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elcome to the main event. Football season is here and we are juiced to get you ready for another season of Northern California football. When our team sat down in early July to plan this issue, it didn’t take long to arrive on the topic of our primary feature of this issue. We’ve called it “Strong Side: Inside Football’s Good Fight,” and it begins on Page 8. Our team of writers have a combined 90 years or more of covering high school football. And while we can all appreciate covering the many other sports that we do, covering football is just different. It doesn’t matter what city, suburb or town. Night or day. Regular season or playoff game. A competitive high school football game has a special kind of vibe. However, with as much love as we have for covering the sport, we’re not deaf to the risks it poses to those who play it. As sportswriters, how could we be? And as participation numbers drop, freshman programs dissolve, and more laws are passed to limit contact, we thought it was time to ask those still playing and coaching a simple question: Why? Not surprisingly, the answers vary. But boy were the players and coaches excited at the opportunity to give them. The game still incites a passion in many people, and it symbolizes different things to different individuals. There are plenty of good reasons for football, and we’re going to spend a season telling them. Ben Enos’ story, which highlights the story of the Maronic family from Bear River-Grass Valley, serves as our introductory piece. Over the course of the year, we’re going to continue the Strong Side Series as we look to tell unique stories as to why certain players and coaches continue to play the game as others begin to stray. Please, let us be clear, this is not us ignoring the science of the highly publicized risks of playing. Those parents, kids and families who choose to leave football, or avoid it altogether, we get it. This is just our chance to look at players, families and coaches who have faced that decision, and choose to hold on. In addition to the story, we hope you’ll go to SportStarsMag.com and check out our accompanying video, along with the long list of responses from people we talked to and simply asked “Why?” Our website will also have numerous expanded Football Preview content leading up to Week Zero’s kickoff on Aug. 23. There will be additional features and previews as well as expanded team rankings and more players to watch throughout the six NorCal sections. Football is back. Let’s go! ✪

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›› FRESH TAKE: Fresh Ison, Moreau Catholic Seek NCS Return ›› SMOOTH LIKE BUTTERFIELD: All Eyes On Liberty-Brentwood’s 4-Star QB ›› RIVER RUN: Bear River-Grass Valley Carries Div. V Title Hopes ›› RETURN TO PARADISE: A School & Program Start Anew ›› PLUS: Expanded Top 30 Rankings & EVEN MORE Players To Watch From NCS, SJS, CCS and Northern Section.

YOUR TICKET TO CALIFORNIA SPORTS ADMIT ONE; RAIN OR SHINE This Vol. #10, Aug. 18, 2019 Whole No. 169 is published by Caliente! Communications, LLC, PO Box 741, Clayton, CA 94517. SportStars™© 2010-2014 by Caliente! Communications, LLC. All rights reserved. Receive FREE Digital Subscription in your inbox. Subscribe at SportStarsMag. com. To receive sample issues, please send $3 per copy, or $8 total for bulk. 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, selfaddressed envelope. SportStars™© and STARS!™© Clinics are registered trademarks of Caliente! Communications, LLC.

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Yes, summer is speeding by, but do not panic. We still have a bit of a fun-filled August to enjoy with friends and family before heading back to school. Choose from these top things to do, all inspired by the very best that Concord has to offer.

1. BOOK AN ESCAPE ROOM

6. CLIMB TO THE TOP

Experience Concord’s buzz-worthy Red Door Escape Room in The Veranda and challenge your group to solve cryptic puzzles to escape in under 60 minutes. There are multiple rooms to choose from, including “Warrior’s Way.” Complete tasks to show the legendary dojo you’re worthy.

Climb your heart out on the best indoor climbing terrain at Diablo Rock Gym — a premiere Bay Area rock climbing gym.

2. WATCH SPORTS Dave & Buster’s is the only place to eat, drink, play and watch sports! Watch for their opening scheduled for early September in The Veranda.

3. LISTEN TO LIVE MUSIC Enjoy live music at the Concord Pavilion, as well as the free Music & Market concerts on Thursdays at Todos Santos Plaza, or enjoy Vibes at The Veranda, Wednesdays, Sept.11-Oct. 16.

4. MAKE A SPLASH The family can make a splash at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor with thrill rides and a relaxing lazy river.

5. CATCH A MOVIE Experience the big screen at three unique venues —The Veranda LUXE Cinema & IMAX, West Wind Solano Drive-In and Brenden Theatre — and don’t forget the popcorn.

7. TAKE IN THE SCENERY Spend a day (or two) at one of Concord’s many parks. Or, plan a picnic at your neighborhood park with an afternoon of soccer, swimming or simply relaxing.

8. GRAB A MEAL Grab a burger at one of our top burger joints, or a slice at our popular pizza joints; you can also experience cuisine from 20+ different countries.

9. GO SHOPPING Shopping always makes for a good day out. Look for that back-to-school or new fall wardrobe at The Veranda, The Willows and Sunvalley shopping centers. Each offers a terrific variety of shopping choices, along with the perfect restaurant and coffee stops for recharging.

10. DISCOVER A HIDDEN GEM Check out Todos Santos Park and Plaza in the heart of the city for art, events, restaurants, entertainment and more.

BOOK YOUR NEXT SPORTS TOURNAMENT IN CONCORD Just 29 miles east of San Francisco, choosing Concord for your sports event or tournament is guaranteed to make your participants happy. From ample lodging and a family-friendly food and entertainment scene to the mild climate — Concord is a place that offers a plethora of exciting possibilities. Put it all together and Concord is a perfect location for your next sports tournament. A TEAM DEDICATED TO YOUR SUCCESS The team at Visit Concord understands that your success is determined by the experience your players and their families have. As such, they work diligently with you to make sure every aspect of the experience meets your standards. We’re sure that after one event, you will look forward to a return trip. Let us help you plan your next athletic event or tournament in Concord. Learn more at VisitConcordCA.com or contact us at info@visitconcordca.com. ✪ — All copy and photos provided by Visit Concord

