I know it's the middle of the summer, but is it ever too early to talk about the upcoming high school football season?
With the new school calendar sending the kids in Pleasanton back to school on Aug. 15, the first football games are set for Aug. 26. But the big thing about the new prep season is the return of Dublin and the addition of Dougherty Valley to the East Bay Athletic League.
Even though I had heard about this last year, I have to admit it had slipped my mind until checking out the football games for the upcoming season for Amador Valley and Foothill.
Seeing Dublin and Dougherty Valley on those schedules was a rush. Having grown up in Pleasanton and graduating from Amador, we had some big rivalry games with Foothill, but we really had some intense encounters with Dublin in football and soccer.
Rivalries are what makes high school sports so exciting. It honestly is the last sense of community kids on the playing fields will have, or in some cases, the only one they will have in their athletic careers.
The way club sports have gone in the world of youth sports is to draw kids in from more than just your city in hopes of building the best team possible.
Sure, Little League may be the last to cling to the "city only" teams, but that is about it.
In the day and age of travel teams, high school athletics take a backseat to club sports. Basketball, baseball, softball, lacrosse, volleyball -- well, heck pretty much every sport but football -- are sports where your chances to play in college are determined in the world of club sports.
Very rarely do you see college coaches out at high school events any more. Even football, with the advent of the summer camps, are starting to get away from it as well.
But what the high schools do have is the ability for the rest of the school to rally behind their team each week. Kids may not know the sport, but hey, if Amador is playing Foothill, we have to win. Wearing the name of your school on the front of your uniform adds a pressure to playing that many of these athletes will not get anywhere else at this point in their lives.
"Friday Night Lights" brings the community together as well. Kids of all ages are at the games, many dreaming of the day they will suit up for the local high school.
Bringing Dublin and Dougherty Valley into the EBAL is going to cement rivalries on a number of levels. I always felt bad for the kids from Cal High because when Amador-Foothill, Granada-Livermore and Monte Vista-San Ramon Valley matches were taking place, Cal had its "rivalry game" with De La Salle.
That does nothing for the Grizzlies. There is not the talk between the supporters of the two schools at a local coffee house or brew pub. Now it's a rivalry jackpot for Cal as they get the other high school in their city -- Dougherty Valley -- and a natural rival in Dublin.
In addition, the vast majority of the road games for the two newest members are like going to the corner market as compared to the travel they did face. Closer games equal more students attending, which makes the experience more exciting.
Winners all around.
Very few high school athletes go on to play in college and a minuscule number make it to the professional ranks. The memories they have from high school are the ones they will carry with them the rest of their lives, and we are only a little over a month away from creating another year of them.
Welcome to the EBAL, Dublin and Dougherty Valley!