grove (12-2), Buhach ColonyAtwater (10-3), St. Mary’s-Stockton (9-3), Antelope (10-2). OFFENSIVE MVP: Jake Browning, QB, Folsom DEFENSIVE MVP: Tyler Meteer, LB, Del Oro SURPRISE CONTENDER: Del Oro-Loomis (7-6) BREAKDOWN: Folsom may be the best team in NorCal outside of De La Salle-Concord, who handed the Bulldogs their only 2012 loss in the Open Division regional title game. Jake Browning burst onto the scene with 10 TD passes in his first game and never slowed. Defensive coordinator Lou Baiz will try to gain as much attention for preventing points as the offense does for scoring them. Elk Grove returns key leaders in Tommy Arnold and Wadus Parker, both effective two-way starters. Buhach Colony lost a lot of offense to graduation, but the Thunder has been a consistent contender behind its power running game. Del Oro coach Casey Taylor again has a challenging nonleague schedule, but if the Golden Eagles can build toward another playoff run they could knock off some heavyweights. Senior TE/LB Tyler Meteer is a two-way beast who will be key to a bracket-busting effort. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Folsom over Elk Grove

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2012 record): Oakdale (14-2), Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove (9-3), Vista del Lago-Folsom (12-2), American Canyon (11-2), Inderkum-Sacramento (10-3) OFFENSIVE MVP: C.J. Spencer, QB, Inderkum DEFENSIVE MVP: Malik Beachum, American Canyon SURPRISE CONTENDER: Rio Linda (8-3) BREAKDOWN: Oakdale’s bittersweet 2012 season ended with a CIF Div. III State Bowl loss to SoCal powerhouse Serra-Gardena. The Mustangs will have to reload to contend for another trip south, but their potent clock-controlling ground game always makes them contenders. Inderkum may have more speed and raw talent than any other team in the division. QB C.J. Spencer leads a talented group seeking an eighth consecutive 10-win season. Cosumnes Oaks and Vista del Lago could battle for a Sierra Valley Conference and a section crown, too. Consumnes Oaks’ talent includes Division-I recruits WR Alex Van Dyke and OL Kameron Schroeder. Junior QB Matt Jimison leads Vista del Matt Jimison, Lago after passing for 2,592 yards and 37 TDs last Vista del Lago year. Rio Linda features returning RBs Leonard Skattebo and Marcel Brown, who combined for 2,172 yards in 2012. American Canyon has been around just three years, but this year’s roster may give the young program its best shot at a first section title. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Inderkum over Cosumnes Oaks

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2012 record): Escalon (11-3), Capital Christian-Sacramento (102), Central Catholic-Modesto (14-2), Ripon (11-1), Argonaut-Jackson (11-1), Placer (11-1). OFFENSIVE MVP: Tyrel Anderson, QB, CenterAntelope DEFENSIVE MVP: Nifae Lealao, DL, Capital Christian SURPRISE CONTENDER: Center-Antelope (10-3) BREAKDOWN: Escalon head coach Mark Loureiro is no stranger to the playoffs, and his Cougars’ power running game is always difficult for opponents to handle. Josh Redding will assume the lead role at RB, but has huge shoes to fill after the graduation of 2,240-yard rusher Nathan Chunn. Defending CIF Div. IV State Bowl-champs Central Catholic need to replace the 3,608 rushing yards compiled by Rey Vega and Ray Lomas IV in 2012. Capital Christian’s Nifae Lealao is the latest area defensive lineman to attract the attention Roger of college recruiters from around the nation. He will Canepa, anchor the defense while senior RB Justice SheltonCentral Mosley will key the Cougars’ offense after running for Catholic 1,108 yards a year ago. RB Todd Valliere will attempt to keep Placer in contention a year after the Hillmen had their best season in years, while Ripon and Argonaut will maker serious playoff pushes in quests for a second section championship. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Capital Christian over Central Catholic

