Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Club 7-on7 teams holding tryouts in the 209 and 559

Stockton-based Diverse Sports has been a major player at different club passing tournaments, with championship runs in the last two seasons at Passing Down's Nor Cal Regional. Diverse is holding open tryouts for the 2015 team on Saturday, Dec. 21 (photo contributed).
Diverse Sports in Stockton - last season's runner-up in the Passing Down Nor Cal Regional - is holding open tryouts for their 7-on-7 team on Saturday, Dec. 20.

The event will be held at Stockton's Beneditt Park located on the cross streets of Harney and Kettleman Road. The session runs from 12-2 p.m.

Diverse Sports not only finished second at Passing Down's Nor Cal Regional in March 2014, but also appeared in the 2014 Best of the West tournament held at Fullerton College and won PD's 2013 Nor Cal event.

Coaching Diverse Sports will be former Oakland Raider Al Smith. Raider legend and Hall-of-Famer George Atkinson also serves as a guest coach for the Stockton-based team.

Notable alums of Diverse Sports include New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks, Fresno State wide receiver Josh Harper and St. Mary's-Stockton wideout Demetrius Ferguson, who holds a New Mexico State offer.

For more information, contact Agency@diversesports.com.


Clovis 2016 wide receiver J.J. Wills positions himself for the football during a March scrimmage at San Joaquin Memorial in Fresno with his club team Field Up. Team Field Up, led by former Sacramento State receiver Elon Paige, will hold open tryouts on Sunday, Dec. 28, at Clovis' Alta Sierra Middle School (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).

Purpose Field is holding tryouts for their club team Field Up on Sunday, Dec. 28, at Alta Sierra Middle School in Clovis located behind Buchanan High School.

Head coach Elon Paige said this year's teams are planning to attend the Pylon Camps, the Quick 6 tournament and Passing Down.

The tryouts are free for participants and anyone who comes out must be a returning high school player in the Class of 2016 to '19.

Paige added that this year's team will have a grade point average requirement. All players must have a 2.5 GPA or higher to play on Field Up.

Last year, Field Up had Clovis High 2016 wideout J.J. Wills, Clovis West 2016 outside linebacker Bryan Wilcots, Buchanan 2015 WR Russell McClung, Clovis 2015 Db hank Wiggins and Edison 2015 OLB Xavier Hamilton making plays at Passing Down.

Along with Paige, former UCLA running back Shawn Wills serves as one of the coaches.

Contact info@purposefield.com for more information.

Clovis gym holding tryouts for 7-on-7 team

Isaiah Langley calls the coverage signals for The Bod-e² Shop during a scrimmage at San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno during March 2014. Langley was one of several NCAA Division I recruits who lined up for the Clovis gym's 7-on-7 football team last year. The gym is holding tryouts for the 2015 club season on Sunday, December 21, at Buchanan High School in Clovis (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).
The Bod-e² Shop gym in Clovis will be holding open tryouts for their club 7-on-7 football team on Sunday, December 21, at Buchanan High School located on the cross streets of Minnewawa and Teague Avenues.

The cost to participate is $10. The tryouts begin at 3 p.m and is designed for returning high school football players in the Class of 2016 to '19.

The Bod-e² Shop plans to participate in both the 2015 Pylon Camps and Passing Down; two renown 7-on-7 tournaments in the West.

Last year's team featured national recruits Isaiah Langley (athlete, USC commit), Bolo Olurunfunmi (running back, UCLA commit), Darrell Adams (wide receiver, three PAC-12 offers) and Cameron Burston (quarterback, San Jose State commit). Also lining up for The Bod-e² Shop last year were Chandler Gumbs (Colorado State and University of Penn offers) and Hayden Haupt (outside linebacker, Army and Colorado State offers).

The team will be coached by former NFL cornerback Ricky Manning Jr., who will call the defensive signals and former Fresno State wide receiver Brian Roberson, who's calling the offensive plays.

For more information, call 559-298-9348 or email the gym at thebodeshop@thebodeshop.com.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rising star watch: Dru Mathis

Dru Mathis of Buena High School has emerged as a rising linebacker in Ventura County. The Class of 2016 prospect has drawn interest from schools in the American Athletic Conference, Mountain West and Big Sky (photo contributed). 
Buena of Ventura unleashed its biggest Bulldog frequently on the field this past season - outside linebacker Dru Mathis.

At 6-foot-3 and 200-pounds, the Bulldog junior is a combination of size, speed and disruption against Southern California offenses.

There's plenty of reasons to believe that Mathis could emerge as Buena's most highly wanted prospect in the Bulldogs' 2016 class. Here's a closer look:

WHAT TO LIKE: His long arms gives him the upper hand against one-on-one blockers, because they're lengthy enough to extend and shed past his opponent. Shows excellent reaction skills with locating the football, then bolts to the play like a shark locating its prey. He won't hesitate to blitz on the edge and brings the heat with his speed and instincts. He's also a strong special team performer who can block punts.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: I'll need to see more of his ability in pass coverage, especially in man situations. He tends to rely more on extending his hands and shoving a blocker to one side instead of using different hand techniques to get past his opponent. Mathis tends to come up too high on tackles and can work on sinking his hips to gain lower body leverage. He'll obviously need to hit the weight room hard before his senior season and bulk up from his current frame.

OVERALL: Mathis has the size and athleticism to do some damage for a college football program in the future. His speed can fit right in with a Mountain West school and some PAC-12 teams that thrive on defensive speed at linebacker; like Arizona State, Arizona, USC, UCLA, etc. Mathis is in a good football area as well, as Ventura County has attracted Florida State, Norte Dame, Nebraska and the PAC-12 in the past.

2014 STATS: 92 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, 4.5 sacks, 8 quarterback hurries and one blocked punt.

