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.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The new Don of Santa Barbara

Brent Peus of Santa Barbara High didn't take long to learn a new coach and got the Dons to nearly return to the playoffs in 2014. Now, the Class of 2016 prospect could become the most highly recruited SBHS quarterback since Randall Cunningham (photo contributed).
There was no "dead period" for Brent Peus and the Santa Barbara High School varsity football team during the moment JT Stone was promoted to interim head coach in July 2014.

The Dons had to learn their new leader quick, all while waiting for him to officially roam the practice field on Aug. 4 due to the CIF period that prohibits coaches and teams from practicing with one another.

But the Dons' third-year varsity quarterback had immediate faith in Stone, plus he already had a relationship with the record-breaking quarterback from Dos Pueblos-Goleta that started when Peus was in the sixth grade.

"He knew what he was doing because he's been there. He's not some guy off the street," Peus said.

Peus was part of Stone's training venture Big Picture Athletics, which helps Central Coast players prepare for camps, tournaments and their upcoming season. Peus began working with Stone as a 12-year-old. Through Stone's training and expertise, Peus got his promotion to be the starting varsity quarterback of the Dons during his freshman year.

Now, despite a 4-6 finish that saw the Dons end their year with a frustrating 27-20 loss to rival San Marcos-Goleta, Peus said he thinks Santa Barbara High is in better hands with Stone at the helm.

"We're a program on the rise," Peus said. "Coach JT has turned around this program so much. He came in to us during our dead period and we had no time [to prepare] really. But he's a great coach and he connects well with kids."

Stone shattered school passing records at both Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara City College before moving on to West Texas A&M. The 37-year-old was named head coach of the Dons after the program parted ways with Doug Caines in July, who went 12-9 in two seasons at SBHS. Peus said Stone kept the same offensive scheme in tact.

"He told us we would keep our spread and zone running game," Peus said. "But he did add some option plays."

Before the season and the coaching change, Fox Sports online website highlighted Peus as "one to watch" through a June 2 story. The feature pinpointed Peus' size, arm and mobility as his strengths.

He was able to maximize those gifts in the Dons' offense this past season.

"I've improved a ton sitting in the pocket. I've also improved with making my reads and taking shots down the field. I also understand situational football now [third downs and two-minute offenses]," Peus said.

Peus helped lead the Dons to two key victories over Rio Mesa and Royal-Simi Valley; two CIF Southern Section playoffs teams this season. Peus' arm and scrambling ability kept things close in the Bronze Cup game against San Marcos, as the 6-foot-3, 180-pound junior tossed three touchdown passes.

He's not only become a quarterback to watch during the offseason, he could be the Dons' best signal caller since Randall Cunningham, who was a former SBHS and NFL star.

But Peus - who holds a 4.6 grade point average and has gotten interest from Ivy League teams, Washington State, San Diego State and Boise State - said he's aiming to build his game and market himself in front of college coaches this offseason.

"I would like to improve my mobility a lot more, especially in zone reads," Peus said. "I'll have some good film from this season. I've now got to grind harder this offseason and go to as many camps as I can."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Week 10 highlights: got milk? Lemoore does after completing perfection

The Lemoore Tigers lifted the Milk Can trophy high in the sky and quarterback Cort Groathouse was chugging a carton of milk on Friday, Nov. 7, as the Tigers celebrated their rivalry victory and West Yosemite League championship, defeating previously unbeaten Hanford 24-13 in the 71st annual Milk Can game held at Tiger Stadium.

With the victory over their oldest rival, the Tigers not only finish the regular season at 10-0 and 6-0 in the WYL, but clinched the No. 2 seed in the Central Section Division II playoffs. Lemoore gets a bye week and will await the winner of the Redwood-Visalia (No. 7 seed) and Tehachapi (No. 10) matchup on Friday, Nov. 14.

Defensive end Zack Frazier set the tone right away for Lemoore. The senior - who entered Tiger Stadium with a section best 14 sacks - grabbed Hanford's powerful junior running back Joseph McDaniel and tossed him back for a 9-yard loss during the first play of the rivalry contest.