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2012 record): LeGrand (11-2), Highlands-North Highlands (7-5), Golden Sierra-Garden Valley (7-4), Waterford (9-3). OFFENSIVE MVP: Ryan Martinez, RB, LeGrand DEFENSIVE MVP: Junior Jenkins, LB, Highlands SURPRISE CONTENDER: Bradshaw Christian-Sacramento (5-6) BREAKDOWN: LeGrand has owned the division in recent years, making four consecutive trips to the title game and winning three championships, including the 2012 crown. The Bulldogs’ high-powered offense will be led by RB Ryan Martinez, who ground out 1,794 yards and 19 TDs a year ago. Waterford earned the No. 1 playoff seed last year, but could not knock off the reigning champion in league play or the section title game. Golden Sierra gave LeGrand a run in the semifinal before falling 24-22. Highlands featured a balanced offensive attack last year, but graduated most of its statistical leaders from the unit. Junior Jenkins was busy on defense in 2012 for Highlands, recording 174 tackles, including 12 for loss. Bradshaw Christian could make some noise behind Jakobe Hawkins, who rushed for 1,168 yards and 15 TDs to lead the Pride to the playoffs a year ago. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: LeGrand over Highlands

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August 22, 2013

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In The Spotlight: Nifae Laelao DL, Capital Christian-Sacramento

You may not come across a more likable and soft-spoken 6-foot-5, 290-pound senior than Capital Christian defensive lineman Nifae Lealao. He lives out the values taught to him at the private Christian school, perhaps none more than the Golden Rule. “I believe in building relationships and treating others how they want to be treated,” Lealao said. “I try to show kindness to everyone I meet and make (the Golden Rule) a reality.” Of course, if the reciprocation for his kindness is double- and triple-teams, or illegal chop blocks, the gentle considerations for opponents can turn into a tenacious determination. “I have seen him just blow up double teams,” Cougars head coach Phil Grams said. “When teams come after him, he can show an angry side and it can get ugly for opponents.” Lealao’s athletic talents, size, and character have made him an attractive prospect for college recruiters. Grams believes his top defender is only going to get better. “The speed and quickness he has for his size is unreal,” the coach said. “It’s hard for high school players to match up with him physically, and mentally he is recognizing more and making adjustments on the field that will make him even more difficult to deal with.” In three varsity seasons, Lealao’s compiled 196 tackles, 11.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and one interception. He’s blocked 12 kicks, and has one career carry on offense — a six-yard TD. Lealao has been pursued by colleges since his sophomore season, but has not allowed the process to become tedious. Rather than let his future destination dictate his day-to-day activities, the kind-hearted four-star recruit has opted to focus on the present, which includes the Cougars’ nine-game regular season schedule beginning Aug. 30. “I want to see schools and see what my options are after the season,” he said. “The

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process has not been as stressful as I thought it would be because I have the perfect parent-coach combination to get me through it. It has been enjoyable so far.” Lealao’s busy schedule makes it easier for him to avoid getting overwhelmed by the singular focus of football recruiting. He is a force on defense for the basketball and volleyball teams at Capital Christian, creating a sports season that stretches from before school starts until the last weeks of the academic schedule. “The philosophy at Capital Christian is for kids to be able to do it all,” Grams said. “From academics to multiple sports to having an impact in the community, we believe that our student-athletes should do everything they can while at school.” As a three-sport star, Lealao is a model of that philosophy. The senior already owns two Sac-Joaquin Section basketball championships, but greater success for the football program is a priority for Lealao, Grams, and the entire football team. “Last year was our best year ever in football record-wise and in most statistical categories,” Grams said, “but our first goal every year is to relentlessly pursue the (Golden Empire League) title.” With Lealao doing unto others what he is capable of on the football field, a league title may be just the beginning for the Cougars in 2013. — Jim McCue

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Offense

QB – Jake Browning (Folsom) 6-2, 185, Jr. Stellar sophomore season (5,246 yards, 63 TDs) raises expectations.

