High school football 2023 preview: MVAL/WACC Foothill Division

High school football 2023 preview: MVAL/WACC Foothill Division


(Predicted order of finish)


Coach: Eddie Smith

Record in 2022: 7-4

What to expect: The runner-up to Tennyson in the MVAL/WACC Foothill last season, Logan is the pick to finish on top this fall. The Colts have experience in the proverbial “athlete” role as Robert Mendez and Tu’unahala Leao are three-year starters. Both are seniors. Coach Eddie Smith called Leao the “heart and soul of the squad.” Jonathan Craft is the team’s new QB after transferring from Valley Christian. Smith said Craft, a junior, is dynamic and a leader. OL/DL Geovanni Valverde and DB/WR Danzel Mercado are also three-year starters. Logan is scheduled to visit Tennyson on Oct. 20.

Season opener: Aug. 25 vs. Archbishop Mitty, 7 p.m.


Coach: John Pangelina

Record in 2022: 8-3

What to expect: Tennyson went undefeated in league play last season but graduated its top player, wide receiver Taeshaun Lyons, now at the University of Washington. Larrie Noble lll, an edge rusher and receiver, and OT/DE Pauliasi Taulava are among the players who will have significant roles this season. Noble was the defensive player of the year in the Foothill Division in 2022. Junior tackle Osana Vaeao-Saga is in his third season on varsity and “has been working relentlessly for this opportunity,” Pangelina said. Two freshmen to watch are QB/LB Troy Finau and ATH/DB Lamont McDonald. They “will be the future of Tennyson football,” Pangelina added. Three-star lineman Siosiua Vete is a transfer from Fremont-Oakland. 

Season opener: Aug. 25 vs. East Union-Manteca, 7 p.m.


Coach: Hardy Nickerson

Record in 2022: 4-6

What to expect: The Dragons bring back a number of skill-position players but are retooling the offensive and defensive lines as they aim to bounce back from a four-win season in 2022. Senior OL/DL Berlin Lillard will anchor the lines. He is a Colorado State commit. QB Devin Wilson, now a junior, went 4-2 as a starter last fall. “We are excited to watch him this season,” coach Hardy Nickerson said. S/WR Elisha Glenn is the team’s vocal leader and ATH Deji Ajose provides quickness. WR/DB Miles Dixon has good hands and a nose for the ball.

Season opener: Aug. 26 at Tamalpais, 2 p.m.


Coach: Keith Minor

Record in 2022: 7-4

What to expect: After finishing second to Berkeley in the Mission Division last season, Moreau has moved up to the stronger division. Probably where the Hayward school belongs. Coach Keith Minor is enthusiastic about his defensive front seven, noting that DT/C Jeremiah Bailey and LB/RB Andrew Placido are back. Placido was the Mission’s defensive player of the year last fall. Bailey was a first-team all-league selection. Junior QB Luca Oca passed for 1,000 yards and 10 TDs in 2022, and RB/DB Peyton Collins should have a productive season running behind an experienced line. Eriq Fields, a junior, is in his first season at MLB. “We think he’s going to have a huge year,” Minor said.

Season opener: Aug. 26 at St. Mary’s-Berkeley, 1:30 p.m.


Coach: Brad Bowers

Record in 2022: 3-7

What to expect: San Leandro has a young roster, with numerous first-year varsity players, but longtime coach Brad Bowers said he has a solid group of RBs and an aggressive defense. The Pirates’ sub-.500 record last season was the program’s first in a full schedule since 2012. Senior RB/DB Martis Ferguson Jr. will have a larger role this season. DB/WR Jamal Perry, a returning starter on defense, is expected to be a bigger part of the offense. OL/DL Isaac Rodriguez has been a leader for younger teammates, and TE/LB Tye Morgan is ready to reap the payoff from off-season work. RB/LB AJ Branchaud is another player to watch.

Season opener: Aug. 25 vs. Redwood at Burrell Field in San Leandro, 7 p.m.


Coach: Denny Molzen

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Record in 2022: 2-8

What to expect: Coach Denny Molzen is encouraged by the off-season commitment, noting that more kids bought into the work and the results have been noticeable. “We are the strongest we’ve been,” he said. “We have some really strong senior leadership.” The senior group is led by QB Cooper Matthew, OL/DL Emon Dost and WR/DB Drew Leipold. Matthew missed half of last season with a non-football-related injury but has pushed himself and his teammates to get better. “He has done everything he could do to ensure a good (senior) year,” Molzen said. LBs Andy Arias and Connor Cooper, center Vinny De Alba and K Adrian Guzman are part of a strong junior class.

Season opener: Aug. 25 vs. Carlmont, 7 p.m.

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