From there, the Tigers kept their stronghold on defense. They only gave up one explosive play in the first half: a 59-yard run by McDaniel. That run helped set up a 6-yard touchdown scamper from quarterback Ryan Johnson, tying the game at 7-7 in the second quarter. But the Tigers ended the half with a 50-yard touchdown strike from Groathouse to Reggie Davis, extending the lead to 14-7.

Lemoore held the Bullpups to 105 total rushing yards, including 89 from McDaniel. Johnson finished his night with 101 yards on 9-of-20 passing.

The Tiger offense was led by Trey Perryman's 137 yards on 28 carries and one 8-yard touchdown run. Davis stretched the Bullpup defense with five catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns of 58 and 50 yards. The junior averaged 25.2 yards per catch.

Despite the loss, Hanford claimed the No. 1 overall seed in the section DIII postseason, as seedings were announced on Saturday, Nov. 8.


Paso Robles and Pacifica-Oxnard saw its undefeated run come to an end, as both teams dropped its season finale against Atascadero and Oxnard High, respectively.

Against the Greyhounds, the Bearcats surrendered three rushing touchdowns to Marc Martin and an interception by AHS sealed the 28-18 road loss. Atascadero created a three-way tie for the PAC-5 title with the victory by finishing 8-2 overall and 3-1 in league play. Paso (9-1, 3-1 in the PAC-5) and Arroyo Grande (8-2, 3-1 in the PAC-5) also get a piece of the league championship.

Pacifica had its troubles against the run, as Oxnard running back Ray Caldera sprinted to 307 yards and four touchdowns in the Yellow Jackets' 41-21 rout.

The victory gives Oxnard the Pacific View League championship with a perfect 4-0 mark. 


Kingsburg High offensive lineman Isaiah Trevino had a senior night to remember.

The 6-foot-6, 330-pound senior shoved around the Selma Bears in the Vikings' 40-21victory in both teams' annual rivalry game. But before the contest, Trevino ended his recruiting process and announced on his senior night that he's joining Fresno State.

Trevino held other offers from Washington State, Arizona, Hawaii and Colorado State before deciding that the Bulldogs were the right fit.

It's the second time since 2012 that a high profile prospect from Kingsburg made his college choice on senior night. Former Viking defensive lineman Ryan Steele committed to Fresno State before his final regular season home game.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Central Section teams are playing for more than a rivalry trophy, but a league title

Allen Perryman tries to sprint past a Kingsburg High defender during the 2013 CIF Central Section Division II playoffs, which was a 21-13 loss for Perryman and Lemoore High. Now, the Tigers have steamrolled to a 9-0 start and will take on fellow unbeaten Hanford for both the Milk Can and West Yosemite League title on Friday, Nov. 7 (photo contributed).
The final week of high school football usually means this: the trophies get glistened up on the field and teams put their wins and losses to one side, because it's now all about beating your rival.

Rivalry week begins for schools up and down the Golden State, with the best games under the Central Section lights on Friday, Nov. 7.

The reason? Cali Gold Mine discovered four rivalry games that will decide the league champion. These quartet of games could also have a future college football or NFL star on the field.

Here's some can't miss games if anyone is in the Central Valley:


Where: Tiger Stadium (Lemoore High School)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

The significance: It took 71 meetings, but both teams - for the first time ever in this rivalry - will enter their annual Milk Can game with a 9-0 record.

This clash of unbeatens won't just decide who hoists the Milk Can, but who will win the outright West Yosemite League championship. Both share identical 5-0 WYL records.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR HANFORD: The Bullpups still air it out, but now they have a physical running back who adds a hard-nosed identity to their team: Joseph McDaniel.

The 5-foot-9, 211-pound McDaniel looks like a young Frank Gore (current San Francisco 49ers running back). McDaniel - Class of 2016 - is similar in stature and has the same north-south running style that Gore has shown on Sundays. When McDaniel doesn't have the football, sophomore quarterback Ryan Johnson has shown efficiency and versatility for the newly balanced Hanford offense. Johnson has thrown for 1,279 yards, 15 touchdowns and has four interceptions. In the ground game, Johnson has 473 yards, an average of 11 yards per carry and nine touchdowns.

