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vol. 3. issue 51

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August 23

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Welcome back to our favorite time of year

ootball and SportStars. Reunited and it feels so good. A little more than two years ago when I signed on to be editor of what was then only a general concept of a high school sports magazine, I made a commitment that if we were going to go overboard on anything, it was going to be our high school football preview editions. Our first preview came in just our sixth overall issue, and at that time we were just an East Bay magazine, so it was modest compared to the issue you’re holding now. Last year, to borrow a football term, we went Jumbo Package. We went with three regional covers and had content on all six of the CIF sections in Northern California. There’s a sign that greets 49ers players as they take the practice field at their Santa Clara headquarters. It reads: “You’re either getting better, or you’re getting worse. You never stay the same.” That’s how we viewed the development process for Preview No. 3. We were happy with last year’s, but we knew there were things that could make it better. The first thing we asked: What if it was ALL football? That’s right, an entire magazine devoted to football. The only standard department that stayed around for this issue was “Locker Room,” and that was a special circumstance. When a former SportStars athlete wins an Olympic gold medal, we definitely have to play that up. So Maggie Steffens gives us one page of water polo amongst this gridiron gala. Part of making the preview exclusively football meant more room to add an extra feature story, give better play to our preseason NorCal Top 20 rankings, and feature more photography from some of the best shooters in the business. One area where we did subtract was the number of covers. But that’s OK because we put a lot of work to make our two regional covers like nothing we’ve ever done before. Check them out below and tell me you don’t agree. In the end, we felt like this was a pretty good upgrade for what we expect to be another fascinating year of high school football in Northern California. For the first time, for better or worse, there will be regional championship games to determine the CIF Bowl participants. That alone ought to make things interesting as we close in on the month of December. And by that time, we think you just might have had enough time to absorb all the football content we’ve stuffed into this thing. Now. Football is back! Go catch a game! Not sure which one? Turn to page 14 and start flipping, you’re likely to find a few suggestions. ✪

PHONE 925.566.8500 FAX 925.566.8507 Editorial Editor@SportStarsOnline.com Editor Chace Bryson. Ext. 104 • Chace@SportStarsOnline.com Contributors Bill Kolb, Erik Stordahl, Mitch Stephens, Doug Gardner, Matt Smith, Clay Kallam, Jim McCue, Eric Gilmore, Dave Kiefer, Liz Elliott, Tim Rudd, Jonathan Okanes 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. Ext. 103 • MikeD@SportStarsOnline.com Publisher/President Mike Calamusa. Ext. 106 • Mike@SportStarsOnline.com Advertising & Calendar/Classified Sales Sales@SportStarsOnline.com, (925) 566-8500 Account Executives Erik Stordahl • Erik@SportStars Online.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 • Deb Hollinger. Ext. 101 •

First Pitch Chace Bryson Editor

Chace@ SportStarsOnline.com (925) 566-8503

Distribution/Delivery Mags@SportStarsOnline.com Distribution Manager Butch Noble. Ext. 107 • Butch@SportStarsOnline.com Information technology John Bonilla CFO Sharon Calamusa • Sharon@SportStarsOnline.com Office Manager/Credit Services Deb Hollinger. Ext. 101 • Deb@SportStarsOnline.com Board of advisors Dennis Erokan, CEO, Placemaking Group Roland Roos, CPA, Roland Roos & Co Susan Bonilla, State Assembly Drew Lawler, Managing Director, AJ Lawler Partners Brad Briegleb, Attorney At Law community SportStars™ Magazine A division of Caliente! Communications, LLC 5356 Clayton Rd., Ste. 222 • Concord, CA • 94521 info@SportStarsOnline.com www.SportStarsOnline.com

vol. 3. issue 51

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your ticket to bay area sports admit one; rain or shine This Vol. #3, August 2012 Whole No. 51 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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saywhat “Just like the greatest athletes in the world — Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan — she makes everyone else around her better.” — U.S. Women’s water polo coach Adam Krikorian, quoted in a story by Yahoo! Sports blogger Greg Wyshynski.

“She’s been incredible her whole life. I don’t think she’s going to be stopping anytime soon.” — Steffens’ sister and U.S. teammate, Jessica Steffens, from Brian Hamilton’s story in the Chicago Tribune.

count’EM

0: Number of gold medals the United State had won in women’s water polo before the London Games. 5: Number of goals Steffens scored in the gold medal match against Spain. The U.S. won 8-5. 21: Total number of goals scored in the tournament, more than enough to earn her MVP honors. 36: Percent of the U.S. team’s offense that Steffens accounted for over the team’s six Olympic matches. 19: Sfeffens’ age — making her the youngest member of Team USA 4: North Coast Section championships won by Monte Vista-Danville during Steffens’ four-year Mustang career.

random act of factness

The Steffens sisters made up only half of the Bay Area talent on the gold medal-winning water polo team. The team also featured Orinda native and Miramonte grad, Heather Petri — who was playing in her fourth Olympic games — and College Park-Pleasant Hill grad and current Stanford standout Melissa Seidemann.

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in the MAG

SportStars’ (first) Golden Girl

Perhaps the most rewarding part of telling the stories of high school athletes is getting to follow the subsequent chapters of their careers. When they excel, there’s a great deal of excitement and a small sense of pride. That’s what SportStars felt watching former Monte Vista-Danville standout, Maggie Steffens — our cover girl in October 2010 — literally dominate the pool en route to leading the U.S. Women’s Water Polo team to gold in London. Just 19-years old, she was the star of the tournament. So, we felt we’d dedicate the Locker Room to her in celebration. PHOTOS: Karl Mondon/ Contra Costa Times/ Zumapress.com

Steffens has been featured on the pages of SportStars more than a few times. Her most prominent moments included the cover feature of Issue #10 on Oct. 28, 2010, and being named our first Female Athlete of the Year (Fall 2010) in Issue #15 on Jan. 11, 2011. Our cover feature on Steffens can be accessed at SportStarsOnline.com/maggie or by scanning the code to the right:

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It can be overwhelming playing with some of the nation’s best players at maybe the premier baseball exhibition in the country. It’s another thing to perform at top level with big league scouts watching your every move. But that didn’t stop Christy from enjoying a great first-time experience at the Area Code Baseball Games Aug. 5-10 in Long Beach. He was named to the New Balance All-Area Code team. SportStars Magazine: How was your experience at the Area Code Games? Francis Christy: It was the first time I’d ever been down there. All the scouts that were there was insane and the competition was great. It was a pretty good experience. SSM: How will being on the All-Area Code Team help you next season? FC: It kinda told me what areas of my game I need to work on. SSM: What do you like most about catching? FC: I guess the part where you can be the leader. You need to point out blind spots on the field and see everything. So you basically need to tell everyone where to go and it’s just a fun position. SSM: Last season didn’t end well losing to rival Petaluma in the NCS quarterfinals. Can you guys make it to the NCS final this year? FC: Definitely. All of us returning players, we’re working a lot harder. It was pretty devastating actually. We all have a fire right now that we want to win it.

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francis Christy case grande-petaluma . Baseball . senior

honorable mention

mackenzie ragan One of the best cheerleaders in Cheer Gyms history, Ragan, now a mentor for the young girls, is looked upon as a role model and is well respected in the cheerleading community.

stephen farinaro The Head-Royce senior was named to the New Balance AllArea Code Team for his efforts at the games played on Aug. 5-10.

madison white The Carondelet/ Crow Canyon Sharks swimmer placed fifth in the 100 meter backstroke with a time of 1:01.64 at the 2012 US Open Swimming Championships in Indianapolis Aug. 7-11.

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Behind the defensive trio of Michael Hutchings, Austin Hooper and D.J. Moffitt, De La Salle-Concord is once again a no-brainer for NorCal’s No. 1 team. Who slots behind the three-time defending CIF Open Bowl champs? Find out on P. 38-39 30-31. Contributors: Editorial: Chace Bryson, Jim McCue, Mitch Stephens, Bill Kolb Photography: Dean Coppola, James K. Leash, Norbert von der Groeben, Jonathan Hawthorne, Phillip Walton, Doug Guler, Ali Thanawalla. 14

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VIKING UPRISING Keller Chryst, Spencer Drazovich have Palo Alto trending up. Again. P. 16

BEASTMODE Concord’s Olito Thompson will run with purpose in 2012; not for records, but for a title. P. 32

section breakdowns Central Coast San Francisco

North Coast Oakland Sac Joaquin

22 30 32 46 48

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Keller Chryst and

Story by Mitch Stephens Photos by Norbert von der Groeben 16

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Q

uarterback Keller Chryst had just arrived at Palo Alto High School by way of North Carolina at the end of his freshman year. It was his first day at the school and he was lost. He finally entered room 216 and sat in for the entire hour. One problem. He was supposed to be in room 215. “It was a class for juniors,” Chryst said. “I had no idea where to go.” Luckily for Chryst, Spencer Drazovich was in the vicinity. He was the starting center and the only sophomore on Palo Alto’s CIF State Bowl Division I championship team in 2010. Coach Earl Hansen warned the team that Chryst — the son of 49ers quarterback coach Jeep Chryst — was arriving on campus and to be on the lookout. Not that Chryst, at the time 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, was hard to spot. As always, Drazovich was the right man at the right spot at the right time. Just as he was earlier that season, filling in a vital gap at midseason for two older injured players. “When I first saw him, it was like, ‘Whoa, who is that guy?’” Drazovich said. “Then I remembered what coach Hansen said. I went up, introduced myself and got him where he needed to go.” And that is the fitting start to this beautiful, but unlikely relationship. Fitting because the center to quarterback exchange is supposed to be the starting point for where all offenses are directed. Unlikely because, on the surface, this duo had little in common. Beautiful because they make up one of the best football snaps in the state for one of the Central Coast Section’s top teams.

Spencer Drazovich make an odd pairing as friends, but as QB & center they’re perfectly matched for Palo Alto DIFFERENT BUT EQUALS Chryst — now a strapping 6-4, 225-pound junior — is a top Division I prospect, ranked No. 14 for his class in the country by 247sports.com. He’s agile and fluid and he plans to play at the rim for the Vikings’ basketball team in the winter. “By the time he’s done he’ll be the best quarterback in Northern California,” Hansen said. “He might be so right now but he has two more years left. Everyone is after him.” Drazovich is a squatty but extremely strong and fit 6-foot, 255-pound two-way senior. He’s an Ivy League prospect, Hansen said, and in his spare time flings the discus, heaves the shot put and grunts on the wrestling mat. “One of the best leaders we’ve ever had,” Hansen said. “He’s

just so smart and a great worker. He’s just got better and better and better.” Chryst, quiet by nature, was born in Chicago and like an Army brat, went from city-to-city following his dad’s coaching career: Chicago to Phoenix to San Diego back to Phoenix to Madison (Wis.) to Matthews (N.C.) before landing in Palo Alto. “He’s been some places and done some things,” Drazovich said. Drazovich, a social magnet, was born, raised and flourished in Palo Alto.

“He knows everyone in this town,” Chryst said. “He could be the mayor.” Chryst’s sports bloodline is rich.

