This high school football season began like so many others over the past three decades with De La Salle as the presumptive best team in Northern California.
Although they lost their opening game broadcast on ESPNU, the Spartans validated their placement atop the NorCal mountaintop last Friday when they traveled to Folsom and beat the two-time defending State 1-AA champion Bulldogs 42-27 in a game between the best two teams in this half of the state for the past 10 years.
That victory, the fourth straight by the Spartans over Folsom since 2012, ran the De La Salle unbeaten streak against teams north of Clovis to 302 games. Their last loss to a NorCal team was in the 1991 North Coast Section championship game to Pittsburg. They had a pair of ties during that time along with 300 wins.
This weekend the Diablo Athletic League begins its Valley Division schedule with three games in the seven-team flight. Berean Christian, Concord, Mt. Diablo, Northgate and Ygnacio Valley are in the Valley along with Benicia and College Park.
Clayton Valley Charter and De La Salle are in the six-team East Bay Athletic League Mountain Division along with Monte Vista, California, San Ramon Valley and Foothill. Of course, the Ugly Eagles are making their debut in the EBAL after they were removed from the DAL for competitive reasons following an undefeated seven-year run in league play.
CVCHS is 2-1 as they travel to North Las Vegas for a game at Canyon Springs. They wrap up their non-league schedule Sept 27 at Berkeley before they make their EBAL debut in San Ramon Oct. 4 at Cal High with their third successive road game.
DLS (3-1) hosts Buchanan of Clovis this Friday and then travels to St. Mary’s of Stockton Sept. 27 to conclude their non-league schedule.
Fittingly, the Concord schools will conclude their first EBAL season against one another Nov. 1 at De La Salle.
De La Salle wins Folsom showdown
The Spartans began their season in a nationally-televised game against USA Today’s No. 1 ranked team, St. Thomas Aquinas of Ft. Lauderdale, and the sloppy, penalty-strewn game ended with DLS on the short end of a 24-14 score.
They followed up with lopsided victories over Central Catholic in Modesto and St. Francis of Mountain View to setup another showdown with Folsom last Friday as the Spartans played on the Bulldogs field for the first time.
The Spartans dominated play in the first half as five scoring drives (three touchdowns and two field goals) led to a 28-0 lead. Folsom showed their mettle with a TD pass on the final play of the first half and then capped a long scoring drive to begin the second half and drew within 28-14 before an excited packed house on their home field.
In their first second-half possession, De La Salle quarterback Dorian Hale completed a long pass to Grant Daley to get them out of a third and long hole deep in their own territory and soon their lead was up to 42-14.
Folsom responded with a score of their own and then incredibly recovered two straight onside kicks to give themselves late life before DLS took over on downs and ran out the clock.
Clayton Valley loses to state champs
Clayton Valley Charter dominated play in the second half but a botched extra point cost them a chance to go into overtime as they lost 28-27 to defending CIF 1-A champion Liberty of Brentwood and their Oregon-bound QB Jay Butterfield in the Honor Bowl at James Logan High in Union City.
In the new NCS football alignment for 2019, the Eagles were moved back to Division II and they appear to be one of the favorites for post-season success as DLS, Liberty, Monte Vista and Pittsburg are all in the Open Division. In 2014 and 2015 CVCHS was NorCal D-II champion and played in the State Bowl game.
The DAL Valley Division appears to be wide open with Ygnacio Valley (3-0) the only unbeaten team so far and Berean (0-3) the one team without a win.
Mt. Diablo (2-2) has had an interesting season under second-year coach Donald James. The Red Devils opened their campaign with a lopsided 38-6 win over John Sweet in Crockett, which ended a 23-game losing streak going all the way back to September 2016.
The game ended on a sour note with a fight that forced officials to halt the game. No players were ejected, which would have triggered automatic suspensions, but both coaches voluntarily forfeited their next games.
That also impacted Ygnacio Valley, which was scheduled to begin its season against John Swett in week two. Diablo was 2-1 entering its game last Friday in Fremont against American. They appeared to have the game won when a penalty as they were running out the clock setup a longer play that they failed to convert and American scored the winning touchdown for a 19-16 final score.
League games in the EBAL run from Oct. 4-Nov. 1 while the DAL Valley Division has games from Sept. 20-Nov. 1. The DAL Valley has seven teams so one team has a bye each week. Several of the teams are filling in their bye week with a fourth non-league game.
The North Coast Section football playoffs begin Nov. 8-9 and conclude Nov. 22-23 with the State Regional Bowl Games Dec. 6-7 and the CIF finals Dec. 13-14.
EBAL Mountain Division
Clayton Valley Charter 2-1
De La Salle 3-1
Monte Vista 2-1
San Ramon Valley 2-1
DAL Valley Division
Berean Christian 0-3
College Park 2-2
Mt. Diablo 2-2
Ygnacio Valley 3-0