We made it, fans. We’re on the other side. There were some dark days there, I know. Times where we were forcing ourselves to watch NBC’s ridiculous tape-delayed Olympic feed. But we survived. And Football — yes, with a capital ‘F’ — has arrived.
Once again I find myself introducing our annual special edition NorCal Football Preview with an immense amount of pride. You’re holding (or scrolling through) 48 pages of awesomeness, and 32 of them are purely devoted to gridiron goodness.
You’re also holding the hard work of a good amount of people who need to get some kudos — especially our photographers: Phillip Walton (who delivered that killer cover shot of Antioch’s Najee Harris), James K. Leash and Berry Evans III. Even this writer can admit that a magazine is really only as good as its images, and these three deliver the goods for us consistently. Our production designer, Mike DeCicco, also deserves a lot of credit. His name only appears in our staff box, but the look and feel of SportStars is all him.
Now that we’ve got the kudos out of the way, let’s get back to football. To get things started, I’ll offering a smattering of some observations and predictions.
OBSERVATION: Working on the cover story for this issue involved the most time I’d ever spent around Najee Harris. It was a pleasure. Reporters are trained to be objective and keep the cheering out of the press box. And while the majority of us succeed in not rooting for specific teams, we’ve been known to admit to rooting for specific individuals. I’m here to tell you that Najee is a kid I’ll be rooting for. When you read the story beginning on Page 12, I think you’ll see why.
PREDICTION: Najee won’t end up at Alabama. He never hinted anything to me on or off the record, but something in my gut tells me he’s probably 50-50 on whether he truly wants to stay at the school he committed to almost two years ago. And if he does, more power to him.
OBSERVATION: The North Coast Section’s competitive equity adjustments to teams which have won consecutive titles, have created some really interesting mixes. Campolindo in Division II will be fun to see, and the Division IV field has the potential to produce a dynamite tournament come November.
PREDICTION: The new NCS Open Division will be a good thing. It’s going to take some getting used to — and there will still be teams who feel burned — but it’s going to be refreshing to see one of the many perennially good NCS Div. I teams such as Monte Vista-Danville, Pittsburg or Foothill-Pleasanton finally get a shot at a CIF regional playoff appearance. Previously, they have always been blocked in Div. I by De La Salle — which inevitably would get placed in the CIF Open State Bowl, anyway.
OBSERVATION: I’m already taking up too much of your time. You want to read this Preview. I’m getting out of the way now. Right after…
PREDICTION: If you’re a football fan, you’re gonna dig the next 30 something pages. Enjoy.
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