RB – Jomon Dotson (American Canyon) 6-1, 180, Sr. Ran for 2,148 yds. at 12.9 per-carry clip in 2012; has 34 TDs in two seasons. RB – Wadus Parker (Elk Grove) 5-9, 190, Sr. Should get bulk of carries after 1,373 yds./24 TDs while sharing last year.

Our pick for the best SJS-related game on each week of the regular season. 8/30 Lincoln-Stockton at Elk Grove, 7:15 pm 9/6 Folsom at Granite Bay, 7:30 pm 9/13 Burbank-Sacramento at Grant-Sacramento, 7 pm 9/20 Buhach Colony-Atwater at Whitney-Rocklin, 7:30 pm 9/27 St. Mary’s-Stockton at Lincoln-Stockton, 7:15 pm 10/4 Deer Valley-Antioch at Vacaville, 7:30 pm 10/11 Del Campo-Fair Oaks at Casa Roble-Orangevale, 7 pm 10/18 Placer-Auburn at Bear River-Grass Valley, 7:30 pm 10/24 Granite Bay at Del Oro-Loomis, 7:30 pm 10/25 Vista del Lago-Folsom vs. Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove*, 7:15 pm 11/1 Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove at Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills, 7:15 pm 11/8 Millennium-Tracy vs. Brookside Christian-Stockton**, 7 pm *at Folsom HS; **at Lincoln-Stockton

WR – Alex Van Dyke, Jr. (Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove) 6-4, 210, Sr. Huge, athletic target weighing multiple offers from big-time college programs. WR – Troy Knox (Folsom) 5-7, 160, Sr. All he does is catch passes: 170 for 2,094 yds. in two varsity seasons.

TE – Tyler Meteer (Del Oro-Loomis) 6-4, 190, Sr. Posted 47 catches, 652 yds. in 2012; double threat on defense at LB position. OL – Kameron Schroeder (Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove) 6-6, 250, Sr. Duke-commit is two-way star; keys protection in potent offense. OL – Kolton Miller (Roseville) 6-8, 280, Sr. Big tackle’s stock rising as D-1 offers continue to come for Tiger star. OL – Spencer Stark (Central Catholic-Modesto) 6-2, 305, Sr. Behemoth will lead way for Raiders’ newest crop of runners.

OL – Braden Eggert (Napa) 6-7, 305, Senior Washington State-commit will provide size and muscle for Indians’ offense. OL – Isaac McClain (Manteca) 6-3, 290, Sr. Powerful senior will lead the charge for Buffaloes’ stampeding rush attack.

UTIL. – Javier Rodriguez (Brookside Christian-Stockton) 6-2, 170, Sr. Wideout had 1,031 receiving yds., 11 TDs; lined up as DB and return specialist too.

Defense

LB – Cameron Smith (Granite Bay) 6-3, 240, Jr. New leader of Grizzlies’ stout defense recorded 196 tackles as a soph.

LB – Joey Banks (Franklin-Elk Grove) 5-10, 195, Sr. Impact player on both sides of ball, but defense likely to get recruiters’ attention. LB – Dylan Keeney (Granite Bay) 6-5, 210, Sr. Has knack for big plays, including pick-six in 2012 State Bowl victory. DL – Ngalu Tapa (Burbank-Sacramento) 6-3, 275, Sr. Strong pass-rusher recorded 23.5 sacks as a junior.

DL – Nifae Lealao (Capital Christian-Sacramento) 6-6, 280, Sr. Multi-sport athlete can rush passer, stop the run, force fumbles, block kicks. DL – Earl Chism (Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove) 6-4, 240, Sr. Speedy end should give opposing QBs fits this season.

DL – Daniel Lyle (Argonaut-Jackson) 6-5, 295, Sr. Two-way hulking lineman can stop the rush as effectively as he powers it. DB – Luke Bussey (Granite Bay) 5-10, 170, Sr. Ball-hawking safety will lead the secondary on a talented defensive unit. DB – Brandon Lewis (Pleasant Grove) 5-11, 185, Sr. Boise State-commit is top defensive talent in shut-down secondary.

