Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Clovis junior high players could headline 2020 class

Kendall Milton of Clovis' Alta Sierra Middle School is already considered one of the top players in the Class of 2020 because of his skill set at running back. The seventh grader has also lined up at safety and has early interest from Southeastern Conference schools and PAC-12 programs (photo contributed).
Kendall Milton and Matt Merritt aren't in high school yet, but the Clovis residents have already captured the attention of a few NCAA Division I programs.

Milton, a seventh grade running back, and Merritt, a fellow seventh grader and lineman, have been recognized nationally by youth sports websites for their play and academics.

Here's a closer look at the Clovis Youth Football stars:


Milton is currently 12 years old, but with his growing chiseled 5-foot-11, 161-pound frame, the son of a personal trainer and nephew of former NFL linebacker Kevin Hardy looks like he could line up in a varsity backfield already.

His play on the football field is also getting LSU, Alabama and a few PAC-12 schools to take an early look at him.

Milton shows that he's clearly a man among boys on Saturday afternoons. His vision, power and elusiveness are traits that few running backs at the youth level - and even the high school level - currently have. He allows his holes to develop, and then takes off sprinting like he's in a track and field dash. His burst through a hole and second gear makes him look like a young Knowshon Moreno. His current 40-yard dash time is 4.8.

His work ethic off the field adds to his impressive play. Milton chooses the gym over playing video and cell phone games. His first appearance inside a weight room came at the age of 8. Since then, he's worked on footwork and lifting exercises five days a week. Along with his 40 time, he's cleared 48 inches on the box jump.

Lastly, Milton carries a 3.8 grade point average and was recently named to two prestigious all-star games: the Brett Cooper Junior Academic All-American game in Dallas on Jan. 3, 2015 and the Cal State Game in Visalia scheduled for December 2014.

Films on Milton:


Merritt - who attends Alta Sierra with Milton - already has versatility. He's paved running lanes at both guard and tackle and he clogs the middle at defensive tackle.

The thing I admire the most about Merritt so far? He doesn't stop running and he looks for someone to block. He's one of the lead blockers for his team and for Milton.

Most offensive linemen at the youth level and even high school ranks don't often run down the field during the play. But Merritt doesn't slow down until the whistle is blown.

Like Milton, Merritt will continue to grow. He's another academic youth football standout with invites to the Brett Cooper showcase and the Cal State game.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Quarterfinal highlights: Arroyo Grande's smallest playmaker is 'Brave' enough to help end Lompoc's run

Alexander Cecchi of Arroyo Grande - all 5-foot-8, 145-pounds of him - had to find a way to step up against the undefeated behemoth known as Lompoc High with the rest of his Eagle teammates on Friday, Nov. 21.

Cecchi and AG ended up knocking the giant to its knees; and shook up the Southern Section.

The junior snatched two interceptions against Braves quarterback Joseph Osegueda, then added a late 6-yard touchdown run as the Eagles eliminated the No. 1 seed in the Northern Division 28-3 at Doug Hitchen Stadium.

Cecchi grabbed his first pick during the third quarter and returned it to the AG 43. That takeaway helped set up Jordan Harrigan's 22-yard scamper for the score, extending the Eagle lead to 21-3. Cecchi's second interception was made at the 2-yard line, where he jumped for the ball, took off running down the left sidelines and was tackled at the AG 28-yard line.

Harrigan finished with two touchdowns on the evening, with his first score on a 50-yard dash that saw him dart to the left, the cut right against a defender squared up on him and stampeded down the middle of the field for the longest touchdown of the game.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak versus the Braves and ends Lompoc's season at 11-1.

Arroyo Grande improved to 11-2 and will return home for Black Friday (Nov. 28) against PAC-5 rival Paso Robles (11-1). The Bearcats trounced Palmdale 49-16 to clinch their spot in the Northern Division.


Before the season started, Clovis High looked more like a team that would contend for a Central Section Division I championship next season, with 40 of the Cougars' 63-member varsity roster consisting of underclassmen.

But CHS, clearly, isn't waiting on next year. The Cougars proved they're young, hungry and focused on clawing for the DI crown, after stunning powerhouse Clovis North 28-17 at Veterans Memorial Stadium and putting themselves in the semifinals against top seeded Edison-Fresno on Friday, Nov. 28.

