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Alhambra High's quarterback Josh Evans, right, tries to pass the ball to teammate Ciozanne Foster (25) in the second quarter of their football game against Las Lomas High in Martinez, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

Not much has changed in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League.

It's deep once again with strong coaching across the board and not an easy game in sight.

"Anyone can beat anyone in our league," Acalanes coach Mike Ivankovich said. "You have to grind it out the whole way."

"The league should be wide open," added Campolindo's Kevin Macy.

Macy's Cougars are the favorite as the three-time defending champion, but they'll have plenty of challengers in what's one of the most exciting leagues in the East Bay from week to week.

Here's a closer look at the league:

Acalanes

COACH: Mike Ivankovich, sixth season

2013 RECORD: 8-4, 3-3 DFAL

Acalanes quarterback Casey Harrington makes a throw during a football team practice at Acalanes High School football field in Lafayette, Calif., on
Acalanes quarterback Casey Harrington makes a throw during a football team practice at Acalanes High School football field in Lafayette, Calif., on Wednesday, August 13, 2014. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

TOP RETURNEES: QB Casey Harrington, Sr.; OL Brady Aiello, Sr.; LB/RB Jared Finney, Sr.; OL/DL Tom Hofmeister, Jr.; RB/LB Tom Henderson, Jr.; UTL John O'Malley, Sr.; C Michael Fink, Sr.; OL/LB Grant Young, Jr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: WR/CB Tyler Henderson, Jr.; WR/LB Matt Bostwick, Jr.; WR/S Ryan Leamy, Jr.; ; RB/DB Leo Barakos Jr.

KEY LOSSES: RB Peter Mitchell, WR/S Robbie Stern, WR/LB John Lauth, RB/LB Grant Henderson, OL Alex Harper.


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OUTLOOK: With eight wins in 2013, the Dons are coming off their most successful season since Ivankovich took over. This year looks promising, too. The offense is in good hands with QB Casey Harrington among six starters returning. Harrington had a big junior season and "has a great handle on our offense. ... He has free reign," Ivankovich said. He'll be working with a quick group of receivers. The Dons should be solid and experienced up front, too, anchored by left tackle Brady Aiello, an Oregon commit. The Dons have switched to a more conventional defense this year and return five starters. The defensive line is experienced, but the defensive unit is a little small in general. Kicker Chad Johnson could be another weapon.

Alhambra

COACH: Alan Hern, fifth season

2013 RECORD: 2-7-1, 1-5 DFAL

TOP RETURNERS: QB Josh Evans, Sr.; WR/CB Grant Hill, Sr.; LB/RB Greg Rossi, Sr.; RB/S James Gonsalves, Sr.; T Kieran Parhar, Sr., WR Ciazonne Foster, Sr.; TE/LB Josh Abraham, Jr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: C Jason Parrilla, Jr.; LB/G Garrett Arreaga Jr.; WR/CB Damon Leonard, Jr.; OL/DE Dante Abono, Jr.

Dublin varsity football player Jabari Jefferson, 17, reaches for a pass during practice in Dublin, Calif., on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. (Jose Carlos
Dublin varsity football player Jabari Jefferson, 17, reaches for a pass during practice in Dublin, Calif., on Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

KEY LOSSES: WR/S Monte Cabrera, WR/CB Dalton Dollar, OL/DL Max Licht.

OUTLOOK: The last three years have been challenging for the Bulldogs, but strong senior leadership and a good core of returners have them optimistic that 2014 could be better. Hern likes the chemistry between the junior and senior classes and they return experience at key positions. Evans, Hill and Foster, who moves from running back to wide receiver for his senior year, are all three-year varsity contributors. The line is big and athletic, though some younger guys will be relied upon. The Bulldogs' defense is less experienced.

Campolindo

COACH: Kevin Macy, 19th season

Las Lomas High quarterback Ben Wood works during practice at Walnut Creek, Calif., high school on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)
Las Lomas High quarterback Ben Wood works during practice at Walnut Creek, Calif., high school on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

2013 RECORD: 11-1, 6-0 DFAL

TOP RETURNEES: TE Tyler Petite, Sr.; RB Nick Fadelli, Sr.; OL Sterling Strother, Jr.; S Tiger Garcia, Sr.; RB/LB Adam Remotto, Sr.; LB Jack Shurtz, Sr.; QB Jack Stephens, Sr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: LB Jack Cassidy, Jr.; WR Max Flower, Jr.; OL Ryan Geisreiter, Sr.

KEY LOSSES: QB Andrew Zolintakis, LB/UTL Isaac Christian, WR/DB Justin Dunn, OL Daniel Samaniego, OL Will Simmons, DL Peter Golesorkhi, WR Phillip Rei, DB Andrew Ahazie.

