August 27, 2008 > Hayward Area Athletic League Football preview
Hayward Area Athletic League Football preview
By Idorenyin Uto-Uko
The Hayward Area Athletic League (HAAL) has traditionally been one of the top football conferences in the Bay Area. This league, comprised of high schools that have won North Coast Section Championships as well as highly ranked scholar-athletes in the state of California, looks to continue that success.
High schools in HAAL include: Arroyo, Bishop O'Dowd, Castro Valley, Hayward, Mt. Eden, San Leandro, San Lorenzo and Tennyson.
The Dons seek to improve on their 6-5 record, fifth place finish from last season. Their 3-4 league record was garnered with strong victories and narrow defeats. Some of their big wins came against McCylmonds of Oakland and a 49-0 blowout against Moreau Catholic. Their season opener is September 13 against Irvington of Fremont.
The always tough Bishop O' Dowd Dragons looks to jump into first place in 2008. The hard hitting Dragons finished in second place with an 8-3 overall record. The Dragons return a many players from last year's squad and have added more talent from last year's 9-1 JV team. The season opener is September 12 vs. Alameda.
The Castro Valley Trojans look to rebound from a 5-5 2007 campaign which saw them go 4-3 in league play, finishing third in the HAAL. They played both league champion San Leandro and HAAL runner-up, Bishop O'Dowd, down to the wire, coming up short 15-14 and 18-15, respectively. The Trojans season opener is September 12 vs. Freedom (Oakley) at home.
Coach Bill Davies' Farmers of Hayward seek to mow themselves back up to playoff contention and return to their 2006 championship form. A year removed from a 12-2 season, the 2007 version of the Farmers went through a rebuilding phase, finishing 2-8 overall, 1-6 within the HAAL, finishing in seventh place. Their only wins came against Livermore and HAAL's last-place team, San Lorenzo.
The Monarchs are like many of the teams in the competitive HAAL: they had a .500 winning percentage in 2007 and are seeking a spot in the North Coast Section playoffs. Look for coach Jesse Rodriguez to have a lot of surprises this season. With a rejuvenated squad of juniors and experienced seniors, the team will look to continue their dominance against cross-town rival, Tennyson. The Monarchs beat up on Tennyson handily, 54-21, in 2007.
Many expect San Leandro to repeat as HAAL champions. The Pirates went through the 2007 season unblemished, with a 7-0 record. Look for them to receive some strong competition from HAAL opponents this season. The Pirates will be matched with South Bay Central Coast Section Champion, Valley Christian, in their season opener on September 12. San Leandro returns 14 starters from last year's first-place squad, including a veteran line and a deep corps of running backs which was tough to stop last year.
Not a lot of positives can be said for Coach Jacob Wrights' Rebels. His team finished 0-10 in 2007. The Pirates did have some bright spots. They played Moreau Catholic and Hayward very tough, before coming up short in the games final moments. The Rebels goal for 2008 is to win a game. They look to achieve that goal in their season opener, September 12, against Mt. Diablo of Concord.
The Terry Smith-coached Lancers look to improve on their 3-4 league record in 2007. But, they will not get a lot of help from their juniors. Last year the JV team finished 4-5-1. Despite their record, Tennyson has added a more experienced assistant coaching staff for Coach Smith. The Lancers return three offensive and four defensive starters, including an experienced offensive line and an aggressive linebacker corps. The Lancers linemen won the Big Man Challenge at San Jose State University this summer. Tennyson opens the season against Mission Valley Athletic League historical doormat, Mission San Jose of Fremont, at home, September 13.