DB – Malik Beachum (American Canyon) 5-10, 160, Sr. Cover corner had 3 INTs a year ago; latest defensive star for rising program. DB – Taron Johnson (Sheldon-Elk Grove) 5-10, 170, Sr. Track star has speed to cover and close; 2 INTs, 3 sacks in 2012. PK – Ben Trumm (Folsom) 6-0, 170, Senior Converted all 7 FGs as a junior, including career-best 42-yarder.

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CAPITAL: Whitney-Rocklin; Strong senior class leads Wildcats back to the top. CAPTIAL VALLEY: Rio Linda; Knights return to glory behind RBs Marcel Brown and Leonard Skattebo. CENTRAL CALIFORNIA: Buhach Colony-Atwater; Thunder unbeaten in last three league campaigns. CENTRAL CALIFORNIA AA: Brookside Christian-Stockton; WR Javier Rodriguez leads potent offense. DELTA RIVER: Folsom; Bulldogs’ offense too much for any league foe to handle. DELTA VALLEY: Elk Grove; Seniors Tommy Arnold and Wadus Parker lead both sides of ball. GOLDEN EMPIRE: Capital Christian-Sacramento; Cougars remain on rise with second straight title. METROPOLITAN: Burbank-Sacramento; Still the top dog, with stars returning on offense and defense. MODESTO METRO: Enochs-Modesto; Dual-threat QB Shawn Munoz has experience to lead Eagles to the top. MONTICELLO EMPIRE: Vacaville; Bulldogs must reload, but still cream of the crop. MOTHER LODE: Calaveras; Do-it-all athlete Mike Seawell pushes Redskins over the hump. PIONEER VALLEY: Center-Antelope; Arm and legs of QB Tyrel Anderson make the difference. SACRAMENTO METRO: Woodland Christian; Cardinals set to come of age with experience to match talent. SAN JOAQUIN AA: Lincoln-Stockton; Trojans still the team to beat despite graduation of D-1 talent. SIERRA DELTA: Bradshaw Christian-Sacramento; Senior backfield of Kevin Williams/Jakobe Hawkins leads the way. SIERRA FOOTHILL: Granite Bay; Defending state champs won’t be slowed by coaching change. SIERRA VALLEY: Vista del Lago-Folsom; Returning talent at skill positions will keep Eagles on top. SOLANO COUNTY: American Canyon; RB Jomon Dotson looks to improve on his 2,148 rushing yds. of a year ago. SOUTHERN: Le Grand; RB Ryan Martinez key Bulldog’s title hopes. TRANS VALLEY: Escalon; Coach Mark Loureiro keeps Cougars on top. TRI-CITY: St. Mary’s-Stockton; QB Kaleb Parrish looks to keep league unbeaten streak (since 2006) alive. TRI-COUNTY: Inderkum-Sacramento; QB C.J. Spencer fits right in among area’s talented QB crop. VALLEY OAK: Oakdale; State runner-up Mustangs eager for another shot. WESTERN: Central Catholic-Modesto; Small school state champs still have pedigree to dominate.

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August 22, 2013

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head/neck safety: dr. clement k. jones

