PREDICTED FINISH

1. El Cerrito

2. St. Mary's

3. Pinole Valley

4. Salesian

5. Valley Christian

6. St. Patrick-St. Vincent

7. Berean Christian

There isn't a greater favorite to win a league title in the East Bay this season than El Cerrito, which returns several skill position players from last year's 13-1 team. Back are quarterback Keilan Benjamin, receiver Jalen Harvey, linebacker D.J. Calhoun and cornerback Adarius Pickett, just to name a few.

Valley Christian has seven starters returning on both offense and defense, including Vince Volpatti, Theman Taylor and linemen Logan McHone and Sean Flynn.

Salesian will be a junior-heavy team that may go through growing pains to start the season, but the Pride does return running back DeAngelo Hernandez and lineman Tristan Castle. St. Mary's had an up and down 2012 campaign but does return running back Lorenzo Logwood and receiver Liam Godfrey and should vie for second place.

Berean Christian has a new coach in former NFL running back James Hodgins and features running back Ethan Anderson and receiver Cole Temple. St. Patrick-St. Vincent has a new coach in Brennan Marion, and the Bruins and Pinole Valley are looking to rebound from disappointing seasons.

Berean Christian

COACH: James Hodgins, first season

2012 RECORD: 3-8, 2-4 TCAL-Rock


Advertisement

TOP RETURNEES: RB/DL Ethan Anderson, Sr.; RB/LB Cole Temple, Sr.; WR/CB Hunter Lockhart Sr.; OL/DL Brannan Stewart, Sr.; QB Jax Cuddihy, Sr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: QB/LB Nick Ramos, Jr. WR/DB Isaiah Hodgins, Fr.; FB/LB Zach Summers, Jr.; FB/LB Elijah Summers, Jr.

KEY LOSSES: QB/FS Garrett Anderson, WR/DB Carter Newton, OL/DL Dominic Barich, WR/LB Aaron Alexander

OUTLOOK: New coach Hodgins, a former NFL running back hired in January, didn't have the luxury of easing his way into his first head coaching job as he installed an offseason weight-training regimen -- a first for the Eagles' program and had to reinvigorate a team that lost its last five games of the 2012 campaign. But Berean Christian is optimistic it can have a positive season. Anderson, Lockhart and Temple will lead the up-tempo offense and Cuddihy is a good dual-threat quarterback. Berean Christian won't challenge for the league title but appears to be building a foundation for success under Hodgins.

El Cerrito

COACH: Kenny Kahn, sixth season

2012 RECORD: 13-1, 6-0

TOP RETURNEES: WR/CB Jalen Harvey, Sr.; LB/FB D.J. Calhoun, Sr.; CB/WR/RB Adarius Pickett, Sr. QB Keilan Benjamin, Sr.; WR Marquis Pippins, Sr.; RB/FS Keith Benjamin, Sr.; OL/DL Johnny Tolliver, Sr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: DB Juwain Harrison, Sr.; RB James Houston, Sr.

KEY LOSSES: WR/DB Marcellus Pippins, RB/LB Marshon Ardoin, Sr., DL Lekan Ajayi, Sr.; RB/LB Austin Harper, Sr. OL/DL William Dreyer, Sr.; OL/DL/K Christos Magganas

OUTLOOK: Expectations for this year's El Cerrito team are as high as they've ever been. The Gauchos are not only heavy favorites to repeat as Rock Division champions, but to make the NCS Division III title game again and possibly advance to the state championship. Most of the Gauchos' skill position players are back for their senior seasons, and the team has been bolstered by the addition of transfers Harrison and Houston from Salesian and Pinole Valley, respectively. El Cerrito will likely not be challenged in the Rock Division, but should get all it can handle with a loaded nonleague schedule that includes games against Sutter, Bellarmine Prep and Campolindo.

Pinole Valley

COACH: Luke Bodwin, second season

2012 RECORD: 3-7, 2-4

TOP RETURNEES: RB/LB Javari Shepherd, Sr.; OL Dominic Martinez, Sr.; WR Devin Davis, Sr.