Defensively, junior Kaipo Barnes is undersized, but he's a run-stuffing machine. The 5-foot-10, 197-pound Barnes has 107 tackles, averaging 11.9 per game. Senior linemen Darrian Aguilar and Coleman Kaczynski lead the pass rush with a combined 13.5 sacks. Juwuane Hughes is another rising Class of 2016 prospect with a team-high six interceptions from his cornerback spot.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR LEMOORE: Senior quarterback Cort Groathouse gives the Tigers their dynamic dual-threat presence. Groathouse has combined for 29 touchdowns, 21 of them through the passing attack. His eight rushing touchdowns leads the Lemoore rushing game.

Groathouse's top targets are juniors Reggie Davis (5-foot-9, 165-pounds) and Allen Perryman (6-foot-1, 180-pounds). Davis leads the Tigers with 50 catches, 501 yards and has scored seven times. Perryman is the deep threat on offense, proven by his team-high's in receiving yards (853) and yards per catch (19.4). He's also leading the team with eight touchdown receptions and nine interceptions on defense. 

In the backfield, junior Trey Perryman may not have over 2,000 yards like the Tigers' 2013 running back star Richard Doctor, but Perryman's 681 yards has given him an average of 6.2 yards per carry.

Defensively, Allen Perryman covers his territory from his free safety spot. The Tigers' front line, though, is what makes everything go. Senior Zack Frazier has raised his recruiting stock because of his pass rushing ability. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound defensive end has 14 sacks in nine games. Fellow senior Tim Johnson (5-foot-8, 180-pounds) helps add to the Tiger rush with six sacks from his middle linebacker spot.

Vance Sams is one of 11 Edison Tigers getting courted by different NCAA Division I programs. Sams, a three-year varsity starter at inside linebacker, and the 8-1 Tigers will look to clinch the County Metro Athletic Conference championship against their oldest rival - Bullard-Fresno (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).


Where: Sunnyside High School

Time: 7:30 p.m.

The significance: Not only will there be a concoction of NCAA Division I talent on the field, but the winner can claim at least a share of the County Metro Athletic Conference title with a victory.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR BULLARD: No matter how experienced or young the Knights (6-3, 3-1 in the CMAC) are, 15-year head coach Don Arax continues to find ways to prepare and motivate his team. Arax has plenty of young talent the Knights can look forward to.

It begins with big tight end/defensive end Cvaughn Stewart. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Class of 2016 prospect already has a University of Utah offer and drew interest from Colorado State and USC before the season started. Stewart runs like a slot receiver and doesn't go down on first contact.

Fellow junior Charles Williams is continuing the Knights' tradition of productive running backs that's produced Corey Jackson, Travon Jones, Demetrius Warren and Dejonte O'Neal. Williams has eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark and recently wore down Sanger with 117 yards in the muddy 20-17 road victory on Halloween. Sophomore quarterback Jack Taylor has shown composure and some late-game heroics this season, including his late touchdown throw to get the emotional road win against the Apaches last week.

Defensively, the Knights coaching staff is high on sophomore linebacker Ben Baker, especially after his 20 tackle evening against Sanger.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR EDISON: How deep are the Tigers? Edison (8-1, 3-1 in the CMAC) has not one, not two, but 11 players who've drawn interest from numerous NCAA Division I programs: Hunter Swearingen (quarterback), Khai Williams (running back), DeAndre "Black Mamba" Lockhart (running back), Kamron Lewis (wide receiver), A.J. Greeley (athlete, Fresno State commit), Tyler Horton (athlete), Leevel Tatum (defensive line), Vance Sams (middle linebacker), Anthony Shepard (outside linebacker/defensive end), Xavier Hamilton (OLB/DE) and Ju'Wan Murphy (defensive back). 

Offensively, the Tigers' backfield duo of Williams and Lockhart are so quick, they're capable of sending opposing defenders to the oxygen tanks. Both have been offered by Eastern Washington. Greeley adds another dangerous running threat to the Tiger offense especially on option plays.