Junior wide receiver J.J. Wills streaked past Clovis North's secondary for a 55-yard touchdown bomb. Sophomore tight end Clayton Alexander added a 2-yard scoring reception. And on defense, junior linebacker Jared Hill pounced on a fumble and leading tackler and fellow junior Tanner Rice threw his 5-foot-11, 215-pound frame around to prevent the Broncos' top thoroughbred, Bolu Olurunfunmi, from wearing down the CHS defense.

The young Cougars did get an assist from two of their oldest playmakers: Adam Prentice and Evan Geiger. The senior running back Prentice scored twice and averaged 10.7 yards per carry on the ground. Geiger, a senior quarterback, threw for 109 yards and tossed the two touchdown throws to Wills and Alexander.

Clovis High is now all that's left from the Clovis Unified School District in the section  postseason.


Next Friday at Tiger Stadium will book a Central Section Division II battle between two teams strikingly similar to one another: Dinuba and Lemoore.

Consider the following:

1) Dinuba has an athletic defense spearheaded by 6-foot-4, 230-pound end Nick Villalobos, the Emperors leader in sacks with seven. Lemoore has its own fast bookend who starts the engine for the Tigers: 6-foot-3, 245-pound Zack Frazier, who has a section leading 15 sacks.

2) The Tigers' Cort Groathouse and the Emps' Isaac Leppke are dual-threats at quarterback.

3) Lastly, Dinuba's pass defense has collected 16 interceptions this season. Lemoore has the same number of takeaways.

Unless Lemoore residents plan to do a full day of Black Friday shopping, a full house is imminent at Tiger Stadium for this intriguing contest.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Great Scott - rookie Salesian defender is suddenly a wanted prospect on the recruiting trail

Kevin Scott of Salesian-Los Angeles has gone from first-year defensive tackle to a wanted recruit for the Class of 2015. Scott, who has a team-high 11 sacks, landed his first three scholarship offers during the week of Nov. 16 (photo contributed).
In a span of 48 hours, Kevin Scott of Salesian High School in Los Angeles went from aspiring basketball player to a fast rising defensive tackle prospect.

The Class of 2015 recruit, who had never played football before until this season, came home to three scholarship offers from the University of Ohio, San Diego State and New Mexico State. All of his pledges came between Nov. 16-18.

The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Scott said he didn't take long to appreciate his new sport.

"I've been playing basketball my whole life. But once I stepped onto that field, I developed a passion for the game," Scott said.

His rookie season has been dominant. Scott has used a quick first step off the snap to dismantle running backs and quarterbacks. He's used an array of moves from the swim to the spin to beat offensive linemen. He has 26 tackles, a team-high 11 sacks and seven stops behind the line of scrimmage for the 5-6 Mustangs, who'll meet Burbank High on Friday, Nov. 21, in the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division Playoffs.

Scott said his basketball background gives him the upper hand when he battles against different blocking schemes on Friday nights.

"In basketball, all you do is run, so I'm faster than most defensive and offensive linemen," Scott said. "So my speed off the ball is pretty good. Defenders have to be athletic and need to be on their feet anyway. Because of my basketball background, it's easy for me to move around offensive linemen and make plays for my team."

He's reached the three sack threshold twice this season: the Sept. 12 contest against View Park-LA (won 56-12) and Oct. 11 against L.A. Cathedral (lost 58-20).

Scott said he's hearing from other programs outside of Ohio, SDSU and NMSU. The University of Washington, Fresno State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt have talked to him on the phone. He adds that South Carolina has spoken to his coaches.

Is Scott going to a make his recruiting choice soon?

"I'll let the process play out," Scott said. "Any schools that want to talk to me and offer me, I'll wait on them until National Signing Day."

In the mean time, Scott said he's trying to stay calm during an excitable rush with his recruiting process.

Said Scott: "Sometimes, I'm amazed at myself with how fast I've caught on with football and how good I became. But I like to keep my head above my shoulders and stay humble, because I know there's always someone trying to work as hard as I am."

