BLOSSOM VALLEY ATHLETIC LEAGUE’S SANTA TERESA-VALLEY DIVISION
(Predicted order of finish)
No. 1 LEIGH
Coach: Kyle Padia
2021 record: 9-2
What to expect: This season’s version of Leigh may not be the biggest team in the area, but coach Padia still says “we will have a top-level defense this year.” That commitment to defense starts with junior Carter Williams, who led the team in tackles and “is a big playmaker on both sides of the ball.” Calling the shots on defense will be Sayan Shariat and senior Roman Nicoletta, who his coach says “is a leader and plays with extreme passion.” Last year’s league champions are the preemptive favorites to take the crown in 2023.
Season opener: Aug. 26 vs. Lincoln-San Jose, 7 p.m.
No. 2 OVERFELT
Coach: Carlo Maningo
2021 record: 4-5-1
What to expect: A so-so 2021 could be the precursor to a “special” 2022 if Overfelt’s talent pans out as coach Maningo expects. Quinton Toga’i, a 1,000-yard rusher, is a stout 226 pounds and is a load to bring down. Coach Maningo says Mathias Carrillo “is our best athlete” and has D-I potential, as does 6-2 and 240-pound junior linebacker John Stowers. Thomas Beltran and a massive line, who all threw discus and/or shot put in the spring, are expected to set the tone. Maningo says that his players were often “too physical” for other teams in 7-on-7 competitions.
Season opener: Aug. 26 vs. Everett Alvarez, 7 p.m.
No. 3 WESTMONT
Coach: Mark Kaanapu
2021 record: 6-4
What to expect: Zackary Zepeda might be listed as a punter on the roster sheet. But the senior will probably make more noise as a quarterback, where he threw 19 touchdowns and only two interceptions last season. Joining him in the backfield is fellow senior Jacob Lang at tailback, and Haris Kadich has an opportunity to lock down the No. 1 WR spot. Not many teams have a tackle (or player) larger than the 6-6 and 340-pound George Bilionis. Zach Taylor and Alexander Briscoe lead a smaller but fast defense.
Season opener: Aug. 25 at Del Mar, 7 p.m.
No. 4 SOBRATO
Coach: Joel Rueda
2021 record: 6-4
What to expect: Another BVAL team with a new coach, Sobrato has an interesting nucleus of talent for Joel Rueda to gameplan around. Noah Taylor can play quarterback, but coach Rueda says where he shines is as a game-wrecking linebacker. Aidan Butler has game-breaking speed at halfback, and blocker Ryan McGlashan is the rock of the offensive line.
Season opener: Aug. 27 vs. Alisal, 2:30 p.m.
No. 5 GUNDERSON
Coach: Jason Harrison
2021 record: 6-4
What to expect: After playing in the West Valley, the high-flying Grizzlies are playing their first season in the BVAL-Valley. Coach Jason Harrison says the team’s strength lies in its skill positions, where Julian Hildago-Cabrera and Anthony Gomez are capable of making house calls at any time. Running the show is fourth-year starting quarterback Josiah Rangel, whom Harrison hopes can “cap his high school career with big numbers.” Dwonne Brown had five sacks last season and should be even more dangerous after shedding 20 pounds, while two-way tackle Edgar Quezada is an explosive presence inside.
Season opener: Aug. 26 vs. Hill, 7 p.m.
No. 6 PROSPECT
Coach: Rick Esparza
2021 record: 2-8
What to expect: It could be a tough road to playoff contention for Prospect, and a core of key Panthers will be asked to help take those first steps. Senior quarterback Zach Crochiere will lead the team’s inexperienced offense and will lean heavily on junior runner Tommy Lewit to make plays. First-year coach Rick Esparza says lineman Cesar Gamboa is one of the few seniors on the squad who “should be an anchor for the team on both sides of the ball” and may serve as a mentor for the talented sophomore Brandon Lum.
Season opener: Aug. 26 vs. Mount Pleasant, 7 p.m.
Coming in the next two weeks
The Bay Area News Group’s high school football preview package has started to roll out. If you have not already, please subscribe.