San Ramon Valley’s Kat Klass; Deer Valley’s Nsimba Webster represent the Best of the Bay for Fall 2013
Kat Klass | San Ramon Valley | Junior
It was early October on the San Ramon Valley High campus in Danville and the girls water polo team was locked in a tight battle with eventual-North Coast Section Div. II-champion Campolindo-Moraga.
As the game unfolded, a familiar refrain would be repeated from a small student section: “Kat Klass is a fine lass!”
The students would chant it each time Klass scored, which for this match meant five times — including the game-winner with 29 seconds left.
While we can’t technically speak to her credentials as a fine lass, we feel pretty safe in declaring her the Bay Area’s most promising girls water polo talent since the graduation of another Danville native — Olympic gold-medalist Maggie Steffens. And after scoring a jaw-dropping 151 goals while leading the Wolves to a perfect 27-0 record and third straight NCS Div. I title, she now joins Steffens among the recipients of SportStars Bay Area Fall Athlete of the Year honors.
Everything was lined up for Klass to take her game to yet another level in 2013. And that was saying a lot, considering she had 132 goals as a sophomore and was named the All-NCS Div. I MVP and the East Bay Athletic League MVP. However, Klass’ junior season was coming on the heels of her first international competition — competing in with the Women’s Youth National Team at the Youth Pan-American Games in Argentina — and was stepping into a larger leadership role with the Wolves following the graduation of half of the 2012 starting unit.
She delivered, of course, using her experience and ever-expanding confidence to thwart double- and triple-teams, while at the same time making the players around her better.
“It was the perfect season,” Klass said. “We had a newer, younger team and it was a lot of fun watching everyone grow as players. At the end of the season it was a little weird to think, ‘I still have another year of this.’ It almost felt like a senior season the way it built up.”
There’s no question that the rest of the North Coast Section’s elite programs are shuddering at the thought of another year trying to defend Klass. Or her sister, Sarah, for that matter. Klass and her younger sister were teammates for the first time in 2013 as Sarah cracked the starting unit as a freshman.
“Our teammates called it the Sister Connection anytime we assisted each other,” Kat said. “It was a really fun part of the season. I was able to get to know her even better, too, because it’s a different dynamic being teammates.”
When the Klass Sisters don the green and gold caps together one more time in 2014, Kat will be attempting to match Steffens with four consecutive NCS Div. I state titles. But until then, she’ll continue refining her game with the 680 Drivers Club and in the Olympic Development Program.
— Chace Bryson
Nsimba Webster | Deer Valley | Senior
For the bulk of his athletic career at Deer Valley High, Nsimba Webster has been linked to his twin brother Nzuzi. Because of their successes together on football fields and basketball court, the stories were most often about the Webster Brothers.
Only this fall, Nsimba raised his game to a new level as the quarterback and part-time defensive back for Deer Valley. And Nzuzi definitely played a role in that. But it was a third brother, his oldest sibling of five, that Nsimba credited as inspiration.
“My brother (Marcus) was in prison for five years and he hadn’t seen me play since I was in seventh grade. He got out this year and it was very emotional. He’d never seen me play since I was a kid. … I took this season very personal because of that. I had always looked up to him.”
What Marcus got to see for the first time this season was a phenomenal playmaker.
The 6-foot, 185-pound quarterback was a nightmare to opposing defenses, beating them with his arm and his feet. He threw for more than 2,000 yards and connected on 22 scoring passes against just four interceptions. He was even more dynamic outside of the pocket, rushing for more than 1,500 yards and 28 more touchdowns. Playing about half the time on defense, he still logged 22 tackles, one forced fumble and two blocked field goals.
Wtih video game-like numbers combined with leading the Wolverines to an 11-2 mark and uncharted postseason territory, Webster was an easy choice as the Bay Area Male Fall Athlete of the Year.
“I had something to play for and I knew what I wanted to be remembered for after my last game playing for Deer Valley,” Webster said. “My teammates got me better every day at practice though, and I love them for that.”
The Wolverines opened the season 8-0 before a tough 28-24 loss at Pittsburg on Nov. 1 denied them the Bay Valley Athletic League title. Webster and his teammates didn’t blink, though. The team reeled off three more wins, and reached the North Coast Section Div. I semifinals for the first time in program history.
To reach that round, Deer Valley knocked off James Logan 67-44 in a wild game in which Webster contributed five total touchdowns. That was the victory that he placed above any other this season.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game, and it was a history game,” he said. “No DV team had made it to the semis before. We knew we had to win that game. It was the game we’d all been waiting for as little kids.”
The team would fall to eventual-champion De La Salle 57-27, but the 27 points was the most scored against the Spartans all season. Webster rushed for 152 yards and two scores in the loss.
“My brother (Nzuzi) and I just felt like we had to make this season memorable.”
— Chace Bryson
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