Greeley, Horton and Lewis have all frustrated cornerbacks at wide receiver. All three have dominated against man coverage and Swearingen isn't afraid to attack the field with them.

The defense has to be the rock for the Tigers. It starts with Tatum occupying the middle. Then, the trio of Hamilton, Sams and Shepard at linebacker wreaks havoc against rushing attacks and quarterbacks. The secondary, though, has star power with Greeley and Horton locking up wide receivers and Murphy emerging as the extra ball hawk.

Romello Harris has put together a 2,000 yard season for Tulare Union, but he and the Redskins are looking to take back the bell, as Tulare Union meets Tulare Western in the 50th annual Bell Game with a share of the East Yosemite League title hanging in the balance (photo contributed).


Where: Bob Mathias Stadium (Tulare Union High School)

Time: 6:30 p.m.

The significance: The Bell Game turns 50 years old and now - for the first time since the 2004 meeting - the winner can claim at least a share of the East Yosemite League championship.

Tulare Union (5-4, 3-1 in the EYL) has dominated the series with its 35-14 record. However, the Redskins lost last year's contest 14-6.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR TULARE WESTERN: Jordan Padilla (6-foot, 175-pounds) has emerged as a late bloomer on the recruiting trail for the Mustangs (7-2, 3-1 in the EYL). He's been a valuable deep threat with 38 catches, 598 yards, an average of 15.7 yards per catch and eight touchdowns.

Quarterback Kobe Portillo (5-foot-10, 160-pounds) has managed games effectively, with a 98.5 quarterback rating, 18 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Defensively, junior Andy Acosta has been a feisty bulldog for the Mustang defensive line. Only 5-foot-9 and 255-pounds, Acosta leads the team with 12 tackles for a loss. Senior linebacker Drew Muller has 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

The Mustang secondary is led by 5-foot-8, 150-pound senior Daniel Martinho. The aggressive Martinho has nine pass deflections, five forced fumbles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR TULARE UNION: He's not a senior yet but already, Romello Harris is the most wanted running back in the Central Section for the Class of 2016, armed with four scholarship offers including one from Duke University of the distinguished Atlantic Coast Conference.

Harris will enter his third varsity Bell Game with 2,048 rushing yards, ranking him third in the state in that category. His 27 touchdowns are the best in the section.

Anthony Mariscal is expected to touch the football a lot for Liberty-Bakersfield on Friday, Nov. 7, as the future Arizona Wildcat and the Patriots will gun for the Southwest Yosemite League championship against their No. 1 rival and biggest hurdle: defending state Division I champion Bakersfield High (photo contributed).


Where: Griffith Field

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

The significance: The two most established programs in Kern County will battle for not only city bragging rights, but for the Southwest Yosemite League title.

The winner of this game could also be in the driver seat for the No. 1 seed in the CIF Central Section Division I playoffs.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR LIBERTY: Junior quarterback Jordan Love has breathed new life into the Patriot offense. The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Love doubles as a running and throwing threat. He has 1,594 total yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns for the 7-2 Patriots, who are also unbeaten in SWYL play.

Senior Braylin Scott is a reliable weapon in the red zone for the Pats. With his 6-foot-4, 170-pound frame, he's hauled down a team-best seven touchdowns. 

But the biggest chess piece for Liberty is University of Arizona commit Anthony Mariscal. The senior is a big moving part on offense and defense. He has 1,344 all-purpose yards and has scored 14 rushing touchdowns. The 6-foot, 192-pound Mariscal is expected to play safety in Arizona's exotic 3-3-5 defense next year.

On the front line, versatile lineman Peyton Solf (6-foot-2, 230-pounds) has 41 tackles, six stops for a loss and six sacks.Solf moves up and down the Pats' line.

PROSPECT WATCH FOR BAKERSFIELD:  Seniors Marcus Bruce and Lameshio Hill are big 200-pound backs who can take over games at the right moment for BHS (8-1, 4-0 in the SWYL). Both have combined for 1,095 yards and 19 touchdowns for the Drillers' high-powered triple option attack.

