The Wolverines went undefeated in league play last year and appear to have a solid chance to do the same this season.
Deer Valley head coach Brian Kofford has three talented golfers he can slide into his top spot – junior Jaskaran Sihota, senior Andrew Sirowi and junior Robert Riel. Riel shot a 72 at the Gambetta Invitational on Monday, held at Lone Tree Golf Course in Antioch, good for a fourth-place tie. Sirowi carded a 73 while Sihota finished with 80.
Kofford is also expecting a solid year out of freshman Zach Dupois, who shot 81 at the Gambetta Invitational.
The coach said his team has been averaging scores in the mid-to-high 70s, but his expectations are for them to knock a few strokes off and make a deeper playoff run. Kofford looks west to find his true competition – as teams such as Foothill, De La Salle, Amador Valley and Dublin will also be challenging for spots in the state tournament.
“With everybody returning, my expectation is for us to do better than that,” Kofford said. “The goal is to move onto the NorCal (state tournament). To do that, we have to finish in the top three (in the North Coast Section).”
A 2003 Liberty alumnus has taken over the reins from longtime head coach Curtis Cunningham. Bryan Beaver is the Lions’ new head coach of golf, after Cunningham decided to take a lesser role in order to spend more time with his family.
Four key players return from last year – senior Paul Krey, the team’s No. 1 golfer, senior Justin Thomas, sophomore Garrett Murayana and sophomore Alex Miller. Beaver has also been surprised by the development of junior Austin Kaiser and senior Josh Noreiga.
Heritage has no seniors on its team, which is spearheaded by juniors Tyler Connell and Ryan Bell, who led the team at the Gambetta Invitational with a score of 80.
While Connell and Bell will likely jockey for the No. 1 spot, a group of sophomores could also occupy the top position in head coach Mark Tinder’s card throughout the season. Tyler Brookens, Carney Hocking, Justin Barnes and Chris Maxwell all figure to be major contributors for the Patriots this season.
Last season, Heritage made it to the NCS qualifier round, but was unable to get into the Tournament of Champions. Bell led the Patriots with a low score of 83 at the qualifier.
The Falcons are another team with a new head coach in Ken Saunders, who inherits a young squad. Freedom fields only a couple of seniors, but Saunders likes the way the squad is shaping up early in the season. Saunders said the team looks good off the tee, but needs work on the short game.
Junior David White looks to be Freedom’s top golfer, as sophomore Patrick Niel, senior Daniel Milina and senior Nicholas Wagner also vie for the top spot. Saunders employs an open system in which players can challenge each other for the top position.
Newcomers such as sophomores Seth Kosmicky, Venazio Favalora and Kyle Timm could also make solid contributions.
Third-year Pittsburg head coach Al Bonanno feels his team, which returns five players, should be a little more competitive this year. Senior Saul Lares, whom Bonanno said has really stepped his game up, is the Pirates’ No. 1 golfer. Senior Louis Hays, junior Kevin Labau and senior Dave Morales will also be keys for the Pirates.
Bonanno likes what he sees so far in newcomers such as freshman Austin Simarro, freshman Anthony Abitz and sophomore Mike Aparicio.
John Luis is no stranger to the BVAL, as the coach of the girls golf team in the fall, but this is his first year coaching the boys team. Luis said his team is largely still learning the game but is showing daily improvement. The Panthers will be led by sophomores Josh Mouzakis and David Chapman, as well as junior Jared Mlekush. Freshmen Brian Chapman and Brandon Lee have also shown much progress.