heads Correct head & neck positioning key to preventing traumatic injuries Here we are in mid-August and football season has started. Athletes at every level — from Pop Warner and Pee-Wee leagues to high school, college and professional teams — are gearing up to play a game notorious for causing serious neck and spine injuries. Of course, such injuries are also possible in non-contact sports such as soccer, diving, water polo, gymnastics, surfing and track-and-field high jumping. But contact sports like football tend to involve athletes who are bigger, faster and stronger, resulting in collisions that have become increasingly more violent. Simply put, larger masses at faster velocities lead to bigger and louder thumps. The spine serves as the main channel for the central nervous system. It contains the spinal cord and nerve roots that supply the vital organs, as well as all four extremities. The spine is designed to be flexible enough to allow the head and eyes to move to the right place at the right time. The main reason the neck and spine are at risk for injury is because of the inability to pad, brace or protect these areas while maintaining their function. Neck injuries in contact or collision sports are usually the result of a biomechanical failure or fracture of the bony elements of the spine. They can be caused by striking an opponent with the head and neck in a flexed position, or by landing on the head violently while the neck is flexed. Such motions can also cause significant damage to ligaments and muscles, which leads to dislocations and instability of the spine. Both fractures and ligament injuries can result in catastrophic damage to the spinal cord and nerve roots. When an injury occurs on the field, immediate evaluation and specific management is essential to prevent further injury and maintain an optimal prognosis. Athletes themselves may not be aware of the severity of their injury because of their higher pain tolerance levels and stoic natures. But it is crucial to rapidly assess whether spinal cord or nerve root injury has occurred. Radiographic studies such as X-rays, MRIs and CAT scans can help determine the level and extent of an injury. Fortunately, most injuries don’t involve spinal cord or nerve damage, but this can only be determined by a neurological examination. Football players often complain of “stinger” or “burner” injuries, which classically involve compression of the nerve root and result in burning or stinging pain down the arm from the neck. They may also experience weakness or numbness, but not always. The NFL recently adopted several new rules for the 2013 season including the infraction and penalty for any player who uses the crown of the helmet to strike an opponent outside the tackle box. While clearly this was implemented with consideration of reducing concussions, it will also implicitly reduce the occurrence of neck injuries. Coaches, trainers and parents are responsible for ensuring that athletes learn to play high-risk sports wisely and safely. Because incorrect head and neck positioning increases the likelihood of injury, the best prevention involves knowing and practicing proper strengthening and conditioning techniques. Appropriate padding and equipment modifications can help but will not prevent injury. Strengthening, Practicing, and Technique are the “safety triad” to consider while playing football or any other contact or high-velocity collision sport. Remember: Preventing injuries in the first place is the single most important way to avoid them. As a rule of thumb, the most significant factor in preventing traumatic and potentially catastrophic spinal cord injuries involves “seeing what you hit” and “keeping your head up.” ✪

UP

Dr. Clement K. Jones is a board certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in spine surgery and treatment of spinal disorders for the Spine Care Institute of San Francisco, located within Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.

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training time: tim rudd for iyca

Train Hard

Recover Hard Without sound recovery practices its only a matter of time before you find your performance suffering, yourself injured or suffering from over-training. Maybe you hate stretching, don’t have time to foam roll or sleep eight hours. My response to all those excuses is “make time for recovery or make time for injury!” Here are my top 5 tips for proper recovery:

1 2 3 4 5

Foam Rolling

This has many benefits such as flushing toxins from muscles, releasing tension, increasing range of motion and getting the blood flowing. At a minimum, you should be doing this before and after training, practice and games for optimal success.

Sleep

Yes, sleep! When you are sleeping your body can really go to work on repairing tissue you destroyed by training, practicing and playing. You should be getting at least eight hours of quality sleep each night.

Hydrate

I am sure you have heard the general rule of thumb to drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day. However, you really should be drinking half your body weight of WATER and even more during the summer heat. Gatorade, tea, and other beverages don’t count as WATER!

Refuel

You should be consuming a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein 30 minutes following training, practice and games. While I always recommend real food for this, if you are in a rush, look for a quality post workout shake with this ratio.

stretch

Yes, you need to be doing this after training, practice and playing. Proper stretching has important recovery benefits such as lengthening your muscles, ligaments and tendons.

You need to be doing these on a regular basis to keep your body performing at its best. ✪ Tim Rudd is an IYCA specialist in youth conditioning and owner of Fit2TheCore.

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August 22, 2013

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tristeps: Liz elliott

Cycle Smart!