Powerful 6-foot-1, 285-pound nose tackle Nigel Brooks ignites the Driller defense. He has 40 tackles with seven stops behind the line of scrimmage. He's the top college prospect for BHS with four scholarship offers (Arizona, Colorado, San Jose State and Colorado State). Linebacker Eddie Sanchez (5-foot-8, 180-pounds) has nine sacks for the Driller pass rush.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

McDaniel brings punishing style to surprising Hanford

Joseph McDaniel has blown through defenses this year for undefeated Hanford. Now, the rising junior and the surprising Bullpups will face their most anticipated challenge yet: 9-0 Lemoore with both the Milk Can and the West Yosemite League title on the line (photo credit:
Whenever Hanford High's Joseph McDaniel carries the football, comparisons to past running back greats Avery Horn and Shawn Wills get blurted out among the Bullpup fans who've watched their varsity team's sudden rise in 2014.

Just like the aforementioned Hanford High legends, the 5-foot-9, 211-pound McDaniel  has imposed his will against defenses for the surprising 9-0 Bullpups. McDaniel has worn down opponents with 1,278 rushing yards, an average of 7.4 yards per carry and 18 touchdowns in nine games this season.

The Class of 2016 prospect said he's acknowledged that he's now carrying the torch for the Hanford running back fraternity, which sent Horn to the University of Michigan in 2007 and Wills to UCLA in 1988.

"It means a lot and I know that I have to put it all on the table now, because I'm being compared to some of the top running backs at Hanford High," McDaniel said.

He also has to accomplish the most important task every season in Hanford: beat Lemoore.

McDaniel and the unbeaten Bullpups get that opportunity on Friday, Nov. 7, as they'll take the 11 minute trek down Highway 198 to face the Tigers, who share identical records with the Bullpups this season.

It's the first time in the history of the Hanford-Lemoore rivalry that both teams will enter their annual Milk Can game undefeated. The Tigers have relied on two keys: a dual-threat quarterback in Cort Groathouse and, what McDaniel calls, an athletic defensive line spearheaded by defensive end Zack Frazier, who's entering Tiger Stadium with 13 sacks this season.

"Their defensive line is probably one of the fastest lines we'll see this year. They're the best team on our schedule," McDaniel said.

The junior, though, has said that the Bullpups have kept things calm during this week's practices; while the school, town and several Central Valley high school football fans have hyped up the game.

"Everyone is focused," McDaniel said. "We know how big this is for our town and for us."

McDaniel has been a big mismatch for opponents under the Friday night lights. With his size and lower body leverage, he's moved the chains and has gotten defenders to bounce off of his Bullpup uniform. 

Wills said he likes watching the physical aspect of McDaniel's game.

"First thing is, he's strong," Wills said. "You're not going to take him down with just arm tackles. You have to physically get him down and gang tackle him. He's not only quick, but he tries to punish people. Those are the running backs who make linebackers think twice about coming after them."

Unlike McDaniel, Wills - who was 180-pounds at HHS - remembered himself as an elusive, slasher type of running back. He calls McDaniel "more of a punisher."

Wills said that he's honored to be compared to the rising running back star at his high school alma mater.

"Hanford has been known for having quality athletes, including running backs. Joseph McDaniel is definitely one of them," Wills said.

Before McDaniel lined up in the backfield, Hanford was known for spreading the ball out and slinging the rock to four or five wide receivers through the spread offense. McDaniel changed the complexion of the system the moment he stepped onto the practice field.

"Our offense changed just a little bit because we have a sophomore quarterback. So we don't need to put so much pressure on him," McDaniel said. "We put the ball on the ground way more now than in the past."

He's not only included a new dimension to Hanford, he's been one of the primary reasons behind the Bullpups' turnaround. Before this season, HHS was a combined 5-16, which included a 1-9 campaign in 2012.

McDaniel said an August scrimmage against a Tri River Athletic Conference (TRAC) powerhouse gave him the indication that things would turn around quick for his team.

"We noticed that we had a really good team when we scrimmaged Central," McDaniel said. "I knew we would be great, but I had probably predicted one or two losses for us at the beginning of our schedule." 