OUTLOOK: The three-time defending league champion Cougars lost an outstanding senior class that led the way to 11 straight wins and a North Coast Section Division III semifinal appearance. But if anyone can reload, it's Campolindo, a program that has produced some very strong teams at the lower levels in recent years. Petite, a Duke commit, heads the list of top returning starters. Fadelli could also be primed for a big year. But the Cougars lost their entire passing game and much of their offensive line. Jack Stephens, whose older brothers Tommy and Brett also starred under center, takes over at quarterback. Campo's defense is further along. "We have a smattering of guys who got playing time last year. Our defense is always undersized, but I think we're OK experience-wise," Macy said.

Dougherty Valley

COACH: Nick Tisa, third season

2013 RECORD: 4-7, 1-5 DFAL

TOP RETURNEES: RB Michael Pangelinan, Sr.; OL/DL Kieffer Longson, Sr.; FB/LB Spencer Grenley, Sr.; RB/DB Sam Tarasow, Jr.; RB/DB Trent Ruckman, Sr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: QB Calvin Montano, Sr.; RB/LB Joe Bradley, Jr.; WR/DB Anthony Hoskins, Jr.; WR/CB Jackson Phillips, Jr.; OL/DL Dunavin Collins, Jr.

KEY LOSSES: QB Umar Farooq, WR/DB Aaron Do, OL/DL Devin Spivey.

OUTLOOK: The Wildcats are looking to build on last year's success, which included a trip to the NCS Division I playoffs, after a winless season two years ago. A tight-knit senior class that has been playing together since youth football will be key. The Wildcats will have one of the most imposing linemen in the league in the 6-foot-7, 300-pound Longson. The coveted recruit has narrowed his college choices to Ohio State, BYU and Utah. On offense, Dougherty Valley will continue to run the Wing-T as the Wildcats improved their weight training program. "I think we can surprise people this year," Tisa said. "We just have the hurdle of getting over concept of being new program. We're not a new program anymore."

Dublin

COACH: John Wade, fourth season

2013 RECORD: 3-7, 1-5 DFAL

TOP RETURNEES: QB Josh Nobida, Sr.; WR Jabari Jefferson, Sr.; RB Darrell Millinder, Sr.; OL Matt Lee, Sr.; OL Grant Matta, Sr.; OL Alex Zavala, Sr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: WR Amir Ali, Sr.; RB John Son, Jr.; LB Ryan Arevalo, Jr.; DB Imani Moore, Jr.; DB Jeremiah Burks, Jr.; DL Keith Millard Jr., So.

KEY LOSSES: WR Tai Ahmad, DE Clark Jackman.

OUTLOOK: The Gaels were extremely young in 2013, and the experienced they gained during a tough season should pay off now. Only three starters were lost on each side of the ball, and Nobida will be back for a third year at quarterback. Another three-year starter, Jefferson, will be a top target. Millinder and a seasoned offensive line return as well. Dublin also gets a boost on defense with the addition of former NFL star Keith Millard to the coaching staff. He'll be the defensive coordinator, taking a break from a long NFL coaching career, most recently with the Tennessee Titans. "We don't have a lot of holes," coach John Wade said. "We have a lot of good kids in all the spots. It should be fun to watch both sides of the ball."

Las Lomas

COACH: Mike Downing, second season

2013 RECORD: 7-5, 4-2 DFAL

TOP RETURNEES: QB/DE Ben Wood, Sr.; RB/DB Zack Fulks, Sr.; RB/DB Jack Kane, Sr.; DB/WR Lincoln Kiragu, Sr.; OL Noah Myers, Sr.; MLB/OL Willie Amen, Sr.; OL/DL Aviv Elor, Sr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: TE/DE Blake Manful, Sr., C Colin Leech, Jr.; OL/DL Anthony Magdelano, Jr.; LB/RB Ben Snyder, Jr.; DB/WR Max Kulsuptrakul, Jr.

KEY LOSSES: WR/DB Johnny Marinchak, C Max Nevis, LG Conner Nelson, DE/TE Greg Corbin, LB/FB Greyson Bromstad, QB Shawn Hessler.

OUTLOOK: The Knights' first year under Downing ended with six regular season wins and a playoff victory, exceeding expectations for a young team with a new coach. This year has the potential to be even better. The Knights return five starters on offense, including most of their skill position players, and seven on defense. Wood will return as the starting quarterback after sharing time at that position last year when he was also a dominant defensive end. Three key members of the offensive line are also back, including the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Myers, a Washington State commit. Defensively, the secondary and defensive line both have plenty of experience. Las Lomas' toughest game may be its first, traveling to Division I power San Ramon Valley.

Miramonte

COACH: Jack Schram, fourth season

2013 RECORD: 12-2, 5-1 DFAL

TOP RETURNEES: WR/DB Greg Pietrykowski, Sr.; WR/LB Clayton Stehr, Jr.; WR/LB; Ryan Anderson, Jr.; OL/DL Scott Iqbal, Sr.; OL/DL Alex Schnier, Sr.

