Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Kurtis Brown holds up the ceremonial CIF Central Section Division I title plaque. The Liberty (Bakersfield) Class of 2017 prospect is already drawing collegiate interest with two PAC-12 offers (photo contributed). 
Liberty High School’s chances of continuing its NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision pipeline is in good hands – in the form of big 6-foot-3, 280-pound Kurtis Brown.

The Class of 2017 prospect from Bakersfield is already the latest Patriot to land some FBS pledges, as the defensive lineman currently holds offers from Colorado and Washington State of the PAC-12. Brown adds that UCLA, Norte Dame, Missouri, Colorado State, Auburn, Washington, Purdue and Utah have sent him letters of interest.

Since 2011, Liberty – the reigning California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Central Section Division I champions from this past season – have produced Krys Barnes (UCLA), Jordan Love (Utah State), Anthony Mariscal (Arizona), Ruben Guerra (Texas-El Paso), Cole Mazza (Alabama) and Cody Temple (USC) as its FBS products. Brown said he likes being the latest Patriot to draw collegiate intrigue.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Brown said. “From all the pain and hard work I’ve put in and to get amazing offers, I’m just happy to keep the DI chain at the great Liberty High School going.”


Lemoore High's Jerald Campbell holds 10 scholarship offers, but none of them are from the FBS ranks.

The Class of 2016 prospect’s biggest offer is from Weber State of the Football Championship Subdivision. His other pledges come from the likes of NAIA programs Avila University, Jamestown and Missouri Baptist. Yet, the lack of FBS attention doesn’t bother the Tigers’ versatile weapon, who doubled as play-making wide receiver and cover cornerback for the Central Section D-II runner-up.

“It's a privilege to be able to say I have a lot of offers because a lot of athletes can’t say that. The division doesn't really matter to me, as long as I'm getting a great education and playing the game I love (Football),” Campbell said.

Campbell finished with 31 tackles, six pass breakups and three interceptions for the 11-3 Tigers, who lost 45-19 to Ridgeview (Bakersfield) for the section D-II title.

Campbell said most college coaches are recruiting him as a cornerback and safety. He plans to take unofficial visits to Azusa Pacific and Humboldt State in January 2016. 


Looks like Chuck Wick is starting to give college coaches something to look forward to in 2018.

Wick, who starred at running back during his sophomore season with the Seraphs’ varsity unit, said his head coach Adam Guerra is already informing college coaches about him.

“Coach Guerra said Oregon put me on their underclassmen top recruiting watch list board after looking at Casey Roddick's film,” Wick said. “Utah offensive coordinator coach (Jim) Harding has me on their board and Texas A&M coach (Dave) Christensen has shown a lot of interest. Nevada, Colorado State, Wyoming and UNLV have also shown interest.”

Wick is listed as a 6-foot, 181-pound speedster for St. Bonaventure. He runs a 40-yard dash time of 4.46 according to his Hudl account

Friday, December 18, 2015


Charles Williams tries to break a tackle during a non-league contest against Clovis West. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior running back and 2,000 yard rusher announced on Friday, Dec. 18 that he's committing to UNLV (photo credit: Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee). 
UNLV scored a significant recruiting win on Friday, Dec. 18 by receiving a verbal commitment from a highly decorated running back in the Central Valley of California: 3-star Charles Williams of Bullard High School in Fresno.

Williams - who received offers from Wyoming, UTEP, Idaho and Washington State – chose the Rebels because he likes the direction the program is going in under head coach Tony Sanchez.

“I'm going somewhere where I can do damage and make a name for myself and I'm going to make everything I couldn't do in high school happen now,” Williams said.  “They (the UNLV coaches) did everything in their power to make me have a comfortable four year journey at their school and they want me on both sides the ball, which I really wanted to do in high school.”

Williams is known in the 559 for walloping defenses at running back. He accelerated to 2,039 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns in the Knights’ high-octane Wing-T offense. He helped lead Bullard into the Central Section Division-I semifinals, where the Knights lost 41-7 to eventual section champion Liberty of Bakersfield.

Williams said he received good, positive vibes from being around the Rebel coaching staff.

“All of the coaches are great and showed me love, plus want me to come up there with the mindset that I will play and do big things,” Williams said. “And coach Sanchez has had success everywhere. He’s just rebuilding and I'm going to help him with that.”

Williams becomes the latest Knight running back to join the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision ranks. Since 2012, the Knights have sent Demetrius Warren (Sacramento State) and Dejonte O’Neal (Fresno State) to the FBS level.

