Crosstown Rivals to Face off in Island Bowl

 

The Alameda Hornets and Encinal Jets football teams will face each other in the 62nd annual Island Bowl tomorrow at Willie Stargell Field.

The Hornets started the year 0-6. They lost by wide margins like the 43-0 loss to Dublin on Aug. 26 or the 50-20 defeat to Northgate of Walnut Creek on Sept. 23; and they have lost in nail biters like the 14-8 loss to Washington of Fremont on Sept. 2 and the 21-20 loss to American of Fremont on Sept. 9. 

But the Hornets have turned things around in their previous two contests thanks to a resurgent offense. Alameda beat Mt. Eden of Hayward 28-20 for its first victory of the season on Oct. 14. They followed that with a 30-0 drubbing of San Lorenzo on Oct. 22. Prior to the two victories Alameda was averaging less than 12 points a game with two shutouts. 

Encinal on the other hand has been solid on both offense and defense all year. However, after going on a three-game win streak, the Jets lost uncharacteristically to Hayward 12-6 on Oct. 14. The Jets were able to rebound last week with a 48-0 thumping of Arroyo of Hayward. The Hornets will be led by junior receiver Taj Banks Jr. and senior defensive end Josh Bolding. Encinal will be led by senior running back Brandon Duckett and University of Hawaii-bound receiver/defensive back Akil Francisco. 

The game will have extra meaning because both teams are atop the West Alameda County Conference Shoreline League — along with Arroyo and Hayward — at 2-1. 

It would seem that the 6-2 Jets would have an advantage over the 2-6 Hornets, but last year the Hornets were the underdog and beat the Jets handily 39-23. 

The game’s inception was on Sept. 30, 1955. Alameda leads the series 32-27-2, but Encinal has won 22 of the last 34 meetings. Prior to Encinal’s forfeit in 2014 (“JV Takes Spotlight in 2014 Island Bowl” Oct. 9, 2014) the Jets won seven straight. 

This will be the first Island Bowl for new Alameda High head coach Charles Wright.