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His grandfather coached at the University of Wisconsin, his uncle Paul is head coach at the University of Pittsburgh and his dad — a former linebacker and baseball player at Princeton and long snapper in the USFL — coached and coordinated in the NFL with the Cardinals, Chargers and five years at the Panthers before joining the 49ers. Keller is the oldest of three children. “It’s definitely given me a great opportunity to do stuff,” Chryst said of his family ties. “But at the end of the day, it’s still a game of fun and you still have to get out on the field and play.” The athletic DNA for Drazovich, the mid-

dle of three children, is a little thin. “I think my dad played pickup basketball in high school,” he said. “I think he’d rather see me be an engineer (more than an athlete). But he’s more than totally supportive.” Where the two connect is in an unbridled commitment to work and to lead. Drazovich uses a more verbal approach and Chryst by example, though his social skills, like his chest size and recruiting rating, are rapidly expanding. “Socially, he’s progressed incredibly,” Drazovich said. “He was really shy when he first got here but now he talks to everyone. He’s a real figure on campus. Guys listen to him.

They totally respect him. “Physically, he was a great talent even before he got here. But he always wants to improve himself. He leads everyone in the weight room. He organizes the receivers, works with them after practice and is the last one to leave. “He just puts his head down and works.” Which is something Drazovich knows all about.

QUICK LEARNER Drazovich was brought up to a seniordominated team in 2010 to fill holes. Not so much in the games, but at practice. He played tackle on offense but mostly “I was a tackling dummy the first half of the season,” he said. “I did a lot of work on the scout team. I wasn’t really contributing in games, but there was an honor and pride thing. I figured I was making the older guys better.” But the team’s top two centers went down in the sixth game against Los Gatos. Drazovich, who was nursing his own knee injury, was being treated on a trainer’s table when Hansen approached. “You ever snapped the ball before?” Hansen asked Drazovich, who shook his head. “Well you’re learning today.” He hasn’t missed a start since. 18

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Despite his youth, knee injury and introduction to the position, Drazovich helped anchor a line that went on to win seven more games, finish 14-0 and shocked most of the state — and nation — with a 15-13 win over heavily-favored and nationally-ranked Centennial-Corona in the Division I title game. Along the way, Palo Alto also defeated three consecutive West Catholic Athletic League squads in the CCS Open Division playoffs, an accomplishment on par with the Centennial victory. “No fear in that kid,” Hansen said. “We don’t win either of those titles if he doesn’t step up.” When a blocked field goal by Kevin Anderson — now at Stanford — clinched the win, Drazovich —on the sideline — said time stood still. “I was ecstatic,” he said. “No words can do it justice. Incredible.” He recalled before the season, a friend approached and asked if Palo Alto would win the state championship. “She was kind of kidding so I said ‘of course we are,’” Drazovich said. “Of course I never even thought it possible back then. None of us did. Not through week five or six when we were undefeated. It was just one game at a time and the more and more we kept win-

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ning, the more it all became a reality. “By the time we got to the state game, we definitely had the mentality we were coming back with the trophy. … It was all a perfect combination of two classes (juniors and seniors) who had components that the other was missing.” But life and football doesn’t end at age 16. Drazovich and a talented junior class from that team had to figure out what to do for an encore in 2011 with much of its leadership gone, along with three-year starting quarterback Christoph Bono. Enter Chryst.

OFF THE CHARTS Chryst acclimated quickly and by summer league 7-on-7s, it was clear there wasn’t going to be much of a drop-off at quarterback. Athletically, Chryst was off the charts. He had a big arm, nice touch, and moved well for a big kid. Adjusting to a complex West Coast offense and making reads took some time. So did being away from Weddington High in N.C., where he might have had to backup incumbent starter Drew Podrebarac. “I knew it was a great opportunity coming out here,” Chryst said. “I thought other than our last game (a 41-13 CCS semifinal loss to champion Bellarmine) it was a great year.” The Vikings finished 10-3 and Chryst was impressive, throwing for 2,165 yards, 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His accuracy wasn’t pinpoint, completing 112 of 223, but his improvement was steady. His upside, Drazovich says, is scary. “With all due respect to Christoph, he’s the best I’ve ever seen,” said Drazovich. “Physically, he’s an

animal, a specimen. ... His strength is he can sling it anywhere on the field. His weakness is he needs to make quicker reads, but that just comes with experience. He’s got two more years. His potential is incredible.” With all the skill players Chryst has to work with, the same could be said of Palo Alto’s offense this season. The running back trio of co-captains Matt Tolbert and Erik Anderson, along with Justin Gates-Mouton should keep defenses honest. The receiving brigade of Jayshawn Gates-Mouton, Keesean Johnson and Malcolm Davis should be explosive and quick striking.  “These guys have great hands and speed to burn,” Chryst said. “They’ve been doing a great job.” It’s Drazovich’s job to teach and mentor a young but big and promising offensive line. He’s the only returning starter, but with the brawn of tackles Jack Anderson (6-4, 255) and Justin Rittman (6-2, 240) with the skill of guards Drew Rider (5-11, 215) and Nick Beeson (5-10, 240), Drazovich isn’t too worried. “I’m very excited about the offensive line and where we’re going,” he said. And with Drazovich giving directions, the Vikings should never get lost, Chryst said. “He sets the pace for everyone,” Chryst said. “He plays and works super hard and gets the guys to do the same. He might not be the biggest guy around, but he’ll always get the job done.” ✪ Mitch Stephens is a national columnist for MaxPreps.com.

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New faces, same lofty expectations for Bellarmine Prep-San Jose

Carta-Samuels 22

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Bellarmine Prep High’s football team might consider changing its logo from a Bell to a Question Mark for the 2012 season. The Bells bookended their stellar 2011 campaign with tough losses — falling 26-23 in double-overtime to De La Salle-Concord in Week 1 and 42-37 to Santa Margarita- Rancho Santa Margarita in the CIF Division I State Championship Bowl Game — to finish 12-2 with a Central Coast Section title game win over Palo Alto. This came on the heels of a 9-3 2010 season, meaning that the core group of Bells went 21-5 over two impressive varsity seasons. And then they all left. “We started 9 or 10 seniors on both sides of the ball last year,” coach Mike Janda said. “We graduated, well, the whole team. We are extremely young and inexperienced.” Despite the high attrition rate, Bellarmine’s established track record has pundits picking the Bells to maintain a certain standard. NorCalPreps.com has Bellarmine slotted at No. 4 in its preseason rankings. That comes in part thanks to 6-foot, 3-inch, 210-pound junior signal caller K.J. Carta-Samuels. Despite not having played a down of varsity football, Carta-Samuels already has committed to play football in the South Eastern Conference when he’s done in San Jose. Carta-Samuels so impressed coaches at Vanderbilt’s summer camp that they offered him a scholarship, and he accepted. “He went to their camp and they were impressed,” Janda said. “I’m very excited to see how he performs in our offense. The jump from junior varsity to varsity is a big one, so we’re expecting some growing pains.” Fortunately for the Bells, they have never been a throw-first offense, meaning Carta-Samuels can ease into his role. Spearheading that effort will be senior running backs Aaron Chapman and Joey Sanfilippo. Chapman blew out a knee and missed the 2011 campaign. Sanfilippo started at linebacker last year. “They’re both great kids and have some speed,” Janda said. Senior fullback Matt Helmers — a backup in 2011 — should help clear the way. San Jose State-commit, outside linebacker Kenneth Olugbode, returns to lead the defensive charge for the Bells. He and fellow senior, defensive tackle Alex Abiog, should solidify a talented but inexperienced defense. Both will also see time at tight end. Last year’s leading receiver Jared Vallner also returns to give Carta-Samuels a solid primary target. Vallner will also start at safety in the Bells’ 3-5-3 defense. “It’s going to be a challenge,” Janda said. “The season depends on how well these guys grow and progress. We’ve had a great run with excellent players. This year is a little different due to the severity of the losses. It’s very important for us to find out what these guys do best — that’s our job as coaches. “If we can throw more, we will. If we can spread it out more, we will. The coaching this year is really important, because we have great kids and they are ready to go.” —B. K.

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■ TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2011 record): Bellarmine PrepSan Jose (12-2), Oak Grove-San Jose (9-2), Palo Alto (10-3), Serra-San Mateo (11-2), Palma-Salinas (11-1-1). ■ EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Eric Redwood, RB, Serra ■ EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Jack Powers, DL, Palma ■ SURPRISE CONTENDER: Valley Christian-San Jose ■ BREAKDOWN: With the exception of Palo Alto’s 2010 Open title, this has been Bellarmine’s show for the past four years. Many think it could be Bellarmine’s show again, even though they are replacing starters at 18 (!!) positions. They do have an SEC-bound QB in K.J. Carta-Samuels (Vanderbilt), which definitely helps. But we think this is as wide open (pun intended) as a race as it’s ever been for this title. And in competitions that are up for grabs, the wise play is to look for teams that have been there before. Hence, Bellarmine. And Palo Alto, which boasts rising QB star Keller Chryst. Oak Grove (2007 Open champs) return 11 starters from a nine-win team while Serra (2011 Div. I champs) may have the best tailback AND defense of all the top contenders. Plus, don’t sleep on a Palma (2011 Div. IV champs) team loaded with three-year staters. ■ CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Serra over Palma

■ TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2010 record): Milpitas (8-4), Piedmont Hills-San Jose (4-6), Menlo-Atherton (9-4), Mountain View (6-4-1) ■ EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Marcus Jones, RB, Mountain View ■ EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Vita Vea, DL, Milpitas ■ SURPRISE CONTENDER: Wilcox-Santa Clara ■ BREAKDOWN: Milpitas is likely to come into this tournament the most battle-tested after drudging its way through an ever-improving De Anza League. The Trojans also return 12 starters and some of the best defensive talent in the CCS behind Vea and defensive back Squally Canada. Piedmont Hills (2010 Div. I champ) should be reloaded and expect Mountain View to be very good on offense as three-year returning RB Marcus Jones joins six other returning starters. Wilcox may have been a one-and-done team a year ago, but the Chargers return 11 starters and will be adding members from a 10-0 junior varsity squad. ■ CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Milpitas over Mountain View

■ TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2010 record): Los Gatos (10-11), Leland-San Jose (9-2), St. Ignatius-S.F. (6-6-1), PioneerSan Jose (9-4), South San Francisco (9-3). ■ EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Kenny Portera, RB/WR, Leland ■ EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Noah Bull, LB, St. Ignatius ■ SURPRISE CONTENDER: Leigh-San Jose ■ BREAKDOWN: There’s a good chance this division boils down to a rematch of last year’s final in which Los Gatos triumphed over Pioneer 28-21. Both squads return at least 10 starters and proven track records. Pioneer may have the preseason edge on the Wildcats as it returns it’s top two skill position players on offense from a year ago — do-everything back Dominic Barnes and bruising running back Russell Neely. Los Gatos loses its 2,700-yard RB, Garret Zeiter, but should make up for it with this year’s senior tandem of Matt Etterman and Max Herman. Both averaged more than 11 yds/carry in backup duties a year ago. St. Ignatius (2011 Div. III champs) and Leland (5-seed in Open Division a year ago) are both teams to monitor. Leigh, just an 8-seed in Div. II a year ago, could be much more this year behind returning QB Gabe Davis. ■ CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Leland over Pioneer

■ TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2010 record): Sacred Heart

Cathedral-S.F. (7-6), Terra Nova-Pacifica (8-3), Del Mar-San Jose (7-4), Aptos (9-2), Monterey (8-3) ■ EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: K’ren Spain, QB, Terra Nova ■ EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Shaunne Katoa, LB, Monterey ■ SURPRISE CONTENDER: Seaside ■ BREAKDOWN: Last season, the only Div. III playoff game in which at least one team didn’t reach 35 points was the final. St. Ignatius topped Sacred Heart Cathedral 21-14. Expect more of the same this year with Terra Nova potentially being the poster child with K’ren Spain leading the Tigers with his arm and his legs. Sacred Heart Cathedral could certainly be back in the mix after only graduating two seniors from a year ago. Del Mar, which got blown out as the 8-seed a year ago, returns 10 starters (six of which are on offense). However, the teams with the most experience are Monterey and Seaside, each of which bring back 16 starters. For Monterey, that includes Shaunne Kotoa, a first-team All-State Underclass selection a year ago. ■ CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Monterey over Terra Nova

Our pick for the best CCS-related game on each week of the regular season schedule. 8/31, Bellarmine Prep-San Jose vs. De La Salle-Concord, 7 p.m. 9/7, Archbishop Mitty-San Jose vs. Leland-San Jose, 7 p.m. 9/14, Los Gatos at Oak Grove-San Jose, 7 p.m. 9/21, Palma-Salinas at Seaside, 7:30 p.m. 9/28, Milpitas at Palo Alto, 7:30 p.m. 10/5, Sequoia-Redwood City at South San Francisco, 7 p.m. 10/13, Bellarmine Prep at Serra-San Mateo, 1 p.m. 10/19, Los Gatos at Palo Alto, 7:30 p.m. 10/27, Bellarmine at St. Ignatius-S.F., 1 p.m. 11/2, Terra Nova-Pacifica at Menlo-Atherton, 7 p.m. 11/9, Leland at Oak Grove, 7 p.m.