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Tre Maronic

T

re Maronic has every reason not to play football. In June of 2016, Maronic sat by his brother Toran’s side as the latter laid in a medically induced coma. A freak accident during a non-contact football camp left Toran with a traumatic brain injury so severe that doctors gave him a 10 percent chance of regaining consciousness. Eventually, Toran awoke, and the road to recovery has been nothing short of miraculous. Not only was he able to resume his lacrosse career as a senior at Bear River in Grass Valley, he is now pursuing his personal training license and has started T3 Charities to provide advice and assistance to athletes suffering from traumatic brain injuries. But, as Tre sat by his brother’s side and even though the story had a happy ending, he had his own choice to make. The game he loved so much brought the world to full stop for both he and his family. While they hoped and prayed for Toran to pull through, the natural question arose. “I remember sitting in the hospital while he was in a coma and the doctor came in and said he’s never going to play sports again,” Tre Maronic said. “My parents and I looked at each other and that’s when it all kind of hit us. When the doctor left, they asked me what I thought about playing football. I told them there’s no way they were going to stop me from playing football, even if they didn’t want me to, just because of my love for the game.” High school students find football for a variety of reasons. For some, the game offers a way out, a path to a college scholarship and a career in the NFL. For others, the bond created by the tough, physical nature of the game forges a lasting brotherhood. And for many, high school football provides a sense of belonging for kids who might not otherwise have a place to feel welcome. In every corner of California, those reasons continue to intersect on high school football fields in inner cities, rural towns and suburban subdivisions alike. Travel east down Interstate 80 through Sacramento on a Friday night and the lights of Grant High School illuminate Del Paso Heights. Drive down Interstate 880 through San Leandro at the same time and the lights of Burrell Field are unmistakable. These are community events more than displays of athletic spectacle. The field doesn’t need to feature 11 recruits on offense and 11 recruits on defense to play a part in the fabric of a neighborhood. In almost every respect, individual laurels are immaterial when it comes to high school football’s true value in the high school experience. Participation in the sport continues to decline, bringing into question the long-term health of high school football. The risks are more well known now than ever. Stories on concussions

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dominate the sport’s headlines, and with advances in technology and more data available, those stories occupy a well-deserved spot in the narrative of an inherently violent sport. But even with the risks associated, the intangibles that come along with the game of football continue to serve a purpose for thousands of California high schoolers. Kevin Macy can talk all day about the intangibles that make the sport worthwhile. He has 40 years of practice selling his program to students and parents. First as a coach in Oakland and now as head coach of one of the state’s most consistent winners at Campolindo-Moraga, Macy has long had to play the role of marketer to fill out his roster. “We tell the parents that it’s the first time they’re going to see that their boys believe something is important to them,” Macy said. “It’s a little bit different from other sports. There’s an importance that goes with this sport just because of the nature of the game and the way it’s played. There are no casual observers in this sport, whether it’s parents or the student body.” Macy’s pitch to parents might be different now than it was when he coached in Oakland, but the reason for making that speech is largely the same. In his estimation, football still provides a measure of discipline and direction that provides high school kids with benefits that will last long past graduation. And, he understands the safety concerns that confront the game today, but can still point to Campolindo’s continued success as a product of a consistency in coaching that is becoming far less common in high schools across the state. “There’s no short answers to anything, but I would say the community has to see that the kids can compete and stay safe,” Macy said. “The intangibles can go on forever but nobody’s going to believe those until they believe their kids can be safe playing football. That’s going to come through stability in coaching.” As a high school standout at Berkeley High School, All-Big 12 performer at the University of Colorado and nine-year NFL veteran, Hannibal Navies also sees the big picture when it comes to football’s value. These days, Navies works for The Trust, a program that runs in concert with the NFL Players Association to help NFL players transition to life after football. He also runs 360 Football Academy to provide students with information

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and resources given to new members of the NFL. As an Oakland native who found his way to Boulder, Colorado, Navies has seen firsthand football’s ability to act as a social melting pot. The education he received away from the field has provided skills that benefit him professionally and personally today. “Being able to deal with all kinds of ethnicities and ethnic demographics, different people, and personalities really molded me as a man and allowed me to be able to relate to anybody,” Navies said. “Playing football with all kinds of different people and backgrounds, that’s what life is. Life is not one set of people. Life is not all white, life is not all black, life is a mixture of everybody and different cultures. That’s something that football gave me.” Navies is also able to see football as a means to an end rather than the end itself, which provides a purpose to the game that has little to do with touchdowns or interceptions. “It’s understanding that football is a vehicle and a tool to get you to whatever that next thing is. It’s not a finite thing. If you become a Hall of Famer, it still ends,” Navies said. “Wherever football drops you off, you have to be willing and ready to understand and deal with that. Let me understand the tools I am gaining from football and all the other things I can take away that will make me successful, not just on the field but in general.” And then there is Tre Maronic, whose love for the game has remained constant through a turbulent past few years. He will go on to play in college after finishing his senior season at Bear River. He points to the community support that brings packed grandstands every Friday night as something he will always remember and appreciate. For all the Maronic family has been through, what won’t ever change is a deep affinity for a game that nearly took everything away. “I think it’s really important for not just me but other people to play high school football. I don’t know where I’d be without football,” Maronic said. “You’re required to have the grades you need, you’re required to stay out of trouble. If I wasn’t playing football, I could be going down the wrong path. Same with anybody. “It makes people mature and disciplined and I think that’s a big part of it.” ✪

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“Football is the ultimate team game. Football is challenging. It’s challenging in ways that not all sports are. It challenges you physically, mentally and emotionally, and if forces a team to truly come together in order to be good at it. And I think that part is awesome. You have to build a community.” — Justin Alumbaugh, De La Salle-Concord head coach. View several more responses from players, coaches and administrators throughout Northern California by visiting SportStarsMag.com/ Why-We-Play/

