|Alabama commit Najee Harris (middle grabbing the ball) is returning to a stacked Antioch High backfield with aspirations of not only continuing its rise, but chasing state glory this fall (photo by Lorenzo Reyna)|
The Bay Area produced one state title holder last year on the gridiron, and it was a familiar face in the world of high school football: De La Salle.
Will this year’s Spartans continue their state championship run in the Open Division and through a new state playoff format? And what other teams have the potential to make it all the way to December?
Here are the teams that Cali Gold Mine believes can work its magic and chase state glory.
CONCORD-DE LA SALLE
Last year: 13-1, defeated Corona-Centennial 28-21 in the CIF State Open Division title game.
Gone are tight end and defensive end Devin Asiasi and hard-nosed defensive lineman Boss Tagaloa. However, De La Salle continues to develop a habit of having talent ready for the following year such as senior cornerback Tre Webb (offers from Air Force, Fordham and Sacramento State), sophomore tight end Isaiah Foskey (five reported offers including Michigan) and 2018 star lineman Tuli Letuligasenoa (UCLA and Nebraska offers). There’s also the latest incarnation from the Tagaloa household who is ready to wreck havoc in the trenches, 2019 defensive lineman Beaux Tagaloa.
Last year: 11-1, lost 55-54 to Pleasanton-Foothill in the CIF North Coast Section Division-I semifinals.
There’s momentum at “The ‘Yoc,” and the Panthers have had quite an ascension since their 1-9 disaster in 2013 - by winning 18 of their last 24 games under head coach John Lucido. The Panthers have arguably the deepest backfield in the Bay with Alabama commit Najee Harris, rising 2018 back Omari Harris and fellow 2018 running mate Dalaan Green. Outside of the backfield, 2019 wide receiver Gaudie Campbell – already the recipient of two offers from BYU and Eastern Washington - provides Antioch with a tall 6-foot-2, 175-pound athletic presence. The Sept. 23 showdown at De La Salle has the makings of becoming one of the biggest games in recent memory for Antioch.
MOUNTAIN VIEW-ST. FRANCIS
Last year: 12-3, lost to Perris-Citrus Hill 23-20 in the CIF Division-IIA state title game.
The Lancers will welcome back an explosive 1-2 punch at running back with Washington State commit Cyrus Habibi-Likio (team-high 1,438 yards and 17 touchdowns last year) and Brandon Bains (average of 10.8 yards last season). Also back is versatile wide receiver/cornerback Bennett Williams, who snatched nine interceptions last season and holds five reported offers including one from Hawaii. At the line of scrimmage, Jadan Harris is an apex predator-type at nose guard, who comes equipped with explosion off the ball and a disruptive nature against the run. Harris collected eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage and tied for second on the team in sacks with six.