High school football, sports start with fans in the stands

High school sports fans will be able to attend games this fall.
Matt Harrod

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Aug. 27, 2021) — High school football returns to its usual fall schedule with the first round of games for local schools this Friday. And, for the first time since the 2019 season in December, there can be students, parents and community members in the stands.

Concord High is the only local school with a home game this weekend and athletic director Matt Harrod says, “As of now, no limits on attendance or fans within the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.” The Minutemen host Dougherty Valley of San Ramon at 7 o’clock Friday evening.

A trio of local squads will be playing Friday at schools along Highway 99. De La Salle travels to St. Mary’s in Stockton, Clayton Valley Charter visits Turlock and Mt. Diablo is at Lathrop.

Northgate rounds out the opening football weekend slate with the Broncos going to Antioch to face Deer Valley. Ygnacio Valley’s season opens a week later on Friday, Sept. 3, in Concord hosting St. Patrick-St. Vincent of Vallejo.

All schools, of course, fall under state and county health guidelines.

The latest information from California Interscholastic Federation headquarters for state schools holding outdoor and indoor events stipulate stricter protocols for indoor events with 1000 or more spectators and outdoors with 5000 or more spectators. Very few local high school sports games or competitions reach either of those thresholds.

Mark Tran

Diablo Athletic League commissioner Mark Tran says, “North Coast Section is still waiting for specific sports guidelines from the State. No one has received anything from the school districts. For now, everyone is going with the County Health guidelines for hosting large events.”

It appears all schools are encouraging attendees to wear masks at all events. Water polo, cross country, tennis and golf, of course, are all held outdoors but will be welcoming spectators back after having competitors and coaches only last winter and spring during the abbreviated 2020-21 school year sports schedule.

Clyde Byrd

The only indoor sport in the fall is volleyball. Mt. Diablo AD Clyde Byrd adds, “[For] indoor sports everyone must wear masks. Athletes, coaches, parents and fans all must wear masks.” Basketball and wrestling will start indoors in late November and regulations are expected to be updated by the state before then.

Top ranked De La Salle’s varsity home football schedule begins next Friday and the Spartans have issued their protocols for attending games at Owen Owens Field in Concord. De La Salle’s instructions include info that entry and exit will take place 30 minutes before and promptly after games. There will be no concession sales at the field.

Will 2021-22 be more normal for sports?

Everyone involved can only hope the 2021-22 school year and athletic pursuits can be termed “routine, normal, run of the mill,” rather than what has transpired since March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic’s full force was first felt.

Piper Brewster

While administrators and coaches join their student athletes in looking forward to a school year approaching normalcy, there have been some changes in their ranks.

Carondelet High School recently announced the hiring of Piper Brewster as the new Director of Athletics and days later Marcus Schroeder was tabbed as the new head basketball coach at neighboring De La Salle. Both Brewster and Schroeder left positions at Saint Mary’s Colle

ge to assume their new roles at the Concord parochial schools.

Eric Bamberger, a long-time basketball coach in the area, has started his second tenure as Clayton Valley Charter athletic director. Harrod, the Concord High baseball coach, is taking the reins as the Minuteman athletic director, a post he shared last year with Megan Coddington.

Tran, Ygnacio Valley’s long-time AD, is now commissioner of the Diablo Athletic League, and his replacement is Pat Protheroe. Concord’s other public high school, Mt. Diablo, has Byrd entering his second year as athletic director.

Saint Mary’s to Concord

High school football, sports start with fans in the stands
Marcus Schroeder (second from left) talks to a Saint Mary’s College player with his fellow assistant coach Justin Joyner of Concord and head coach Randy Bennett (right) looking on during a Gaels game. Schroeder and Joyner were backcourt teammates on the De La Salle 2006 State championship team. Schroeder was recently named the new Spartans head basketball coach after spending 10 years with SMC under the tutelage of Bennett. (Photo courtesy SMC Athletics/Tod Fierner)

Brewster comes to Carondelet after serving her alma mater, Saint Mary’s College, since 2010 as senior associate athletic director for compliance. There, Brewster acted as sport supervisor for five teams, overseeing all aspects of budgeting, fundraising and staff management. As a lawyer and the senior compliance officer, she oversaw all athletic scholarship distribution, eligibility certification and compliance for 16 Division I sports.

Brewster’s vision for Carondelet is to utilize her collegiate athletics background to deepen the student-athlete experience and broaden students’ future opportunities.

“I’m excited to come to an all-girls school,” Brewster said. “There have been many times in my career in sports administration where I’ve been the only woman in the room. I intend to lead by example with the young women at Carondelet and demonstrate that you can be a confident woman no matter the industry you go into or what position you hold.”

Schroeder is the third consecutive DLS basketball coach to be plucked from the collegiate ranks. All three are also graduates of the Concord school. AJ Kuhle followed the legendary Frank Allocco, who won two state titles during his 18 years leading the Spartans. Kuhle left after only one season during which the Spartans lost the state championship game to mythical National Champions and undefeated Chino Hills and its star-studded lineup that included three future NBA lottery draft picks in Lonzo and LaMelo Ball and Onyeka Okongwu.

Justin Argenal took over for the 2016-17 season and guided DLS the past five seasons. He was recently hired as the new men’s basketball coach at Dominican University in San Rafael. During his tenure the Spartans were 113-33 and won three NCS Division I championships. He was named NorCalPreps Northern California Coach of the Year and NorCalPreps NCS Division I Coach of the Year in both 2017 and 2019.