CCS League Championship Predictions MISSION TRAIL: Carmel; RB Holden Smith and LB Misha Polovneff are two of 10 returners from 12-1 squad. MONTEREY BAY GABILAN: Palma-Salinas; Superior interior play plus super skills of Marcus Washington equals first MBG title. MONTEREY BAY PACIFIC: Seaside; With 16 returning starters and key transfers, always talented Spartans will turn around 2-8 season. MOUNT HAMILTON: Oak Grove-San Jose; 11 starters return to perennial power led by TE-OLB Will Ossai. PENINSULA BAY: Terra Nova-Pacifica; Watch for QB K’ren Spain to put up massive numbers. PENINSULA LAKE: Capuchino-San Bruno; RB Justin Ewing might just lead the CCS in rushing. PENINSULA OCEAN: South San Francisco; One of Frank Moro’s more talented teams led by WR/CB Robert Johnson, RB Keven Cunha. SANTA CRUZ COAST: Aptos; Not much experience, but Randy Blankenship always has Mariners peaking.

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2010 record): Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton (8-4), Carmel (11-2), Scotts Valley (8-3), Menlo SchoolAtherton (7-4) EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Holden Smith, RB, Carmel EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Daniel Thaure, S, Sacred Heart Prep-Atherton SURPRISE CONTENDER: Capuchino-San Bruno BREAKDOWN: Palma won this division with ease a year ago, but we’re anticipating the Chieftains earn a higher classification this year. So that leaves golden opportunities for teams like Carmel and Sacred Heart Prep, both of which feature experience and were right in the thick of the title race in 2011. The two teams are likely on a collision course and are apt to get there in very different ways. Carmel will shine behind it’s offensive attack anchored by RB Holden Smith whereas Sacred Heart Prep will thrive behind a defense with nine returning starters. If Capuchino falls into this division, keep an eye on the Mustangs and RB Justin Ewing. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Carmel over Sacred Heart Prep 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.

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SANTA TERESA: Leigh-San Jose; QB Gabe Davis returns after accounting for almost 2,400 yards and 26 TDs in 2011. SCVAL DE ANZA: Palo Alto; Top-end talent like Keller Chryst helps, but Paly is perennial power due to superior coaching. SCVAL EL CAMINO: Monta Vista-Cupertino; The Matadors return 18 starters for 7-3 team including QB Nathan Facciolla. WEST CATHOLIC: Bellarmine Prep-San Jose; A three-peat in the WCAL is major accomplishment. WEST VALLEY: Del Mar-San Jose; The Dons return 10 from last year’s 7-4 team including stud OL Eduardo Balderas (6-5, 270).

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Eric Redwood

RB, Serra-San Mateo Serra High School tailback Eric Redwood’s best trait on the football field is balance. His hips and shoulders are always square. He continuously aims his body down hill. Beyond that, his coach Patrick Walsh says, the undersized 5-foot-7, 175-pound senior runs with fury and passion.   “He just doesn’t like to be tackled,” Walsh said. “And that’s something you can’t teach.” Serra’s other 1,000-yard tailback Erich Wilson, graduated in June, leaving the Eric and Erich show to Redwood. Wilson was physically the antithesis of Redwood, a big, fleet powerful back at 6-1, 190 pounds. Before punching in his ticket to the University of Washington, Wilson broke virtually every West Catholic Athletic League rushing record in the book. He rushed for 2,106 yards and 33 touchdowns, leading the Padres to their first 11-win season and second Central Coast Section title.   Redwood, who had 1,344 yards and 12 touchdowns himself, will now be Serra’s premier back. But that’s where he can’t think too much. “It would be ridiculous to think he can just replace (Wilson),” Walsh said. “We’re not going to put that kind of pressure on him. We’re not remotely expecting that from him.” To make sure that doesn’t happen, the Padres are opening things up. Exit running quarterback and ball-handler Joey Erdie, and insert Zack Kazakoff and Greg Newbeck, who have a load of receiving weapons to pass to. Walsh counted five superb receiving threats, led by large target Zach Mitchell (6-4, 190), to go along with at least five running threats. The key will be how a green offensive line responds after it paved the way for a WCAL record 4,556 rushing yards and 62 touchdowns last season. “We have multiple shoes to fill that void,” Walsh said. “We’ll be sharing the ball so he

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doesn’t need to feel any pressure.” Walsh anticipates Redwood will touch the ball 12 to 20 times a game. He says beyond his running skills, Redwood has nice hands and is good out of the backfield. “He’s not big, but he’s powerful,” said Walsh, who used a similar makeup to star at De La Salle High School and earn a scholarship to San Jose State. A quiet kid and hard worker in the weight room, Redwood says he won’t try to play beyond his means. He won’t have to. Besides all the offensive firepower the Padres apparently have, the defense is even better. “We have good athletes everywhere so it’s not all on me,” Redwood said. “And we’re not going to be giving up many points, so it’s not like we have to score every time. “We got a taste of a title last year. Now we want to taste it again.” — M.S.

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Offense

Defense

QB – Keller Chryst (Palo Alto) 6-4, 225, Sr. Threw 28 touchdowns and just 11 INTs in 2011.

DL – Vita Vea (Milpitas) 6-4, 280, Sr. Had 105 tackles and six sacks as junior. DL – Jack Powers (Palma) 6-6, 270, Sr. Tri-County Defensive Lineman of the Year had 13 sacks as junior.

QB – Jack Stinn (St. Ignatius-S.F.) 6-1, 190, Sr. Led all CCS underclassmen in passing with 2,597 yards and 18 TDs.

DL – Dominic Luca (Bellarmine-San Jose) 6-1, 230, Sr. Spearheads both sides of the ball for Bells.

RB – Eric Redwood (Serra-San Mateo) 5-9, 185, Sr. Leading returning rusher with 1,344 yards and 12 scores.

DL – Hildelv Manzur (Palma) 6-0, 275, Sr. Because of Manzur, nearly impossible to run up the middle against Palma.

RB – Kenny Portera (Leland-San Jose) 5-10, 175, Sr. Junior of the Year in the Mt. Hamilton league. WR – Joe Gillette (Scotts Valley) 6-3, 200, Jr. Ten of 34 catches last year went for TDs.

Portera

LB – Shaunne Katoa (Monterey) 6-2, 240, Sr. Sideline-to-sideline ‘backer is a Division I prospect.

WR – Andrew Vollert (St. Ignatius) 6-5, 205, Sr. Big and clutch target for Stinn.

LB – Fia Malepeai (Serra-San Mateo) 5-10, 215, Sr. Third-year starter and tackling machine.

WR – Joseph Jakubowsky (Seaside) 5-9, 170, Sr. Moves back to WR to lead talented Spartans.

DB – Jacob Wesson (Archbishop Mitty-San Jose) 5-11, 170, Sr. Big play athlete on both sides of the ball.

OL – Nico Aimonetti (Los Gatos) 6-5, 260, Sr. Leads strong OL for the Wildcats.

DB – Squally Canada (Milpitas) 5-11, 180, Jr. Also should be the team’s featured RB.

OL – Spencer Seeley (Palma-Salinas) 6-4, 260, Sr. Terrific run blocker and also superb basketball player.

DB – Kenneth Olugbode, (Bellarmine Prep-San Jose) 6-1, 185, Sr. Will do it all for the two-time defending CCS Open Division champs.

OL – Benji Palu (Burlingame) 6-0, 280, Sr. Only underclassmen on All-PAL Bay offense a year ago.

DB – Hamilton Anoa’i (Serra) 6-2, 210, Jr. Already hearing from Pac-12 Conference schools.

OL – Derrtick Ames (Oak Grove-San Jose) 6-5, 252, Sr. Paved way for 9-2 season in 2011.

UTL – Marcus Washington (Palma) 5-10, 165, Sr. Shutdown CB also Palma’s No. 1 offensive threat.

OL – Spencer Drazovich (Palo Alto) 6-1, 265, Sr. Third-year starter for 2010 state champs. UTL – Ryan Severson (Valley ChristianSan Jose) 5-11, 195, Sr. Will be premier back and top defender for Warriors.

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LB – Fabiano Hale (Soquel) 6-1, 225, Sr. Junior of the Year in SCCAL.

anoa’i

K/P – Anthony Toms (Serra) 5-11, 185, Sr. Top kicker in section as a junior.

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Best of the City

◆ TOP MVP CANDIDATE: Ronzel Fox, RB-LB, Galileo ◆ TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Antoine Porter, QB, Mission

◆ TOP DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: Mane Fale, DT, Mission.

Oreo Trio hopes to deliver sweet results for Galileo They are affectionately known as The Oreo Trio, but at one point this tightly knit cookie almost crumbled. The Galileo High football trio of fullback/linebacker Ronzel Fox (black), quarterback/safety Kyle Nelson (white) and running back/strong safety Dontell Jackson (black) survived a minor skirmish three years ago and came out all the stronger. Now they are running roughshod on the Academic Athletic Association and hope to return to glory after a two-season hiccup. Galileo had lost 18 straight games and 28 of 29 before winning the San Francisco Section title with a 35-0 win over Lincoln in the 2009 Turkey Day Game. Youth, injuries and attrition led to seasons of 6-6 and 4-6, but now with this talented trio leading the way, the Lions appear ready to battle for the AAA crown. “I think we’ve paid some dues and are ready for this moment,” said Jackson, a fleet 5-foot-8, 150-pound standout. Nothing could have prepared Jackson for his run-in with Fox, arguably the league’s top returning two-way player, during an eighth-grade basketball game. Fox, according to Jackson, decided to take an ill advised 3-pointer at the buzzer when other players were open. “Man, it was out of his range,” Jackson said with a laugh. “We argued about it and we had a little tussle. We laugh about it now, but at the time it seemed like a big deal. Said Nelson: “Yeah, it was a little awkward for awhile. But we all got over it. We became even better friends.” Nelson and Jackson have been best pals since kindergarten and when Fox moved from Mississippi as a sixth greater, the Oreo Trio was formed. They all laugh and take pride in their ethnic mix, and embrace their differences. Jackson is upbeat and very chatty. Fox is the strong and quiet sort. And Nelson is book smart and picks his spots. Jackson and Nelson, however, concede to Fox’s massive football abilities. Last year Fox was the only sophomore on the All-AAA first team after rushing for 903 yards and eight touchdowns and leading the team with 108 tackles. He also averaged almost 20 yards (19.84) per his 13 catches, three that went for touchdowns. “He’s a man among boys,” Nelson said. “It’s not really fair against most of the other kids because of how big and strong he is. He’s fun to watch.” Galileo coach Mark Huynh first laid eyes on Fox as a freshman and knew he had something special. He brought him up to varsity very early.  “You could just tell he was a football player,” Huynh said. “His entire family played football. He wasn’t intimidated at all.”  The Lions figure to recover nicely from giving up 36.2 points per game and missing the playoffs. Gone is offensive coordinator Don Harris, who left for Lincoln, so Huynh has switched from the spread offense to a more run-oriented pro attack. With Jackson and Fox getting the brunt of the carries, the Lions should be in good Fox shape. Huynh said he’s not fearful at all to give the keys to his junior trio. “I wish these guys would drive the car even more,” Huynh said. “It’s tough when you’re sophomores to lead. But it’s their time now. We’re a year stronger and faster. Hopefully that means better.” — M.S.