Now, with the chance to go 10-0, Hanford and McDaniel have captured the attention of the Central Valley. McDaniel - who runs a 40-yard dash time of 4.8 - is also hoping he can grab someone's interest in the college football recruiting realm.

He said he hasn't received any scholarship offers or letters yet. He did take an unofficial visit to the University of Arizona two weeks ago. McDaniel said he has a trio of dream universities.

"There's three schools I like: Oregon State, Arizona and San Diego State. I like them because they use the fullback well," McDaniel said.

In the mean time, his focus is getting the Bullpups to complete their undefeated season, plus bring home the Milk Can trophy and carve his own legacy into Bullpups' lore.

McDaniel's 2014 film can be viewed here.

GAME INFORMATION: The 71st edition of the Milk Can game kicks off at 7 p.m., but gates at Tiger Stadium are expected to open two hours prior to the contest. The winner not only wins the Milk Can, but will be crowned the 2014 West Yosemite League champion.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rising star watch: Julian Jones

Julian Jones of Wilcox-Santa Clara stars in three sports for the Chargers: football, basketball and baseball. The Class of 2016 prospect, though, looks like a potential game changing linebacker and tight end (photo contributed).
The new home city of the San Francisco 49ers is also the place where Julian Jones of Wilcox-Santa Clara does his damage in three ways: on the football field, the basketball court and as a pitching ace and extra baseman on the baseball diamond.

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Jones is an athletic freak and one of the most active athletes in the Bay Area. But judging by what I saw in the Cali Gold Mine film room, I believe he's too good of a prospect to pass up on the gridiron, especially as an outside linebacker and tight end.

Here's a closer look at the rising Class of 2016 prospect:

WHAT TO LIKE: Jones has reliable hands - both on offense and defense. His ball hawking skills, though, is what I admire the most on the football field. From his linebacker spot, Jones not only shows a strong pursuit to the football, but he can leap to the air and snatch the ball out of the sky. He's a punishing hitter who attacks a ball carrier like a shark locating his prey. His pass rush skills are a major strength too, with his ability to keep his motor active and get around offensive tackles. He has enough speed to loop around outside blockers. Offensively, his size and strength makes him hard to tackle. He does a solid job with extending out his hands and hauling in the reception.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: He can still work on his speed on both sides of the football. I also need to see his ability to use hand technique to defeat his blockers on defense. He tends to come up too high with his tackles and sometimes resorts to wrestling someone to the ground.

OVERALL: Jones' versatility and his knack for staying active through sports should capture a college's attention. He'll likely have a tough decision to make with choosing one sport over the other two. But his skill set on the outside reminds me of DeAndre Levy of the Detroit Lions.

More on Jones can be found here.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rising star watch: Marshaun Cameron

Marshaun Cameron of Los Angeles Cathedral has emerged as a versatile late bloomer for the 8-1 Phantoms (photo contributed).
Los Angeles Cathedral has a Phantom who knows how to haunt defensive backs and wide receivers.

Marshaun Cameron is L.A Cathedral's late riser on the recruiting trail, and perhaps one of L.A. county's best kept secrets.

Here's a further breakdown of the Class of 2015 prospect:

WHAT TO LIKE: It's one thing to have versatility, but how about having a player who aggressively attacks coverages on offense, then shows the same attack mode as a press cornerback? Cameron does both. Offensively, he runs crisp routes and does an excellent job of fooling defenders with where he's going. With a 4.5 40-yard dash time, Cameron is already a match up problem in man coverage because of his speed. He's dangerous with his cuts to the outside and has an array of moves with the football in his hand. Returns kickoffs and has a running back's vision with locating a hole, then dashing through the opening. Defensively, he has an offensive lineman's mean streak in press man situations. He won't just pop someone in the chest once, he'll try to drive a wide receiver to the ground or shove him toward the water jugs. He's got solid closing speed and has eight pass breakups in nine games for 8-1 Cathedral. Cameron is valuable on special teams too, with two blocked field goals.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: His size (5-foot-8, 180-pounds) will unfortunately turn most college coaches away, especially with taller cornerbacks helping revolutionize the position. Though he can blanket a receiver, I haven't seen much of his ability to be a ball hawk. On offense, I need to see his ability to consistently attack the field on middle routes. He seems to do his most damage on corner routes in the end zone. Also need to see more of his blocking ability.