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The Quest For Safety T

he numbers don’t lie — fewer high school students in California are playing high school football. According to the latest report issued by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), 91,305 students played football in 2018. That number represents a 3.1 percent drop over the previous year and marks a 20-year low for participation in the state. For all the positives still associated with football and its impact in communities throughout the state, increased scrutiny around the long-term health of the sport is also at an all-time high. Administrators at both the state and local levels find themselves tasked with a seemingly impossible charge — how to make an inherently violent sport safe. Concord High School principal Rianne Pfaltzgraff enters the 2019-20 school year as president of the North Coast Section Board of Managers, and through her involvement at the section level in recent years, she has seen changes already enacted as well as those still being discussed. Recent rule adjustments that shorten contact time at practices and establish common concussion protocols have demonstrated the section’s willingness to adapt. The next step could come in structural changes to section playoff brackets that would attempt to mitigate unfair matchups that increase risk. “We can implement these rules about reduced contact time and concussion protocol,” Pfaltzgraff said. “But if we’re still going to put kids in situations that are unsafe because of a bracket we’ve set up and used for how many years, those rules can kind of become irrelevant because you’ve got this David and Goliath matchup.” As new rules continue to take hold, the sport continues to evolve. In the meantime, as participation continues to decline, the concern for safety remains paramount for many parents confronted with whether or not to let their kids play. “We are changing, adapting and overcoming in high school football right now,” Bear River-Grass Valley co-coach Scott Savoie said. “The way we teach tackling and the way we teach blocking has changed. The equipment that we are giving our kids is way better than anything we have ever had. We baseline test every kid. ... We are doing everything we can to protect kids.” For her part, Pfaltzgraff, a native Midwesterner who grew up in a community where Friday night football drew the entire town, sees football still as a core element in the high school experience. She does acknowledge something of a shift though, and wonders where that community-building element might come from if participation and interest in the sport continues to decline. “I’m excited for this next year to see how it continues and what we end up landing on and voting on,” Pfaltzgraff said. “I hope it’s something different, because I think we have to do something drastic for the whole picture. Otherwise, nothing’s going to get better. I don’t think the pendulum will swing back; kids are going to continue to be in unsafe situations potentially, and all that will do is reduce the number of kids playing football.” ✪ — Ben Enos

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TOP: Impacttracking helmets used by Cordova High. BOTTOM: Bear River-Grass Valley coach Scott Savoie

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2. FOLSOM (14-1) FINAL 2018 NORCAL RANK: 2 OUTLOOK: A new coaching regime takes over as Paul Doherty begins his tenure after longtime coach Kris Richardson joined the Sacramento State coaching staff. While Doherty will need to break in a new QB to replace SportStars’ Offensive Player of the Year Kaiden Bennett (Boise State), there are still plenty of weapons at the new coach’s disposal. They include three-year all-purpose back Daniyel Ngata, four-star WR Elijhah Badger and three-star defensive end DeShawn Lynch. The Bulldogs are still the best of the Sac-Joaquin Section until proven otherwise. KEY GAMES: No. 1 DE LA SALLE, 9/13; No. 5 MENLOATHERTON-ATHERTON, 9/27; No. 28 DEL ORO-LOOMIS, 11/1

3. LIBERTY-BRENTWOOD (13-1)

Dorian Hale (20) and Shamar Garrett

1. DE LA SALLE-CONCORD (11-1 IN 2018) FINAL 2018 NORCAL RANK: 1 OUTLOOK: No surprise here. The Spartans enter 2019 with 27 straight North Coast Section championships, 10 straight CIF Open Division State Bowl game appearances, and a 299-game unbeaten streak against NorCal opponents. This year’s squad returns skill players throughout the offense, including senior Shamar Garrett, a three-year starting all-purpose back and free safety. Dual-threat junior QB Dorian Hale also returns, as do his top two receiving targets, senior Grant Daley and junior Lu Magia Hearns. The secondary will be a major strength, with linebackers being the most inexperienced group. KEY GAMES: ST. THOMAS AQUINAS-FT. LAUDERDALE (Florida), 8/23; @ No. 2 Folsom, 9/13; BUCHANAN-CLOVIS, 9/20; @ No. 11 Monte Vista-Danville, 10/4; @ No. 10 Clayton Valley Charter-Concord 11/1

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FINAL 2018 NORCAL RANK: 3 OUTLOOK: Oregon-bound four-star QB Jay Butterfield is back to lead the offense. But the defending CIF 1-A State Bowl champions will have new faces at just about every other offensive skill position. Both lines will be healthy and the defense should have playmakers. How quickly the new faces on offense become impact players will determine if the Lions are a Top 5 team in December. KEY GAMES: @ No. 14 Oakdale, 8/30; vs. No. 10 Clayton Valley-Concord (@ James Logan HS/Honor Bowl), 9/7; No. 11 MONTE VISTA-DANVILLE, 9/13; No. 6 PITTSBURG, 10/18

4. VALLEY CHRISTIAN-SAN JOSE (11-3) FINAL 2018 NORCAL RANK: 5 OUTLOOK: QB Cory Taylor and 1,200-yard rusher Isaiah Mcelvane return, but the Warriors will be a defensive juggernaut. Which is saying something considering they allowed seven points or less in eight of their 14 games last season. Defensive standouts include LB Moon Ashby, DE JT Reed, CB Deven Vanderbilt and FS Kavir Bains. KEY GAMES: No. 12 WILCOX-SANTA CLARA, 8/30; No. 22 PLEASANT VALLEY-CHICO, 9/6; No. 20 ST. FRANCISMOUNTAIN VIEW, 9/27; @ No. 8 Serra-San Mateo, 11/2

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2. FOLSOM

5. MENLO-ATHERTON-ATHERTON (12-2)

8. SERRA-SAN MATEO (7-5)

FINAL 2018 NORCAL RANK: 10 OUTLOOK: The head coach has changed, but the returning skill players are everywhere for the defending CIF 3-AA State Bowl champs. Troy Franklin is one of the top recruited junior wide receivers in the country, and senior Justin Anderson is a premier two-way player at RB/WR/DB. The Bears’ JV team went 9-1 last season, too. KEY GAMES: @ No. 8 Serra-San Mateo, 9/7; @ East-Salt Lake City (Utah), 9/13; @ No. 2 Folsom, 9/27

FINAL 2018 NORCAL RANK: 21 OUTLOOK: Plenty of experience returns, including RB Nate Sanchez, RB Jackson Lataimua and WR Terence Loville. Senior QB Daylin McLemore takes over behind center after rave reviews from 7-on-7 events. DE Nusi Malani will lead the defense. Also keep an eye on RB/DB Dylan Eaton. KEY GAMES: No. 6 PITTSBURG, 8/31; No. 5 MENLO-ATHERTON-ATHERTON, 9/7; @ No. 20 St. Francis-Mountain View, 10/18; No. 4 VALLEY CHRISTIAN-SAN JOSE, 11/2

