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Fall 2021 high school football preview: Peninsula Athletic League

By EVAN WEBECK | ewebeck@bayareanewsgroup.com | Bay Area News Group

Top players & predicted order of finish in PAL’s Bay, Ocean, Lake divisions

(Prediction order of finish)

Coach: Chris Saunders
Spring 2021 record: 5-0

What to expect: There’s no denying the top-line talent the Bears return from a team that didn’t drop a game this spring, their first season under coach Chris Saunders. Quarterback Matt Macleod and his top target, wide receiver Jalen Moss, are both back. Thomas Taufui also returns as starting running back and linebacker, where Andrew Buck is also an impact player. At 6-foot-2, Jeremiah Earby plays a long and athletic cornerback and is drawing Pac-12 interest. He’s also Macleod’s No. 2 option in the passing game. With all those playmakers, Saunders said, “it’s a shame we only get to snap one football.” They’ll be battle-tested after hosting three opponents (Pleasant Valley-Chico, Placer-Auburn and McClymonds-Oakland) among the top 125 teams in the state, per CalPreps’ ratings, as well as one of the top teams from Oregon (Tualatin). The Bears may be depth-challenged and will need to replace size in the trenches, but if all goes right, they should contend to be one of the top teams in the region.
Season opener: Aug. 27 at Bellarmine Prep, 7 p.m.

Coach: Mark Grieb
Spring 2021 record: 5-1

What to expect: The Gators’ only loss was by a single possession to crosstown rival M-A, the closest any team came to knocking off the Bears. Repeating that success will be a challenge with only two starters returning on either side of the ball, but coach Mark Grieb (27-14, 5 seasons) hasn’t had a down year since his first season, when he took over a 3-9 squad in 2017. Running back Andrew Latu had a breakout sophomore season (62 carries, 264 yards, 8 touchdowns) and will be back in the backfield, but he’ll be taking handoffs from a new quarterback. Senior Jack Harrell will be tasked with replacing Teddy Purcell, one of the leading passers in the CCS, who the Gators lost to graduation, along with their three leading receivers. Senior Jake York and junior Carter Shaw should be some of his top targets and will also feature in the defensive backfield.

Season opener: Aug. 28 vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral, 2 p.m.

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Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, SHS is a Catholic, independent, co-ed day school for students in preschool through grade 12