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◆ TOP NEWCOMER: Armani McFarland, RB, Mission

◆ BEST IN THE TRENCHES: Sergio Alvarado, OL-DL, Washington ◆ TOP LINEBACKER: Fox, Galileo

◆ TOP TWO-WAY JUNIORS: Fox, RB-LB; Dontell Jackson, RB-SS; Kyle Nelson QB-S. ◆ BIGGEST BREAKOUT POTENTIAL: Jerron Williams, RB-LB, Washington.

◆ BEST QB TANDEM: Will Frankel and Michael McCarthy, QB, Lowell. ◆ COACH WITH LARGEST TARGET: Rookie coach Nicholas Wilson (Marshall), who told SanFranPreps.com: “We’re going to win league this year.” Marshall has won five league games in a decade.

HOW THEY’LL FINISH (2011 record) 1. Mission (9-3) 2. Galileo (4-6) 3. Lowell (5-5) 4. Washington (9-3) 5. Balboa (4-6) 6. Lincoln (4-7) 7. Burton (1-7) 8. Marshall (2-8)

Top 5 Games Our pick of the top five SFS-related games on the regular schedule 9/7, Tennyson-Hayward at Lowell, 3:30 p.m. 9/15, Mission at Riordan-S.F., 1 p.m. 9/22, Kennedy-Richmond at Galileo, 1:30 p.m. 10/5, Mission at Galileo, 3 p.m. 11/11, Mission vs. Washington (@ Kezar), 2 p.m.

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Concord running back Olito Thompson has a shot at being most prolific rusher in NorCal history, but that’s not a goal he’s worried about

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“I remember thinking that all I have to do is just keep working at it and I can do pretty much anything.” Support Your Local Business • Say You Found Them In SportStars™

oncord High football coach Brian Hamilton was sitting comfortably behind his coaches office desk when the simple question was asked. When during the 2011 season did he and his coaching staff realize the talent they had in junior running back Olito Thompson? The answer took a few tries. “Clayton Valley,” Hamilton said first. “We’ll use the Clayton Valley game because (then-Eagles coordinator) Jerry Coakley always put a good defense on the field. Being as consistently good as he was that night probably opened our eyes.” But then he continues. “I think the moment we really went “Oh, wow” and the eyeballs got big, was Newark Memorial,” the coach said about the North Coast Section first round playoff game in which Thompson first set the school’s single-game rushing record with 370 yards. “We knew we had a good back.” And then before he could really finish that thought... “No no no, it was Heritage!,” the coach exclaimed like he was shouting out an answer in an overly-spirited game of Pictionary. “Heritage, Heritage, Heritage! It was Heritage. We, for the first time in my career, we were making up plays on the field (to get him the ball). And we’ve never done that before, and they all worked. ... It was definitely Heritage.” That’s the kind of season Thompson had in his first year starting at running back for the Minutemen — every game seemed to build on the next. And when the season ended, he owned the single-season NorCal rushing record with 3,488 yards. The Heritage game came on Sept. 30, and coincidentally, it was the first game Thompson mentioned when he was asked to remember the moment he started to trust his abilities.

Story by Chace Bryson • Photos by Dean Coppola August 23, 2012

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WHAT A RUSH Following is a game-by-game breakdown of Olito Thompson’s record-breaking 2011 season. Date Opponent Att Yds TD 9/2 @Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa 25 211 1 9/10 @Amador Valley-Pleasanton 26 93 — 9/16 @Kennedy-Fremont 24 303 4 9/23 American-Fremont 22 236 2 9/30 @ Heritage-Brentwood 46 260 4 10/15 @Ygnacio Valley-Concord 23 243 4 10/21 @Clayton Valley-Concord 25 235 5 10/28 Mt. Diablo-Concord 26 204 2 11/4 @College Park-Pleasant Hill 29 133 —

11/10 Northgate-Walnut Creek 17 183 3 NCS DIV. II PLAYOFFS 11/19 Newark Memorial-Newark 26 370* 3 11/25 @Las Lomas-Walnut Creek 24 457** 4 12/3 @Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park 41 275 2 12/9 Windsor 54*** 285 1 TOTALS 408^ 3,488^ 34 * Set new Concord High single-game record at the time. ** Set new East Bay single-game record, reset CHS record *** Set NorCal record for single-game carries ^ Set NorCal records for single-season carries and rushing yards

“That was the game I told myself I have something,” Thompson said during an hour-long lunch at an Applebee’s just a five-minute drive away from his Antioch home. “I remember thinking that all I have to do is just keep working at it and I can do pretty much anything.” For those who knew Olito growing up, the 5-foot-10, 210-pound mass of muscle churning through and, literally, walking over hapless defenders, would be beyond recognizable. Thompson, the middle child of three boys, had a childhood far from care free. He began having seizures at age 5, and had them reoccur for several years. He also had surgery on one of his eyes when he was 7, to help correct occasional cross vision. “He couldn’t play on the playground with other kids because of his seizures,” said his mom, Rachel. “We were told to always dress him warm, and not let him get mad or eat a lot of sugar. We really didn’t stop worrying about the seizures until he got to high school.” On top of that, Olito and his brothers were forced to struggle with a dad who was in and out of law trouble. His family moved from Bay Point to Oakland around his fourth grade year. A few years after that, Thompson’s dad was handed a life sentence as part of California’s Three Strikes Law. Not long after that, Olito found football. “(His dad’s sentence) took a lot out of him,” Rachel Thompson said. “And I think part of what made football so appealing to him, was it gave him a chance to get some of that anger out.” 34

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Without its own high school, Bay Point isn’t tied to any school districts. Olito’s first choice was Pittsburg, but he wasn’t accepted. That left three Concord schools, Mt. Diablo, Ygnacio Valley and Concord. His mom eventually chose the latter, and when Thompson met Hamilton in his first freshman physical education class, the rest was history. “We were lined up and I saw this big guy come out who was really energetic,” Thompson recalled of his first encounter with Hamilton. “He came right up to me and said, ‘Are you Olito?’ I nodded and then he just got this big smile.” Thompson spent his first season on the junior varsity, but was still big and physical enough as a freshman that the varsity used him on the scout team offense. By his sophomore year he was on varsity as a starting linebacker and backup tailback. “When he came in as a freshman, we knew he had a lot of raw athleticism,” Hamilton said. “But anybody here who would look you in the eye and say we knew that he was going to break the NorCal rushing record is lying.” However, for anyone who watched Concord on a regular basis in 2011, it was obvious to notice the point in which the coaching staff truly realized Thompson’s potential. Wide receivers started disappearing and a lot more double-tight end sets materialized. The Minutemen weren’t just going to give Thompson the ball more, they were going to give him as many blockers as they could get on the field. By the time Concord reached the NCS II playoffs, there were no attempts to disguise it. The Minutemen were basically running the Olito Offense. Thompson carried 145 times in four games, reaching an apex in the championship game against Windsor in which he set a NorCal record for singlegame carries with 54. Support Your Local Business • Say You Found Them In SportStars™

“He couldn’t play on the playground with other kids because of his seizures. We were told to always dress him warm, and not let him get mad or eat a lot of sugar. We really didn’t stop worrying about the seizures until he got to high school.” — Rachel Thompson, Olito’s mother

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“We don’t base our game plan on balance,” Hamilton said. “We don’t base our game plan on anything other than we’re going to score as many points as possible. ... This is high school football and sometimes I think people lose sight of that. When you have a 210-pound mismatch back, and you don’t give him the ball 40 times, then in my mind you’re actively trying to lose a game.” The Minutemen did lose the championship game 28-20, hampered by a couple of second-half mistakes. Thompson finished the game with 285 yards, having set multiple NorCal records. “(Windsor) was like the school bully and someone needed to put them in their place, and we were so close,” Thompson said. “I believe we lost focus for just a bit. We came out of the half too confident and things just got out of hand and they made plays. To lose it was just like a wake up call for me. I showed me that you CAN wake up from a dream, and you have to work even harder.” That set off a furious summer for Thompson, who rededicated himself to getting stronger while handling a swarm of recruiting pressure. 36

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Washington State was his most aggressive pursuer throughout the season and summer. And it paid off. On July 28, after taking his first ever plane ride, Thompson, with Hamilton at his side, gave his commitment to WSU coach Mike Leach. “It was a great school to me,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot of peace and quiet out there, and friendly people who care about you as a person more than a jersey. That was something I was really looking for because that’s what I’ve had at Concord High” And with that out of the way, he could focus on one goal. It’s not setting the NorCal career rushing mark, of which he needs 2,892 yards to surpass former Salesian-Richmond star and current Detroit Lion, Jahvid Best. It’s getting Concord back into the NCS championship game. And winning. “Expectations that people set for me on what I should be doing, I’m going to completely ignore them,” Thompson said. “I’m not here to meet everyone else’s expectations. I’m here to be a part of my team and help my team advance more than myself. I can run for all the yards in the world and we could still lose. “My personal goal is that once I touch that ball, I’m going to make it count.” ✪ Upload photos and team stats! www.SportStarsOnline.com


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De La Salle-Concord (13-1)

2 3

With the Bart Houston Quarterbacking Era over in Concord, the Spartans will go back to what they do best: Maul. Expect a dominant running attack fueled by returning RB Pepe Vitale, right, and a defense that could be off-the-charts good. USC-commit Michael Hutchings is the leader of a loaded corps of linebackers that also features DJ Moffitt. Austin Hooper will be a pass-rushing force, and Victor Egu could make an impact as well in his first season on defense. There’s no reason De La Salle shouldn’t have a chance to defend its three straight CIF Open Bowl titles.

Lincoln-Stockton (11-2) The Trojans are the trendy pick as NorCal’s best team not wearing green and silver. And why not? They only return perhaps the North State’s best QB-RB tandem in Zach Greenlee, right, and Justin Davis. Greenlee is coming off a junior campaign in which he threw for close to 2,400 yards with 22 TDs and just five interceptions. All Davis did was rush for 2,380 yards and 36 TDs. Could Lincoln top the 554 points it scored in 2011? We think so.

Del Oro-Loomis (13-2) The Golden Eagles celebrated their program’s most successful year in 2011, defending their Sierra Foothill League crown before winning a second straight SJS Div. III title and drawing an invite to the CIF Div. II Bowl game. Eight returning starters, including star RB Brandon Monroe, right, join a talented mix of fresh faces that will have Del Oro poised for a strong encore.

