Make no mistake about it, the East Bay Athletic League football championship banner will hang in Pleasanton this season, but what remains to be determined is how many banners will hang and where it/they will hang.
Thanks to of pair of results last Friday Amador Valley's 52-13 win over Livermore and California's defeat of Monte Vista that means when Amador travels across town to play Foothill Friday at 7 p.m., the EBAL title is at stake.
Foothill enters the game 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the EBAL, leaving the Falcons with no worse than a co-title. Amador comes in 7-2 overall and 4-1 in league. A Foothill win and the Falcons have the title all alone. An Amador win and the two share the title.
The game is always the highlight of the season as bragging rights for the city are always at hand regardless of the records. The stands are packed early and the crowd often overflows, surrounding the field. It is as festive an atmosphere as any prep football game in Northern California.
Now with the EBAL title on the line, the intensity has to increase, doesn't it?
Both coaches say no.
"The stakes may be higher, but the intensity is always there when Amador and Foothill play," said Foothill coach Matt Sweeney.
"To be honest, I don't think so," added Amador coach Rick Sira of any increased intensity for this game. "(Foothill) is playing Amador and we are playing Foothill. That's all that matters."
Both coaches as usual, have nothing but praise for each team.
"I honestly think this is the best Amador team in some time," said Sweeney. "They are all in on every play."
"They are so good on both offense and defense," said Sira of Foothill.
On offense, there is a lot of similarity between the two teams. Amador can control the tempo, but with talents like running back Ledra McCollough and quarterback Ronnie Jones, the Dons can turn in the big play. When it is time to pound the ball, Patrick Loughnane is as versatile a back as there is in the league.
"(McCollough) is a home run threat every time he touches the ball," said Sweeney. "And (Jones) is a running QB that can throw as well."
Foothill is the same way with running back Isaiah Floyd, quarterback Ben Wooldridge, receiver Ruben Mercado and players like Matt Gates and Cash Connolly.
"They can drive the ball down the field on you or they can strike with the big play," said Sira of the Falcons.
On the other side of the ball, Amador has been getting great play throughout the year from players like safety Matt Mahurn, lineman Peter Ernst, Connor Mays at corner and linebacker Mason Bartolo.
After losing early in the year on a trick play to Freedom, the Dons rebounded and came up with big defensive stands late in the game against Granada, California and San Ramon.
"That was a growing point for us," said Sira of the Freedom game. "We came away from that game knowing we need to play all the way through to the end of the game."
The success and toughness of the Amador defense is not lost on Sweeney.
"They run around on defense," said Sweeney of the Dons. "They don't take plays off. You watch film and there always seems to be 11 guys there making the tackle."
Foothill's defense has been nails, as with the exception of a shaky second half against Monte Vista, the Falcons defense allowed only seven points each in three games and threw a skunking on San Ramon Valley.
Floyd, Connolly, Gates and Mercado are central figures on the defense as well, but it has been the play of guys like Dario Dondero, Brennan Gallagher, Dallas Martin and Dylan Walsh that has fueled one of the top units in the area.