Scott's film can be seen here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Driller killers? Buchanan now eyeing state DI champs, and perhaps another playoff shocker

Buchanan-Clovis outside linebacker and defensive end Bryson Young is helping lead a rejuvenated Bears team into Bakersfield for a Friday, Nov. 21, playoff meeting against the 2013 state champs Bakersfield High (photo contributed).
A 2-8 regular season mark in high school football is normally frowned upon by coaches, players and parents.

But in the case of Buchanan High, the Bears can get away with smiling at their win-loss record.

Because their 2014-15 season hasn't ended yet.

It's all stemming from the No. 11 seeded Bears shaking up the Central Section Division I playoffs on Friday, Nov. 14, as Buchanan knocked off section beast Bullard - the No. 6 seed - with a 35-29 stunner.

Senior quarterback Logan McQuay said despite the eight losses, the Bears never lost trust in one another.

"Our record is obviously not one we expected or are happy with. But it definitely has no effect on our confidence at all," McQuay said. "We are a confident team. The eight losses have definitely made us better based on game experience, learning to take the ups and downs of a game and the mindset it's given us to continue to play each week."

That says a lot for a team that's had numerous of heartbreakers, which would've tested anyone's self-esteem on the football field.

The season began with Buchanan falling short against Edison 13-7 in a contest that saw the Bears winning the line of scrimmage battle and limiting the explosive plays against the loaded Tigers.

What followed were three more regular season loses to Bullard, Clovis West and Clovis North; all decided by a margin of 14 points or fewer. Victories against those opponents and Edison would have given Buchanan a more respectable 6-4 record.

But McQuay said he and the Bears haven't dwelled on what could have been.

"Despite the record, we as a team feel confident that we are capable of competing with anyone in the Central Valley," McQuay said. "And the same can be said for us to now take that momentum from the Bullard win and head into Bakersfield strong."

The No. 3 seeded Bakersfield High Drillers (8-2) will present a different look than what Bullard brought against the Bears. The reigning section and state DI champs will have speed all across the Griffith Stadium grass. Bakersfield prefers to wear down opponents with a triple option attack and getting its running backs - Lameshio Hill and Marcus Bruce - to accelerate through the gaping holes on pitch plays to the outside or through its inside dive runs.

Defensively, the Drillers use 6-foot-1, 285-pound rock Nigel Brooks to emerge as the unmovable force on the line. The nose tackle, who's a national recruit with four scholarship offers, leads the Drillers with seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

The Buchanan defense, though, has its rock setting the tone for the unit: Class of 2016 outside linebacker/defensive end prospect Bryson Young.

It was Young who threw Bullard's offensive game plan into dismay with his ability to crash down at the line of scrimmage and halt running plays. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Young added his athletic side on one play, when he scooped up a loose ball and thundered his way to a 36-yard fumble recovery for the touchdown in the six-point victory.

Young, who holds scholarship offers from Colorado State and Fresno State, said the defense sparks the Bears.

"Our defense has improved tremendously, especially over the summer. Our defense is definitely our team weapon," Young said. "Our primary goal is simple: get the ball back. We always set a goal to get three turnovers a game, which is usually achieved or close to it."
Young and the Bear defense have allowed 21 points or less in five games this season. He said he thinks opposing teams will still likely underestimate Buchanan because of its current 3-8 mark.
"I believe that every team we face judges us based on our record," Young said. "But we came into the game (against Bullard) believing we would win and now we're just hungry to play another week."

While Central Valley prep football fans might consider a Buchanan victory over Bakersfield an upset, McQuay wants to downplay that notion. He said his team is expected to compete and hang with the Drillers.

"To us, the only way this is considered an upset is strictly based on records and ranks," McQuay said. "We can play with anyone, expect to win and, when we do win, we hope it's not called an upset." 

Game information: The Buchanan and Bakersfield match up starts at 7 p.m. inside Griffith Stadium. The victorious team will play the Clovis West/Liberty-Bakersfield winner in the DI semifinals on Friday, Nov. 28.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Rising star watch: Ruben Guerra

Liberty-Bakersfield's Ruben Guerra - who holds no scholarship offers - has been the Patriots' go-to blocker when they need to have running lanes open. Guerra is a 6-foot-5 left tackle prospect (photo contributed).
In the trenches at Liberty-Bakersfield stands a towering, 6-foot-5, 290-pound specimen who could be the most intriguing lineman for the Patriots since Cody Temple (USC, Class of 2010 graduate of LHS).

