Thursday, August 18, 2016


Kurtis Brown was a key cornerstone behind Bakersfield-Liberty's CIF Central Section Division-I title run and state playoff appearance last year. The Arizona defensive tackle commit is returning to what is already looking like another stacked roster at LHS (photo contributed). 
Five schools between the corridor of Chowchilla and Bakersfield all got a chance to put the San Joaquin Valley on its back and make a run at the state title: Chowchilla, Reedley (Calif.) Immanuel, Hanford, Bakersfield (Calif.) Ridgeview and Bakersfield (Calif.) Liberty.

Only one came back with the title of state champs: Hanford.

Can the Bullpups repeat the same success? And can the 559/661 send more teams to the state playoffs come December? Here’s our picks of which teams are capable of making a state title run this fall.


Last year: 14-1, defeated Chula Vista-Bonita Vista 33-21 in the CIF Division-IVAA state championship.

The target may be officially growing for the Bullpups with back-to-back section titles and the state championship from 2015-16, but with San Jose State commit Ryan Johnson back at quarterback, rising sophomore Leonard Glass manning the wide receiver and cornerback spot plus Lemoore transfer Jordan Perryman coming on board, Hanford could still emerge as one of the Valley’s best hope to bring a state title back to the 559.


Last year: 10-4, lost 28-24 to Loomis-De Oro in the Division-IIAA Northern California regional.

Last season’s CIF Central Section Division-I champs were five points away from knocking off eventual state champion Loomis-Del Oro. While the Patriots will be without ultra-talented linebacker Krys Barnes (UCLA) and quarterback Jordan Love (Utah State), Liberty still brings back Arizona defensive tackle commit Kurtis Brown and 6-foot-2 wide receiver/cornerback Johnny Balderas. Another key to Liberty’s success could be the play of Frontier High transfer Cameron Meek, a 1,000-yard rusher last year.


Last year: 13-1, lost 35-20 to Harbor City-Narbonne in the Division I-A Southern California regional.

The Wolf Pack have actually had a relatively quiet dynasty going in the shadow of state powerhouses Bakersfield High and Liberty. Leading this year’s team will be running back Jamar Moya (14 rushing touchdowns last season), wide receiver Jaylen Prevost (led the team with 34 catches, 719 yards and nine touchdowns last year), big 6-foot-5 tight end Anthony Alcaide and 6-foot-2, 240-pound trench destroyer Ricky Leung-Wai, who not only had 16 tackles for a loss and six sacks last year, but holds a San Diego State offer. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Alabama commit Najee Harris (middle grabbing the ball) is returning to a stacked Antioch High backfield with aspirations of not only continuing its rise, but chasing state glory this fall (photo by Lorenzo Reyna) 
The Bay Area produced one state title holder last year on the gridiron, and it was a familiar face in the world of high school football: De La Salle.

Will this year’s Spartans continue their state championship run in the Open Division and through a new state playoff format? And what other teams have the potential to make it all the way to December?

Here are the teams that Cali Gold Mine believes can work its magic and chase state glory.


Last year: 13-1, defeated Corona-Centennial 28-21 in the CIF State Open Division title game.

Gone are tight end and defensive end Devin Asiasi and hard-nosed defensive lineman Boss Tagaloa. However, De La Salle continues to develop a habit of having talent ready for the following year such as senior cornerback Tre Webb (offers from Air Force, Fordham and Sacramento State), sophomore tight end Isaiah Foskey (five reported offers including Michigan) and 2018 star lineman Tuli Letuligasenoa (UCLA and Nebraska offers). There’s also the latest incarnation from the Tagaloa household who is ready to wreck havoc in the trenches, 2019 defensive lineman Beaux Tagaloa.


Last year: 11-1, lost 55-54 to Pleasanton-Foothill in the CIF North Coast Section Division-I semifinals.