KEY LOSSES: DB Deandre Reynolds, RB James Houston, OL/DL Dominic Bal

OUTLOOK: Bodwin had a fairly young team in 2012 that took its lumps early on but did get better in the second half of the season with wins over St. Patrick-St. Vincent and Berean Christian and close losses to Valley Christian and St. Mary's. Shephard and Davis will provide the bulk of the offense this season for the Spartans, who could challenge for the top half of the league standings.

Salesian

COACH: Chad Nightingale, 18th season

2012 RECORD: 9-3, 4-2 BFL

TOP RETURNEES: LB/OL Vince Roland, Sr.; OL/DL Tristan Castle, Sr.; RB DeAngelo Hernandez, Sr.; WR/DB Aaron Hayes, Sr; WR/DB Austin Hopkins, Sr.; RB/DB Austin Ambion, Sr.; CB Prentiss Reid, Jr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: QB Dominic Parella, Jr.; RB Jordan Cole, Jr.; RB/LB Tyree Harvey, Jr; TE/LB Rocko Williams, Sr.; RB/DB Kameron Carr, Jr.

KEY LOSSES: RB/DB Michael Page, FS Jawain Harrison, LB Trevor Thomas, QB Zack Boyett

OUTLOOK: Salesian will have one of its younger teams in Nightingale's tenure, but the Pride does have enough returning players to be in the mix for second or third place. Roland and Castle lead the offensive line and Hernandez was a TCAL honorable mention last season in a league full of great backs. Salesian will go through some growing pains but should improve as the year goes on.

St. Mary's

COACH: Keith Minor, fifth season

2012 RECORD: 6-6, 3-3

TOP RETURNEES: RB Lorenzo Logwood, Sr.; WR Liam Godfrey, Sr.; DE Dan Schrider Jr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: QB Ian Bonde Sr.; FS Ron Smith Jr.

KEY LOSSES: QB Kevin Flemer, OL/DL Nick Abrams, RB/LB Aiden Shockley, Sr.; WR/DB Caleb Coleman. Sr.; RB/DB Andrew Abrams, Sr.

OUTLOOK: A program long rich in tradition, the minimum requirement is for this team to make the playoffs. The talent is there. If the offensive line develops, the Panthers should be near the top of the league standings.

St. Patrick-St. Vincent

COACH: Brennan Marion, first season

2012 RECORD: 1-9, 0-6

TOP RETURNEES:QB Anthony Williams, Sr.; DL/OL Dominic Chabotti, Sr.; OL/DL Daniel Angel, Sr.; OL/DL Dominic Scalero, Jr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: WR Jalen Canty, Sr.; S/QB James Terrell, Jr.; RB Quinton Bozeman, Jr.; TE/DB Ivan Hudson, Sr.

KEY LOSSES: P Zach Coen, DB Christian Bustamonte

OUTLOOK: Marion breathed some necessary life into a program reeling from a hazing scandal that ended with five players being expelled and its head coach, Chris Cerbone, being fired. Cerbone was not directly involved with the hazings and has filed a lawsuit against the school and the Sacramento Diocese. It's clear Marion does not want to take baby steps and is optimistic the Bruins can return to their former glory, sooner rather than later. He likes Williams at quarterback and the receiving corps got a boost with the addition of basketball star Canty. The Bruins appear to be on the rise.

Valley Christian

COACH: Jim Heal, first season

2012 RECORD: 8-3, 4-2

TOP RETURNEES: QB/S Theman Taylor, Sr.; OL/DL Logan McHone, Sr.; OT/DT Sean Flynn, Sr.; RB/LB Vince Volpatti, Sr.; TE/LB Demaurier Blackwell, Sr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: DB/WR Jairus Woodson, So.

KEY LOSSES: LB/RB A.J. Harris, Sr.; RB/CB Howard Wikle, Sr.;

OUTLOOK: There's no mystery to the Vikings' offensive approach. With Theman Taylor, Vince Volpatti and linemen McHone and Flynn, Valley Christian will run the ball right at its opponents. Heal said the Vikings have good balance on offense and defense, quality at the skill positions and a strong senior class.

Staff writer Matt Schwab, correspondent Damin Esper and the Vallejo Times-Herald contributed to this report.