Each year in early August, myself and SportStars Sac-Joaquin content coordinator, Jim McCue, sit down and begin to plan out our football coverage — and not just for the Preview, but for the season as a whole, too.
Often times we throw out questions to one another for analysis, debate or just because. This year we thought we’d give you a sampling. Here’s some recent back and forth to four pressing questions surrounding the 2015 NorCal football season. Hopefully it gets you as geared up for kickoff as it did for us.
1 – If we could recommend just one game for a casual fan to see this year, what would it be?
CB: For me it would be Long Beach Poly visiting De La Salle on Oct. 16. Even if Poly isn’t quite the major powerhouse it used to be, the history of this matchup is just too ripe to pass up. The Jackrabbits athleticism alone will make for interesting matchups.
JM: Because a Folsom-Grant showdown in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship is not a sure thing, I have to recommend Grant High on Oct. 2 for a Delta League showdown between the Pacers and the Elk Grove Thundering Herd. Two powerhouses with a potential league title on the line? Add the Grant Drum Line and spirited fans from both sides and it is a classic SJS rivalry matchup.
2 – Has the SJS caught up with the Bay Area in football quality and success?
JM: Take De La Salle out of the equation because they are from another stratosphere, not the Bay Area, and the answer is a resounding YES. Where were two 2015 NFL first-rounders from? Arik Armstead (Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove/Niners) and Shaq Thompson (Grant/Panthers) are two of the more recent SJS stars that have helped to elevate the section to elite status. The SJS has 9 CIF State Bowl titles to the Bay Area’s 8, and that includes De La Salle’s 6 state championships.
CB: I think you’re right, actually. I think there are plenty of programs in both regions which are on par with each other. Now, I’d just llke to start seeing those schools begin playing one another in nonleague action.
3 – With the CIF state bowls expanding from 5 to 14 games, will the games/titles hold the same weight?
CB: Ugh. No. While I see CIF’s reasoning behind it, I just don’t see some of these championships in the medium to small divisions getting anyone to care at all outside of the school and its immediate community.
JM: Unfortunately, no. While I think that it is great for fans, communities, and alumni to have their team play for a “state championship,” the titles will be watered down. I love high school football and welcome more high-caliber games played up and down the state to expose every region to the excitement of CIF State Bowl games, but I don’t want to be confused with a muddled mess of too many state champs.
4 – Who’s the best team nobody is talking about this preseason?
CB: West Contra Costa County is often where you’ll find the most overlooked teams in the East Bay. There’s definitely one there this year in Pinole Valley. The Spartans return 12 starters, including a dynamic QB/RB talent in Troyante McConico.
JM: In the Valley Oak League where Central Catholic and Oakdale are kings, Sierra-Manteca has been overlooked so far despite being 2014 defending league co-champs with Oakdale in 2014.
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