Pittsburg High, a perennial BVAL contender, went through preseason with a league-worst 0-5 record. Last year, the Pirates finished second in the league to Deer Valley and won the BVAL title in 2008. With dual threat senior QB Julius Mozee at the helm, Pittsburg looked ready to continue its winning ways this year.
The Wolverines, who play the Pirates on Friday, aren’t taking anything for granted. Last season, Pittsburg was 2-3 at this point before going 4-1 in BVAL play and eventually losing to De La Salle in the North Coast Section final.
Deer Valley head coach Rich Woods is expecting a competitive game between two teams who have traditionally been at the top of the standings. “They’ll wake up when they play Deer Valley,” Woods said of the Pirates. “Everybody’s record is 0-0. Rankings and everything doesn’t mean anything. This is for the BVAL championship.”
Going into the thick of the season, the Wolverines and the Heritage Patriots hold 4-1 records. Deer Valley is sixth in the PrepFeed North Coast Section rankings, Heritage tenth.
Senior RB Lamontay Marshall leads the Wolverines with 374 rushing yards and nine touchdowns (one receiving). Defensively, senior linebackers Garrett Ransom and Stephen McKinley lead DV with 36 and 34 tackles, respectively.
Heritage, like Deer Valley, is looking to bounce back from a loss before its bye week. The Patriot offense has scored a league-best 201 points so far this season and the defense has allowed only 89 points, second to Freedom (88).
Senior halfback Kruger Story Jr., who has carried the ball 87 times for 513 yards and nine touchdowns, leads the Heritage offense.
The Patriots will meet a Liberty team on Friday that has looked talented at times, but has been inconsistent overall. The Lions lost a last-minute lead last week against Fremont of Oakland, losing to drop their record to 2-3.
“We have the ability to compete with everyone on our schedule, but we have to pick up our execution a notch,” said Liberty head coach Nate Smith.
One of the Lions’ main rivals, the Freedom Falcons look ready to turn the tables on a 1-9 season that left a bad taste in their mouth. Now 3-2, the Falcons feature an improved offense featuring versatile sophomore Dante Mayes under center. Senior halfback D’Amora Cooper has racked up three straight 100-yard games.
Antioch hoped to turn the corner in the BVAL after finishing fourth last year, but the Panthers are 1-4 after going into the bye week with an Oct. 1 home win over Mt. Diablo. Junior running back Eddie Robinson rushed for 134 yards in the victory.
Five games to watch
• Friday: Pittsburg at Deer Valley — In a match-up of traditional BVAL powers, this will be the first test for the Pirates to see what kind of team they’ll have for the stretch run.
• Friday: Heritage at Liberty – The Lions have looked solid in their two victories this year, but inconsistent play has hurt them in three losses. Liberty will face a Patriot team with eyes on the league title in the Brentwood Bowl.
• Nov. 10: Freedom at Liberty – The Bell Game should be evenly-matched as both teams strive to solidify their league standing following losing seasons. The Falcons’ lone win last season came against the Lions.
• Nov. 12: Deer Valley at Heritage – The Wolverines and Patriots could be playing for the BVAL title in this game. Since 2007, Deer Valley has won two of the three match-ups.
• Nov. 13: Pittsburg at Antioch – The always-spirited Big Little Game has been dominated by the Pirates in recent years. The Panthers, led by first-year head coach John Lucido, would like to reverse that trend.