SCHOOLS SHOWING INTEREST: University of Houston, Hawaii, San Diego State, Cal Poly and Azusa Pacific. 

Bowl Championship Series: California style

Record-breaking quarterback Jake Browning will be on the Stubhub Center Field in Carson this weekend, as the future University of Washington recruit and Folsom High will battle Oceanside for the CIF State Division I championship (photo credit Max Preps).
The Stubhub Center in Carson will be the place where high school football in California comes to an end, as the 2014 season now goes to the state championships.

Cali Gold Mine has taken a closer look at the matchups and there will be lots of future NCAA Division I prospects on display. Here's who to watch:

FOLSOM VS. OCEANSIDE: In this CIF State Division I battle, Folsom (15-0) comes in with a red-hot offense led by Washington commit Jake Browning at quarterback, who has a ridiculous 85 touchdown passes this season (state record). Wide receivers Josiah Deguara (Air Force offer), Cole Thompson (Harvard offer) and guard Cody Creason (Arizona commit) are the Bulldogs' other NCAA DI prospects.

For Oceanside, the Pirates (14-0) held off a deep Edison-Fresno squad armed with at least 12 players with DI interest, including athlete Tyler Horton (10 offers including Cal and Houston). Versatile Jordan Miller is committed to Washington. Offensive tackle Christian Cronk (Hawaii commit) defensive end Tommy Woo (Hawaii commit) and guard Cedric Bigge-Duren (Washington State commit) round out Oceanside's DI prospects.

This was also the school that produced the late great Junior Seau.

CAMPOLINDO-MORAGA VS. EL CAPITAN-LAKESIDE: In this DIII contest, Campolindo (15-0) will have USC tight end commit Tyler Petite on the field. Petite had 30 catches, a team-high 867 receiving yards and nine touchdowns this season.

El Capitan (14-0) demoralized a deep and big Paso Robles team 41-0 last week in the San Diego area. Wide receiver Isaiah Capoocia (offers from Oregon State, San Jose State and Northern Arizona) and linebacker D.J. Smith (offers from SJ State, Colorado State and NAU) are the Vaqueros' top prospects.

ST. MARGARET'S-SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO VS. CENTRAL CATHOLIC-MODESTO: St. Margaret's (15-0) goes for perfection by bringing in an offense that's scored more than 28 points in every game.

Central Catholic (11-3) will look to play the spoiler of the Tartans' undefeated run with highly-touted Jared Rice (six offers including UNLV and Wyoming) lining up at tight end.

REDLANDS EAST VALLEY VS. CLAYTON VALLEY CHARTER-CONCORD: Redlands East Valley is one of two representatives hailing from the Inland Empire in the state championships, as REV seeks its pursuit of the state's DII title against an undefeated Bay Area team known for having a black field turf.

The Wildcats (14-1) will have a balanced offense averaging 241.1 passing yards per game and 204.7 rushing yards. The defense, though, is a takeaway machine with 22 interceptions this season.

Running back Malik Lovette (Oregon commit) and offensive lineman Joseph Price (Cal and Washington State offers) help lead the Wildcats' 2015 class.

Clayton Valley's championship run came with controversy. The school's athletic department was placed on probation by CIF North Coast Section commissioner Gil Lemmon for transfer and practice violations. The news surfaced during the weekend of Dec. 14.

Nevertheless, the undefeated Eagles (15-0) bring a monster Double Wing-T offense that's piling up 442 rushing yards per game and has Miles Harrison (2,380 yards, 26 touchdowns) in the backfield.

CENTENNIAL-CORONA VS. DE LA SALLE-CONCORD: The main event on Saturday night will decide the state's Open Division champion.

Centennial knocked off St. John Bosco last week to reach the state title game. Wideout Greyson Bankhead (Cal commit), defensive back Jihree Stewart (Oregon commit) and quarterback Nate Ketteringham (PAC-12 interest) spotlight the 2015 class for Centennial.

But the Huskies will be deeper again in 2016, as WR Javon McKinley (11 offers including USC, Washington and Texas Tech), DB Cam Bynum (Cal Poly offer), safety Chacho Ulloa (Boise State and Utah offers), OT Danny Juarez (Texas Tech offer)and safety Troy Dye (Washington State and Colorado offers) help comprise Centennial's 2016 class.

De La Salle never lets down college recruiting coordinators. The Spartans are always guaranteed an NCAA DI prospect and a shot at the state title every year.

Athlete Je'vari Anderson (Cal, Oregon State and Wazzau offers), OL Drew Sullivan (Cal and New Mexico offers) and safety Simba Short (Oregon commit) will be on the field for DLS's 2015 class. Leading the 2016 class are TE Devin Asiasi (11 offers including USC and Washington) and DT Boss Tagaloa (13 offers including Alabama, Ole Miss, Washington and Missouri).

Note: All games should be televised on the west coast Fox Sports 1 affiliates beginning on Friday, or streamed online through Time Warner Cable's website TWCcommunity.com.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Oceanside holds off Edison

Before the rain fell, undefeated Oceanside marched down the field by controlling the trenches and attacked a deep Edison-Fresno secondary for the opening scoring drive.

From there and in between the rain drops, the Pirates put the Southern California state playoff game out of reach.

Led by Josh Bernard's three rushing touchdowns, quarterback Matt Romero's two touchdown throws and the Pirates' muscle at the line of scrimmage controlling both the Tigers' defensive front and offensive line, Oceanside advanced to the CIF State Division I championship with a 37-22 victory over the reigning Central Section DI champs.

Bernard, who's being recruited by Weber State of the Football Championship Subdivision, scored on runs of 1, 3 and 1-yard. Bernard scored the first touchdown on an inside run.