TOP NEWCOMERS: QB/DB Sam Tuttle, Sr., WR/DB Jackson Braitberg, Jr., LB McClain Marks, Jr.

KEY LOSSES: QB Drew Anderson, RB/DB Ray Clark, WR/DB Will Fuller, WR/DB Dom Paoletti; OL/DL Bennett Stehr, OL/DL Kris Booze, LB Jonathan McDonald.

OUTLOOK: The reigning NCS Division II champions are in rebuilding mode. Gone is the entire offensive line as well as 4,000-yard passer Drew Anderson and two-way standout Clark. Wide receiver Pietrykowski is the lone returning starter on offense, and the defense gets just three starters back. Tuttle is battling with two juniors for the quarterback job. While inexperienced, the offensive line will be bigger than last year. Only seven juniors and three sophomores played on the varsity team last year, but coach Jack Schram remains optimistic. "We have the ability to grow," Schram said. "We have good athletes, kids who understand how the team works, execution and hard work. Nobody picked us to win anything last year and we won it all."

Predicted finish
1. Campolindo
2. Las Lomas
3. Acalanes
4. Dublin
5. Miramonte
6. Alhambra
7. Dougherty Valley

ACALANES
8/29 ANTIOCH 7 p.m.
9/5 CASTRO VAL. 7 p.m.
9/12 ENCINAL 7 p.m.
9/19 TENNYSON 7 p.m.
10/3 at Alhambra* 7 p.m.
10/10 DUBLIN 7 p.m.
10/17 at Dough. Valley* 7 p.m.
10/24 MIRAMONTE 7 p.m.
10/31 LAS LOMAS* 7 p.m.
11/7 at Campolindo* 7 p.m.
*DFAL game
ALHAMBRA
8/29 at College Park 7 p.m.
9/5 RANCHO COT. 7:30 p.m.
9/12 ARMIJO 7 p.m.
9/19 at Wash.-Fremont 7 p.m.
9/26 at Miramonte* 7 p.m.
10/3 ACALANES* 7 p.m.
10/10 CAMPOLINDO* 7 p.m.
10/17 at Dublin* 7 p.m.
10/24 DOUGH. VAL.* 7 p.m.
11/7 at Las Lomas* 7 p.m.
*DFAL game
CAMPOLINDO
8/29 at Heritage 7 p.m.
9/5 MENLO-ATHERTON 7 p.m.
9/12 at Wash.-Fremont 7 p.m.
9/19 NAPA 7 p.m.
9/26 at Dublin* 7 p.m.
10/3 DOUGH. VAL.* 7 p.m.
10/10 at Alhambra* 7 p.m.
10/17 LAS LOMAS* 7 p.m.
10/24 at Miramonte* 7 p.m.
11/7 ACALANES* 7 p.m.
*DFAL game
DOUGHERTY VALLEY
8/30 at Novato 2 p.m.
9/5 at De Anza 7 p.m.
9/12 SKYLINE 7 p.m.
9/26 LAS LOMAS 7 p.m.
10/3 at Campolindo* 7 p.m.
10/10 at Miramonte* 7 p.m.
10/17 ACALANES* 7 p.m.
10/24 at Alhambra* 7 p.m.
10/31 DUBLIN* 7 p.m.
11/7 STELLAR PREP 7 p.m.
*DFAL game
DUBLIN
8/29 ALAMEDA 7 p.m.
9/5 at Woodside 7 p.m.
9/12 MONTGOMERY 7:30 p.m.
9/19 YGNACIO VALLEY 7 p.m.
9/26 CAMPOLINDO 7 p.m.
10/10 at Acalanes 7 p.m.
10/17 ALHAMBRA* 7 p.m.
10/24 at Las Lomas* 7 p.m.
10/31 at Dougherty Val.* 7 p.m.
11/7 MIRAMONTE* 7 p.m.
*DFAL game
LAS LOMAS
8/29 at San Ramon Val. 7 p.m.
9/5 at College Park 7 p.m.
9/12 FREMONT-OAK. 7 p.m.
9/19 NORTHGATE 7 p.m.
9/26 at Dougherty Val. 7 p.m.
10/3 MIRAMONTE 7 p.m.
10/17 at Campolindo* 7 p.m.
10/24 DUBLIN* 7 p.m.
10/31 at Acalanes* 7 p.m.
11/7 ALHAMBRA* 7 p.m.
*DFAL game
MIRAMONTE
8/29 PINOLE VALLEY 7 p.m.
9/6 at St. Mary's-Berk. 1:30 p.m.
9/12 WINDSOR 7 p.m.
9/19 at Alameda 7 p.m.
9/26 ALHAMBRA* 7 p.m.
10/3 at Las Lomas* 7 p.m.
10/10 DOUGH. VAL.* 7 p.m.
10/24 at Acalanes* 7 p.m.
10/31 CAMPOLINDO* 7 p.m.
11/7 at Dublin* 7 p.m.
*DFAL game