OAKLAND -- The Skyline High football team surged back toward the top last year when it reached the Silver Bowl for the first time since 2006.
It was a long road for the Titans -- once the beacon of success in the Oakland Athletic League and among the top teams in the East Bay.
Coach Jamaal Kizziee, in his fourth season, knows his team will be challenged to get back to the championship game.
"We're young and we're small," Kizziee said. "We're just looking to compete every year. We're trying to stay relevant."
A big reason for last year's relevance was the standout play of dual threat quarterback Jamal Mayo. But he wasn't the whole story. Running back DeWayne Ewing Jr. was a solid option, Rod Haynes anchored the lines and Austin Chao was a standout linebacker. All of those players have been lost to graduation.
In their place, the Titans will look to seniors Kendrick Payne, Tyrone Campbell and Isaiah Clethen and sophomore Jaquese Steen to lead the charge.
Payne, a wide receiver/defensive back, caught touchdown passes in each of the last six games a year ago. Campbell and Steen, who saw some varsity playing time as a freshman, will carry the ball. Clethen is the leader on the offensive and defensive lines.
They'll need big contributions from all of them to approach last season's solid 7-4 campaign. Kizziee understands success won't happen overnight.
"Last year was the result of a three-year process," Kizziee said.
The Titans hope to compete with McClymonds, the two-time defending champions and unquestioned league favorites.
"Mack is the Silver Bowl champ and they'll be the champs until they're dethroned," Kizziee said. "They've got a great staff down there. We want to be able to compete with them. They're helping to reshape the OAL."
8/31 ACALANES 7 p.m.
9/7 at Granada 7 p.m.
9/14 at Ken.-Fremont (Tak) 7 p.m.
9/21 at Ygnacio Valley 4:30 p.m.
9/29 at W. Campus-Sac. 7 p.m.
10/12 McCLYMONDS* 3:30 p.m.
10/19 at Fre. (C. Flood)* 3:30 p.m.
10/26 at Castlemont* 3:30 p.m.
11/3 OAKLAND TECH* 2 p.m.
11/9 at Oakland* 1:30 p.m.
* League games