High school football 2023: Five storylines as Bay Area teams begin practice

For thousands of high school football players across the Bay Area, the long off-season of conditioning, camps and endless drills is over.

Now it’s time to put the preparation to use.

Practice for the new season officially starts on Friday for schools in the Central Coast Section, a jurisdiction that stretches from San Francisco to King City.

The North Coast Section, which includes East Bay schools, starts on Monday.

Teams in both sections will have roughly three weeks to get ready for the season’s opening weekend, Aug. 24-26.

After 10 games over 11 regular-season weeks, dozens of schools will move on to the playoffs that will extend through November and end with state championship games across numerous divisions on Dec. 8-9.

Starting Monday, the Bay Area News Group will preview each league in its vast coverage area – schools in leagues based predominantly in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties – and recognize all-BANG preseason players in multiple position groups.

If you haven’t already, please sign up for a digital subscription. Your contributions keep us going.

Now, to get you thinking about what’s to come over the next few months, here are five storylines as practices get underway:

Is Serra still NorCal’s top team?

MISSION VIEJO, CA - DEC. 11: Serra's Danny Niu (1) sits and mentally prepares himself in the locker room before playing Mater Dei in their CIF Open Division football state championship game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)Serra’s Danny Niu (1) sits and mentally prepares himself in the locker room before playing Mater Dei in their CIF Open Division football state championship game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, on Dec. 11, 2021. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

We’re about to find out. The San Mateo powerhouse – led by tireless coach Patrick Walsh, now in his 23rd season – has represented Northern California in the past two Open Division state championship games and has a roster to do so again. QB Maealiuaki Smith and LBs Jabari Mann, Danny Niu and Marley Alapati are among many notable players back. But just like last season, the first two games will be telling. Serra opens with home games against Folsom on Aug. 26 and De La Salle on Sept 2, the same opponents Serra edged on the road to begin last season. If the Padres win both again, they will be the clear favorites to represent the North in the Open title game on Dec 9. But if they stumble in one or both of those matchups, the path opens for De La Salle or Folsom – or maybe someone else – to bump Serra as NorCal’s representative in the top championship game. De La Salle visits Folsom on Sept. 22.

Will someone – anyone – from the NCS beat DLS?

SAN MATEO - De La Salle linemen run a drill during the showcase. Serra and De La Salle held a high school football showcase at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif. on Thursday, May 18, 2023 (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group)De La Salle linemen run a drill during a showcase at Serra High in May 18, 2023 (Joseph Dycus/Bay Area News Group) 

The last of De La Salle’s football unbeaten streaks lives on, now stretching into its 32nd season and covering a mind-boggling 265 games. The Concord private school is 264-0-1 against North Coast Section opponents since Pittsburg beat the Spartans 35-27 in a section final in 1991. Only Clayton Valley (17-17 tie in 2004) has kept that record from being 265-0. De La Salle’s 2023 schedule includes four regular-season games against teams within its own section (the NCS) – at San Ramon Valley on Oct. 13 and Monte Vista on Oct. 27 and at home against Foothill on Oct. 20 and Clayton Valley on Nov. 3, followed by probably two NCS playoff games. Given the Spartans’ decades of dominance, we’re going to set the barometer pretty low that this season will be the one that De La Salle falls to an NCS team. While we certainly like what San Ramon Valley returns — a roster that includes last season’s Bay Area News Group player of the year, QB Luke Baker, and first-team all-BANG LB Marco Jones – and Clayton Valley never backs down against its Concord neighbor, De La Salle still has the upper hand in its own backyard.

Can Campo keep up in Division I?

MORAGA, CA - OCTOBER 14: Campolindo fans cheer while facing Acalanes in a Diablo Athletic League Foothill Division football game at Campolindo High School in Moraga, Calif. on Oct. 14, 2022. (Douglas Zimmerman/Special to the Bay Area News Group)Campolindo fans cheer while their team faces Acalanes in a Diablo Athletic League Foothill Division game in Moraga on Oct. 14, 2022. (Douglas Zimmerman/Special to the Bay Area News Group) 