The skyscraper on the Patriot line is 2015 prospect Ruben Guerra.

Guerra's size at left tackle might be what makes him a coveted prospect, but it's what he does with his size that gets me thinking he can be a fixture for a four-year program's front line.

Here's a closer look at Guerra:

WHAT TO LIKE: He's a prowler in the run game. He does an excellent job with locking his palms, sinking his hips, then driving his legs forward so he can bury his blocking assignment to the grass. He won't stop blocking on first contact. Shows good hips in pass blocking and stays squared up with his defender. Lastly, he dominates his one-on-one battles. 

WHAT TO BUILD ON: He's slow off the ball once it's snapped. He doesn't show the quickest feet during pass blocking, which could be a red flag for a college seeking a blind side protector.

OVERALL: He may not be the best athlete on the Liberty line, but Guerra certainly makes up for that with his mean streak, which to me should be more desirable for college coaches. His run blocking reminds me of former Reedley High standout Ivan Espiritu, who's now lining up for the Sacramento State line. Guerra could be a solid right tackle or guard at the next level. He's the top road clearer for the Patriots' most dynamic athlete: University of Arizona commit Anthony Mariscal.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Playoff highlights: Air Braves? Lompoc turns to the passing game to avoid upset

Before its opening CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoff game at Huyck Stadium, Lompoc High entered the Nov. 14 contest against Camarillo averaging 315.9 yards through the running attack, but 84.5 yards through the air.

Those numbers nearly reversed at the right time for the unbeaten Braves.

After the running game got bottled up by eight to nine Scorpion players collapsing the line of scrimmage, Lompoc turned to the air and got 301 yards from backup quarterback Joseph Osegueda, as the No. 1 seeded Braves avoided the upset, beating Camarillo 38-28 to improve to 11-0.

Osegueda, who also plays cornerback, stepped into the offensive lineup after starter Torey Sims went down with a broken collarbone during the first quarter. The 6-foot-4 senior attacked the Scorpion pass defense through screen passes and the play action. He finished with three touchdowns, including two to Richard Foster on 11 and 31-yard scoring strikes.

Osegueda added big plays from his natural spot as well, by snatching two interceptions of CHS quarterback Jake Constantine while playing cornerback. 

Lompoc's victory sets up a Friday, Nov. 21, road contest at Arroyo Grande, which is a rematch of the Aug. 29 game won by the Braves 20-13.


It was a tough first go around for Camarillo in the Camino League, finishing 6-5 but 1-2 in its new realm. And, the Scorpions needed a Hail Mary miracle from Frankie Tostado against Royal-Simi Valley in the season finale to clinch an at-large playoff berth; a far different scenario for them compared to their dominating run of five straight Pacific View League championships.

Camarillo has to replace leading tackler Bryce Arnold at linebacker and big 6-foot-4, 255-pound tight end Nico Lima this offseason.

But Tostado - a 6-foot-3 athletic wide receiver - and 26 other members of a stacked 2016 class are expected to return to Carl Thompson Field next season, with the potential to be one of the deepest and most talented classes in Ventura County.

Tostado proved to be a match up nightmare for opposing cornerbacks, winning one-on-one battles with his height and vertical jump and hauling down 10 touchdowns, in just six games played.

He's not the only weapon returning.

Versatile slot receiver and return ace Elijah Alexander returns. So does work horse running backs Colby Stevens and Isaiah Otis, who rushed for 140 yards and scored once against the Braves.

Also back? Quarterback Jake Constantine, who's already getting phone calls and letters from some big time college football programs in the Mountain West (Colorado State and Fresno State) and Clemson of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Playing in an up-tempo, no-huddle pro style offense, Constantine finished his junior season with 2,505 yards, 26 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He not only showed a deep ball and zip to this throws, but frustrated pass rushers with his mobility.

Camarillo has made the postseason 17 straight times. There's the strong chance that number could go to 18 with the players and incoming senior class mentioned above.