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4 5

Bellarmine-San Jose (12-2) The Bells were hit hard by graduation, but the program has proven itself as one that can reload quickly. Putting Vanderbilt-commit K.J. Carta-Samuels behind center will be a good start. Returning to the CIF Div. I Bowl game may be a tall order, but another CCS Open Division title is certainly in play.

Kenneth Olugbode, right

Vacaville (13-1) Under the radar for much of 2011, Vacaville was quietly dispatching opponents by an average of more than three TDs. They forced folks to take notice in the playoffs by winning the SJS Div. II championship. With returning skill guys Curtis Goins, right, and Jacob Te’o in the mix, the Bulldogs won’t sneak up on anyone in 2012.

6. Elk Grove (12-1) The Thundering Herd return 11 starters from their Div. II semifinalist squad of 2011, including a two-headed rushing attack of Robert Frazier and Wadus Parker which combined for more than 2,300 yards and 36 TDs last season. Add that to a formidable defense and it’s hard not to expect good things once again.

7. Granite Bay (12-2) With a talented senior class that has produced 29 wins in its first three years at the school, and six returning defensive starters, the Grizzlies are positioned to challenge for a second straight SJS Div. I championship.

8. Freedom-Oakley (10-2) Eight offensive starters return from the Falcons’ 10-win team from a year ago, including QB Dante Mayes, RB Joe Mixon and Washington-bound WR Darrell Daniels. With that sort of experience, this will be Freedom’s window to claim an outright BVAL title and set itself up for a deep playoff run.

9. Franklin-Elk Grove (8-4) It’d be difficult to find any NorCal team that returns more starters than the Wildcats. Franklin returns 18 starters, which includes all but one offensive player. Look for a balanced offense and physical defense.

10. San Ramon Valley-Danville (10-4) All-State QB Zach Kline has moved on to Cal, but replacement Cameron Birse has garnered some attention over the summer. The Wolves also return seven defensive starters, including Arizona-bound LB Ryan Dunn.

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travon lampley, wr, franklin

11. Marin CatholicKentfield (13-1) 12. Pleasant GroveElk Grove (12-2) 13. SerraSan Mateo (11-2) 14. Oakdale (13-1) 15. James LoganUnion City (10-1) 16. Palma-Salinas (11-1-1) 17. Folsom (11-3) 18. Concord (10-4) 19. St. Mary’sStockton (9-3) 20. GrantSacramento (8-4) August 23, 2012

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Freedom-Oakley gears up for its best shot at an outright title

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Freedom High coach Kevin Hartwig preaches to his players to focus on the following motto: “Are we going to be 1-0 or 0-1 this week?” It’s obviously the 11-year Falcons coach’s attempt at keeping his players focused on one game at a time. Even though 90 percent of the players on the team could probably tell you who they play on Oct. 12. That will be the night Freedom travels to Pittsburg. And if things have gone according to plan, that’s the night the Falcons will want to be 1-0. And even though Hartwig and his team won’t say it, for political and superstitious reasons, it’s the year they SHOULD be 1-0 on such a night. With 12 returning starters, and the most experienced and talented offense to ever suit up in the Freedom maroon and navy, the Falcons’ window for a Bay Valley Athletic League championship has never been open wider. Hartwig’s two most successful teams of the past (2008 and 2011) finished second and tied for first, respectively. The outright title has always eluded the program. With Pittsburg putting new faces in at many of its skill positions, and uncertainty surrounding Deer Valley-Antioch and Heritage-Brentwood, the Falcons’ time is now. “This is a great opportunity for us to take advantage of,” Hartwig admitted. Returning eight starters on the offensive side of the ball, including one of the most heavily-recruited player the young program has ever had, is a good place to start. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Darrell Daniels stands out amongst the Falcons. And that’s before he gets the football in space. The wide receiver had 792 yards from scrimmage a year ago with nine touchdowns, and there’s no reason to think those numbers won’t go up for the four-star talent who committed to Washington over the summer. “We’ve got to get him the ball,” Hartwig said. “We’ll work on finding every possible way to make sure he touches the ball. But what’s also nice, is we’ve got other guys who can step up if defense are determined to key on Darrell.” One of those guys is three-year starting quarterback Dante Mayes, a threat with both his arms and his legs. They also return junior running back Joe Mixon, who rushed for more than 1,100 yards and had 13 touchdowns as a sophomore. “I feel like all the pieces are falling into place,” Mayes said. “We’re excited and ready. We know there are a lot of expectations, but we’ve done a good job of blocking that out and just worrying about week by week results.” The defense returns four starters and a fifth player who saw time on the field. Daniels will play a big role on that side of the ball, too, as a roving strong safety. “We’re still gelling,” Daniels said of the defense. “We know that defense wins championships, so we’re definitely working hard to get it into shape.” And when Mayes was asked for his overall key to the season? “Win each week. That’s it.” — C.B.

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TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2010 record): De La Salle-Concord

(13-1), James Logan-Union City (10-1), San Ramon ValleyDanville (10-4), Freedom-Oakley (10-2), Pittsburg (10-4).

EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Warren Miles Long, RB, James Logan

EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Michael Hutchings, LB, De La Salle SURPRISE CONTENDER: Foothill-Pleasanton

BREAKDOWN: De La Salle is coming off a third straight CIF

Open Division State Championship bowl victory, and is currently on one of the most impressive defensive runs it’s ever had. In the three Open bowl victories — against presumably SoCal’s

top team regardless of enrollment — the Spartans have allowed a total of 22 points. And many have predicted the 2012 defense to be on par with those teams, or better. So who joins DLS in

the final? James Logan is built to reach that plateau, and should enter the playoffs more battle tested thanks to a much tougher schedule than ever before. San Ramon Valley has some

early buzz thanks to a strong returning defense, and Freedom is getting similar praise for its offense. But are any of these

teams legit contenders to knock off the 20-time defending NCS champs? Unlikely.

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: De La Salle over James Logan

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2010 record): Cardinal NewmanSanta Rosa (11-1-1), Campolindo-Moraga (14-1), EncinalAlameda (11-2), Marin Catholic-Kentfield (13-1), Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland (9-3) EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Jared Goff, QB, Marin Catholic EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Phil Wright, LB, Cardinal Newman SURPRISE CONTENDER: Tennyson-Hayward BREAKDOWN: Marin Catholic, who is expected to petition up from Div. IV once again, was seconds away from going to a state bowl game before Campolindo sophomore Christian Antezana kicked an NCS championship-winning field goal as time expired. Now Cal-bound QB Jared Goff and the rest of the powerful returning offense will attempt to remedy that outcome. Cardinal Newman, also expected to move up, was ousted by Campolindo in the semfinals a year ago. The Cardinals should feature a much stronger defense in 2012. And what about Campo? It returns starting All-State QB Brett Stephens, as well as WR Mason Windatt. However, it will need to replace key players at RB and on defense. Bishop O’Dowd has a lot of skill positions returning and should definitely factor into these playoffs. And, while they don’t have quite as much buzz heading into the season this year, Encinal has built too strong a track record to be ignored. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Marin Catholic d. Cardinal Newman

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2010 record): Concord (10-4), Ran-

cho Cotate-Rohnert Park (9-4), Casa Grande-Petaluma (8-4), Windsor (14-0), Las Lomas-Walnut Creek (9-3).

EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Olito Thompson, RB, Concord

EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Elijah Qualls, DL, Casa Grande SURPRISE CONTENDER: Clayton Valley-Concord

BREAKDOWN: The game isn’t played on paper. If it were, it’d be awful hard to pick against Concord at this point. The NCS

Div. II runner-up from a year ago has 15 returning starters, in-

cluding a tailback (Olito Thompson) with a chance to hold nearly all of the NorCal rushing records by the end of the season. If

Concord stays relatively healthy, they should be playing football

in December. Could they be facing a Redwood Empire team for

the third straight year? Defending champion Windsor graduated 25 seniors and is starting play in a new league under a new

coach. Casa Grande and Rancho Cotate seem more likely to

make deep runs due to more returning experience. Las Lomas returns seven starters on both sides of the ball and should be

very phsyical in the trenches. Plus, keep an eye on Clayton Valley under new coach Tim Murphy and 12 returnees.

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Concord over Casa Grande

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2010 record): Salesian-Richmond (13-0), Ferndale (11-2), St. Helena (11-1), Healdsburg (8-4) EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Richard Hoppe, QB, St. Helena EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Takkarist McKinley, DL, KennedyRichmond SURPRISE CONTENDER: St. Mary’s-Berkeley BREAKDOWN: Salesian doesn’t have the star power that it’s had in the past, but that doesn’t mean the two-time defending champs and their 21-game winning streak shouldn’t be feared. Building behind skill players Michael Page and Travis Earby, the Pride should be right in the middle of things come playoff time. However, the team worth watching may be St. Helena. The Saints have a dynamic player in returning QB Richard Hoppe who can hurt a defense with both his arms and his legs. St. Helena also returns seven starters on defense after going 11-1 a year ago. Perennial stalwart and Div. IV runner-up Ferndale had very little graduation turnovers and will be effective once again. St. Mary’s returns the key components to its strong passing game a year ago, as well, including Cal-bound WR Caleb Coleman. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Salesian over St. Helena

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2010 record): Hoopa Valley-Hoopa (9-3), Tomales (9-3-1), California School for the Deaf-Fremont (8-4), St. Bernard-Eureka (7-4). EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Wyatt Standley, WR, St. Bernard EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Justin Brady, LB, Tomales SURPRISE CONTENDER: South Fork BREAKDOWN: Two-time defending champion Hoopa Valley took a fairly significant hit in graduation after last season. And with just six returning starters, it may be chasing a few other programs from the get-go. Fellow Humboldt Del Notre League-Little 4 opponents, St. Bernard and South Fork, could be in for big years after returning 17 and 19 starters, respectively. Tomales, a perennial contender, went through a few growing pains a year ago but still reached the final. Expect the Braves to be back in the hunt once again behind a defense featuring six returning starters. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Tomales over St. Bernard

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Our pick for the best SJS-related game on each week of the regular season schedule. ◆ 8/24, Buhach Colony-Atwater at San Ramon Valley-Danville, 7:30 p.m. ◆ 8/31, De La Salle-Concord vs. Bellarmine Prep-San Jose, 7:15 p.m. ◆ 9/7, Marin Catholic-Kentfield at Vacaville, 7:30 p.m. ◆ 9/14, Berkeley at Pittsburg, 7 p.m. ◆ 9/21, San Leandro at Deer Valley-Antioch, 7 p.m. ◆ 9/28, Salesian-Richmond at El Cerrito, 7 p.m. ◆ 10/5, Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland at Encinal-Alameda, 7 p.m. ◆ 10/12, Freedom at Pittsburg, 7 p.m. ◆ 10/19, Clayton Valley-Concord at Concord, 7 p.m. ◆ 10/26, Casa Grande-Petaluma at Windsor, 7:30 p.m. ◆ 11/1, Campolindo at Dublin, 7 p.m.