There’s momentum at “The ‘Yoc,” and the Panthers have had quite an ascension since their 1-9 disaster in 2013 - by winning 18 of their last 24 games under head coach John Lucido. The Panthers have arguably the deepest backfield in the Bay with Alabama commit Najee Harris, rising 2018 back Omari Harris and fellow 2018 running mate Dalaan Green. Outside of the backfield, 2019 wide receiver Gaudie Campbell – already the recipient of two offers from BYU and Eastern Washington - provides Antioch with a tall 6-foot-2, 175-pound athletic presence. The Sept. 23 showdown at De La Salle has the makings of becoming one of the biggest games in recent memory for Antioch.


Last year: 12-3, lost to Perris-Citrus Hill 23-20 in the CIF Division-IIA state title game.

The Lancers will welcome back an explosive 1-2 punch at running back with Washington State commit Cyrus Habibi-Likio (team-high 1,438 yards and 17 touchdowns last year) and Brandon Bains (average of 10.8 yards last season). Also back is versatile wide receiver/cornerback Bennett Williams, who snatched nine interceptions last season and holds five reported offers including one from Hawaii. At the line of scrimmage, Jadan Harris is an apex predator-type at nose guard, who comes equipped with explosion off the ball and a disruptive nature against the run. Harris collected eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage and tied for second on the team in sacks with six. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Folsom's Drake Stallworth is expected to play a huge role once again for a team with aspirations of making a state title run (photo credit: The Sacramento Bee). 
During this month, fall camps start dwindling down and teams across California have one real goal in mind: a state championship.

Only a select few teams can call itself a state title holder when it’s all said in done. Cali Gold Mine has picked three teams from different regions that – in our mind – have the best chance of extending the season until December, then hold a huge celebration once the 2016-17 campaign ends.

Here’s three teams CGM is high on starting with the 916/209 region:


Last year: 14-1, lost to San Jose-Bellarmine Prep 42-35 in the Division I-AA Northern California championship game.

When you’ve won 58 of your last 61 games and have five Sac-Joaquin Section titles since 2010, of course Folsom will be a serious contender for a state title. Yes, the offensive line was decimated by graduation as Jonah Williams (Alabama) Cody Creason (Arizona) and Kooper Richardson (UC Davis) are gone. But, leading wide receivers Eric Davis and Drake Stallworth return. So does Washington linebacker commit Ariel Ngata. Oh, looks like one of the quarterbacks along with Joe Curry will be Evan Michalet, a San Jose State commit. Plus the new guys coming in have won a lot of games at the lower levels, so winning at Folsom probably won’t be foreign to them.


Last year: 12-1, lost to Oakdale 51-38 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III semifinals.

It’ll be tough to replace the running back trio of Raekwon Turner, Jimmie Turner and Derrick Henderson; all of whom accounted for 3,500 of Inderkum’s 4,927 rushing yards last year. However, two of the most wanted prospects in Nor Cal – tight end Josh Falo and safety Trajon Cotton – return to the Tigers, as both have over 20 offers apiece. There’s also rising 2018 prospect Isaah Crocker back at receiver, who averaged 31.3 yards per catch last season. A biggie on the schedule will be the Sept. 2 non-league showdown against El Cerrito and its highly-recruited players in the Bay Area.


Last year: 10-3, lost to Folsom 56-49 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I semifinals.

The Rams have become the face of Stockton prep football, and this year’s team is loaded at wide receiver. Sacramento State commit Dewey Cotton may look like easy pickings for cornerbacks at just 5-foot-6, but Cotton shows fearlessness by out-jumping defensive backs and emerging as a six-point threat whenever he touches the ball. Deep threat Keaton Hampton (team-high 26.5 yards per catch last year) and emerging 2018 wideout Marcus Aponte return to give St. Mary’s depth and explosion in the passing game. In the trenches, highly-wanted 6-foot-4, 315-pound Popo Aumavae (21 offers including Ole Miss, Purdue and BYU) anchors both the offensive tackle and defensive tackle slots.