6. PITTSBURG (7-4)

9. CENTRAL CATHOLIC-MODESTO (11-2)

FINAL 2018 NORCAL RANK: 8 OUTLOOK: It says something when the preseason No. 6 team is considered under the radar to start a season. Expect plenty of new faces, but no shortage of athletes. RB Avant Muldrow is among the few offensive returners. He’ll benefit from an offensive line led by Div. I recruits Ryan Lange and Samiuela Fonongaloa. Transfer RB Brian Pierce will also boost the run game. KEY GAMES: @ No. 7 St. Mary’s-Stockton, 8/23; @ No. 8 Serra-San Mateo, 8/31; No. 15 BISHOP O’DOWD-OAKLAND, 9/13; No. 12 WILCOX-SANTA CLARA, 9/20; @ No. 3 LibertyBrentwood, 10/18

FINAL 2018 NORCAL RANK: 14 OUTLOOK: An argument could easily be made that the Raiders are the No. 2 team in the Sac-Joaquin Section to begin 2019. Expect big seasons from RB Minaya Olivo and QB Dalton Durossette. WR Sithri Price and TE Nick Sani will be key passing targets. The learning curve of the defense will determine how dominant this group can be. KEY GAMES: No. 1 DE LA SALLE-CONCORD, 8/30; @ No. 7 St. Mary’s-Stockton, 9/6; @ No. 29 Manteca, 9/20; No. 14 OAKDALE, 11/1

7. ST. MARY’S-STOCKTON (7-5) FINAL 2018 NORCAL RANK: 18 OUTLOOK: The Rams had a fairly young nucleus a year ago and will benefit from a handful of key returners, including QB Noah May, RB Tyrei Washington, WR Jared Gipson, WR/LB Elijah Wood and LB Nick Huggins. Watch junior LB Izaiah Aponte for a potential breakout year as well. KEY GAMES: No. 6 PITTSBURG, 8/23; No. 9 CENTRAL CATHOLIC-MODESTO, 9/6; No. 8 SERRA-SAN MATEO, 9/13; @ No. 1 DE LA SALLE-CONCORD, 9/27; @ No. 17 Tracy, 10/18

10. CLAYTON VALLEY-CONCORD (9-2) FINAL 2018 NORCAL RANK: 9 OUTLOOK: The newest member of the East Bay Athletic League should fit in just fine. While 1,500-rusher Makhi Gervais may not return, according to Bay Area News Group, the Ugly Eagles will still have plenty of firepower. Impact guys will include RB/DB Carson Sumter, WR/DB Rayshawn Jackson and sophomore RB Rashaan Woodland II. KEY GAMES: vs. No. 2 Liberty-Brentwood (@ James Logan HS/Honor Bowl), 9/7; @ No. 25 California-San Ramon, 10/4; No. 11 MONTE VISTA-DANVILLE, 10/25; @ No. 1 De La SalleConcord, 11/1

THE NEXT 10 11. MONTE VISTA-DANVILLE (7-4, 2018 Final Rank: NR) 12. WILCOX-SANTA CLARA (14-1, 2018 FR: 11) 13. CARDINAL NEWMAN-SANTA ROSA (11-1, 2018 FR: 12) 14. OAKDALE (9-4, 2018 FR: NR) 15. BISHOP O’DOWD-OAKLAND (12-2, 2018 FR: 20)

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16. INDERKUM-SACRAMENTO (11-1, 2018 FR: 16) 17. TRACY (8-4, 2018 FR: NR) 18. MCCLYMONDS-OAKLAND (12-2, 2018 FR: 19) 19. MARIN CATHOLIC-KENTFIELD (10-4, 2018 FR: 24) 20. ST. FRANCIS-MOUNTAIN VIEW (11-3, 2018 FR: 6) ✪

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QB JAY BUTTERFIELD (LIBERTY-BRENTWOOD) SR. | 6-6, 200 Oregon-bound, four-star talent will be “The Man” on offense full of fresh faces. QB CARL RICHARDSON (SALINAS) SR. | 6-4, 210 He completed 73 percent of his passes for more than 3,600 yards as a junior; Pac-12 taking interest QB JACKSON PAVITT (CARDINAL NEWMAN-SANTA ROSA) SR. | 6-2, 190 The Cardinals’ dual-threat leader accounted for 41 TD through air and ground in 2018 RB DANIYEL NGATA (FOLSOM) SR. | 5-9, 180 Four-star recruit returns for his senior year after scoring 20 TDs as a junior. RB CAM SKATTEBO (RIO LINDA) SR. | 5-10, 200 A record number of yards (3,550) and touchdowns (42) wasn’t enough for Skattebo as he returns for more. RB RALEEK BROWN (EDISON-STOCKTON) SO. | 5-9, 165 Young, but explosive, Brown is ready to improve on a dynamic 28-TD freshman season. RB FRESH ISON (MOREAU CATHOLIC-HAYWARD), SR. | 5-11, 205 Ison used quick, but bruising style to amass more than 2,000 yards for the 2018 NCS Div. IV runner-up RB ISAIAH NEWELL (LAS LOMAS-WALNUT CREEK), SR. | 6-2, 220 A central figure in the Knights’ rebirth, the 2,000-yard rusher committed to Oregon State on Aug. 16 RB HANS GRASSMANN (PLACER-AUBURN), SR. | 6-4, 230 He’ll be the go-to back in 2019 after rushing for 1,600+ yards and 24 TD as a junior. WR ELIJHAH BADGER (FOLSOM) SR. | 6-2, 195 Overshadowed as an underclassman, Badger is ready to prove his four-star worth as the leading receiver. WR TROY FRANKLIN (MENLO-ATHERTON-ATHERTON) JR. | 6-2, 170 He’ll enter the season as the No. 3-ranked junior receiver in the country, by 247sports.com WR JAMIR SHEPERD (PALO ALTO) SR. | 6-2, 185 He holds at least three Pac-12 offers after catching 19 TD passes as a junior. WR GRANT DALEY (DE LA SALLE-CONCORD) SR. | 6-2, 190 His other sport is baseball — and he’s a home run hitter in the DLS passing game (36 yds. per catch in 2018) TE BROCK BOWERS (NAPA) JR. | 6-4, 205 Several big schools are vying for this four-star prospect currently ranked among top 10 TE nationally (247sports.com). TE KALEO BALLUNGAY (KIMBALL-TRACY) SR. | 6-5, 235 Cal has nabbed the commitment of this big target who averaged 23 yards a catch last season. OL FRANK POSO (BRANHAM-SAN JOSE) SR. | 6-5, 320 The All-NorCal tackle committed to Nevada in late June. OL EVERETT JOHNSON (TURLOCK) SR. | 6-8, 290 It’s the second straight year on the SportStars All-Preseason team for this Cal-committed tackle. OL ANDRES DEWERK (LOS GATOS) SR. | 6-7, 310 Close friends with Poso, he committed on the same day — choosing USC. OL AIDAN FINNEY (PLEASANT VALLEY-CHICO) SR. | 6-7, 260 Arguably the Northern Section’s highest-rated recruit, the hulking tackle has multiple Pac-12 offers. OL MOSE VAVAO (ST. FRANCIS-MOUNTAIN VIEW) SR. | 6-3, 290 Agile guard will anchor both lines for a rebuilding Lancers team hoping to surprise. OL PAYTON ZDROIK (LIBERTY-BRENTWOOD) SR. | 6-1, 260 Tireless and non-stop performer on both lines for the defending state bowl champs. Holds five scholarship offers. K RONAN DONNELLY (SACRED HEART PREP-ATHERTON) SR. | 6-1, 175 SportStars’ 2018 All-NorCal kicker connected on 12 of 17 field goals with a long of 47.