Then, Oceanside blocked a punt inside the Edison 5-yard line that made it 9-0, as the ball bounced out of the end zone for the safety. On the next drive, Romero connected with John Grumbling on a 19-yard scoring pass, extending the Pirate lead to 16-0.

The Tigers (12-2) were held to just two yards of total offense in the first quarter. But, Edison tried to fix its early jitters with big plays from Tyler Horton and Kamron Lewis in the second.

Horton intercepted the first of three Pirate passes and returned the ball to the OHS 39. Tiger quarterback Hunter Swearingen went to the air and found a dashing Lewis for the 39-yard touchdown, severing the OHS lead to 16-6.

However, the Pirates struck again with Bernard scoring his next two runs to make it 30-6 at halftime.

The Tigers tried to mount a late comeback behind Khai Williams' two fourth quarter touchdown runs. Horton added another interception and a 62-yard punt return. Lewis added an interception late in the contest that helped set up the Tigers' last drive.

The Tigers' final drive, though, ended on a Ju'Wan Murphy 9-yard reception on fourth-and-10 with 3:05 remaining.

Oceanside's victory sets up next Friday's CIF State DI title game bout against Folsom (15-0) at Carson. The Bulldogs out of the Sac Joaquin Section trounced Grant-Sacramento 52-21 at Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium on Dec. 12.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rising star watch: Jordan Love

Jordan Love of Liberty-Bakersfield combined for 23 touchdowns throwing and running this past season, as the 2016 quarterback prospect led the Patriots to an appearance in the Central Section Division I title game (photo contributed).
It probably won't be long before college football programs show 'Love' to a Liberty-Bakersfield quarterback.

Jordan Love took over as the Patriots' signal-caller on Sept. 5 and didn't look back. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound junior gave the Pats a deep ball element with his howitzer on his right arm, as he unleashed bombs and Hail Mary's for a Liberty offense that scored 38 or more points in six games this past season.

Is he the No. 1 quarterback for Kern County's 2016 class? Time for Cali Gold Mine to weigh in:

WHAT TO LIKE: Love is excellent at fooling secondaries in the play action. He does a sturdy job of faking the handoff, looking up for his target and taking his shot down the field. He shows good eyes when locating an open receiver. He's athletic and can turn quarterback keeper runs into long gains or touchdowns. He's a former wide receiver, which gives him an edge in sprinting past defenders. Shows good comfort in the pocket, but can also frustrate defenders by escaping the rush, rolling out and completing his throw.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: I need to see how he handles the short throws and how accurate he is there. I noticed most of his passes were throws that sailed 30 yards or more down the field. When he scrambles, he runs too high and needs to work on keeping his shoulders and hips low, especially when a flock of defenders surround him. I'll also be curious about his leadership intangibles, because next season he'll quarterback a younger Liberty team that will lose some of its top playmakers to graduation.

OVERALL: Love isn't the complete package at QB yet, but he's fully capable of emerging as Liberty's next most highly-recruited star. He has the physical tools to succeed, including his deep ball and athleticism. A big offseason and senior year could get Love to become the next best quarterback in a county that's produced stars David Carr, Derek Carr, Cody Kessler and Tyler Ferguson.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rising star watch: Vincent Elefante

Vincent Elefante has been a disruptive force against opposing offenses for Upland High. The Class of 2015 prospect currently holds three Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) offers (photo credit 24/7 sports).
"King Elefante" has reigned on offenses in the 909.

Vincent Elefante is a wrecking ball of punishment for the Upland defensive line. The 6-foot-3, 280-pound powerhouse has come home to three scholarship offers from Weber State, Montana and the University of San Diego. He also had a visit recently from Sacramento State.

After breaking him down in the Cali Gold Mine film room, Elefante could be one of the biggest sleepers in the talent heavy Inland Empire.

Here's a closer look:

WHAT TO LIKE: I like his motor. It gets started once the ball is snapped, and it only stops after the fourth quarter. Elefante has a nose for the football and he won't stop penetrating through the line until he gets his hands on a ball carrier. As a defensive tackle, he's an excellent gap shooter who averts or destroys inside running plays. Elefante lines up at defensive end too, where he shows the same tenacity and hustle. He does a solid job of bull rushing and getting his palms locked onto his would be blocker. He's hard to block on double teams as well. Elefante controls his space and clogs running lanes. His best season as a pass rusher was an 11.5 sack season as a junior in 2013.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: He can get faster off the ball. He doesn't possess eye-catching speed for a defensive lineman. I also need to see his consistency with using other hand techniques to shed past blockers, like a swim or rip move. His sacks took a dip this season too, as it dropped to two during his senior year. That could raise questions about his consistency as a pass rusher.

OVERALL: Elefante is a versatile disruptive force on the defensive line. He's the kind of guy defensive line coaches usually crave on the recruiting trail. Someone will love his persistence with attacking the running game or passing attack. He reminds me of current Fresno State nose tackle and former Kingsburg High star Ryan Steele.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Championship highlights: It's a party at 'E City'

Edison-Fresno - in front of a crowd of 6,000 strong at Sunnyside High's stadium - got big plays from its most underrated NCAA Division I prospects and ended the night as Central Section Division I champions, beating Liberty-Bakersfield 21-14.

The Tigers (12-1) last won a section championship in the 2009 season at the DII level. But Edison's last significant title came 39 years ago, when the Tigers won the 1975 Yosemite Division championship.

Kamron Lewis used his height and hands to help bring the party to 'E City.' Lewis - who holds just one scholarship offer from Nevada - caught the game-winning 63-yard touchdown pass with 6 minutes and 2 seconds to go. Lewis then got called upon to line up in the Tiger secondary in the final dramatic Hail Mary throw. Lewis used his 6-foot-3 frame and hops to elevate himself into the air, extend his hands, and come down with the clinching interception.