He’s now the eighth commitment for the Rebels’ 2016 class and second Central Valley player to choose UNLV this week. College of the Sequoias (Visalia) safety Robert Jackson made his verbal pledge to the Rebels on Dec. 14. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015


St. Bonaventure (Ventura) offensive lineman Casey Roddick has emerged as one to watch in the 2017 class, as the 6-foot-4, 330-pound tackle landed his first scholarship offer from the University of Oregon on Thursday, Dec. 17 (photo credit: Anthony Plascencia/Ventura County Star). 
Casey Roddick of St. Bonaventure (Ventura) emerged as the latest Seraph player to land an offer from a distinguished university, as the 6-foot-4, 330-pound Class of 2017 prospect received his first football scholarship offer from the University of Oregon on Thursday, Dec. 17.

Roddick had been hearing from some big time universities like Miami, Norte Dame, USC, UCLA and Florida State. But the Ducks jumped into the Roddick sweepstakes early.

“It truly feels amazing and kind of a load off my shoulders to land my first NCAA Division I offer, especially from such a prestigious school like Oregon,” Roddick said.

Seraph players landing a PAC-12 offer is nothing new on the Telegraph Rd. campus. Past players Ricky Town, Bryce Dixon, Zach Green, Troy Hill and Whitney Lewis have all been targeted by PAC-12 universities on the recruiting trail.

Roddick - who helped clear running lanes for Chuck Wick, Darius Vines and the Seraph rushing attack this past year - said he spoke with Ducks offensive line coach Steve Greatwood and described his conversation as a “nice talk with him.”

Roddick also raved about the Ducks’ innovative read option offense that has taken the college football world by storm in the last few years.

“Oregon’s offensive is electric and efficient. It's one of the fastest and greatest offenses known around and many schools can try and model it, but Oregon is truly one of a kind,” Roddick said.

Roddick added that he doesn’t plan to commit early. He gave thanks to his head coach, who has been proactive with getting Roddick’s name in front of college coaches.

“This all wouldn't have happened without the help from coach (Adam) Guerra,” Roddick said. “He has helped me step by step to achieve and succeed all of these accomplishments.”


The first phone call Dinuba’s Isaac Leppke received after his Dec. 15 basketball game against Orosi came from the University of Wyoming.

It was to inform him that he’s been offered a walk-on spot to play quarterback for the Cowboys.

Leppke, who starred at quarterback and later wide receiver in two years with the Emperors varsity team, announced his pledge from the Mountain West program on Dec. 17 via social media.

While Leppke has received offers from the University of San Diego and St. Francis (Illinois) for football, the Cowboys are considered his biggest offer yet, since it’s his first pledge from a Football Bowl Subdivision school. Leppke spoke about his reaction following his phone call.

“I was very excited because this is an FBS Division I school, which has been my dream growing up,” Leppke said. “Quarterback is the route I want to go and when Coach (Brent) Vigen told me he wanted me as a QB, it gave me the chills. He knows I have a lot of potential to come once I put on some muscle.”

Wyoming has followed Leppke for some time. The Cowboys were among many college football teams that sent coaches to Dinuba to watch Leppke throw during the NCAA Spring Evaluation Period.

Wyoming currently has one former Central Valley star on the quarterback depth chart: Josh Allen, who starred at Firebaugh High and Reedley College.

Leppke is confident that his skills can allow him to mesh with the Mountain West talent if he accepts Wyoming’s opportunity.

“With my athleticism, I know I'll do big things at the college level,” Leppke said. “I am very relieved to see my recruitment picking up. God is blessing me with many opportunities and it feels great.”


As the victories continue to pile up for Camarillo High football, so has the scholarship offers for some of the Scorpion players, as running back Isaiah Otis (Black Hills State) and Collin Kirksey (Black Hills State and Henderson State) have become recent recipients of scholarship pledges.

On Dec. 17, the Scorps’ leading tackler Brett Herron joined Camarillo’s offer list, as the senior landed pledges from Avila University and Northwestern College of the NAIA realm.

“I always looked forward to a day when one (offer) came. And it's awesome it came at a time like this,” Herron said. “The recruiting process has really picked up for all of the Scorps because of the success we have been getting. I love the fact that more and more guys on my team are getting offers because most of our starters on our team all deserve offers. There is not one starter that isn't ready to play at the next level.”

In 15 games, the 6-foot-0, 210-pound Herron has 145 tackles and is averaging an astonishing 21 stops per game for the undefeated Scorpions, who will battle for the state championship against Del Oro-Loomis on Dec. 18 at Sacramento State University’s Hornet Stadium.

While he now holds two offers, Herron said he won’t rush on his decision.