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Jay Butterfield, Liberty

DL OMARR NORMAN-LOTT (GRANT-SACRAMENTO) SR. | 6-4, 305 Among section’s best pass rushers, he had 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and two fumble recoveries in 2018. DL DESHAWN LYNCH (FOLSOM) SR. | 6-5, 265 Harnessing rare combination of size and speed, Lynch ranks among nation’s top 40 senior defensive ends. DL JAMAR SEKONA (MARIN CATHOLIC-KENTFIELD) SR. | 6-4, 295 A three-year starter and four-star recruit, Sekona committed to USC on July 30. DL NUSI MALANI (SERRA-SAN MATEO) SR. | 6-6, 250 Boise State, Nebraska, Colorado and Arizona State have all offered the Padres’ talented pass rusher. DL AKIL CALHOUN (LIBERTY-BRENTWOOD) JR. | 6-4, 230 His late fourth-quarter strip sack sealed a see-saw CIF Div. 1-A regional final at Valley ChristianS.J. DL SAMIUELA FONONGALOA (PITTSBURG) SR. | 6-1, 290 Returning three-year starter will be an anchor on both Pirates lines in 2019. LB ELIJAH LASH (LAS LOMAS-WALNUT CREEK) SR. | 6-3, 240 This De La Salle transfer has the potential to break out as one of Bay’s top defensive talents. LB MARCUS JONES JR. (MONTEREY TRAIL-ELK GROVE) SR. | 6-0, 190 A tackling machine, Jones Jr. racked up over 100 tackles in each of his first two varsity seasons. LB MASON MASTROV (CAMPOLINDO-MORAGA) SR. | 6-5, 220 The recent SMU-commit will be the linchpin of a solid Cougars defense in 2019. LB GARY ALEXANDER (MCCLYMONDS-OAKLAND) SR. | 5-10, 210 The El Cerrito transfer will make an immediate impact on both sides of the ball for the Warriors. LB MOON ASHBY (VALLEY CHRISTIAN-SAN JOSE) SR. | 6-5, 205 Offers are starting to pile up for the versatile outside linebacker. LB OSARO AIHIE (SAN LEANDRO) SR. | 6-1, 220 A two-way standout for the Pirates, Aihie had 76 tackes in 2018 and rushed for seven TD. LB WILL SCHWEITZER (LOS GATOS), JR. | 6-4, 210 He’s one to watch as he enters season ranked among state’s Top 100 junior recruits. DB DEJUAN BUTLER (ANTIOCH) SR. | 6-0, 165 The Cal-commit had 48 tackles from the cornerback position a year ago. DB DEVEN VANDERBILT (VALLEY CHRISTIAN-SAN JOSE) SR. | 5-11, 170 Lauded as one of the CCS’ top cover corners, Vanderbilt recently earned an offer from BYU. DB JUSTIN ANDERSON (MENLO-ATHERTON-ATHERTON) SR. | 6-0, 170 Boston College, Iowa State among schools lining up for the corner who had five INTs in 2018. DB TREY PASTER (BUHACH COLONY-ATWATER) SR. | 6-2, 190 He committed to Cal in mid-July, choosing the Bears over UCLA, Oregon, Washington and Arizona. DB NATE RUTCHENA (MONTE VISTA-DANVILLE) SR. | 6-3, 195 Gifted two-sport athlete (hoops) had five INTs last season and averaged close to 27 yards per return. AP SHAMAR GARRETT (DE LA SALLE-CONCORD) JR. | 5-7, 170 Spartans’ ultimate weapon is 1,000-yard rusher, top-end free safety and a dangerous returner. AP TREVOR POPE (TRACY) SR. | 6-1, 165 The Oregon State-commit had 800+ yards both rushing and receiving, 21 TD and four INTs on defense in 2018. AP PAUL M. ROSA (WILCOX-SANTA CLARA) SR. | 5-7, 175 He led 3-A State Bowl champs with more than 2,000 yards of offense, 44 tackles and three INTs on defense.

Trevor Pope, Tracy Stu Jossey photo

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AP JERMAINE TERRY (KENNEDY-RICHMOND) JR. | 6-4, 235 Holds offer from Alabama, considered among the top junior athlete recruits in the nation.