ncS League Championship Predictions BAY VALLEY: Freedom; With eight returning starters on offense and one of the nation’s top WR recruits, the time is now. DIABLO FOOTHILL: Campolindo; Presence of All-State QB Brett Stephens should help avoid any hangover from Cinderella 2011. DIABLO VALLEY: Concord; Minutemen return 15 starters after finishing as Div. II runners-up a year ago. Oh, they have Olito Thompson. EAST BAY: Foothill-Pleasanton; Before you all riot, De La Salle is an independent this year. Falcons should make the most of it. HUMBOLDT-DEL NOTRE BIG 5: Eureka; The Loggers should make the most of an experienced offense and physical defense. HUMBOLDT-DEL NOTRE LITTLE 4: Ferndale, The Wildcats graduated just four seniors from their 11-win squad that finished as Div. IV runners-up a year ago. MARIN COUNTY: Marin Catholic-Kentfield; Plenty of talent returns at skill positions, most importantly behind center with QB Jared Goff. MISSION VALLEY: Newark Memorial-Newark; Cougars can take advantage of a league up for grabs after James Logan-Union City exited as an independent. NORTH BAY: Casa Grande-Petaluma; Gauchos and Windsor are both new to the NBL, making things very competitive. Casa’s balance, experience provide edge. NORTH CENTRAL I: St. Helena; With QB Ryan Hoppe back and seven returning starters on defense, things lined up for the Saints. NORTH CENTRAL II/BAY FOOT: Tomales; Competition level will be a step-up for Braves in new combo league, but they won’t shy away. SONOMA COUNTY: Healdsburg; A new SCL era begins without Casa Grande, Windsor. Greyhounds will try to make the most of it. TRI-COUNTY ROCK: Salesian-Richmond; While we think El Cerrito could certainly be in the mix, it’s hard to argue against a 21-game winning streak. TRI-COUNTY STONE: Kennedy-Richmond; The Eagles have the best player in the league in Takkarist McKinley, that just might be enough to fend of Hercules. WAC-FOOTHILL: Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland; With a potent offense returning most of its skill talent, and an opportunistic defense, the Dragons prepare to take flight. WAC-SHORELINE: Tennyson-Haywad; The Lancers certainly have some big shoes to fill — and confidence to burn —after their best year in quite awhile last season.

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Warren Miles Long

RB/LB, James Logan-Union City What Warren Miles Long can do with the football in his hands has never been in question. It’s more a question of how many times it will get there. Long, a bruising tailback who already has committed to play football at Northwestern University after his senior year at James Logan High, enters this season having already amassed a whopping 2,859 rushing yards. He saw his impressive 1,545-yard sophomore season production drop some last year. He finished 2011 with 1,345 yards and 19 touchdowns. The reason for the decline? Of all things, Long was hampered by his own success. “(He) could have had 2,500 yards last year,” Colts coach George Zuber said. “But we didn’t want to run up the score and chase stats. He’s been a team player. We would never sacrifice sportsmanship for stats.” Long knows how the math works. If the Colts are in competitive games — as opposed to some of the blowouts they put on teams during last year’s 10-0 regular season romp — he’s going to get a lot of touches. “I figure I’m always going to get 1,000 yards,” he said. “I might get 1,500. I just depends on how many times I get the ball.” In the interest of staying sharp for the playoffs, James Logan has taken significant steps toward ensuring it will be playing more high-quality opponents throughout the season. The Colts enter the 2012 season as an independent football team, unfettered by the constraints of a Mission Valley Athletic League schedule that has traditionally offered paltry challenge. James Logan has lost a grand total of ONE MVAL game since Zuber took the reins in

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2006, a 34-1 league mark. As a result, Long has frequently found himself focusing solely on the defensive side of the ball after the first half, sometimes the first quarter. “Beating up on the same people year after year gets boring,” Long said. “It doesn’t make you better. We weren’t battle tested.” That lack of sharpness has resulted in early playoff exits the past two seasons. James Logan lost its playoff opener to San Ramon Valley-Danville after going unbeaten in the regular season last year. The previous season, Berkeley promptly bounced the Colts. “This group of guys deserves to be tested,” Zuber said. “It will be good for us to play a tough team in Week 10. … To be able to play four quarters of football and get (Long) in a groove, maybe get him 12, 13 carries a game. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can put up in four quarters a game.” The biggest question mark for the Colts entering the season is the offensive line, where they have no returning starters. But the Ryan Bua-led defense is stout, and the skill positions, with quarterback Jeffrey Prothro, wideout Amalani Fukofuka and change-of-pace running back Damond Beasley, are loaded. “There’s a lot of excitement and buzz for our potential,” Zuber said. “We’ve just got to put it all together.” —B.K.

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Offense

Defense

QB – Jared Goff (Marin Catholic-Kentfield) 6-4, 190, Sr. Cal-commit tossed 44 TDs a year ago and is one of seven returning offensive starters.

DL – Takkarist McKinley (Kennedy-Richmond) 6-3, 240, Sr. Freakish talent is also the defending NCS champion in the 200 meters.

RB – Olito Thompson (Concord) 5-10, 210, Sr. Sky is the limit for the guy who set the NorCal single-season rushing record in 2011.

DL – Motekai Maile (Pittsburg) 6-4, 240, Sr. Will anchor a punishing defensive line for the Pirates. DL – Elijah Qualls (Casa Grande-Petaluma) 6-2, 285, Sr. How many defensive tackles do you know who are also 1,000-yard rushers?

RB – Warren Miles Long (James LoganUnion City) 6-0, 190, Sr. Committed to Northwestern after averaging 9.8 yds. per carry a year ago.

DL – Austin Hooper (De La Salle-Concord) 6-4, 245, Sr. His 2011 breakout game included five sacks of San Ramon Valley All-State QB Zach Kline.

WR – Darrell Daniels (Freedom-Oakley) 6-4, 205, Sr. Easily the biggest recruit in Freedom’s history, he’s pledged to Washington.

qualls

WR – Caleb Coleman (St. Mary’s-Berkeley) 6-0, 180, Sr. Holds offers from Cal, Fresno State and Air Force. TE – Ray Hudson (Foothill-Pleasanton) 6-4, 215, Sr. Cal-commit is poised for a big senior year on a much-improved Falcons team.

LB – Kyle Dunn (San Ramon Valley-Danville) 6-3, 210, Sr. Arizona-commit will lead a defense featuring seven returning starters.

OL – Antonio Huey (Pittsburg) 6-2, 280, Sr. Should shine on a Pirates team which will be very strong in the trenches.

LB – Phil Wright (Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa) 6-1, 225, Sr. A three-year varsity starter, Wright also gave a verbal to Arizona this past summer.

OL – Anthony Fotu (San Leandro) 6-3, 245, Sr. Earned HAAL Offensive Lineman of the Year honors as a junior.

LB – D.J. Moffitt (De La Salle) 6-2, 205, Sr. Multiple Pac-12 offers in his pocket include Arizona, Colorado and Washington State. DB – Kevin King (Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland) 6-3, 170, Sr. Fielding several offers after a strong summer; posted seven interceptions in 2011.

OL – Gunnar Graham (Marin Catholic) 6-6, 280, Sr. A big reason why QB Goff keeps his jersey clean on most nights. OL – Derrick Stom (Las Lomas-Walnut Creek) 6-2, 275, Sr. Will continue to fuel the physical style the Knights have been known for in recent years.

DB – Marcellus Pippins (El Cerrito) 5-10, 175, Sr. UCLA, Utah and San Diego State are among his current suitors.

OL – Nick Reynolds (Rancho CotateRohnert Park) 6-4, 250, Sr. Begins his third year starting up front for the Cougars. UTIL – Mason Melin (Monte Vista-Danville) 6-3, 220, Sr. Valuable two-way player tied for team lead in TD catches (9) and interceptions (3).

LB – Michael Hutchings (De La Salle) 6-1, 210, Sr. USC-bound talent will be ringleader of devastating linebacking corps.

DB – Mike Piazza (Windsor) 5-9, 155, Sr. Ballhawk grabbed seven interceptions for the NCS Div. II champs a year ago. goff

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PK – Matt Anderson (San Ramon Valley) 6-0, 180, Sr. Cal-commit is rated the No. 2 kicking recruit in the nation by Scout.com.

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5 Players To Watch Lavance Warren, SS/RB, McClymonds, So. All-City DB as a freshman, now takes on RB duties. Kendrick Payne, WR/DB, Skyline, Sr. Legit two-way threat lead the OAL in interceptions in 2011.

Yusef Sterling-Lowe, WR/DB, McClymonds, Sr. Should be a weapon on both sides of ball

Thomas Logwood, RB, Castlemont, Sr.

McClymonds sets up for an extended run of OAL dominance To the rest of the Oakland Athletic League, watching the 2011 Silver Bowl had to be more than a bit depressing. Here was McClymonds High, getting the best of Skyline to close out a 10-2 season and claiming a second straight Silver Bowl title — and they were doing it while using six freshmen and four sophomores during the course of the season. And while the Warriors did graduate star seniors like Eddie Heard Jr. and Harold Holcomb, they still bring back a majority of a roster that’s already tasted success. So the rest of the league may be a bit deflated, but, predictably, McClymonds coach Curtis McCauley couldn’t be more ecstatic heading into 2012. “I like that we finally have some experience,” the coach said. “(The younger guys) have made some tremendous strides.” One of those players is Lavance Warren, who as a freshman established himself as an All-City strong safety, and is now likely to take over lead running back duties as well. He’ll have the added benefit of running behind a big, experienced offensive line that includes seniors Dajon Ford, Kevin Vaughn and sophomore Kelton Reynolds. “It’s a blessing to run behind those guys,” Warren said the day after the team hosted Balboa-S.F. in a final tune-up scrimmage before the team opens the season on Aug. 31 at Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland. “(Our offense) is looking pretty sharp. I feel like we have a good squad this year. We’re big, strong and fast.” McCauley has never been afraid to test his team’s strengths in the preseason. This year is no different as the Warriors will follow their Bishop O’Dowd opener with nonleague games against MinicoRupert (ID.), West Valley-Cotton and Oak Grove-San Jose. The four nonleague opponents combined to go 35-9 in 2011. “It will be a real test,” McCauley said. “We’ll definitely find out what kind of team we are.” And while everybody else might be assuming McClymonds is the unquestioned favorite to win a third Silver Bowl, McCauley won’t be planning on a cake walk. “I’m expecting a rock ’em sock ’em year,” he said. “It’s always a black and blue league. We (as a league) may not do well statistically against other teams, but when we play against one another it changes everything.” Skyline, who lost last year’s Silver Bowl 33-19 to the Warriors, lost its biggest two-way star Jamal Mayo, but should still find itself in the top half of the standings and be a threat in the playoffs. Fremont, under new coach Terry Hendrix, and Oakland Tech should also be in the mix. But as far as Warren’s concerned, the Warriors just need to worry about themselves. “We don’t have a ton of depth, so we’re going to have to tough it out in a lot of these games,” he said. “But we have good chemistry and we’re going to put it together this year.” — C.B.

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Could be among the real bright spots for Knights James Lewis, QB, Oakland Tech, Jr. Second-team All-City pick a year as a sophomore

MINING SILVER Here are the Silver Bowl (OAL champi-

onship) appearances and victories since the event began in 1980. There was

no champion named in 1998, when the game was stopped due to fighting and was never concluded.

Team Appearances-Wins Skyline ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 23-17

Oakland,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 13-5 McClymonds,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 13-6

Fremont,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 7-1 Oakland Tech,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 4-1 Castlemont,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 2-1 2011 Final: McClymonds 33, Skyline 19

TOP 5 GAMES Our pick for the best OAL-related regular season games. 8/31, McClymonds at Bishop O’DowdOakland, 5:30 pm 9/7, Granada-Livermore at Skyline, 7 pm 9/14, Pitman-Turlock at Oakland Tech, 7:30 pm 10/12, McClymonds at Skyline, 3:30 pm 11/3, Fremont at McClymonds, 2 p.m.