It’s a great time to get out and ride — Here’s how to be safe

The weather will stay nice enough through October to get out and ride, and you should get out there!! As the summer rounds off and fall begins, kids and parents are back to school and work, and are paying attention to start or end their days.  The sun will be setting earlier, right around the time drivers are on their way home from work. All these factors mean cyclists need to be more vigilant about their own safety, especially at day break and dusk when visibility for drivers is lessened.   Safety Reminders for Road Riding: ›› Wear a helmet securely fastened to your head under the chin at all times. ›› Stay as far to the right of the road as safely possible for you. Leave space to your right in case ›› Do not make unnecessary or sudden swerves into traffic. ›› Make eye contact with driver when moving or turning, and smile. A smile goes a long way, and makes good relationships between cyclists and drivers ›› Ride consistently, and “hold your line.” ›› Ride single file when in groups. ›› No music or ear buds on group rides! ›› Your eyes are your most valuable safety equipment. Pay attention to what is happening around you. ›› Have fun! If you are having fun, you will be more relaxed, more aware, and have more control of your bike. As a driver, please pay attention to cyclists, but don’t go crazy. Pass safely for the cyclist and yourself. Don’t cross double yellow lines, or think you need to move so far left. A good cyclist will hold their line.  Cyclists and drivers need to work together to make the road a safe and fun place for us all. ✪ Liz Elliott was an All-American collegiate swimmer and is the head coach at Tri-Valley Triathlon Club.

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dr. hunter greene

No contact necessary A torn ACL is one of the most serious injuries a football player can suffer. Besides having to possibly sit out the season, players may face loss of scholarship funding and long-term problems from the painful joint condition osteoarthritis. Most ACL injuries do not occur from player-to-player contact. The most common causes of non-contact ACL injury include change of direction or cutting maneuvers combined with sudden stopping; landing awkwardly from a jump; or pivoting with the knee nearly fully extended when the foot is planted on the ground. In working to prevent these injuries, talk with an athletic trainer, physical therapist or sports medicine specialist to identify and target weak muscle areas (e.g., weak hips, which leads to knock-kneed landing positions) and identify ways to improve strength. They can also assess other risk factors, such as hamstring strength and joint range of motion. Though ACL injuries are not entirely preventable, athletes can reduce their risk by maintaining general health and fitness all year round. Coaches and trainers may work with players on the following approaches: ›› Increase strength — When muscles surrounding the legs are strong, the ligament gets an extra level of protection. ›› Improve flexibility — Dynamic stretching helps improve range of motion of the leg muscles. ›› Increase proprioception (balance) — The one-legged squat and reach is a great example to improve balance. ›› Include plyometrics — Plyometric exercises such as single leg hops over a cone and scissor jumps help improve power. Be sure to perform exercises on a soft surface.

›› Include agility training — Focus on drills involving changes in direction. ›› Follow football-specific conditioning — Practice movements, forms and techniques, such as proper

pivoting, specific to your sport.

Hunter Greene, M.D., is a board certified orthopedic surgeon with Summit Orthopedic Specialists in Carmichael, CA. He specializes in adult and pediatric sports medicine.

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dr. nirav k. pandya

After the tear

With high school sports season rounding into full swing, there will naturally be an increase in the number of ACL injuries in our clinic. One of the questions patients frequently ask is which type of ACL graft should be used for my surgery: bone-tendon-bone, hamstring, or cadaver? For many years, bone-tendon-bone (taking small pieces of bone from your knee cap & shin with a small strip of your patellar tendon) was the gold standard. The advantage is that for successful healing you were asking bone to heal to bone, which is quite predictable. The disadvantages include a larger incision, inability to use it in a growing child, knee cap fracture, and a higher incidence of anterior knee pain after surgery. As a result, many have turned to hamstring grafts (using two of the hamstring tendons in the back of your leg). The advantages include smaller incisions, no fracture risk, and less post-op pain. Healing is less predictable since you are asking soft tissue to heal to bone, and hamstring strength decreases. The final option is using tissue donated from a person who has passed away (cadaver). Although this technique decreases operating room time and speeds recovery (since you are not having to obtain your own tissue), recent studies examining their use in young children have been disappointing. A study in 2011 looking at more than 645 ACL surgeries found that in patients between the ages of 10 – 19, allograft tissue had a four times higher failure rate than using your own tissue. The ideal graft for a patient undergoing an ACL reconstruction should be a shared decision amongst the patient, family and physician based on the athlete’s needs and functional goals. ✪ Dr. Nirav K. Pandya is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon specializing in pediatric sports injuries at the Children’s Hospital in Oakland. He sees patients and operates in Oakland and our facility at Walnut Creek.