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NCVA Closes Out Its Beach Season With Open Championships Three months of Northern California Volleyball Association beach competition came to a crescendo at the No Dinx/NCVA Open Beach Championships on Aug. 3 in Santa Cruz. The NCVA crowned nine champions over the course of the afternoon amidst the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean. The pairing of Katerina Matta and Audrey Han won the Under-12 Girls Division, besting runners-up Evangeline Pacheco and Lauryn Matsumoto. Elle Wang and Kathleen Suayan took gold in the U13 Girls Division with Meghan Kagehiro and Tatum Luna earning silver. The U14 Girls Division gold went to the duo of Skye Smolinski and Logan Walter. They outlasted Emma Winter and Alexandra Martinez. In the U15 Girls Division, Tara Ozdemir and Madison White took home the title. Dyllan Sorlano and Natalie Peete placed second. Marilu Pally and Shiley Morrison paired up to win the U16 Girls Division, topping the second-place duo of Kiley Kane and Hailee Mulic. In the oldest girls division, it was Julie and Allison Lawrence taking the U18 top spot over Haylee Opalenik and Morgan Purdy. There were three boys divisions contested. Zachary Namimatsu and Tyler Rivas earned gold in the U14 Division ahead of Simon Hua and Kevin Tomita. Nathan Brooks and Cos Masters were the champions of the U16 field as Marcus Page and Adin Jepsky finished as runners-up. Finally, in the U18 Boys division, it was a brother and sister entry that took gold. Jacob Van Groningen and his sister Emily won the top boys division while Rylee Carlson and Teofilo Diaz took second. Next up on the NCVA calendar will be the Boys Power League. Qualifier tournaments will begin Sept. 14-15. To learn more about all of the NCVA programs, make sure to visit NCVA.com. âœŞ

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WILCOX ENTERS NEW TERRITORY AS IT PREPARES TO FOLLOW ITS MOST SUCCESSFUL SEASON EVER

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or Wilcox High-Santa Clara’s football team, it’s been about shattering barriers and destroying preconceived notions. Barriers were blown away during the Chargers’ outstanding 2018 season in which they won their first 12 games and finished 14-1, not only playing in their first CIF NorCal and State Bowl Games, but winning each to blast through two massive championship barricades. And they smashed any preconceived notions that Wilcox can be tabbed a baseball school, with its five Central Coast Section championships on the diamond in the 21st century and a field named for former Oakland A’s third baseman Carney Lansford. Now the football players are making names for themselves. “Baseball has been the most consistent sport at our school,” said Wilcox football coach Paul Rosa, who coached the baseball team to two of those section titles before taking the gridiron job in 2015. “Now in football, our numbers are up. We have a freshman group of 35-40 out there working, and that is at a time when other schools aren’t able to field a freshman team. So it is like we have an extra team out there learning how to do the right thing.” There’s a special brand of determination at Wilcox, which enters the season ranked No. 12 in NorCal by SportStars. The Chargers bring a gritty work ethic and look to a handful of experienced stars to contribute in a variety of ways. With the bar raised, their schedule becomes even tougher. It starts with an Aug. 30 opener at No. 4 Valley ChristianSan Jose. Wilcox has added No. 6 Pittsburg for another road

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STORY BY MIKE WOOD PHOTOS BY DOUG STRINGER Left to right, Paul M. Rosa, Samuela Lolo, Roan Poulivaati and Paul Rosa

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Paul M. Rosa

Roan Poulivaati

challenge on Sept. 20, as the Chargers travel for six of their 10 games. Playing in the competitive Santa Clara Valley Athletic League, they face Palo Alto, Los Gatos and Milpitas amid a four-game midseason stretch. “I think we’re fired up and we just want to work hard and hope everything turns out well,” senior running back/kicker/wide receiver Paul M. Rosa, son of the head coach said. The 5-foot-7, 180-pound Rosa brings plenty of heart and exceptional playmaking ability, as his 30 touchdowns last year were the second-highest in the CCS. “You can trust him to do his job, and he always seems to find the hole,” said senior lineman Samuela Lolo. “When you see him break for a run, you know not a lot of people are going to catch him.” Rosa is well aware that the state bowl win has greatly changed opponents’ perception. “Now that we are the team to beat, we know we never will be taken lightly anymore,” he said. “We can’t slack off.” There was no slacking off last year, as Wilcox opened with a hard-fought 10-6 win over Valley Christian to start that 12-game win streak and then seemed primed for a section crown. But with the exception of Division II championship teams in 1995 and 1997, CCS title games have been a source of frustration for Wilcox. The 2018 team became the eighth from the school to fall in a CCS final, and that loss was in absolutely crushing fashion. The Chargers’ CCS Open Division I title hopes unraveled in a nightmarish fourth quarter with four turnovers, as MenloAtherton (itself an eventual state champion) came from 28-14 down to win 33-28. There wasn’t much time to shake off that devastating loss before the school’s first NorCal game. “That was one of the most challenging weeks in my coaching career in any sport, to be 12-0 and lose an epic game and lose it in a bad way, even though it was to a great team,” Rosa said. A bonding team barbecue was a great mood-lifter, players agreed. Then it was back to practice. “We didn’t have a great first practice, but for the second one, we came out fired up, and after that great practice we realized we could do something in NorCal,” Paul M. Rosa said. Being in new bowl-game terrain helped restore focus. “We had never been to a NorCal game,” the coach said. “In our culture, it was all about CCS. Now things have changed. And they weren’t just there for the experience.” “Everyone just forgot about the loss and went into the NorCal game and just played it,” senior running back and linebacker, Roan Poulivaati said, “Yes, it was our first time there, but it felt like a game we needed to win because of the week before — so 22