HOW THEY’LL FINISH (2011 record)

warren

1. McClymonds (10-2) 2. Skyline (4-7) 3. Oakland Tech (4-7) 4. Fremont (1-8) 5. Castlemont (3-7) 6. Oakland (0-10)

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Despite new faces, Folsom promises same offensive fireworks Miller-Wing

Folsom High School coach Kris Richardson exudes an air of positivity when he speaks of the Bulldogs’ offense. That’s fitting since Folsom has earned the reputation as a breeding ground for high-caliber quarterbacks that send more objects into flight on Friday nights than Sacramento International Airport. Since Richardson took over the program as the varsity coach in 2005, Folsom has produced college quarterbacks — Cary Grossart (Northern Arizona), David Graves (Hawaii), Dano Graves (Air Force), and most recently Tanner Trosin (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) — that have incrementally raised the team’s profile and win totals nearly every year. “We have become known for our offense and have created a pretty serious quarterback legacy,” Richardson said. That legacy will now be passed on to senior Taylor Miller-Wing and sophomore Jake Browning. With just one scrimmage in the books and real game action yet to begin, both signal-callers will get a chance to fill the huge shoes of 2011 graduate Trosin (state- record 5,185 yards passing and 6,364 total yards of offense) and 2010 graduate Dano Graves (85 total TDs his senior season). Richardson said he may use both quarterbacks throughout the season, a tactic he has used previously when needed. But the biggest reason that Richardson and the Bulldogs believe their high-flying offense won’t skip a beat is depth at the receiver position. Senior Phillip Carter and juniors Troy Knox and Rodney Ellison each return after combining to catch 11 of Trosin’s 49 touchdown passes last year. “Last year was especially hard coming off of the state (Div. II Bowl) win because we had to prove we could win without all of the players we lost,” Carter said. “We had to prove ourselves then and we have to do it again this year.” The Bulldogs will also get a new, though slightly familiar, face on its sideline. Troy Taylor, head coach before joining Cal football’s broadcasting family, returns home to spend more time with his family and join the staff as a co-head coach. Taylor will be the primary offensive coordinator, allowing Richardson more time with the linemen. Also joining the staff is defensive coordinator Lou Baiz, who was recently assisting at Sacramento State. While Taylor’s offense will look a lot like the high-scoring unit from recent years, Baiz will bring in a new look to the defense. Linemen Quincy Capel and Zack Bodnar, and linebackers Chaz Arnold and Derek Stiles, all seniors, will provide experience and leadership for a unit that will look a lot different to opposing offenses. Regardless which side of the ball the 2012 Folsom Bulldogs are on, the players know that plenty of doubters will be watching and waiting for the inevitable drop-off. “We kind of just laugh at the talk about how we can’t meet the high expectations,” Knox said. “We can’t wait to show people that we are for real.” — J.M.

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TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2011 record): Lincoln-Stockton (11-2), Granite Bay (12-2), Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove (12-2), Nevada Union-Grass Valley (7-4), Grant-Sacramento (8-4). EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Justin Davis, RB, Lincoln-Stockton EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Tanner Vallejo, LB, Nevada UnionGrass Valley SURPRISE CONTENDER: Franklin-Elk Grove (8-4) BREAKDOWN: Lincoln-Stockton has its sights set on redemption and the heavily-recruited backfield of QB Zack Greenlee and RB Justin Davis will be the key components in the Trojans’ quest to finish as strong as they start. In 2011, top-seeded Lincoln fell to Granite Bay in the semifinals as the Grizzlies rode a hot streak all the way to the Div. I title. The defending champion Grizzlies and runner-up Pleasant Grove graduated their top offensive weapons, but coaches Ernie Cooper and Joe Cattolico reload for another run with talent running deep in their respective programs. Grant seeks its section-best 23rd straight playoff berth behind a lot of speed, including all-around talent Trayvon Henderson, who can affect games as a receiver, safety, punter, and kick returner. Nevada Union looks to complete a return to prominence that began in 2011. The Miners’ stout defense is led by Boise State-commit Tanner Vallejo at linebacker. Franklin, which won its first-ever playoff game last year, is hungry for more after returning 18 starters.. championship PREDICTION: Lincoln-Stockton over Grant

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2011 record): Del Oro-Loomis (131), Placer-Auburn (9-3), Oakdale (13-1), Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove (8-4), Casa Roble-Orangevale (9-3) EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Brandon Monroe, RB, Del OroLoomis EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Eddie Vanderdoes, DL, PlacerAuburn SURPRISE CONTENDER: Antelope (6-5) BREAKDOWN: Del Oro has owned Div. III in recent years and there is no reason to believe that the Golden Eagles cannot make a bid for a third straight title. A challenging schedule will have the team ready for the postseason, where Brandon Monroe shined as a clutch performer in 2011. Oakdale, the division runner-up each of the last two years, will take a page out of Del Oro’s book by boosting its nonleague schedule. DL Eddie Vanderdoes and fellow recruits QB Peter Denham and TE Stone Sander highlight Placer’s strongest roster in quite awhile. This ought to be their window of opportunity to raise a few banners. Cosumnes Oaks may be the newest school in football-rich Elk Grove, but the Wolfpack have already picked up their first playoff win and are looking for more. QB Peyton Wilfley (from a football-rich family) should keep Casa Roble in the mix, and Antelope could set foot on the big stage this year behind WR recruit Tyler Winston. championship PREDICTION: Del Oro over Placer

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2011 record): Vacaville (13-1), Folsom (11-3), Buhach Colony-Atwater (12-1), St. Mary’s-Stockton (9-3), Elk Grove (12-1). EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Aaron Cochran, OL, Buhach Colony-Atwater EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Na’im McGee, DB, St. Mary’sStockton SURPRISE CONTENDER: Del Campo-Fair Oaks (8-4) BREAKDOWN: Folsom has reached the last two Div. II title games, but making it three in a row will be tough. New players will be plugged into a wildly-successful system, most notably at quarterback. Defending Div. II champ Vacaville also lost key talent but returns two-way star Curtis Goins, who will lead the charge to get head coach Mike Papadopoulos closer to the dominant dynasty his late father-in-law, Tom Zunino, built in the ‘80s. Another run-first team will be Buhach Colony, which does it behind a massive offensive line featuring Aaron Cochran. Elk Grove‘s lone loss in 2011 was in the Div. II semis (to Folsom), and RB/DB Robert Frazier will be key to the Thundering Herd’s aspirations for taking the next step. St. Mary’s-Stockton certainly can’t be overlooked, nor can Del Campo. Mike Dimino’s bruising offense, led by the powerful A.J. Samataua, could surprise. championship PREDICTION: Elk Grove over Vacaville

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2011 record): Escalon (13-1), Colfax (11-1), Hilmar (11-3), Central Catholic-Modesto (10-3), Liberty Ranch-Galt (9-4). EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Johnny Mundt, TE, Central Catholic EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Javaughn Iversen, LB, Modesto Christian SURPRISE CONTENDER: Modesto Christian (5-6) BREAKDOWN: Escalon had its 25-game win streak snapped by Hilmar in last year’s title game. Coach Mark Loureiro saw a loaded backfield graduate, but new QB Phil Kimble and WR Alec Von Albenslaven may tilt the Escalon offense more toward the air. Expect Hilmar to remain in the mix despite graduating 22. Colfax has been a perennial contender under head coach Tony Martello, but the Falcons have not won a section title since 2001. QB Austin Young (2,406 pass yards, 25 TD) returns with WR Shawn Rawlins to power Colfax. Liberty Ranch dealt Colfax its only loss with the school’s first senior class. QB Jacob Tibbetts will be back for his third season as the Hawks’ starter, but the team faces a challenge in replacing RB John Wiernicki. Central Catholic and Modesto Christian will be serious players in Div. IV with national recruit Johnny Mundt key for the Raiders and leading rusher Javaughn Iversen trying to lead a rebound for the Crusaders. championship PREDICTION: Colfax over Central Catholic

TOP TEAMS TO WATCH (2011 record): LeGrand (12-0), Highlands-North Highlands (9-3), Millennium-Tracy (10-1), Rio Vista (9-3). EARLY OFFENSIVE MVP: Dominiec Fuse, WR, Highlands EARLY DEFENSIVE MVP: Tim Beall, DB, Vacaville Christian SURPRISE CONTENDER: Vacaville Christian-Vacaville (7-5) BREAKDOWN: LeGrand has rolled through Div. V in recent years, earning three straight trips to the final, winning each of the last two. The Bulldogs outscored their first 12 opponents of 2011 by a 702-133 margin, but had their 21-game winning streak snapped by Sierra Canyon-Chatsworth in the CIF Small School State Bowl game. Highlands fared best against LeGrand in the playoffs, but the Scots were handled 58-20 by the champions. Highlands’ high-octane offense still returns some firepower behind WR Dominiec Fuse (752 yds., 11 TDs). Newcomer Millennium took an undefeated season into the Div. V semifinals before falling to Highlands, and coach Jayson Dias will have to reload after being hit hard by graduation. Rio Vista and Vacaville Christian are also in the mix, but most schools are likely chasing LeGrand once again. CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: LeGrand over Highlands

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Our pick for the best SJS-related game on each week of the regular season schedule. ◆ 8/24, Elk Grove at Lincoln-Stockton, 7:15 p.m. ◆ 8/31, Nevada Union-Grass Valley at Grant-Sac, 7 p.m. ◆ 9/7, Whitney-Rocklin at Rocklin, 7:30 p.m. ◆ 9/14, Vacaville at Granite Bay, 7:30 p.m. ◆ 9/21, Lincoln-Stockton at St. Mary’s-Stockton, 7:15 p.m. ◆ 9/28, Sacramento at Burbank-Sacramento, 7:15 p.m. ◆ 10/5, Casa Roble-Orangevale at Del Campo-Fair Oaks, 7:30 p.m. ◆ 10/12, Elk Grove at Grant-Sacramento, 7:15 p.m. ◆ 10/19, Hilmar at Escalon, 7:30 p.m. ◆ 10/26, Placer-Auburn at Colfax, 7:30 p.m. ◆ 11/2, Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove at Folsom, 7:15 p.m.

