This year, Brian Kofford’s team is ready to compete again, not only in the BVAL, but in the North Coast Section. Deer Valley fields a top-five group comprising seniors Jaskaran Sihota and Robert Riel, freshman Michael Uy, sophomore Zach Dupuis and senior Isaiah Antoine. Kofford identified the top three as players capable of shooting par or better any day, while the latter two are more than capable of shooting around 40 on any given nine.
“I have high expectations and I hope we meet them,” Kofford said. “I need all five of those guys to be consistent. Some can blow up some days, but as long as five of six are good in tournaments and four of six are playing well in league matches, we’ll be fine.”
Kofford identified Heritage as the team most likely to give Deer Valley problems. He pinpointed the April 3 match at the Patriots home course of Deer Ridge as the one the Wolverines must win.
Much of Kofford’s confidence stems from a tournament held earlier in the week at Lone Tree Golf Course, attracting some of the section’s best talent. The Wolverines finished in fourth place, trailing top teams Foothill, De La Salle and Monte Vista.
One reason the Wolverines emphasize their matches against Heritage is that the Patriots return their entire group that finished second in the BVAL Tournament and qualified for NCS.
Juniors Carney Hocking, Chris Maxwell, Tyler Brookens, Justin Barnes and senior Ryan Bell comprise the quintet has shown exceptional promise over the last two years. Their experience puts the Patriots in a position to challenge the Wolverines’ reign at the top.
In the league tournament, Hocking’s 76 was enough to advance him to a playoff for the best individual player, which he lost to Deer Valley senior John Bell.
Second-year coach Bryan Beaver will rely on senior Austin Kaiser as well as juniors Alex Miller and Garrett Murayama to spearhead the Lions’ challenge to Deer Valley and Heritage.
“We’ve been struggling early on in the season with losses against Amador Valley, Granada and Miramonte – all formidable opponents,” Beaver said. “The team’s inconsistency off the tee and around the green has really stood out at courses we’ve played early on this year, which include Poppy Ridge Golf Course and Orinda Country Club.”
Beaver’s hope is that despite the outcome of those early matches, the experience gained will help the Lions on courses such as the Diablo Course at The Golf Club at Brentwood, the Discovery Bay Country Club and other league venues. He also identified the March 19 Aiello Invitational tournament in Discovery Bay as a highly anticipated event.
Beaver will also look to a group of new players to help make the whole roster better and more complete. “Competition among the team will help to keep the boys fighting for spots in the ladder,” Beaver said. “With the help of newcomers such as Nick Vargas (senior), Joe Castle (sophomore) and Jacob Hernandez (freshman), the team will be hoping to add a little depth on the bottom of the ladder.”
Second-year coach Ken Sanders considers the Falcons a team in rebuilding mode. They lost reigning league MVP David White and feature a team whose only experienced players are senior Kyle Timm and junior Mickey Neal.
Sophomore Drake Mather also returns from last year, although he didn’t log significant playing time last season. Sophomore Anthony Serujo and incoming freshmen Tristan Smith and Ray Mann will round out the bottom of the ladder.
“We’re going to dig in, learn and grow,” Sanders said. “Unfortunately, we don’t like to, but we have to. We’re getting in, growing together. None of us are here are questions. We’re all going to stay together.”
While Sanders will look for Timm and Neal to carry the load in the early season, he also sees potential in Smith, who shows good form, strong determination, and a willingness to work hard, learn and improve his game.
Sanders does acknowledge that the team is in rebuilding mode but doesn’t intend to occupy the basement this season.
John Luis is in his second year coaching the boys team, which fields five returning players, led by junior Josh Mouzakis and sophomore Ryan Chapman. Mouzakis qualified for NCS last year as an individual, firing an 83 at the league tournament.
Luis is excited about the potential in freshmen Lorenzo Flenoid, Myles Gilory and Mike Drapel. The coach said the youngsters might not see much match time in the early season, but he hopes they’ll make progress by the end of the season in time for the league tournament.
“This is a really great group of kids that like to get out there and play the game,” Luis said. “We should have a fun year. I want to make them enjoy the experience.”
Pittsburg head coach Al Bonanno notes that while the Pirates are young, their youth bodes well for the future of the program.
At the top of Pittsburg’s ladder is senior Kevin Labao, who has been with the program for three years. Labao leads a roster that hasn’t played as much golf as its BVAL counterparts. Juniors Mike Orlando and Eric Smith, plus sophomores Austin Simarro and Anthony Abitz, played last year, but it was the first year of competition for some of them.
A couple Pittsburg freshmen are new to the links, but Bonanno believes they’ve got potential.