The high school football season is upon us, and I think fans, coaches, players and anyone else interested in the action is hoping for one thing: sustained normalcy.
Last season was wrought with sustained bouts of uncertainty and lots of waiting, before the roughly 16-month delay gave way to abbreviated five- or six-game seasons for teams in March and April—void of postseason play.
For those who need a refresher, perennial league powerhouse Pittsburg ran the table at 5-0, with Liberty finishing 4-1, Heritage 4-2 and Antioch and Deer Valley 1-4.
This season is thankfully on track to begin in its normal fall slot, and with it the opportunity to watch marquee non-league matchups we missed last season. The slate is expected to feature Pittsburg clashing with Serra, Folsom and Valley Christian; and Liberty and Heritage participating in the two-day Honor Bowl at Liberty High School in Brentwood against Canyon Springs and Clovis East, respectively. Other matchups slated to occur at the event include Sutter Union vs. Campolindo; Pleasant Valley vs. Menlo-Atherton and Liberty (Bakersfield) vs. Clayton Valley.
As the calendar flips to the second half of the season, a host of always entertaining friendly rivalries await: Antioch and Deer Valley clash at Antioch High on Oct. 16; Freedom hosts Liberty in the Bell Game on Oct. 22; and Heritage welcomes Liberty in the Brentwood Bowl and Antioch travels to Pittsburg in the Big Little Game on Nov. 5. The North Coast Section playoffs are set for mid-November.
Matchups aside, the dawn of a new season will also allow new players to emerge as playmakers and superstars.
Last year’s MVP, Pittsburg running back Daytuawn Pearson, and Defensive Player of the Year, Pirate Maurice Jamison, and around 40 other all-league players have all graduated, meaning opportunities abound for players to fill the gap. Leading the way will be an estimated 20 returning all-league players, led by Heritage running back Devon Rivers, last year’s offensive player of the year.
Joining the cast of new characters will be new Freedom head coach Zach Sims, the lone first-year head coach in the Bay Valley Athletic League this season.
Sims served as the offensive coordinator at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill for two years, where the program went 8-8 during his tenure.
Sims was also on staff at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School in Vallejo when the team won two consecutive North Coast Section titles, with the addition of one Northern California title and a California State Championship.
The regular season kicks off for all Bay Valley Athletic League teams on Aug. 27, with Heritage at Dublin; Pittsburg hosting Serra; Liberty welcoming Bishop O’Dowd; Freedom traveling to Hayward; Deer Valley hosting Northgate; and Antioch and Monte Vista battling in Antioch.
Until then, enjoy this week's Bay Valley Athletic League preview. Football is right around the corner.