Outside of Lewis, the Tiger defense were led by rising 2016 prospect Leevel Tatum and inside linebacker Vance "Area 51" Sams, who has one offer from Eastern Washington. Both defenders kept the ultra-talented Anthony Mariscal in check by holding the Arizona commit to 67 rushing yards.

In the secondary, Tyler Horton - the Tigers' most highly recruited star with 10 offers - locked up Liberty's big target Braylin Scott (6-foot-4, 170-pounds) to two catches and 32 yards.

The victory puts Edison against Oceanside in the CIF State Division I Southern California championships. That game is set for Friday, Dec. 12, at Oceanside High.


Hanford High, one of the top turnaround stories in the Central Section, trounced Madera 35-14 for the school's first Central Section Division III championship in a game that saw the Bullpups go in an attack mode on defense.

In the first three possessions of the game, the Bullpups (12-1) forced three turnovers. Junior Juwane Hughes was one of the feisty defenders on Hanford's side as he came away with one interception. Senior Francisco Ramirez added a pick for the Bullpups.

Offensively, junior Joseph McDaniel pulverized Madera for 139 rushing yards.

Hanford was once a loser of 16 of its last 21 games before going on its DIII title run. Next year looks promising again for the Bullpups. Out of the 40 players on Hanford's varsity roster, 26 of them were non-seniors, including team cornerstones Hughes, McDaniel and sophomore quarterback Ryan Johnson.


With an undefeated season hanging in the balance and the downpour of rain falling down hard on the Hornet Stadium grass at Sacramento State, Grant-Sacramento escaped 21-14 against a spirited St. Mary's of Stockton team seeking the upset in the Sac Joaquin DII championship game.

St. Mary's drove down the field as the final seconds ticked away. Rams quarterback Noah Righetti found Demetrius Ferguson for a 44-yard gain that placed the Rams at the Grant 6-yard line. But an offensive pass interference call put St. Mary's back at the 17, then Righetti's final throw fell incomplete.

Grant finishes 14-0 and gets Folsom in the DI Northern California championship on Dec. 12.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

On a muddy night, Paso Robles ends 14-year title drought

Paso Robles players celebrate in unison after capturing the CIF Southern Section's Northern Division championship by beating Newbury Park 13-10. It's the first football title for the Bearcats since the 2000 season and the school's eighth overall (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).
Seven CIF championships covering the top of the press box stared down on the Paso Robles Bearcats, as this year's team aimed to end a 14-year title drought while warming up on a muddy and rainy Dec. 5 night at War Memorial Stadium with the colossal Newbury Park standing in the way.

Through all the mud, fumbles and rain drops - an eighth section title will now be added.

Jonathan Baldwin scored on a 34-yard touchdown reception, Bailey Gaither wore down the Panthers with his rare bruising running style and lastly, a climatic fourth-and-1 defensive stop with less than two minutes to play elevated the Bearcats to their 13-10 victory, clinching the CIF Southern Section's Northern Division championship and winning their first title since the 2000 season.

Baldwin - a recent verbal commitment to Northern Arizona - sneaked behind a Newbury Park defense that was thinking run during the fourth-and-3 play in the second quarter. Quarterback Justin Davis, though, faked the handoff, tucked the ball into his stomach, then fired his pass to the wide open tight end in the middle of the field. Baldwin proceeded to gallop for the long touchdown score.

"They weren't expecting that at all," Baldwin said.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound tight end said that his family has a history of winning football crowns at Paso Robles (13-1).

"My grandfathers won CIF championships here. I had uncles who won championships here. And now me. It feels absolutely amazing," Baldwin said. "Tradition has been restored. We worked so hard for this. This feels amazing."

Along with the 2000 championship, the Bearcats won titles in 1951, 1952, 1953, 1974, 1998 and 1999. Former Bearcat quarterback Brandon Thomas, who led Paso to its last crown, was in attendance to watch his alma mater restore order.

Gaither bounced and gashed through Newbury Park for 206 rushing yards. He was held out of the end zone, but Gaither said all that mattered was bringing a championship back to a proud football program.

"We made it," Gaither said. "All that hard work in the summer, fall and winter season and the school getting behind us; it's just a humbling experience to win it. I'm so proud of all these guys. I play every game like it's my last. But I'm not just doing it for myself, I'm doing it for these guys."

Gaither took the bulk of the carries from Paso's Triple I-Formation, which had three running backs in the backfield and sometimes two tight ends on the line.

The final drive for Paso culminated in a 1-yard scoring run from Davis; who took the snap behind his center during a third-and-1, put his head down, pumped his legs and powered through the goal line with 7:22 left.

The Panthers (11-3) recovered two Paso fumbles on muffed quarterback-to-center exchanges, with the last one getting pounced on at their own 37 with 2:45 to play.

Newbury Park, however, failed to convert on its fourth-and-1 inside run by Chucky Smith. The officials called for a measurement and ruled that Smith and the Panthers were short, leading to thunderous cheers from the Bearcats' side.

Paso Robles will now await its state bowl fate on Sunday, Dec. 7, as CIF state bowl pairings are expected to be announced. The Bearcats are projected to play against Lakeside-El Capitan of the San Diego Section for the right to play in the state's Division III championship game.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Championship weekend in the Golden State

St. Mary's of Stockton will look to spoil Grant-Sacramento's undefeated pursuit, as the Rams and Pacers will battle for the Sac Joaquin Section Division II championship on Friday, Dec. 5, at Sacramento State University's Hornet Stadium (photo contributed).
After Friday, Dec. 5, someone is coming home with some championship hardware and will likely have a parade down their neighborhood street.

It's championship Friday and Saturday in California and Cali Gold Mine has highlighted 10 key battles from the Delta to Southern California.