OVERALL: Cameron - who holds a 3.2 grade point average - has overcome a quiet junior season to put together a strong senior campaign. Last year, he played in only five games. But this season, he's had an active role in the Phantoms' pursuit of a possible share of the Angelus League title. He's a feisty, spirited player and someone should love his coverage ability or route running.

More on Cameron can be viewed here.

Also, check out his Under The Radar Sports Media film: 

Week nine gold mines

Defense was the theme in the Central Section this week. In the 805, an emerging Class of 2016 quarterback broke out and continues to lead a red hot team into the final week of the regular season, while a late bloomer on the recruiting trail continues to provide big plays for undefeated and surprising Pacifica of Oxnard.

Here's this week's gold mines:


Playing on a wet and rainy hostile environment at Sanger's Tom Flores Stadium, Baker finished his Halloween night with 20 tackles and one fumble recovery, as the Knights (6-3, 3-1 in the County Metro Athletic Conference) pulled out the 20-17 road victory to reappear in the CMAC title race.


The 5-foot-11, 190-pound linebacker got 26 tackles and one sack during the Patriots' 55-0 smashing of Centennial-Bakersfield. Next up, state champion and top rival Bakersfield High for the Southwest Yosemite League championship.


The rising 6-foot-3, 230-pound Class of 2016 prospect tallied 12 tackles, nine solo stops and got one sack in the Panthers' narrow 14-12 victory over Madera South. Schmiederer is the Central Section's current leader in sacks with 15. 


Ruiz - Class of 2016 - finished with seven tackles, one sack and one interception in the Panthers' victory over Madera South.


Only 5-foot-9 and 150-pounds according to Max Preps, Stockton provided four tackles and two forced fumbles in the Cavaliers' 42-0 rout of Selma, in a game that was called at halftime due to lightning.


Acosta controlled the trenches in the Mustangs' 20-0 shutout against Monache-Porterville, by getting nine tackles and three stops for a loss. Acosta and Tulare Western can now claim at least a share of the East Yosemite League championship if they defeat rival Tulare Union on Friday, Nov. 7, in the annual Bell Game.


Jaeckels engineered a fast start for the Knights, as his running and throwing ability got St. Joseph to build a 28-point lead en route to a 55-27 trouncing of Cabrillo-Lompoc. The Class of 2016 dual-threat prospect combined for five touchdowns - four through the air. He totaled 341 yards, including 146 through the ground game, as the Knights won their third game in the last four weeks to improve to 5-4 overall and 2-1 in the Los Padres League.


On a wild rainy night in Santa Maria and without star sophomore running back Christian Erickson (left the game with a leg injury during the second half), the reserve back Armstrong carved up Righetti with 142 yards on 16 carries and scored once, as Paso stayed undefeated at 9-0 following its 40-12 romp of the Warriors.


The tall 6-foot-2 option caught six passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns during the Bulldogs' heavyweight battle against Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills, with Folsom winning easily 42-7. Folsom improved to 9-0 and 5-0 in the Sierra Foothill League.


Vines continued his sensational senior year with the surprising Tritons by hauling in nine catches for 190 yards and four touchdowns, as Pacifica stayed unbeaten with a high-scoring 49-46 victory over Rio Mesa. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound senior has 50 catches, 1,170 yards, an average of 23.4 yards per catch and 16 touchdowns for the 9-0 Tritons.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Week nine highlights: Paso Robles rains down on Righetti

Paso Robles - under a dark and rainy night time sky at Righetti High School's football stadium on Friday, Oct. 31 - slipped through mistackles and ran wild on the wet sprint turf, trouncing the Warriors 40-12 to stay undefeated at 9-0.