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Samuela Lolo we could prove ourselves again.” The magic returned quickly against then-undefeated Capital Christian-Sacramento as Ryan Cooper returned a kickoff 99 yards for the Chargers’ first score in an eventual 34-30 Div. 3-A NorCal win. In their 41-27 State Bowl win over Kaiser-Fontana, the Chargers never attempted a pass as Gabe Herrera rushed for 246 yards and four touchdowns and Rosa went for 117 yards and a score. With stars like Cooper and Herrera having graduated, returning veterans will need to do more. That task fits the multifaceted Paul M. Rosa, who enters his fourth varsity season with a heavy mix of seasoning, talent and energy. “Because he played as a frosh on varsity, it was like he had been a senior year last year, and he was a leader and was a captain,” the coach said. “It’s nice to get a guy for a third year, but when you get a guy for a fourth year, that is great. And he’s in a different role. Now he is the guy. With Ryan Cooper being gone, Gabe being gone, he is the guy.” To propel a vaunted running game that saw Rosa and Herrera each run for close to 1,600 yards a year ago, Wilcox is turning to two players to work alongside Rosa. There’s a powerback in Poulivaati, who at middle linebacker led the Chargers in total tackles with 108 in addition to 4.5 sacks last season. And there’s a speedster in Aaron Ah Sing. “I’m pretty excited to play both ways this year,” Poulivaati said. “Last year we just talked about it a little, but now we are going to go for it.” Likewise, talented defensive tackle Lolo will also start at guard, joining linchpin tackles Osiris Niko and Scott Smith in the important responsibility of creating space for the big-time running game. “I just know I cannot get tired; I know I can play both ways because it is about being mentally tough,” Lolo said. “In your head, you have to say to yourself: one more play.” And if the Chargers can bring on the magic once again, they should earn plenty more plays and more dates on their schedule. ✪ Follow us on Twitter & Instagram, like us on Facebook!

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Oakland Section Preview

Mack Keeps Trucking After Three-Peat

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fter the first state title, McClymonds football coach Michael Peters figured anything after would be gravy. His plate has runneth over. With a 32-6 win over Garfield-Los Angeles last season, the Warriors became just the third team in state history to win a third straight CIF State Bowl championship. This one came at the Division 4-A level. The Warriors haven’t exactly cake walked to the titles, despite what the numbers — outscoring foes HOW THEY’LL FINISH 1,715-404, while compiling a record of 39-3 — might 1. McClymonds; 2. Oakland Tech; suggest. Last year, Peters, the father of Rams safety 3. Oakland. 4. Skyline; Marcus Peters, beefed up his schedule and took a 5. Castlemont; 6. Fremont couple defeats. The team lost to state Division 1-A champion Liberty-Brentwood (42-14) and Palo Alto BEST OF THE TOWN (29-20). Top MVP Candidate: WR-DB The Warriors (12-2) outscored everyone else 483Edward Woods, McClymonds 40. Top Offensive Player: Montrell Smith, McClymonds “It’s been a pretty good run,” said Peters, a lifetime Top OL: James Willoughby, assistant before taking over in 2013 when no one else McClymonds would take the head coaching position. “There’s a lot Top DL: Jonathan Phan, Oakland of pressure on these guys. They haven’t lost a league Top LB: Semaj Sims, McClymonds game in nine years. Everyone just expects them to Top DB: Woods, McClymonds perform.” Breakout Performer: Dreyan Paul, If they’re going to get a fourth straight state title, McClymonds they’ll need to learn on the fly. The Warriors return just four starters, receiverdefensive back Edward Woods, linebacker Semaj Sims, running back/safety Montrell Smith and two-way lineman James Willoughby (6-foot-4, 270). Woods (6-0, 175) has 15 college offers, according to Peters, and Willoughby has a pair of offers. Sophomore quarterback Dreyan Paul will take almost all the snaps, as he did last season once starter K’aun Green went down for the season with an injury. The 5-10, 160-pounder has a strong arm, but loves to run too. “We don’t want him running around too much,” Peters said. “We can’t afford to get him hurt. “He came in last year and showed what he can do. He’s not scared of the moment.” With 70 players in the program (there are two teams), the Warriors are in better shape than they’ve been in previous years. And even though the league winning streak doesn’t look in jeopardy —“I look at everyone as a threat,” Peters said. “Everyone will be coming after us.” — like last year, he wanted to beef up his schedule early. Mack opens at North Bay power Marin Catholic-Kentfield at 2 p.m. on Aug. 31. The Warriors also host perennial Northern California power Campolindo-Moraga and travel to San Leandro. “We gotta get tough for the postseason,” Peters said. “It worked last year and I’m hoping it will again.” ✪ — Mitch Stephens

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San Francisco Section Preview

AAA Should Be Land Of Lincoln

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he backups for perhaps the most accomplished team in San Francisco Section/Academic Athletic Association history learned extensively in 2018. Lincoln’s 13-0 season and first state championship was easy on the eyes, said Mustangs’ coach Phil Ferrigno. His team outscored foes 449-128, won the Turkey Day Game for the section crown 53-0 over Mission and generally dominated most games start to finish. “Last year was the perfect storm,” Ferrigno said. “We had a bunch of talented seniors who bought in, all in the right spots, and it went perfectly. It was great. It was awesome. But that was last year.” Ferrigno said his current 21-man roster also has HOW THEY’LL FINISH some good talent. They’re just short game experience. 1. Lincoln; 2. Balboa. 3. Mission. “We had guys last year who bailed them out on the 4. Burton. 5. Galileo; 6. Lowell. 7. field,” Ferrigno said. “I told the current seniors ‘now Washington you have to bail out other guys,’ They have to prove BEST OF THE CITY themselves.” Top MVP Candidate: OL-DL Leo A couple returners have proven themselves imGallegos, Lincoln pressively. Top Offensive Player: A. J. The best of the bunch may be one of the league’s Velasquez, Balboa biggest players, 6-foot-3, 280-pound two-way lineTop OL: Joel Martinez, Mission man Leo Gallegos, the AAA’s Offensive Lineman of Top DL: Gallegos, Lincoln the Year in 2018. Top LB: Kobe Cabuntala, Galileo “He’s big and physical, strong and quick for his Top DB: Julian Milton, Mission size,” Ferrigno said. “If he was playing anywhere else Breakout Performer: Jalen (in the Bay Area), people would be looking at him.” Williams, Lincoln Two other juniors off last year’s team earned second-team All-AAA, defensive lineman Sikoti Manumua and defensive back Luis Contreras. On the offensive side, the Mustangs need to replace almost all of their starters, including AAA Player of the Year Jovon Baker. Look for Contreras, Jalen Williams and others to carry the load by committee. The quarterback job is completely up for grabs, Ferrigno said. One thing for sure is that Nick Walker will make a huge contribution. Ferrigno calls him the Swiss Army knife. “He can play linebacker, either line, tight end, he does it all,” The rest of the league looks in flux, especially perennial threat Galileo, the 2017 state Division 6-A champion. Not only did the Lions lose 2017 AAA Player of the Year Yarvell Smith — he moved out of the area, according to Ferrigno — but longtime coach Mark Huynh resigned in the spring. Huynh completely turned around a flailing program, going from 0-9 in 2008 to 9-3 and a SFS crown in 2009, his first year as head coach. In 10 seasons, the Lions went 62-51, with another section crown in 2013 when they went 12-1. “He was a heck of a coach,” Ferrigno said. “He put everything he had into it. Sorry to see him go.” Ferrigno knows about giving it his all. This will be his 18th season as head coach for the Mustangs, who have won seven SFS titles since 2005. “It’s the three Ds,” he said. “Be dedicated to do your best. Disciplined to stay dedicated every day. And have a desire to be great.” ✪ — Mitch Stephens