Here's some can't-miss games loaded with potential future college football stars:

Sac Joaquin Section


Where: Sacramento State University's Hornet Stadium

Game time: 7:30 p.m.

In this Sac Joaquin Section Division II title battle, Grant will be chasing its seventh section championship, as the Pacers return to the big stage for the first time since 2010 when Folsom ruined the Pacers' unbeaten bid 41-20.

Ironically, it was the Pacers who ruined St. Mary's bid for a section title during that same season, as Grant knocked off the Rams 20-11.

This rematch will have a good mix of national recruits on both sidelines. Grant will have highly recruited offensive tackle Darrin Paulo anchoring the line. The 6-foot-5, 344-pound mauler holds 11 scholarship offers including Arizona, USC and Wisconsin. Linebacker Carl Granderson has shined during his senior season, as the 6-foot-6, 185-pound 'backer has 151 tackles, 14 sacks and two interceptions. Offensively, DeShawn Collins figures to be the next big recruit for the Pacers. The junior currently has 2,255 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns.

On the Rams' side, they'll try to counter the Pacers' running attack with the state's leading tackler Khalil Hodge. The senior and 6-foot, 220-pound defender averages 18.6 tackles per game, has four interceptions that ties him for the team lead and recently added a new offer from Weber State of the Football Championship Subdivision. Defensive end Myles Cunningham - despite being undersized on the line at 6-foot, 208-pounds - leads the Ram pass rush with 11.5 sacks.

Offensively, wide receiver Demetrius Ferguson is another national prospect with a New Mexico State offer and interest from a few Mountain West and PAC-12 schools. The 6-foot-2, 158-pound senior leads the Rams with 754 yards and an average of 20.4 yards per catch.

Running back Marcell Spady and cornerback Javonte Norman have been late bloomers on the recruiting trail. The 5-foot-10, 220-pound Spady has 950 yards and 21 touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Norman is the Rams' top secondary playmaker with four interceptions.

Saturday, Dec. 6 


Where: Lincoln High

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Oakdale brings an offense averaging 42.3 points per game. The Mustangs are also senior heavy with 24 upperclassmen on their roster.

Inderkum, though, will look to claim the section's DIII title with its backfield duo of Austin Thurman (5-foot-11, 180-pounds) and Larry Hardy (6-foot-1, 185-pounds). Both seniors have combined for 2,611 yards and 35 touchdowns. Hardy is the Tigers' top receiving option too, with team-high's in receptions (20), yards (565) and touchdowns (eight).

Colorado commit N.J. Falo leads the Inderkum defense. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker has 50 tackles and four sacks. Hardy is IHS's top ball hawk with six interceptions. Cornerback Tyrique Carter adds some aggression to the Tiger secondary with his press ability and cover skills. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Carter has eight pass deflections and three blocked field goals on special teams.


Where: Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium

Time: 7;30 p.m.

Folsom is aiming to snatch its third consecutive section title (won the DII crown in 2012). Tracy, though, will look to end the Bulldogs' reign with a power running scheme in this DI match up.

Tracy averages 209.2 yards per game with 35 touchdowns. Leading the Bulldog ground game is 5-foot-8, 190-pound senior Nate Jones, who has 1,263 yards and 18 touchdowns. Defensively, Jacob Alvarado leads Tracy with nine interceptions.

Folsom scores at will on offense. Leading the undefeated Bulldogs is Washington commit Jake Browning. The senior quarterback has a ridiculous touchdown to interception ratio of 76-4. He has a talented receiving duo in Cole Thompson and Josiah Deguara. Both have over 1,400 yards and more than 20 touchdowns this season.

Central Section 


Where: Sunnyside High School (Fresno)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Liberty slayed its biggest dragon last week in Bakersfield High. The 41-10 rout over the Drillers ensures that there will be a new Central Section and state DI champion this season.

But the No. 1 seeded Tigers will have what some players call their version of a "fashion and talent show": speed, athleticism and national recruits.

Leading the Tigers are two dynamite athletes Tyler Horton and A.J. Greeley. Both have damaged offenses, defenses and special team units with their ability to stretch the field. Horton holds 10 offers including Cal, Fresno State and Houston. Greeley is currently committed to Fresno State as a cornerback.

Running back Khai Williams, wide receiver Kam Lewis and offensive lineman/inside linebacker Vance Sams are the other Tiger seniors who hold a scholarship offer. Williams and Sams have received pledges from Eastern Washington of the Big Sky. Lewis holds a University of Nevada offer.

The Patriots, though, have their own national recruiting gem: Arizona commit Anthony Mariscal. He's quadrupled as a running back, slot receiver, safety and return ace. The best match up will be who covers Mariscal one-on-one. Wide receiver Braylin Scott takes pressure off of Mariscal with his 6-foot-3 frame and team-high nine receiving touchdowns.

The Pats' offensive line is anchored by big 6-foot-5, 290-pound tackle Ruben Guerra. He'll have a key battle against one of the Tigers' top rushers in Xavier Hamilton.


Where: Ridgeview High

Time: 7 p.m.

It's the third straight time that these two teams will battle each other for the section title - and the contests haven't been close.

Ridgeview took the 2012 game away from the Marcus McMaryion-led Emperors 55-14 for the DIII title. But the future Oregon State Beaver quarterback and DHS returned the favor the following year in Dinuba, with the Emps coming out on top 45-14.

Emperors senior running back Michael Wright returns in the third installment of this title bout, this time for the DII championship. Wright - who's received interest from a few Big Sky schools - burned Ridgeview with 196 total yards and four touchdowns in last year's DHS rout. Dinuba quarterback Isaac Leppke has been a solid game manager. The 6-foot-4, 170-pound junior has thrown 14 touchdowns, three interceptions, has completed 60.1% of his throws and has a QB rating of 106.6.