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August 22, 2013

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August 22, 2013

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Advertiser Index

❒❒ 1-To-1 Pediatrics.............................................................................................47 ❒❒ A Higher Perspective.......................................................................................51 ❒❒ Army National Guard Recruiter..........................................................................7 ❒❒ Back Forty B B Q..............................................................................................34 ❒❒ Big O Tires Northern California/ Nevada............................................................2 ❒❒ California Family Fitness..................................................................................56 ❒❒ California Spirit Elite........................................................................................34 ❒❒ Championship Athletic Fundraising................................................................49 ❒❒ Cheergyms.Com..............................................................................................40 ❒❒ Children’s Hospital And Research Center............................................................8 ❒❒ City Beach Sports Club....................................................................................56 ❒❒ Club Sport Renaissance...................................................................................48 ❒❒ Core Volleyball Club.........................................................................................53 ❒❒ Crowne Plaza..................................................................................................54 ❒❒ Diablo Football & Cheer...................................................................................54 ❒❒ Diablo Trophies & Awards................................................................................53 ❒❒ E J Sports Elite Baseball Services.....................................................................52 ❒❒ East Bay Sports Academy................................................................................27 ❒❒ Epic Indoor Skatepark.....................................................................................27 ❒❒ Excellence In Sport Performance.....................................................................50 ❒❒ Fit 2 The Core...................................................................................................47 ❒❒ Halo Headband...............................................................................................54 ❒❒ Heavenly Greens.............................................................................................35 ❒❒ Home Team Sports Photography.....................................................................53 ❒❒ Image Imprint.................................................................................................33 ❒❒ Impact Soccer..................................................................................................54 ❒❒ Kangazoom.....................................................................................................52 ❒❒ M L B Scout.....................................................................................................52 ❒❒ Mountain Mike’s Pizza.....................................................................................26 ❒❒ Muir Orthopaedic Specialists...........................................................................50 ❒❒ National Scouting Report................................................................................53 ❒❒ Pacific Rim Volleyball Academy.......................................................................48 ❒❒ Passthaball......................................................................................................54 ❒❒ Pro Hammer Bat..............................................................................................53 ❒❒ Rocco’s Pizza....................................................................................................53 ❒❒ Rockin Jump....................................................................................................21 ❒❒ Saint Francis Memorial Hospital......................................................................51 ❒❒ Scottish Highland Gathering & Games............................................................41 ❒❒ Sherman Swim School....................................................................................33 ❒❒ Sport Clips.......................................................................................................21 ❒❒ Sports Stars Magazine.....................................................................................13 ❒❒ State Farm Jimmy Harrington Agent...............................................................18 ❒❒ Stevens Creek Toyota.......................................................................................19 ❒❒ Summit Orthopedic Specialists.........................................................................3 ❒❒ Sutter Delta.......................................................................................................5 ❒❒ T D P Sports....................................................................................................53 ❒❒ The First Tee Of Contra Costa............................................................................54 ❒❒ The Honor Bowl.................................................................................................9 ❒❒ The Sports Authority.......................................................................................20 ❒❒ Tri Valley Orthopedic Specialists Inc.................................................................49 ❒❒ U S Cryotherapy.................................................................................................8 ❒❒ United States Youth Volleyball League............................................................55 ❒❒ Valley Christian Vikings.....................................................................................4 ❒❒ Velocity Sports Performance............................................................................... ❒❒ Velocity Sports Performance............................................................... 30, 53, 52 ❒❒ Walnut Creek Aquanuts M J Splash.................................................................52 ❒❒ World Events...................................................................................................52

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SportStars™

August 22, 2013

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BA Issue 71, Aug. 22, 2013