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NEWE BEGINNI 26

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Doug Longero Had No Intention Of Returning To The Las Lomas Sidelines — Until He Met Isaiah Newell

ELL INGS ISAIAH NEWELL

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saiah Newell walks into the Las Lomas High football office like he’d walk into his own living room. He wears a big smile as he strides to an empty coach’s desk and sits down to change into his uniform for a photo shoot. He’s just come from studying for a final he’ll have at Diablo Valley College later that night — a sign language class he’s taking to assure he’ll be NCAA-eligible when he graduates in nine months. Knights head coach Doug Longero asks how it went. The response is far from the typical “Good, coach,” kiss-off. Newell begins unloading about his morning with plenty of detail. He finishes by making sure Longero received the essay he sent him to proofread. Longero confirmed and said he’d read it soon. The more one sees, the more it becomes obvious that Newell’s comfort in the coaches’ office has nothing to do with the fact that he’s a three-star running back with multiple Pac-12 offers. This is a second home to him. Truth be told, it’s the relationship shared between Longero and Newell that could be considered the genesis for the Walnut Creek school’s turnaround from an 0-10 season in 2016 to 12-1 in 2018. Longero was four years removed from stepping down after an impressive 14-year run coaching the Knights when Newell became one of his freshmen P.E. students. “I don’t think I ever actually thought I was coming back,” said Longero, who won 113 games and three North Coast Section championships with the Knights from 1999-2012. “I had Isaiah in P.E. and I knew his story and all that. I thought I could help this young man. I decided at that time to come back.” Newell’s father had passed away when he was in eighth grade and Longero slowly evolved into a key male role model for him. And as that role model, Longero knew Newell needed football. Las Lomas football also needed Newell. After going 16-8 in the first two seasons following Longero’s exit, things bottomed out for the Knights. The varsity program went just 1-19 over the next two years. The junior varsity was winless over that same period. “It was hard,” Longero said of watching the program he’d built sputter. “It was hard to sit here every day and just see these guys and the pain they were having. It was tough seeing that pain and seeing them not having the same success and the same things we had provided for these young men for all those years.” Newell distinctly remembers when Longero told him things were going to change. “My freshman year, nobody cared about the (football) team, I’ll be honest,” Newell said. “But I remember Longero coming up to me as a freshman and telling me he was coming back to coach for my sophomore year, and that he was going to change the culture.” The Knights won three games on the field in 2017, and picked up a fourth through a retroactive forfeit. Newell gained over 1,500 yards rushing and the team reached the Division. III playoffs, ending their season with a first-round exit to Rancho CotateRohnert Park. All of which set the stage for a confident bunch to return in the spring. The culture had changed. And Newell could see it. “It’s not easy obviously,” the running back said. “You’ve got to show up at 6 o’clock in the morning in February every day. You’ve got to show hard work and dedication. You got to work at your craft every day. Get better every day. That’s what changes a culture. “You need guys you can trust who are willing to play. It’s not just one guy on a team. It’s not just two guys. It takes a whole team to change a culture.” Jalen Apalit-Williams wasn’t part of that first year. The junior receiver and defensive back transferred in from Alhambra-Martinez for 2018. He and Newell knew each other and Newell assured him that good things were happening. But he only needed his first day with the team to know it was a program he wanted to be part of. “The first thing Coach Longero did was take me to the weight room where every-

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body was and say, ‘This is our new player,’” Apalit-Williams recalled. “Everyone started going crazy and I thought, ‘This is the place.’” With players bought in, and more talent than just Newell — the 2018 team also featured talented seniors in tight end Blake Thorpe (now at UC Davis) and quarterback Dylan Graham (DVC) — the Knights won their first 12 games on their way to the Diablo Athletic LeagueValley Division championship and a NCS Div. III semifinals appearance. Newell racked up 2,166 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns during his junior season. ApalitWilliams caught three touchdown passes in his first game, which came after a four-game transfer sit-out period. He now holds six offers, including one from Colorado State. Lineman Zach Transue logged 23 sacks during the season. With all three back among 13 returning starters and some impact transfers, Las Lomas is firmly back on the map among competitive Bay Area programs. The rebuild is complete. Newell comes into his senior year having committed to Oregon State on Aug. 15, his dad’s birthday. “Every single offer I got, I would just think of my dad,” Newell said. “And I thought that when 28

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Left to right, Isaiah Newell, Doug Longero and Jalen Apalit-Williams

I choose the school I’m going to go to, I’m going to announce it on his birthday. This was his dream for me, which makes it the best gift someone could give.” It doubled as a special moment for Longero as well. “It’s a unique bond,” the coach said. “He and I are super close outside the football field. There’s a lot of support I provide for him on and off the field. His mom has been a wonderful human being for him, providing structure and all that. I’m just filling a guiding role. “I’m so proud of what he’s done for himself. It’s been awesome to see him mature as a student and as a person.” If all goes to plan, the coach will have a chance to be proud of several more Knights come this postseason. “I think we can be something special,” Apalit-Williams said. His close friend and teammate shared that same confidence. “We put a lot of people on notice,” Newell said. “A lot of people know that the Knights are back, and we’re going to prove that in 2020.” ✪ Follow us on Twitter & Instagram, like us on Facebook!

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NCVA Issue 169  

NCVA Issue 169  

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