The Wolf Pack have been led by Garces running back transfer Sheldon Croney and his 1,978 yard/27 touchdown season. Croney has six offers from the Mountain West (UNLV, Colorado State, Fresno State, Boise State, Nevada and New Mexico).

MADERA (9-3) AT HANFORD (11-1)

Where: The Neighbor Bowl (Hanford) 

Time: 7 p.m.

Two resurgent programs square off for the DIII championship.

Madera once endured seven straight losing seasons before going on its section championship run this season. Jesus Jimenez leads the Coyotes' balanced running game with 1,265 yards and 16 touchdowns. Evan Rios is one of the most reliable kickers in the section. The senior can boom the 50-yard field goal.

Hanford was a combined 5-16 before its turnaround. The Bullpups have been led by junior power back Joseph McDaniel (has 1,576 yards and 20 touchdowns) and two-way threat Juwane Hughes. The junior has 36 catches, 676 yards and eight touchdowns as a wide receiver and leads the Bullpups with six interceptions.


Where: Liberty High School (Madera)

Time: 7 p.m. 

This D IV title battle will have size (CVC) against speed (Liberty).

The Cavaliers are known for their mountains on the line, and there's two towering ones in junior Blake Walker (6-foot-7, 312-pounds) and senior captain Jake De Haan (6-foot-2, 285-pounds). The CVC big men help plow the road for senior running back MacIntyre Garbani, who has 1,311 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Defensively, linebacker Tate Nelson adds size (6-foot-3, 225-pounds) and versatility for CVC. He crashes down on quarterbacks as a pass rusher and shows strong reaction skills against the run. The senior holds an offer from Idaho of the Sun Belt. Brad Taylor is a fast riser for the Cavs' 2016 class at safety. Built like a young Kam Chancellor of the Seattle Seahawks, Taylor is a 6-foot-2, 190-pound ball hawk with a team-high five picks.

The Hawks - who got promoted to D IV after winning back-to-back DV titles - will look to torch CVC's defense with their Wing-T running game. Spearheading the attack is touchdown machine Wade Wallace. The three-year senior has 45 touchdowns in his varsity career and has 1,194 yards to lead LHS. Fellow senior Richie Brandt brings an inside dimension to the Hawk offense with his 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame and 15 rushing touchdowns.

Junior Jackson Watts (5-foot-6, 150-pounds) gives LHS an additional speed back with his average of 13.4 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns.


Where: Sal Gonzalez Field (Reedley High)

Time: 7 p.m.

Two balanced offenses take the field in Reedley for the DV championship.

The Panthers have 1,956 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns through the ground. But it's the air attack that looks like the strength of the team.

Senior quarterback Nico Portillo has thrown for 3,358 yards, 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His top target is junior Legary Austin, who has 73 catches, 1,109 yards and seven touchdowns.

Defensively, the Panthers are strong inside with pass rushers Desmond Curtis and Trent Olmos combining for 21 sacks from their defensive tackle spots.

Immanuel - once a combined 2-18 and 0-12 in the Central Sequoia League during the 2010 and '11 seasons - has emerged as a perennial playoff contender under third-year head coach Matt Armstrong.

The Eagles have been powered by Edison transfer Robert Grier. The 5-foot-8 running back has 1,678 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Tight end Aaron Wilson - a transfer from Clovis North - leads the IHS passing game with 32 catches and 496 yards. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Wilson has drawn interest from Wyoming of the Mountain West.

Immanuel football is now the fifth team sport on the campus to compete for a section title since Feb. 2014 (boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball and girls tennis).

Southern Section


Where: War Memorial Stadium (Flamson Middle School)

Time: 7 p.m.

Five college football prospects highlight this Northern Division championship contest.

The Panthers have Darick and Darnay Holmes. The duo has scored 27 combined receiving touchdowns and holds 26 offers between them (Darnay, Class of 2017, added a Norte Dame offer earlier this week).

The Bearcats will bring the dynamic Bailey Gaither (San Jose State commit), tight end/outside linebacker Jonathan Baldwin (Northern Arizona commit) and fellow TE/OLB Josh Oliver (San Jose State commit).

Saturday, Dec. 6


Where: Angels Stadium (Anaheim)

Time: 2 p.m.

Mission Viejo will be led by USC commit Cole Smith at center (6-foot-3, 265-pounds). The Diablos offense has been on a roll with an average of 40.3 points per game in the last three weeks.

Vista Murrieta has three Class of 2015 CFB commits in Jamie Nunley (6-foot-5, 215-pound wide receiver, Arizona), defensive tackle Tevita Mounga (6-foot-1, 295-pounds, Brigham Young University) and Colin Baker (6-foot-2, 185-pound receiver, San Jose State).

Kyle Williams will headline the 2016 class for the Broncos with 1,320 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hot off the film room: underrated trench warriors

Nehemia Abera has received late interest from different colleges, including a visit from the University of Redlands on Tuesday, Dec. 3. Abera stands at 6-foot-2, 225-pounds for University-Los Angeles (photo contributed).
Post-Thanksgiving for Cali Gold Mine has been stuffed with highlight films from Class of 2015 linemen.

Some of these versatile athletes are still requesting for their first offer from a big-time college football program. After spending some time in the CGM film room, I definitely like what I see out of these crop of big men.

Here's some underrated trench warriors:


Abera - who's parents are Ethopian - has picked up late interest because of his skill set and academics.

On the field, Abera stands at 6-foot-2, 225-pounds and uses hand technique, athleticism and high energy effort to disrupt offenses. Off the field, Abera is heavily involved in his community as a tutor, church leader and Vice President of the Westwood Branch Library.

