2015 high school football season preview – Antioch favorite to win league, Deer Valley poised to improveThursday, August 27th, 2015
By Luke Johnson
The high school football season is about to kickoff, and Antioch and Deer Valley are ready to make some noise.
Coaches and players across the Bay Valley Athletic League (BVAL) feel that Antioch is a strong contender to finish in first place. The team is led by returning BVAL MVP Najee Harris, a junior, who is ranked the number one running back in the country by various scouting websites. He broke two school records last season: rushing yards in a game (371) and in a season (2,263). The 6-foot-2, 222 pound junior has offers from some of the top schools in the country such as USC, Oregon and reigning NCAA Champs Ohio State, but verbally committed to Alabama in April during an unofficial visit.
The Panthers finished with a 7-5 record, and a victory in the first round of the North Coast Section Playoffs for the first time since 1984, which is also the last time they won a league title. The team will be returning many star players such as wide receiver/defensive back Ryan Payne, running back Nick Perry and linebacker Kobie Beltram, who is well on pace for breaking the school’s career tackle record and has a scholarship offer from Oregon State.
The Yoc Boyz, which became for a nickname for the team last year, will welcome three talented incoming transfers: defensive backs Issac Freytes (Freedom), Dawon Boyd (Deer Valley) and wide receiver Keonte Taylor (James Logan-Union City), who had 11 touchdown receptions last season. The squad also expects big things from wide receiver/defensive back Antione Tanner and lineman Sir Forbes whom are coming up from JV last year.
“I know Najee gets all the attention, but it’s not just Najee,” said offensive coordinator Brett Dudley. “We have weapons all over the place now.”
Deer Valley is not coming off its best performance, last season with a record of just 4-6. The Wolverines went 0-5 in interleague competition and were outscored 182-28 throughout those games. But things are looking up with new head coach Robert Hubbard at the helm, who is unanimously liked by players and fellow coaches, including opposing coaches.
“He’s a good dude. I know he loves the kids and is very organized,” said Dudley. “I have a lot of confidence that he is going to get them going in the right direction.”
As a player, Hubbard holds the single-season rushing record at Diablo Valley College (1,518), and had 2,403 all-purpose yards in two seasons at the University of Nevada. Prior to being named head coach at Deer Valley, he was an assistant coach at Northgate-Walnut Creek.
Fortunately for Hubbard, Deer Valley returns approximately 24 varsity football players, including three All-BVAL selections: running back Rai Shyan Alexander, offensive lineman Latu Toetuu and kicker Christian Rodriguez. The Wolverines also bring back key starters such as quarterback Devin Gould, lineman Troy Decuir, linebacker Brandon Faatalale and wide receiver Elijah Womack.
Hubbard said there is a lot of potential at Deer Valley, but added, “Potential means you haven’t done anything yet.” He feels the team is currently in a better mental state after dealing with off the field issues last year.
For Deer Valley and Antioch the season begins Friday, August 28. The Panthers will host Acalanes in their new $7-million stadium, while Deer Valley travels to Granada. The two will face each other on Oct. 30 in the annual Mayor’s Cup at Antioch High School.