BAY VALLEY ATHLETIC LEAGUE
(Predicted order of finish)
No. 1 PITTSBURG
Coach: Charlie Ramirez
2022 record: 12-3
What to expect: It’s a new era in Pittsburg football, as for the first time in over two decades, Victor Galli will not lead the Pirates on Friday nights. Taking the reins is longtime defensive coordinator Charlie Ramirez. If last year’s team was defined by seniors Jaden Rashada and a bevy of Division I wide receivers, this year’s unit will be led by a star-studded defense and a stacked junior class. Junior safety Jadyn Hudson is getting national recruiting attention, as is fellow highly-touted junior edge-rusher Jewelous Walls. Junior linebacker Etene Pritchard led the NorCal Division I champions in tackles. Junior quarterback Marley Alcantara threw for 14 touchdowns as a backup and spot starter, and could be the next great Pittsburg quarterback. Junior running back Elijah Bow is a tough runner and scored 16 touchdowns as a sophomore. Pittsburg’s challenging non-league schedule includes SHC, Monterey Trail-Elk Grove and a trip to Los Gatos.
Season opener: Aug. 26 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 2 p.m.
No. 2 LIBERTY
Coach: Mike Cable
2022 record: 8-4
What to expect: Mike Cable’s Liberty will look to once again give Pittsburg a challenge for the league title in the BVAL, and he expects the offense to be even more explosive than last year’s Nate Bell-led outfit. He said senior WR Ryan McKendry is “eyeing an 1,000-yard season” and that sophomore RB Jaxon Bell has “a tremendous ability to make tacklers miss” when he’s not playing safety. Junior pass-rusher Zaire Calhoun had four sacks in six games, and should be one of the best defensive players in the East Bay. Senior guard Noah Blake and senior tackle Damian Perea bring experience and toughness up front.
Season opener: Aug. 24 at Enochs, 7 p.m.
No. 3 HERITAGE
Coach: Dave Foglestrom
2022 record: 6-4
What to expect: The Patriots graduated 23 seniors, including do-everything RB Devon Rivers and wideout Jeremiah Ruffin. However, Heritage brings back another college-caliber offensive weapon in Brooks Davis, a 6-foot-2 WR who is getting interest from major FBS programs despite only playing football for two seasons. The Patriots also bring back some experience on the offensive line, starting with three-year starter and captain Cody Wong. Foglestrom said senior guard Santana Roberts is “the strongest player on the team” and can bench press 400-pounds. Games against EBAL teams Foothill and Granada will test Heritage early.
Season opener: Aug. 25 at Foothill, 7 p.m.
No. 4 ANTIOCH
Coach: Brett Dudley
2022 record: 4-7
What to expect: The Panthers have graduated a lot of muscle and toughness up front, but a great deal of speed should return. Senior defensive backs Javion Smith, Issac Gaines and Richard Turley all made the all-BVAL teams, as did slippery quarterback Larenzo Mayfield. Mayfield ran for 778 yards and passed for 756. Running back Elijah Stingley flashed talent behind all-league runner Charles Brown, and could have a huge season as the featured back. Antioch has a tough non-league schedule that includes games against Vintage, College Park, James Logan and Tennyson.
Season opener: Aug. 25 vs. Arroyo, 7 p.m.
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No. 5 DEER VALLEY
Coach: Matthew Mills
2022 record: 0-10
What to expect: Last year’s Wolverines only scored 50 points total last season, but the offense should be much better in year two under Matt Mills. WR/DB Ivan Padilla is a three-year starter who was honorable mention all-BVAL despite playing in a morbid offense. Jai’on Gary will be back as a power-running RB while also getting snaps at linebacker. RB/LB Jabari McKinney is even stronger, benching 415 pound according to Mills. TE Coby Fosselman is 6-foot-4, a versatile athlete who also plays basketball and runs track. Deer Valley will have a chance to get some early wins against Mt. Eden and Kennedy-Fremont in non-league play.
Season opener: Aug. 25 at Mt. Diablo, 7 p.m.
No. 6 FREEDOM
Coach: Zach Sims
2022 record: 3-6
What to expect: This will be a rebuilding season for Freedom, which returns just three starters from last year’s team. Coach Zach Sims expects junior quarterback Myles Hunt to sling the rock around, and says Hunt “has the potential to put up some of the biggest numbers of any QB in the section this year.“ Junior WR/SS Austin Callen will have a chance to catch many of those passes. The wins might not be there for Freedom this season, but the Falcons should still have an entertaining offense.
Season opener: Aug. 26 at Marin Catholic, 1 p.m.
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