There will be a different look to the East Bay Athletic League this season as Dublin and Dougherty Valley join the league.
As the result of having 10 teams, the basketball and soccer leagues have been divided in two, five-school divisions.
Amador Valley, Foothill, Livermore, Granada and Dublin make up the Valley division. California, Dougherty Valley, Monte Vista, San Ramon Valley, De La Salle (boys) and Carondelet (girls) comprise the Diablo division.
In basketball, each school will play the schools in their own division twice and the schools in the other division once. At the end of the regular season, the top two teams from each division will meet in the EBAL playoffs to determine the automatic qualifier for the North Coast Section playoffs.
In soccer, the regular season will be the same, but there will be no league playoffs. The automatic berth to NCS will be awarded to the team with the best record during league play.
Following are breakdowns of the winter sports teams from Amador and Foothill.
Amador Valley comes in with a young, but experienced team. For starters, the Dons feature four juniors that got playing time as sophomores last year, as well as a sophomore that was called up to the varsity late in the season.
Throw in a junior transfer from Bishop O'Dowd and things are looking solid for the Dons.
"Right now, it's just a matter of us getting stronger," Amador coach Adam Sax said. "Our defense is a work in progress and sharing the ball is another thing we need to work on."
The four returning starters -- Tommy Kramer, Demetrius Williams, Mitch Lawrence and Mitch Benson -- all saw plenty of time in big games for the Dons last year.
Tyler Nanney is the 6-foot-7 sophomore called up to the varsity last year. Finally, K.C. Tompkins comes to the team after spending two years at Bishop O'Dowd.
Foothill starts the year different than expected.
Senior Sam Novitske -- a three-year varsity starter -- opted to focus on baseball this year, and Michael Smith (junior), who started as a sophomore, suffered a badly broken ankle during football season and may not be back until January.
Will Lewis is penciled in at point guard, with J.T. McDermott (junior) and Rod Allen (senior) also scheduled to get a lot of playing time.
Underneath, Gary Pride (junior) and Trey Porter (senior) will share time at the center. Gauthem Divakar, Jose Ureno and Ramon Cristwell also will be counted on this year.
"We're not deep with what's happened, but we do have some depth at the four and five spots," Foothill coach Jason Wallis said. "It's about the team buying into playing as a team and they all have."
To say Foothill was hurt by graduation would be an understatement.
"We lost 80% of our scoring and rebounding," Foothill coach Bruce Funk said. "But our returning players are ready to step up and lead the team."
Madison Baxter is a junior in her third season as the varsity point guard. Vanessa Esomonu is another junior in her third year at the wing for the varsity.
Senior Audrey Goodman is another returner, also playing the wing. Together the core group of players returning will assume the leadership role. A strong non-league campaign awaits the young team.
"We are a work in progress," Funk said. "We have a tough non-league schedule, but it will pay dividends down the road."
Amador has a solid one-two, inside-outside combination in sophomore Emily Tincher and senior Kirsty Brown.
Tincher is in her second year on the varsity as the outside threat, scoring 16 points a game in the early going. Brown, the 6-foot-3 senior headed to Cal Poly, is nails in the paint.
Nicole Riordan is a captain along with Brown and Tincher, while Julia Balestreri looks to be a solid player as well.
Amador coach Tim Gray will look to four seniors to set the pace -- both in their play and their leadership.
Things start in the back with senior goalkeeper Juliet Allen, a player in her fourth year on the varsity. Playing right in front of Allen is senior defender Jenyce Dutcher, a steady player who is also one of the captains.
In the midfield, senior Lorna Roberts is also in her fourth year and does a wonderful job of controlling the pace of the game. Up front is the creative Samantha Frost to lead the way.
"We have looked good throughout training," Gray said. "Our cohesiveness is coming together."
The Foothill girls may only have four impact seniors on the roster, but first-year coach Walter Pratte has plenty of good vibes.
"We have some quality players, but we have a lot of work to do," Pratte said. "I wish we were deeper, but I am happy with what I have seen so far."
Amanda Harding is a senior goalie that, according to Pratte, has embraced a leadership role. Ariana Nino is a forward, Sarah Broacha is a midfielder/forward and Tamilyn Kwong is another forward.
The junior class is also strong. Quinn Lombardi is a defending midfielder that Pratte said is playing the best soccer of her career. Sarah Mirr and Taylor Noval are both big-time juniors as well.
Sophomores looking strong so far include Makena Densmore and Kira Broacha.
Foothill enters the season with an interesting blend of youth and experience. The Falcons are keyed by five seniors and supported by several sophomores.
"We're young and old," Foothill coach Jason Wescott said. "We have a great senior group and have high expectations for the sophomores. The seniors will need to bring the sophomores along."
Imran Martin is the playmaker in the midfield for the Falcons, starting for the third straight season. Mike Desisto and Sam Christensen handle the middle of the defense. Blake Tucker and Rohan Mirchandani should lead the offense.
Amador starts with a trio of senior captains from back to front.
In the goal is Blake Staniford, with Jimmy Thompson on defense and Garrett Howell controlling the midfield. All of them have spent multiple years on the varsity.
"That's a real good trio to run up the middle of the field," Dons coach Scott Berglin said. "They set it up for the rest of the team."
There are several juniors playing major roles as well. Nick Mann was the leading scorer a year ago, and Ben Blackwell spent last year playing with the San Jose Earthquakes Academy team before coming back to play at Amador.
Andrew McGinty and Gavin Wallace have proven to be dynamite together up front.
Amador comes into the season as the two-time defending EBAL Meet champions.
The Dons are led by three returning wrestlers who placed at NCS last year.
Jacob Lum (fifth place), Tyler Kline (sixth) and Cameron Ghoddoucy (eighth) are back for Amador and will all take aim at qualifying for the CIF State meet.
In addition, seniors Alex Crepeau, Brody Kiehn, Jake Perlman, Brandon Jordan, and Thomas Pak return to lead the team. Juniors Tyler Self, Tyler Bonitz, Devon Dyliacco, Lucas Sira and Gabe Alviar are expected to have good seasons.
Foothill welcomes first-year coach Ed Johnson to the program, and although new to the Falcons, Johnson is familiar with the kids and the league.
Johnson wrestled at California High in San Ramon and has spent a couple years working with wrestling clubs in the Tri-Valley.
Johnson has a solid core of four wrestlers in Justin Phillips (senior), Carter Pierce (senior), Seyong Chang (sophomore) and Alex Nielsen (sophomore).