The 2-8 Buchanan Bears let out the biggest roar in the Central Section playoffs, knocking off traditional section power and No. 6 seeded Bullard-Fresno 35-29 at Sunnyside High School to advance in the Division I postseason.

How did the Bears send shock waves throughout the 559? They relied on the running of Chuby Dunu, who started the game with back-to-back 6-yard touchdown runs, putting Buchanan up 14-0. Then, they turned to dynamic playmaker Zach Ashford, who scored touchdowns of 71 and 39 yards through the air.

There was also the relentless Buchanan defense, featuring national recruit Bryson Young at outside linebacker. Built like a college-ready player at 6-foot-5, 250-pounds and already armed with offers from Colorado State and Fresno State, Young used his speed on a 36-yard fumble return for the score, then was active on a Bear defense that held rising 2016 prospect Charles Williams to 90 rushing yards on 24 carries.

Dunu finished with 135 yards on 30 carries and the two touchdowns. Ashford caught three passes for 123 yards and the two scores.

The 11th seeded Bears - who previously hadn't won a playoff game since 2008 - will now travel to reigning state champion and No. 3 seed Bakersfield on Friday, Nov. 21.


Romello Harris out-dueled Sunnyside-Fresno star running back Malcolm Williams in Tulare's section DII playoff opener, accumulating 230 yards on 27 carries and three touchdowns in the Redskins' 55-18 trouncing at Bob Mathias Stadium.

It's the fourth straight week that Harris has gone past the 200 mark, giving him a section best 2,517 yards on the season and 30 touchdowns.

Williams, who was the second leading rusher in the section behind Harris, finishes his career with 2,336 yards in 2014-15 and 18 touchdowns.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's now win or end your season

Deshawn Collins of Grant-Sacramento is looking to keep the Pacers' unbeaten season alive, as the junior running back and the Sac-Joaquin Section's No. 1 seed in Division II take on Patterson on Friday, Nov. 14 (photo credit: Max Preps).
This is the time of the football season when the night time sky gets cold, but the tensions and desires to go on a section championship run rises.

The CIF section playoffs get underway on Friday, Nov. 14, and Cali Gold Mine has found six marquee contests that are worth attending.

From Sacramento to Long Beach, here's some games to watch:


Patterson (7-3, 4-2 in the Western Athletic Conference) at Grant-Sacramento (10-0, 7-0 in the Delta League)

The Patterson Tigers face the daunting task of knocking off the unbeaten and always monstrous Grant Pacers - a team that hasn't lost since Nov. 22, 2013, when they were defeated 28-12 against Yuba City.

The Pacer ground game comes into this first round Division II contest with an average of 351.3 yards per game. Junior Deshawn Collins leads the way with 1,760 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns. Fellow junior Mike Green II adds to the Grant running machine with 854 yards and 14 scores.

Patterson will look to counter with versatile athlete Damarrio Hammonds. Offensively, the 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior led the Tigers with 56 catches, 1,011 yards and 16 touchdowns. He's also a dangerous return man on punts and kickoffs.

Junior Mike Lawson leads the Patterson running attack with 978 yards and seven scores.

Saturday, Nov. 15: Stagg-Stockton (4-6, 3-2 in the San Joaquin Athletic Association) at Folsom (10-0, 6-0 in the Sierra Foothill League)

The Folsom Bulldogs have an offense that would blend in nicely in the Big 12, by averaging 512.9 yards per game and scoring no less than 42 points in all 10 games this season.

Leading the scoring output for the section's top seed in DI is senior quarterback Jake Browning. The future Washington Husky has 3,507 yards, 56 touchdowns and four interceptions. Seniors Cole Thompson and Josiah Deguara are Browning's top targets. Thompson has 54 catches, 1,209 yards and a team-high 22 touchdowns. Deguara has a team-leading 65 catches for 996 yards and 16 scores.

The Delta Kings are led by dual-threat junior quarterback Lavante Bushnell. The 5-foot-8 signal-caller threw 27 touchdowns and added six rushing scores. He finished the regular season with 2,523 yards throwing and rushing.

Stagg's Lester Williams is small at 5-foot-6, but he's slippery against defenders with his cuts and array of juke moves in the open field. The senior had 1,368 all-purpose yards with 13 touchdowns running, receiving and on returns.

