Are you ready for even more football?
No sooner did every high school football team in Monterey County but one (Pacific Grove, and how) finish their season when it was announced that there would be one more game to go.
The Monterey County All-Star football game will be played Friday, Dec. 13, and for the first time in five years it’s coming back to Salinas. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m. at Rabobank Stadium.
The all-star game was a fixture for 28 years, but was dropped last January after the Salinas Jaycees — sponsor and organizer of the event — said it no longer had the resources to continue the event, due in part to declining membership.
The Toro Bulls of the Monterey Bay Youth Football League, with assistance from the Salinas Jaycees, were able to bring it back at a new site and date.
Most recently the game had been held in January at Monterey Peninsula College. It was moved there after being played for several years at Salinas High at the end of July. Soledad High has also been a site.
The December date comes just a week after the Central Coast Section championship games, which includes Pacific Grove playing Sacred Heart Prep in the D-IV finals Saturday at Independence High in San Jose at 7 p.m.
“We think we’ll have more participation during the (football) season,” said Bill Laporte of the Toro Bulls.
North Salinas High’s Steve Zenk will coach one team and Salinas High’s Steve Goodbody will handle the other.
The teams will be divided into East and West, but as was the case in recent years, players from the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley will be mixed and matched in hopes of creating a balance of power between the two sides.
The rosters have yet to be selected. The squads will have four practice sessions beginning Monday at Salinas High Stadium.
“I like the date of the game because everyone is still fresh, and football-wise, in shape,” Goodbody said.
If there was anything to learn from this high school football season is that things can change for the better when you least expect it.
But it takes a team effort to get it done. And in the case of Alvarez High “team” means just about everyone on campus, according to coach Dave Bottom.
When asked what the success of the football team had done this year to change the ways of Alvarez High, Bottom said it was much more than simply football.
“It’s the whole school,” he said. “Our principal is doing a great job of bringing in positive energy people. Our athletic director is here all the time for all the sports. The activities director is awesome. Just overall as a school we’re headed in the right direction.”
Amen to that.
In case you missed it Alvarez and North Salinas go back to the MBL Gabilan Division next year while Alisal and Monte Vista Christian return to the Pacific Division.
Seaside may be in for a tough season in 2014 after staying in the Gabilan Division. It loses several key players and its JV team won only once in 10 games. It has no freshman program.
The only change I would have made to next year’s MBL was to swap Seaside with Christopher. But I’m guessing there was some strong sentiment to keep Gilroy and Christopher together as there was to put Seaside and Monterey in the same division.
Also, the adjusted alignment puts Salinas and North Salinas back in the same division and hopefully will move their annual game back to the end of the season rather than the start, as was the case this year.
No word yet who Salinas might play in its 2014 opener. The Cowboys always arrange a strong non-league schedule, so whoever they play will likely be a familiar and powerful name.
Here’s my predicted finish for the two MBL divisions in 2014:
* 1. Monterey: A mostly all-sophomore backfield this year could reach the dynamic level next year.
* 2. Palma: The Chieftains are due for one of their blockbuster years, and with the usual unbeaten JV and freshman team to pull from it may not be far away.
* 3. Hollister: You know the story by now. The Balers will scrimp and scrape around the .500 mark for much of the season and end the year in the D-I finals.
* 4. Alvarez: A good group of returners, winning lower-level programs and a renewed sense of high expectations bodes well for the rejuvenated Eagles.
* 5. Salinas: Cowboys are close to breaking through for some big-time football, but it may take until 2015.
* 6. N. Salinas: Vikings are going to take a direct hit from graduation, which may be hard to overcome, no matter how successful your lower-level teams have been. But not to be over-looked is the fact that the Viking JV’s were not only 10-0, but averaged 61 points per game.
* 7. Seaside: If Al Avila doesn’t return to coach for a 22nd season he won’t be the first to at least be partially influenced by the equity league system.
* 1. Christopher: With a little luck should have a new on-campus stadium ready for kickoff 2014, then watch this program soar.
* 2. Pajaro Valley: The Grizzlies sort of got overlooked by what Alvarez did this season, but this team made some huge gains. It too is expected to have a new on-campus stadium ready for next season.
* 3. Monte Vista Christian: It’s doubtful no team was looking forward to changing leagues more than the Mustangs. And for good reason.
* 4. Watsonville: Just a hunch that the Wildcatz are going to be better than most people think.
* 5. Alisal: They may be picked to finish fifth today, but one thing I’ve seen is to never under-estimate the Trojans. And yes, some people like some writers just never learn.
* 6. Gilroy: Brandon Boyd graduates and no guarantee his dad, the coach, will return either
* 7. North County: Yet another coach for the Condors in 2014 — that’ll make six in eight years.
* 1. Carmel: The Padres just might lose their first league game in six years, just don’t ask me to figure out who it will be against.
* 2. King City: How many times can one team come so close to not making the playoffs? Wait’ll next year.
* 3. Soledad: Back-to-back JV championship teams could make for a strong showing for south county in 2014.
* 4. Pacific Grove: Baseball, football — the Breakers can’t keep this up forever.
* 5. Stevenson: They may be known for academics, but the pricey private school in Pebble Beach has quietly pieced together a tough little athletic program.
* 6. Gonzales: A couple of mid-season additions could be the start of a Spartan resurgence.
* 7. Marina: The Mariners got their victories, at last, which should make next year all the more interesting.
* Here are the JV football records for this past season. League record in parenthesis:
MBL Gabilan: Palma (6-0), 10-0; Salinas (5-1), 8-2;, Hollister (4-2), 5-5; Monterey (3-3), 7-3; Monte Vista Christian (2-5), 6-4; Alisal (1-5), 3-7; Seaside (0-6), 1-8-1.
MBL Pacific: North Salinas (6-0), 10-0; Alvarez (5-1), 8-2; Watsonville (4-2), (5-5); Christopher (3-3), 7-3; North County (2-4), 2-7; Gilroy (1-5), 2-8; Pajaro Valley (0-6), 1-9.
MTAL: Soledad (6-0-1), 8-1-1; Carmel (6-1), 6-4; Pacific Grove (4-3), 4-6; Greenfield (4-3), 5-5; King City (3-4), 3-7; Stevenson (2-4-1), 3-4-1; Gonzales (2-5), 3-7; Marina (0-7), 0-9.
Palma frosh went 5-0 in league, 9-0 overall while Salinas frosh went 4-1, 6-4. North Salinas freshman went 4-0 in league, 7-2-1 overall.
Seaside, Gilroy and Watsonville had no freshman team.
George Watkins is a sports writer for The Salinas Californian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 754-4264. He can also be followed on Twitter at watkins_salnews.