DIABLO ATHLETIC LEAGUE VALLEY DIVISION PREVIEW
(Predicted order of finish)
No. 1 COLLEGE PARK
Coach: Travis Raciti
2021 record: 5-5
What to expect: A 4-1 record in the league made the Falcons from College Park a safe pick to repeat. The choice became even easier after one realized Gavin O’Leary, who caught 14 touchdowns, ran for four scores, and also threw three more as an emergency quarterback is back for his senior year. He was named to last year’s all-Bay Area News Group team as a utility player. Another fantastic athlete is 6-4 sophomore Tony Keck, a transfer from Alhambra whom his coach said is being recruited by high-profile colleges. Quarterback Brady Mead should easily surpass the 2,000-yard mark throwing to those targets. Edge rusher Keith Brown had 10 sacks last season and will be looking for a repeat performance this year.
Season opener: Sept. 2 at Foothill, 7 p.m.
No. 2 ALHAMBRA
Coach: Alan Hern
2021 record: 2-8
What to expect: After a rough season in 2021, Alhambra moved into what should be smoother waters — i.e. the Valley Division. Coach Hern’s team will be led by senior quarterback Daniel Delgado, whom he described as “athletic and fast with a strong arm.” Running back Jaxson Allred enters his junior year as a two-way contributor at linebacker, while Niko Smith is expected to break out in his senior year. Linebacker Omar Martinez is a thumper who “is big and physical.”
Season opener: Aug. 26 vs. Hercules, 7:30 p.m.
No. 3 BEREAN CHRISTIAN
Coach: Mark Barcelon
2021 record: 4-6
What to expect: The Eagles flirted with a winning season, having won three straight before dropping their final game to Cloverdale in the playoffs to finish 4-6. Expected to be back is Nehi Pitters, who should be running behind 235-pound senior Noah Peterson on the offensive line. Defensively, junior safety Hunter Inkster should roam the secondary while linebacker Jake Cliatt is expected to call the signals closer to the line.
Season opener: Aug. 26 at St. Patrick-St. Vincent, 7 p.m.
No. 4 CONCORD
Coach: Paul Reynaud
2021 record: 1-9
What to expect: The Minutemen struggled last season, but they also probably weren’t nearly as bad as their record showed. After all, Concord lost two of its games by one score. The team may turn those kinds of losses into wins thanks to a pair of senior linebackers in Fredriko Naranjo and Sean Murphy. Coach Reynaud called Murphy “a leader on and off the field.” Dotting the ends of the defensive line are senior tandem Fabian Lopez and Keoni Caban, who both totaled 2.5 sacks. Junior running back Monte Beam ran for eight touchdowns and his coach said the three-year starter “improved in strength and speed this offseason after running track in the spring.”
Season opener: Aug. 26 vs. Newark Memorial, 7 p.m.
No. 5 MT. DIABLO
Coach: Donald James
2021 record: 4-7
What to expect: It was a tough year for the Red Devils in 2021, but this season may be different. Expected to make a difference is versatile athlete Jalen Sutton-Brown, who played wide receiver, corner, and halfback last season. D’Angelo Jerome Jr. was another Red Devil who lined up in multiple spots. He thumps in the middle as a 230-pound linebacker, while also running tacklers over as a back. Much like Sutton-Brown, Willie Ward is a small but do-it-all player who flies around the field at DB and running back.
Season opener: Aug. 26 vs. Lathrop, 7 p.m.
No. 6 YGNACIO VALLEY
Coach: Rae Jackson Sr.
2021 record: 0-10
What to expect: The Wolves can only get better after going winless last season. New coach Rae Jackson Sr. said this year is all about establishing a culture. Jairo Torres, at 6-3 and 275 pounds, is one of the best players on the offensive line and was called “someone who is emerging as a team leader” by Jackson Sr. Freshman Romel Laureano brings a rugby background to the backfield, and his coach said “people are gonna be pretty amazed” by Laureano’s abilities. Maurilio Herreriar is also expected to play a big role in what could be a younger team.
Season opener: Aug. 27 at Washington-San Francisco, 2 p.m.
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