Now Schroeder has left his position as the lead assistant coach to Randy Bennett at Saint Mary’s to return to his alma mater. Following his time at De La Salle, the Concord native played four years at Princeton in the Ivy League. He spent the past 11 years with the SMC basketball program, the last two year as associate head coach.

His SMC roots also include his sister Anna, who was a four-year letterwinner for the Saint Mary’s volleyball team and is married to Saint Mary’s great Matthew Dellavedova.

De La Salle athletic director Leo Lopoz said, “Ultimately what we were able to find is a person who is a man of faith, who is in love with the De La Salle community and has been connected through the years in different capacities. His drive and passion for the sport of basketball, his experience, we couldn’t ask for a better fit for our program.”

Schroeder was a key player on the 2005-2006 DLS team that won the school’s second state basketball championship under coach Allocco. His starting backcourt mate on that Spartan team, Justin Joyner, is on the SMC coaching staff. Their high school mentor’s son, Frank Allocco Jr., is coaching at crosstown rival Clayton Valley Charter.

Fall Sports


Clayton Valley Charter (Div. 1)- 8/27 at Turlock, 9/3 at Del Oro-Loomis, 9/11 Liberty-Bakersfield (Honor Bowl) at Liberty (Brentwood), 9/17 Stellar Prep-Hayward, 9/25 at Monterey Trail-Elk Grove, 10/8 at California-San Ramon, 10/15 San Ramon Valley, 10/22 Amador Valley (Homecoming), 10/29 Monte Vista, 11/5 at De La Salle.

Concord (Div. 4)- 8/27 Dougherty Valley-San Ramon, 9/3 Marin Catholic-Kentfield, 9/10 Tokay, 9/17 at Deer Valley, 10/8 College Park (Homecoming), 10/15 at Ygnacio Valley, 10/22 Northgate, 10/30 at Berean Christian, 11/5 Mt. Diablo.

De La Salle (Div. 1)- 8/27 at St. Mary’s-Stockton, 9/3 Monterey Trail-Elk Grove, 9/10 at Saint Francis-Mountain View, 9/17 Cathedral Catholic-San Diego, 10/1 St. Frances Academy-Baltimore, 10/8 at Folsom, 10/15 California-San Ramon, 10/22 at San Ramon Valley, 10/29 Amador Valley, 11/5 Clayton Valley Charter.

Mt. Diablo (Div. 4)- 8/27 at Lathrop, 9/3 at Albany, 9/10 American-Fremont, 9/17 at Dougherty Valley-San Ramon, 9/24 Oakland Tech, 10/8 Ygnacio Valley (Homecoming), 10/15 at Northgate, 10/23 Berean Christian, 10/29 College Park (Senior Night), 11/5 at Concord.

Northgate (Div. 3)- 8/27 at Deer Valley, 9/3 Ukiah, 9/10 at Las Lomas, 9/17 Bethel-Vallejo, 9/24 at Rodriguez-Fairfield, 10/8 Berean Christian (Homecoming), 10/15 Mt. Diablo, 10/22 at Concord, 10/29 Ygnacio Valley, 11/5 at College Park.

Ygnacio Valley (Div. 6)- 9/3 St. Patrick-St. Vincent-Vallejo, 9/10 at Rosemont-Sacramento, 9/24 at Bradshaw Christian-Sacramento, 10/1 at Stone Ridge Christian-Merced, 10/8 at Mt. Diablo, 10/15 Concord, 10/22 College Park, 10/29 at Northgate, 11/5 Berean Christian.

NCS Playoffs Nov. 12-27

NorCal Regional Championships Dec. 3-4

CIF State Bowl Games Dec. 10-11

Cross Country (Boys & Girls)

DAL Center Meets Sept. 29 and Oct. 20

DAL Championships Nov. 6 (Hidden Valley Park, Martinez)

EBAL Championships TBA

NCS Championships Nov. 20 (Hayward High School)

CIF State Championships Nov. 27 (Woodward Park, Fresno)

Golf (Girls)

DAL League Matches TBA

EBAL League Matches Aug. 17- Nov. 7

DAL League Championships TBA

EBAL League Championships Oct. 18

NCS Division II Championships Oct. 25

NCS Division I Championships Nov. 1

NorCal Championships Nov. 8

CIF State Championships Nov. 17

Tennis (Girls)

DAL League Matches Sept. 9 – Oct. 26

EBAL League Matches Sept. 2 – Nov. 2

DAL Division Championships Oct. 28-30

EBAL Championships Nov. 4-8

NCS Team Championships Nov. 9-13

NCS Singles/Doubles Championships Nov. 15-16

NorCal Team Championships Nov. 16-20

Volleyball (Girls)

DAL League Games Sept. 7- Oct. 21

EBAL League Games Aug. 24 – Oct. 21

NCS Playoffs Oct. 26 – Nov. 6

NorCal Championships Nov. 7-16

CIF State Championships Nov. 19-20

Water Polo (Boys & Girls)

DAL League Games Sept. 22 – Oct. 27

EBAL League Games Sept. 2 – Oct. 28

DAL Division Championships Oct. 27-29

NCS Playoffs Nov. 3-13

NorCal Tournament Nov. 17-20

Jay Bedecarré
Jay Bedecarré
Sports and Schools Editor at The Concord Clayton Pioneer | sports@pioneerpublishers.com | Website

Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.