SJS League Championship Predictions DELTA RIVER: Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove; Eagles reload for another title. SIERRA FOOTHILL: Del Oro-Loomis; Tough nonleague schedule boosts Golden Eagles in late season. CAPITAL: Antelope; WR Tyler Winston leads young program to second league title in three years. CAPITAL VALLEY: Casa Roble-Orangevale; RB Kody Jones is key to Rams’ league title defense. CENTRAL CALIFORNIA: Buhach Colony-Atwater; OL Aaron Cochran keeps the Thunder rolling. CENTRAL CALIFORNIA-AA: Millennium-Tracy; LB Alex Lambert anchors Falcons’ defense DELTA VALLEY: Elk Grove; RB/DB Robert Frazier leads deep Thundering Herd roster. GOLDEN EMPIRE: Dixon; RB Hall Korey returns to lead charge for Rams’ GEL repeat. METROPOLITAN: Burbank-Sacramento; Runners Isaiah Williams/Keith Marcus should dominate Metro. MODESTO METRO: Beyer-Modesto; 1,000-yard rusher Aden Ruiz is back to lead Patriots. MONTICELLO EMPIRE: Vacaville; RB/DB Curtis Goins gives Bulldogs shot to repeat in league and section. MOTHER LODE: Argonaut-Jackson; Returning RB Colton Merriman was one of two 1,000-yard rushers for league champs last year. PIONEER VALLEY: Placer-Auburn; Hillmen deep and talented on both sides of the ball. SACRAMENTO METRO: Foresthill; QB Tommy Sawyer is a threat with arm and legs. SAN JOAQUIN-AA: Lincoln-Stockton; Zach Greenlee/Justin Davis offense may overwhelm all comers. SIERRA DELTA: Bradshaw Christian-Sacramento; QB Kevin Williams leads reloaded offense for Pride. SIERRA VALLEY: Cosumnes Oaks-Elk Grove; Talented roster headlined by WR Alex Van Dyke. SOLANO COUNTY: Bethel-Vallejo; Head coach Jeff Turner hopes team can build on Div. I semis appearance. SOUTHERN: LeGrand; Bulldogs have won 22 consecutive league contests dating back to 2008. TRANS VALLEY: Escalon; Coach Mark Loureiro has built a powerhouse with potent offensive scheme. TRI-CITY: St. Mary’s-Stockton; RB Javon Wilson latest threat in Rams’ powerful spread offense. TRI-COUNTY: Inderkum-Sacramento; Tigers seek 7th straight league title despite difficult offseason that depleted roster. VALLEY OAK: Oakdale; QB Spencer Thomas returns to lead the offense for Div. III finalist Mustangs. WESTERN: Central Catholic-Modesto; National recruit TE Johnny Mundt at the center of powerful Raiders’ offense.

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Brandon Monroe, RB/DB, Del Oro-Loomis As a junior, the versatile Brandon Monroe was a big play threat on both sides of the ball during a dream season for the Golden Eagles. In 2012, head coach Casey Taylor hopes to get even more out of his San Jose Statebound senior leader. The key, according to Taylor, will be keeping the seemingly tireless running back/defensive back from doing too much too soon. “Brandon will definitely be featured more at running back this year,” Taylor said of Monroe’s expected increase in carries due to the graduation of backfield mate Nick O’Sullivan. “He is a tremendous athlete who has the ability to take it all the way every time he touches the ball, but we need him to be fresh on defense, especially late in close games.” Monroe rushed for 1,662 yards and 22 touchdowns last year, but racked up the yardage with a solid 6.8 yards per carry average because he and O’Sullivan split the rushing work right down the middle with 243 carries each. The shared workload allowed Monroe to be equally effective in the secondary where he made 56 tackles while recording six sacks and one interception. “I have always played both ways since I started in Pee Wee football,” Monroe said. “I really like to hit on both offense and defense. So as long as I can make

it work to be effective on both sides, I want to be in every play.” That’s where Taylor’s careful watch and potentially tight reins will come into play while Del Oro endures a grueling schedule that includes Southern Section-force Westlake-Westlake Village and local powers Grant and Burbank. The coach said that he hopes to limit his featured back to about 20 carries per game to keep his legs active in anticipation of fourth quarters that will make or break the team’s bid to repeat as league and SJS champs. “It’s hard because he has home run ability whether he is running the ball, catching the ball, and even returning kicks,” Taylor said. “You want the ball in his hands as much as you can because of the chance he has to make big plays.” A natural leader on the field, Monroe is prepared to do whatever he has to do to help his teammates experience another successful season. He figures that he can worry about resting when the season ends. “I expect that it will be a lot tougher than last year,” Monroe said of being the primary ball carrier. “I have never gotten the ball as much as I expect to get it this year, but I am going to embrace it.” — J.M.

THE MONROE FILES ■ THE STATS: Offense: 1,662 yds rushing, 22 TDS, 14 catches for 283 yds, 2 TDs. Defense: 56 tackles (41 solo), six sacks. ■ PRIME TIME PLAYER: Monroe rushed for 556 yards and nine touchdowns in four playoff games. He eclipsed 120 yards in each game and reached the end zone multiple times in every SJS contest. ■ LEADERSHIP: “I try to be as much as I can for my teammates. ... I am more of a leader by example, but I can get vocal if I need to.”

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Offense

Defense

QB – Zack Greenlee (LincolnStockton) 6-2, 190, Sr. Gaining college interest after solid junior season (2,340 yards, 22 TDs) and participation at Elite 11 showcase.

DL – Eddie Vanderdoes (Placer-Auburn) 6-4, 305, Sr. USC-bound talent can dominate games from the trenches.

RB – Justin Davis (LincolnStockton) 6-2, 195, Sr. USC-commit likely to outrun impressive 2011 totals (2,380 yds, 36 TDs) for Div. I-favorite Trojans.

DL – Dedric Allen (Inderkum-Sacramento) 6-1, 215, Sr. Speedy end posted 13 sacks in 2011, most for any underclassman.

RB – Sean Tow (Union Mine-El Dorado) 5-6, 160, Sr. Compact speedster has rushed for more than 2,200 yds and 20 TDs in each of last two seasons.

LB – Tanner Vallejo (Nevada Union-Grass Valley) 6-3, 225, Sr. Boise State-commit has opportunity to claim Miners’ alltime tackles record.

WR – Tyler Winston (Antelope) 6-0, 170, Sr. Great athlete with skills on both sides of the ball; major college interest includes a UCLA offer.

DL – Misi Taifane (Grant-Sacramento) 6-3, 300, Sr. Latest in a string of dominant linemen for a Pacers team seeking a return to glory.

DL – Dalton Hudec (Del Oro-Loomis) 6-0, 210, Sr. Compact lineman had 11 sacks in 2011, leads Golden Eagles on both sides of the ball.

DAVIS

LB – Tui Lopa (Grant-Sacramento) 5-10, 165, Sr. Part of an impressive LB group for Pacers, he had nine sacks and 123 tackles in 2011.

WR – Chris Cooper (Vista del Lago-Folsom) 6-2, 180, Sr. Speedster led all juniors in section with 774 receiving yards and 11 TDs.

DB – Trayvon Henderson (Grant-Sacramento) 6-3, 205, Sr. Versatile talent picked off five passes as a junior, and will also contribute at WR and KR.

TE – Johnny Mundt (Central Catholic-Modesto) 6-5, 240, Sr. Oregon recruit is excellent receiver and blocker for Division IV-power Raiders. OL – Aaron Cochran (Buhach Colony-Atwater) 6-7, 360, Sr. Huge talent keys team’s rushing attack and is attracting multiple major offers.

DB – Na’im McGee (St. Mary’s-Stockton) 6-1, 185, Sr. Prototypical defender had 134 tackles and four interceptions for Rams last year.

OL – Tyler Hecht (Franklin-Elk Grove) 6-3, 300, Sr. Will create openings in Wildcats’ spread offense and disrupt opponents on defense.

DB – Chris Seisay (American Canyon) 6-1, 190, Sr. Oregon-commit had four INTs and nine receiving TDs in what was Wolves’ first varsity season.

OL – Garrett Strohmaier (Jesuit-Carmichael) 6-3, 285, Sr. Heavily-recruited student-athlete will be key to Marauders’ new veer offense. OL – A.J. Samataua (Del Campo-Fair Oaks) 6-3, 315, Sr. Cougars’ run-first offense will follow the lead of its massive leader OL – Nick Terry (Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove) 6-4, 275, Sr. Powerful senior will take the reins as the force up front in the Eagles’ rushing attack UTIL – Brandon Monroe (Del Oro-Loomis) 6-1, 190, Sr. Golden Eagles’ all-everything will carry the rushing workload, get more time at WR, and anchor the defense.

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LB – Beau Hershberger (Granite Bay) 6-3, 225, Sr. Fierce tackler hopes to lead defending Div. I champs to another title.

henderson

DB – Robert Frazier (Elk Grove) 5-9, 180, Sr. Multi-purpose talent is a 1,000-yard rusher who makes big plays on both sides of the ball. PK – Justin Singh (Elk Grove) 5-11, 170, Sr. Converted 9-of-13 field goals as a junior, including a 48-yarder.

August 23, 2012

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Advertiser Index ❒❒ 2nd Annual Baseball Clinic With The Pros...................37 ❒❒ A A A Northern California, Nevada & Utah..................12 ❒❒ A Higher Perspective..................................................24 ❒❒ Antioch Paint Ball.......................................................53 ❒❒ Army National Guard Recruiter.....................................4 ❒❒ Back Forty B B Q.........................................................20 ❒❒ Bald Eagle Sports Camps............................................52 ❒❒ Big 5 Sporting Goods...................................................5 ❒❒ Big O Tires....................................................................2 ❒❒ California Adventure Camps ......................................41 ❒❒ Championship Athletic Fundraising...........................19 ❒❒ Cheergyms.Com.........................................................36 ❒❒ Children’s Hospital And Research Center.....................21 ❒❒ Club Sport..................................................................37 ❒❒ Club Sport Renaissance..............................................34 ❒❒ Clubsport Valley Vista.................................................20 ❒❒ Core Volleyball Club....................................................52 ❒❒ Crowne Plaza.............................................................40 ❒❒ Diablo Car Wash & Detail Center.................................40 ❒❒ Diablo Rock Gym........................................................53 ❒❒ Diablo Trophies & Awards...........................................53 ❒❒ E J Sports Elite Baseball Services................................52 ❒❒ E Teamsponsor...........................................................52 ❒❒ East Bay Sports Academy..................................... 29, 53 ❒❒ Excellence In Sport Performance................................17 ❒❒ Fit 2 The Core..............................................................24 ❒❒ Halo Headband..........................................................40 ❒❒ Heavenly Greens........................................................55 ❒❒ Home Team Sports Photography................................24 ❒❒ Hyatt Place Sacramento / Roseville............................24 ❒❒ Kinders B B Q................................................................7 ❒❒ Law Offices Of Frankel & Goldware.............................40 ❒❒ Midway Paintball Park...............................................52 ❒❒ Mountain Mike’s Pizza................................................28 ❒❒ Norcal Courts..............................................................20 ❒❒ Pleasant Hill Youth Football Rebels............................52 ❒❒ Red Zone Training.......................................................40 ❒❒ Rockin Jump...............................................................47 ❒❒ Sheldon Jr. Huskies Youth Football & Cheer................52 ❒❒ Sky High Sports..........................................................53 ❒❒ Sport Clips..................................................................21 ❒❒ Sports Gallery Authenticated.....................................17 ❒❒ Sports Therapy And Rehab Specialists........................11 ❒❒ Stevens Creek Toyota..................................................25 ❒❒ Sutter Delta..................................................................3 ❒❒ The First Tee Of Contra Costa.......................................40 ❒❒ The First Tee Of The Tri Valley......................................40 ❒❒ The Sports Authority..................................................56 ❒❒ Thunder Sox Baseball Club.........................................37 ❒❒ Tpc / The Pitching Center............................................53

De La Salle-Concord coach Bob Ladouceur delivers his pregame address prior to the Spartans taking the field for the CIF Open Division State Championship bowl game on Dec. 17. They would win 35-0 for their third straight Open title. Can they make it four in 2012?

❒❒ Trucks Training...........................................................18

Photo by Bob Sansoe

❒❒ Universal Sports Academy..........................................31

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❒❒ Umigo Indoor Kart Racing............................................8 ❒❒ United States Youth Volleyball League.......................40 ❒❒ Valley Christian Vikings................................................9

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❒❒ U S K S Martial Arts....................................................40

❒❒ Velocity Sports Performance................................ 35, 53

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BA Issue 51, Aug. 23, 2012  

Bay Area Issue 51, August 23, 2012

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