Academically, he holds a 3.6 grade point average and scored 1530 on his SAT.

Lastly, he comes from the prep alma mater of Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith.

More on Abera can be found here.


Think of Dunham as an angry wolverine searching for a fight in the woods.

Dunham lacks size (6-foot, 270-pounds), but he's one viscous curmudgeon on the Valley Christian line. I like his ability to shoot through the gaps and halt running backs. He also does an excellent job of locking his palms into his blocker's numbers and pushes them into the backfield.

He can be an effective 3-technique defensive lineman at the next level (lines up on the outside shoulder of an offensive guard). Along with his motor and hand placement, Dunham is quick off the snap.


The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Graves brings a defensive lineman's motor to the Los Alamitos line.

He won't just stop his feet or hands on first contact, he'll eliminate his blocking assignment from the play and ensure they don't come within 5-10 yards of his running back.

I believe Graves' strength is his run blocking, which is why I believe he's better suited as a guard in the college ranks.

He recently was named the Sunset League Lineman of the Year.

More on Graves can be seen here


Frazier brought speed and disruption to an improved Tiger defense.

The 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior helped turn Lemoore into one of the best defenses in the Central Section. He used his athleticism to collapse the pocket and create a wall for opposing running backs.

According to Max Preps, Frazier finished second in the section with 16 sacks for the 11-1 Tigers.

More on Frazier can be seen here


Villalobos is quite similar to Frazier in size (6-foot-4, 225-pounds) and athleticism.

His quickness off the ball and pass rushing ability helped set the tone for the Emperors' defense, as he led DHS in sacks with nine. He had two sacks in the 30-22 upset over Lemoore - the Central Section's No. 2 seed in Division II.

He's a cat-quick blindside rusher who uses his explosive first step and a swim move to beat his blockers.  

Villalobos and the Emps are chasing back-to-back section titles on Friday, Dec. 5, against Ridgeview-Bakersfield in the third consecutive meeting between both teams in the finals (met in the DIII title match up the last two seasons).

More on Villalobos can be seen here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

On the Golden State recruiting trail: defenders add new offers

Khalil Hodge of St. Mary's of Stockton now has two scholarship offers, with his latest from Weber State (photo courtesy of sportswurlz.com)
The state's leading tackler Khalil Hodge of St. Mary's-Stockton added his second scholarship offer on Tuesday, Dec. 2, from Weber State of the Football Championship Subdivision.

Hodge, who has 223 tackles for the 12-1 Rams, shared his excitement on his Twitter page:

Said Hodge: "Blessed to have received my second offer from Weber State. All glory to God!"

The 6-foot, 220-pound Hodge averages 18.6 tackles per game for the Rams, who will take on undefeated Grant-Sacramento (13-0) for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championship on Friday, Dec. 5, at Sacramento State University.


Kevin Scott of Salesian-Los Angeles is now in high demand for college football coaches, because he's added four more scholarship offers since his feature on Cali Gold Mine on Nov. 20.

Scott - who has seven offers total - added New Mexico, Massachusetts, Texas-El Paso and now two-time Mountain West Conference champion Fresno State. The Bulldogs, who recently won the MWC Western Division, extended their pledge to Scott on Tuesday, Dec. 1.

The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Scott has also received pledges from the University of Ohio, San Diego State and New Mexico State.


Riley Whimpey of San Clemente, who leads the 12-1 Tritons with 159 tackles, received his first offer from Boise State on Dec. 2.

Along with his tackles, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Whimpey has five sacks and two interceptions for San Clemente. The Tritons will battle Trabuco Hills-Mission Viejo for the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division championship on Dec. 5.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Semifinal highlights: Liberty-Bakersfield drills state powerhouse, advances to section championship game

Anthony Mariscal (left) and Krys Barnes are all smiles after their team - The Liberty-Bakersfield Patriots - routed rival and defending state champion Bakersfield High 41-10 on Friday, Nov. 28 (photo contributed).
According to Central Section historian Bob Barnett, no team had defeated proud Bakersfield High twice in one season on the football field - and that's in 111 years of Drillers football.

Liberty-Bakersfield just rewrote the Driller history books.

The Patriots used a hard-hitting defense and the exhilarating Anthony Mariscal to wear down the defending state champions in Division I, smashing Bakersfield 41-10 on Friday, Nov. 28, to clinch their spot in the Central Section DI title game and emerge as the first team to beat BHS twice in one season.

Liberty's previous victory over the Drillers came on Nov. 7 with a 21-14 decision.

In the semifinal rematch, the Patriot defense held BHS scoreless throughout the second half and were mainly led by 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker Krys Barnes, who helped neutralize the Drillers' outside running attack with his reaction and tackling.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Mariscal - who's a two-way warning for opponents as a speedy offensive option and ball hawking defensive back - rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns against an athletic Driller defense.

Liberty (10-2) now travels to Fresno to take on the section's No. 1 seed Edison-Fresno (11-1) on Friday, Dec. 5, at Sunnyside High School.


It was the wildest seven minutes that was ever witnessed by Edison-Fresno against upset-minded Clovis at Sunnyside High.

Down by 14 points and staring at a shocking exit in the DI semifinals, the top-seeded Tigers rallied with 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, punching their ticket to the DI final in the 21-14 victory over the Cougars in the Central Section playoffs.

Khai Williams - one of a handful of national recruits at running back on EHS - scored twice on runs of 6 and 2 yards, with his last touchdown breaking the 14-14 tie.

The momentum shifter, though, started with an unlikely playmaker on this Nov. 28 night: linebacker Chris Allison. With the Cougars driving and seeking to extend their lead to 21-6, Allison stripped the football out of the hands of Clovis workhorse running back Adam Prentice and pounced on the loose ball at the CHS 33-yard line. The big play occurred with 5:20 left in the contest.