River Valley-Yuba City (6-4, 4-2 Tri County Conference) at St. Mary's-Stockton (9-1, 5-0 Tri City Athletic League)

St. Mary's will enter its home stadium as the No. 3 seed in the DII bracket and with some sleeper prospects.

Senior quarterback Noah Righetti directs the Ram offense with 1,873 yards, 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. Powerful 5-foot-10, 220-pound senior running back Marcell Spady leads the Ram ground game with 825 yards and 17 touchdowns. Wide receiver Demetrius Ferguson - who holds a scholarship offer from New Mexico State - is the deep threat with an average of 18.8 yards per catch.

Defensively, senior linebacker Khalil Hodge is the state leader in tackles with 188 total. Hodge has one offer from Sacramento State. The top ball hawk is senior Javonte Norman, who led the Rams with four picks during the regular season.

River Valley is led by the junior duo of quarterback Avery Gould and running back Dante' Love. The 6-foot, 165-pound Gould has 1,606 yards, 19 touchdown passes, eight interceptions and a passer rating of 96.8. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Love had 1,110 yards and 10 touchdowns during the regular season.


Sunnyside-Fresno (6-4, 4-1 North Yosemite League) at Tulare Union (6-4, 4-1 East Yosemite League)

This Division II battle will feature the Central Section's two leading rushers in the Wildcats' Malcolm Williams (second with 2,112 yards) and Tulare's Romello Harris (the section leader with 2,287 yards).

Williams - who has an Eastern Washington offer - has 16 touchdowns for the run-oriented Wildcats. Harris has 25 touchdowns and is already a wanted recruit for the Class of 2016; with four scholarship offers from Colorado State, Air Force, Washington State and Duke.


Camarillo (6-4, 1-2 Camino League) at Lompoc (10-0, 4-0 Los Padres League)

The Braves will go for their second undefeated season since 2011, but could get a challenge out of the feisty Scorpions.

Camarillo not only has a streak of 17 straight playoff appearances, but handed traditional 805 lynchpin Ventura its only loss of the season. Also on Camarillo's 2014-15 regular season resume is a near upset of Paso Robles (41-35 loss) and a close battle with St. Bonaventure-Ventura before falling 28-10.

Junior quarterback Jake Constantine is a prospect to watch for CHS. The 6-foot-2 Constantine has frustrated defenses with his arm and mobility. He threw for 2,184 yards, 23 touchdowns and six interceptions this season and is deadly when he escapes the pocket.

He got his best receiver back in Frankie Tostado last week, after the 6-foot-3 junior was nursing an elbow injury. Tostado helped keep the Scorpions' playoff streak alive with a 52-yard touchdown bomb in the closing seconds of Camarillo's 34-28 victory over Royal-Simi Valley. Another big target for CHS is senior tight end Nico Lima, who stands at an imposing 6-foot-4, 255-pounds and has an offer from Holy Cross of the Football Championship Subdivision.

Lompoc continues to do its damage through the Double Wing-T offense. Quarterback Torey Sims has 884 rushing yards and a team-high 16 touchdowns. Senior Derrick Portis leads the run game with 987 yards and 13 touchdowns. Defensively, junior Mike Morales leads the Braves with six interceptions.

Servite-Anaheim (4-6, 1-4 Trinity League) at Long Beach Poly (9-1, 6-0 Moore League)

Former NFL linebacker and Super Bowl champion Antonio Pierce didn't have a stressful head coaching debut with Long Beach Poly. His team continues to be stacked with talent.

Joseph Wicker frightens quarterbacks with his college football-like size (6-foot-4, 265-pounds) and explosive first step at defensive end. He led LBP with 25 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 17.5 sacks - including six in a 54-14 rout of Crenshaw on Aug. 30.

Offensively, senior Jeremy Calhoun II had 886 yards rushing with nine touchdowns. Senior quarterback Josh Love threw for 2,479 yards, 33 touchdowns and only got intercepted twice.

Servite struggled in the ultra-competitive Trinity League, but has Oregon commit Travis Waller at quarterback. He combined for 2,192 yards and 24 touchdowns throwing and running.