Preparation for this fall’s high school season is well underway.
Teams across the Bay Area are understanding daily and competing in 7-on-7 passing tournaments — something they couldn’t do last summer due to the pandemic — with the primary weekend of the 11-on-11 tackle season scheduled to start out on Aug. 27-28.
Friday, the Bay Area’s top program announced its schedule for the fall. De La Salle will open its season on Aug. 27 against St. Mary’s of Stockton, the same opponent the Spartans beat at home 35-27 to start their abbreviated spring season in March.
But at this point, the sport is going to be played in Stockton.
From there, the Spartans will play host to Monterey Trail on Sept. 3, visit St. Francis in Mountain View on Sept. 10 and play reception against Cathedral Catholic on Sept. 17.
After a bye, the Spartans will play their one out-of-state opponent on the schedule, St. Frances Academy of Baltimore, reception in Concord on Oct. 1. the sport is scheduled to be televised by ESPN.
DLS will close out its non-league schedule at Folsom on Oct. 8.
The Spartans will finish their 10-game regular season against four East Bay Athletic League opponents: Home games against California on Oct. 15, Amador Valley on Oct. 29 and Clayton Valley Charter on Nov. 5, and an away game against San Ramon Valley on Oct. 22.
“This is a very normal schedule,” said De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh, whose team went 6-0 in the spring. “Good teams throughout and a few heavy hitters. St. Frances is tough.”
In the past four seasons, St. Frances has had two undefeated seasons and gone 44-3 overall. The team’s rise to national prominence under Henry Russell and co-coach Biff Poggi was documented in a four-part HBO series, “The Cost of Winning.”
The Panthers, who have sent players to the likes of LSU, Alabama, and Michigan, were far away from their school league because they were “too good” and now play a national schedule.
According to the HBO promo, ‘The Cost of Winning intimately captures the Panthers’ everyday lives as they turn the streets and public parks into their training grounds in hopes of 1 day playing on the school – and ultimately, professional – level.”
Football coaching move
Steve Papin has left Independence again to take over the football program at Santa Teresa. Papin coached at Independence for five seasons before spending one season at Menlo-Atherton. He returned to Independence this past school year after parting ways with M-A.
Papin called it “a tough decision,” but moving to Santa Teresa cuts down his commute and provides a chance to teach within the Blossom Valley Athletic League’s top division.
He said leaving Independence at this point was much harder than when he left after the 2018 season for M-A. Papin added that he believes this may be his final coaching “until I can’t coach anymore.”
Ali Bhatti, who was Papin’s defensive coordinator at M-A and Independence, has appropriated the Independence program, Papin said.
Basketball coaching move
Two weeks after leading his alma mater, Piedmont Hills, to the Central Coast Section Division I boys basketball championship, Anthony Cuellar has stepped down to take over the program at Willow Glen.
Cuellar said he will teach P.E. at Willow Glen, a chance that wasn’t available at Piedmont Hills.
The coach said he looks forward to elevating the Willow Glen basketball program. When he replaced his mentor, Pete Simos, at Piedmont Hills, the Pirates were already rolling.
“I think we will quite do an equivalent thing with Willow Glen,” Cuellar added.
Still, he said the choice to go away from his home school wasn’t easy.
“I was born across the road,” Cuellar said. “It’s been my whole life. I wont to watch the varsity games once I was a child, 7, 8 years old. I played all the local sports. this is often where I live. I’m not totally isolating the connection, but it seems like it’s been severed a touch bit. It’s getting to vary, but that’s how you grow. That’s how you develop.”