The turnover led to quarterback Hunter Swearingen calling his own number and taking a 5-yard scoring run, cutting the EHS deficit to 14-12. Swearingen followed with a scoring lob to Fresno State commit A.J. Greeley for the 2-point conversion, tying the game at 14-14.

It's the first time Edison will play for a section championship since the 2009 season, when former Tigers Tevin McDonald, Rykeem Yates and Wesley Flowers led Edison to the DII championship. 


We've witnessed the renaissance of Hanford, Madera and Immanuel football in the 559; as all three teams are now playing for section championships next Friday night.

Here's their turnaround stories:

  • Hanford lost 16 of its last 21 games prior to this season, including a 1-9 finish in 2012. The Bullpups (11-1) knocked off defending section D IV champion Bakersfield Christian 40-21 behind quarterback Ryan Johnson's 13-of-14 passing for 175 yards and Joseph McDaniel's 125 rushing yards. It's the first time Hanford will play for a section championship since the 2008 season. The Bullpups have also never won a section football title in school history.
  •  Madera had seven consecutive losing seasons before starting this year 6-0, then sealing its spot against Hanford in the DIII championship. The Coyotes (9-3) got Evan Rios to boot a 32-yard field goal in the second overtime to eliminate Mission Oak-Tulare 31-28 in their semifinal contest. Madera's previous best season came in 2006, when the Coyotes finished 7-4.   
  • Immanuel-Reedley endured back-to-back winless campaigns in the Central Sequoia League and 1-9 marks in the 2010 and  '11 seasons; leaving former IHS head coach and current school superintendent Ryan Wood with the decision to get the Eagles out of the CSL and go independent. Since then, IHS has gone to the playoffs in the last three seasons under head coach Matt Armstrong and on Nov. 28, clinched its spot in the DV title game after a 29-14 home win over Fowler. Under Armstrong, the Eagles have won 21 of their last 36 games.


It's rare for college football coaches at the NCAA Division I level to travel to Paso Robles' War Memorial Stadium at Flamson Middle School for a football game. But there could be a good number of them for the CIF Southern Section Northern Division title battle.

Paso Robles (12-1) and Newbury Park (11-2) will have five CFB recruits on the field for the Dec. 5 showdown.

The Bearcats, a 28-21 winner against PAC 5 rival Arroyo Grande on Nov. 28, features three NCAA DI commits: athlete Bailey Gaither (San Jose State), tight end/outside linebacker Josh Oliver (SJSU) and TE/OLB Jonathan Baldwin (Northern Arizona).

Newbury Park - who escaped Atascadero 49-48 at home on Nov. 28 - will feature Darick and Darnay Holmes; two explosive offensive stars holding a combined 25 scholarship offers between them. Darick, the Class of 2015 recruit, committed to the University of Arizona of the PAC-12. Darnay is already one of the top 2017 prospects in the nation with 17 offers. Some of his pledges have come from Mississippi State, Ohio State, UCLA and USC.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Paso Robles leapfrogs PAC 5 rival to clinch section title game spot

Bailey Gaither of Paso Robles scored the final climatic touchdown against Arroyo Grande, when he hopped over an Eagles defender en route to a 70-yard touchdown with 42 seconds left in the 28-21 victory at Doug Hitchen Stadium (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).
To clear the final hurdle and advance to its first CIF Southern Section title game since 2000, Paso Robles literally received a hurdle from one of its own: Bailey Gaither.

The senior caught a swing pass toward the left sidelines, hopped over an incoming Arroyo Grande defender, then used his 4.4 40-yard dash speed to zoom into the end zone with 42 seconds left, lifting the Bearcats to a 28-21 road victory over the Eagles on Friday, Nov. 28, at Doug Hitchen Stadium.

The victory puts the Bearcats (12-1) against Newbury Park (11-2) at Flamson Middle School in Paso on Friday, Dec. 5, for the section's Northern Division championship.

Gaither - the San Jose State commit - has 56 career touchdowns at the varsity level, but how special was his last score with seconds left in the game?

"That was definitely the best one. To do that for my team and get us to the championship, it doesn't get much better than that," Gaither said. "They've been biting on us the whole time (when AG was on defense). But I got the ball in my hands and made that play."

On the final offensive play for Arroyo Grande, quarterback Sawyer May rolled to his right and flung a deep pass down the right sideline, but the ball fell into the Bearcat sidelines, igniting the PRHS players and the fans who took the drive down Highway 101 to watch their team play. 

Paso's other playmaker was Gaither's future teammate at SJSU: Josh Oliver. The versatile 6-foot-5, 225-pound tight end and linebacker started the game with a 28-yard interception for the touchdown, giving the Bearcats an early 7-0 lead.

From there, both teams combined for five more interceptions, with Arroyo Grande snatching four of Paso quarterback Justin Davis' throws. Bradley Mickey led AG with two picks, returning both of them for scores of 28 and 34 yards.

The Bearcats, though, turned to their size on the line, Gaither's inside running and Oliver's receiving. Oliver scored another touchdown on a 77-yard swing pass in the third quarter that tied it 21-21. Then came Gaither's final big play of the evening, which was his longest play from scrimmage against AG.


Jonathan Baldwin, the Bearcats' third NCAA Division I prospect at tight end and linebacker, told Cali Gold Mine that he's ended his recruiting process and committed to a football scholarship with Northern Arizona University last week.

The versatile 6-foot-3, 220-pound Baldwin said he'll line up at tight end for the Lumberjacks, who finished the regular season 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the Big Sky Conference.

Baldwin added that he plans to major in Kinesiology at NAU. He held one other Big Sky offer from Sacramento State.

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.