Longtime Campolindo coach Kevin Macy was fond of calling last year’s team “Two names and the no-names.” It was a nod to the program’s reliance on wide receiver Robbie Mascheroni (18 touchdowns) and quarterback Dashiell Weaver (43 total TDs) to make magic happen on the way to a North Coast Section Division II runner-up finish. Reaching those heights again will be a tough task since both graduated in the spring. The Moraga school, after years of success in Division II and III, is being promoted to Division I due to the section’s competitive equity model. There, Campolindo will duel with traditional powers such as De La Salle and Pittsburg. Of course, this doesn’t affect the regular season, where Campo has not had a losing season in league play since 2011. “This year’s team will have no top-line names, but the hope is to have more depth.” Macy said. They may not be the Two Names, but seniors James Giordani, Scott Lyon and Tim Daugherty weren’t exactly no names on the reigning Diablo Athletic League Foothill champions. All played key roles on last year’s team and should excel with expanded opportunities. But asking them to keep up with the East Bay’s best teams in their first year of D-I playoff football doesn’t seem realistic. So expect another great regular season, but an earlier-than-usual postseason exit for the Cougars.

Will Riordan – yes, Riordan – contend for the WCAL crown?

Chris Lawson (4) of Foothill after scoring a touchdown against Granada in an East Bay Athletic League Valley Division football game at Foothill High School in Pleasanton, California on October 28, 2022. (Douglas Zimmerman/Special to the Bay Area News Group)Four-star junior Chris Lawson has transferred from Foothill in Pleasanton to Archbishop Riordan in San Francisco. (Douglas Zimmerman/Special to the Bay Area News Group) 

If your answer is anything but “yes” then it’s obvious you haven’t been paying attention to the high-level transfers the Crusaders have brought in since last year’s 3-7 season ended. It starts with wideout Chris Lawson, a four-star junior who brings 14 touchdowns from Foothill to a passing attack that will also boast three-star Menlo-Atherton transfer Cynai Thomas and three-star senior Tyrone Jackson. And that’s just the passing game, which also boasts reigning West Catholic Athletic League freshman of the year Michael Mitchell Jr. under center. Coach Adhir Ravipati has also beefed up the offensive line, with his team adding Peter Langi from Mater Dei-Santa Ana and Tommy Tofi from Sheldon-Elk Grove as part of a reworked group that has four blockers with a three-star recruiting ranking. The Crusaders should claim their first winning season since 2015 (9-4). Serra is still the favorite to repeat as Central Coast Section Open Division champions, but it would not be a shock if Riordan pulled off the one-year turnaround from second worst in the league to first. The season-opening game against Sacred Heart Prep and a Sept. 9 showdown with St. Bonaventure-Ventura in non-league play should show whether or not the Crusaders have the ability to beat the best in the WCAL.

The new CCS power division will be fun to watch

Los Gatos High's Jaylen Thomas (3) catches a pass and runs for a first down in the first quarter of their football game against Wilcox High in Los Gatos, Calif., on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)Los Gatos’ Jaylen Thomas catches a pass against Wilcox on Oct. 21, 2022. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group) 

One year after the Peninsula and Santa Clara Valley leagues merged for football – all in the name of competitive equity – the decision-makers made tweaks that should put multiple games in the must-see column. Los Gatos, Wilcox, Menlo-Atherton and Sacred Heart Prep, along with Burlingame and Mountain View, are now in the league’s Bay Division. That’s a switch from last season when Los Gatos and Wilcox overmatched De Anza Division teams. Now instead of just one competitive league game, Los Gatos and Wilcox could have three or four. We’ve already circled Oct. 6 on the calendar. That night, it’ll be Wilcox at M-A and Sacred Heart Prep at Los Gatos. The league schedule closes on Nov. 3 when Los Gatos plays host to M-A. “No matter if you’re really good or really bad, you just like to be in competitive games, and we just weren’t in those,” Wilcox coach Paul Rosa said last winter. “I think this is the way it should have been done and most people agreed.”

Source link

Related posts

2023 PFN Player Profile: Getting to Know Dante Carr(QB)-Minersville Battlin’ Miners

School Sports

Reed vs McQueen LiveStream How To Watch Reed vs McQueen Football

School Sports

Arts & Tech vs Edison Academy LiveStream How To Watch Arts & Tech vs Edison Academy Football

School Sports

Leave a Comment