The downpour fell during the first quarter and had an impact on ball security. Both teams fumbled a combined four times in the first half, which included RHS losing control of the football inside the Bearcat 20-yard line and was recovered by the PRHS defense. 

The Paso Robles sidelines, however, appeared to rejoice over the rain falling down in Santa Maria; because it showed that its a football team built for wet conditions.

The Bearcats turned to their huge offensive line and backfield to wear down RHS with power and blast running plays between the offensive tackles. Christian Erickson and Mark Armstrong started to rumble past the Warriors and combined for two scores. Erickson had a 14-yard touchdown catch through a screen pass before leaving the game with an ankle injury. Armstrong scored his touchdown on a 5-yard run up the middle.

Bailey Gaither also showed that he's slippery when wet. The wide receiver and future San Jose State Spartan football player caught a third quarter swing pass on the right side, sprinted toward the left, slipped past four RHS defenders who lunged their arms at him, then turned up the field for a 20-yard touchdown reception as the rain fell on the surface. 

The Bearcats will now go for the 10-0 regular season finish on Friday, Nov. 7, against traditional rival Atascadero.


Just when the CMAC title was about to end up in Sanger, Bullard High stirred up one of the biggest tailspins in the Central Valley on Halloween night at Tom Flores Stadium.

With 27 seconds left, Knights quarterback Jack Taylor found Tanner Van Es for a 16-yard touchdown reception, lifting Bullard to its 20-17 victory over the Apaches plus knocking Sanger from the undefeated ranks in league play.

The game-winning touchdown was set up by 6-foot-4, 210-pound tight end Cvaughn Stewart. The Class of 2016 prospect - who holds one offer from Utah of the PAC-12 - caught a crucial third-and-9 pass down the middle of the field, but broke loose from the hands of one Sanger defender then galloped his way to the SHS 19-yard line. His catch was good for 47 yards. Taylor connected with Van Es two plays later.

Bullard, Sanger and Edison (defeated Madera 52-13) now share identical CMAC records at 3-1. 

The Knights (6-3) also had big plays from Charles Williams, who had 117 yards on 29 carries against an Apache run defense that's been one of the best in the Central Section this season. The junior running back scored on runs of 38 and 1-yard.

Bullard now goes for the possible share of the CMAC title by going toe-to-toe against its chief rival: the Edison Tigers.


On an evening in the Sacramento region that saw two intriguing quarterbacks in Folsom's Jake Browning and Oak Ridge's Ian Book sharing the field, it was the University of Washington commit and Folsom getting the upper hand, beating Oak Ridge 42-7.

Browning threw for 230 yards and tossed three touchdown passes. All of his scoring strikes went to Josiah Degura, who finished with 147 receiving yards.

The Bulldogs stayed unbeaten at 9-0 and 5-0 in the Sierra Foothill League.


In four plays, St. Joseph-Santa Maria ignited a rout against a Cabrillo High team who's still under construction with former NFL lineman Don Willis as head coach.

Quarterback Blake Jaeckels ran through the Conquistador defense on three option keeper plays that were good for 49 yards. Then, the junior 6-foot-2 running and throwing threat connected with Chris Barganier on a 26-yard touchdown catch, sparking a 55-27 rout on Thursday, Oct. 30, at Lompoc's Huyck Stadium.

The Knights (5-4, 2-1 in the Los Padres League) shot up to a 28-0 lead before Cabrillo dissected its deficit to 28-14 before halftime. However, Justin Schnorf streaked to an 89-yard touchdown reception down the middle of the field, extending the SJ lead to 34-14 at halftime.

Jaeckels combined for five touchdowns, including four through the air. The Class of 2016 prospect had 195 yards passing and 146 rushing.

Before the game against CHS, the Knights had been dealing with a tough regular season slate that saw one-sided routs against Central Coast heavyweights Arroyo Grande (41-7 loss on Sept. 12) and Paso Robles (31-0 defeat on Oct. 19), then a recent home heart breaker against another monster in the 805: undefeated Lompoc (24-23 loss).

Now, St. Joseph has won three of its last four games and can solidify a playoff berth by beating Santa Ynez on Friday, Nov. 7, at home.