It’s No One-Man Wolfpack This Year For San Ramon Valley Football; PLUS Our Player Spotlight Shines On St. Mary’s-Stockton’s Jaydn Marshall •
This is the fifth of 20 installments to our Return To Fall Series — a daily component to our 2021 NorCal Football Preview coverage.
A third-year starter under center, a mountain of a left tackle to lead the offensive line and the possibility of eight returning starters on offense and seven on defense all point to one fairly reasonable conclusion for the San Ramon Valley football team.
Life is good on Danville Blvd.
Wolves head coach Aaron Becker welcomes back a host of familiar faces in familiar places for the fall 2021 season, ushering in a new campaign filled with promise and potential for one of Northern California’s traditional powerhouse programs.
Becker has any number of reasons to look forward to his team’s Aug. 27 opener against Vintage-Napa. From a logistical standpoint, things should look and feel a little more “normal” than the last time San Ramon Valley took the field, as a passionate home crowd should be in place for a traditional Friday night opener in the Tri-Valley.
But getting back to the usual grind is only one piece of what looks like a puzzle that is nearly complete in Danville.
On the field, the conversation starts on offense where third-year quarterback Jack Quigley is back at the helm for his final season as SRV’s signal-caller. In the spring, Quigley completed 57 percent of his passes, averaged 210 yards per game and tossed eight touchdowns for a talented Wolves offense.
“At this particular point, he’s almost like a grad student,” Becker said. “He’s been there three years and when you’ve been there that long, he knows what I’m thinking before I’m saying it. He’s able to get guys in the right spots and correct the call when it comes out of my mouth incorrectly. Just all those things you take for granted because he’s been through a lot of close football games and won a lot of close football games for us.”
Quigley — who will have his top two receivers back from last season, Caden Ridley and Caleb Padrid — will also have the ultimate pocket protector on his side. At 6-foot-6, 290 pounds, tackle Jackson Brown returns for his senior season as one of Northern California’s most sought-after recruits.
Listed by Rivals.com as holding over 20 Division I offers, Brown will be tasked with protecting Quigley’s blind side. That is when he’s not busy paving holes in the run game for talented two-way starter Za’Darion Nardi.
That experience isn’t limited to the offensive side of the ball. Linebackers Trevor Donathan and Tanner Salisbury will join lineman Tyler Hoffman to lead the charge defensively. Nardi also returns at cornerback to lead the secondary.
The truncated spring season also served an important purpose for Becker and the Wolves. With a few upperclassmen who opted out to focus on other sports or finishing up their senior year of school, the door opened for others to gain needed experience.
“We played a lot of juniors last year that might have otherwise not played as much because we had some seniors that opted out,” Becker said. “If I’ve got my numbers right, we’re returning eight offensive starters and at least seven defensive starters. That’s a lot of kids that got to play a lot of minutes and snaps, and that can’t hurt you.”
The Wolves will need to be ready right away with a nonleague slate that includes matchups against Vintage, Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland, Antioch, Las Lomas-Walnut Creek and Foothill-Pleasanton. That’s only the appetizer, with the uber-tough East Bay Athletic League Mountain Division waiting in October.
“Every (EBAL Mountain) team is well coached. Every team has its share of talent, and it really becomes about which team executes the game plan the best on Friday night,” Becker said. “I know it sounds very cliché but every game we played last year, win or lose, other than the De La Salle game, was a one-score game.
“It literally went down to the last possession where you either had possession and had to score, had to stop someone from scoring, or had the ball and had to run out the clock.”
Wolves fans should buckle up.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: The Green Flash
Watching a St. Mary’s Rams football game, it will take just one Rams offensive play for you to notice Jadyn Marshall. He’s the green blur cutting across the defensive secondary.
Marshall recently committed to UCLA where he’ll compete for the Bruins in both football and track (he’s one of the state’s best hurdlers, also). Cal-Hi Sports.com recently referred to him as “one of the most world-class athletes in the state,” as it named him to its Preseason All-Sac-Joaquin Section Football Team.
Over just four games last spring, Marshall posted 499 all-purpose yards that included 230 receiving yards on 15 catches and 193 kick return yards. Against De La Salle — the best secondary he faced last spring — Marshall caught seven passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s not bad. He’s OK,” De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh said in jest after the mid-March game. “You don’t get recruited by the teams recruiting him for being a bad football player.”
Marshall will be the veteran leader in what should be a very good Rams receiving core as well. Juniors Naseri Danielson and Jason Calvin both return after combining for 447 yards and 7 TDs in the spring.
COMING IN TOMORROW’S RETURN TO FALL RELEASE: Preview content on Center-Antelope as well as California-San Ramon, PLUS: The reveal of the first three teams in Preseason NorCal Top 20 Rankings.