“I am not going to commit just yet. I’m going to wait and see what happens with the recruiting process,” Herron said.


After accumulating 1,631 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns in his senior year, Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) running back Gil’Scott Jackson II looked like a prospect who increased his chances of landing some late offers.

Sure enough, Idaho State emerged as pledge No. 1, as the Bengals came through for Jackson II during the weekend of Dec. 11.

“It feels great to know that a lot of stress has been relived, and I am so thankful to Idaho State for giving me an opportunity,” Jackson II said. “The conversation (with the coaches) were very friendly and they seem to really want me to consider their school heavily, which I am.”

Jackson said he wants to visit the campus and get a feel for the environment at the Football Championship Subdivision school before he decides to make a decision. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Marqel McCoy ended his recruiting process by verbally committing to UC Davis on Monday, Dec. 14 (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 
In a span of 10 days, UC Davis left a lasting impact on Concord High School wide receiver/safety Marqel McCoy, which convinced him to become an Aggie.

McCoy announced his verbal commitment to UC Davis on Monday, December 14. Just 10 days earlier, the Aggies became the first four-year university to offer McCoy a football scholarship.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound McCoy said the academics at Davis was a key factor in his decision.

“What intrigued me about Davis was the opportunity to get a prestigious degree from one of the best universities while also pursuing my dream of playing college football,” McCoy said.

He added that the Aggie football coaches left a positive impression on him.

“The relationships I have developed with the coaches and the feelings I get when I step on the campus led me to commit,” McCoy said.

McCoy played at Berean Christian High before transferring to Concord for his senior year. As a receiver, McCoy caught 16 passes for 202 yards and scored three touchdowns while averaging 12.6 yards per catch. Defensively, he intercepted one pass for the 9-5 Minutemen.

McCoy said he’s being recruited as a safety and adds “this is a solid commitment. This is where I will be for the next four years of my college football career.”

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Camarillo wide receiver Frankie Tostado leaps for the one-handed catch during the Scorpions' 63-49 shootout win over La Habra on Dec. 12. Camarillo will face Del Oro-Loomis for the state title on Friday, Dec. 18 (photo credit Joseph A. Garcia/Ventura County Star). 
One after another, Jake Constantine and Eric Barriere exchanged fireworks on a Dec. 12 evening that saw the scoreboard light up once again at Camarillo’s Carl Thompson Field.

When Constantine lobbed a touchdown pass, Barriere countered with another. Once Constantine evaded rushers and flung a ridiculous touchdown throw, Barriere showed off his elusiveness and fired a responding touchdown pass. The two quarterbacks combined for an astronomical 816 passing yards and 11 touchdowns through the air.

But in the end, Constantine’s Scorpions made the most plays and advanced on to the state title game, knocking off La Habra 63-49.

Constantine, who is yet to land his first NCAA scholarship offer, finished with 354 yards and seven scoring lobs including three in the first half.

Barriere, who is the recipient of three football scholarship pledges including one from Eastern Washington, ended his night with 462 yards and four touchdowns.

More important for Camarillo (15-0), the Scorpions will advance on to the Division II-AA state championship game next week at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium.  

Awaiting them will be a red hot Del Oro-Loomis team that stunned Liberty-Bakersfield 28-24 on Dec. 12.

"The miracle season keeps going," Constantine told the Ventura County Star. "There's been a lot of practice time, a lot of energy, and we wanted to do whatever it takes.

"I know, for me, it's a special feeling. This was the last game I'm ever going to play in this stadium and I wanted to get everything I had to get out of here with a victory."


Chowchilla High – once known for producing former NFL safety Cameron Worrell – is now one victory away from bringing home a state title to the city of over 17,000.

Facing a feisty and talkative Fairfax-Los Angeles team, the Redskins used their vaunted Shotgun Double Wing-T to power past the Lions 28-16 on Dec. 12 at home.

Chowchilla wore down Fairfax with 360 rushing yards, 134 of them coming from lead rusher Alex Guttierrez.

Chowchilla is now one of three Central Section teams still alive in its pursuit of the state title, with Immanuel-Reedley and Hanford High being the others. The Redskins will return home to take on Sierra-Manteca, which beat Sutter 17-13 in the Northern California Division-IV A regional.


Last year, De La Salle-Concord turned a 21-14 first half deficit into a 63-42 trouncing of Centennial-Corona.

The Huskies, the state’s No. 1 team in the state all year long, now get their shot at redemption against the Spartans, as they’ll tangle with the team that ended their season at 8 p.m. at Sacramento State on Saturday, Dec. 19.

So many future college football players will be sprouted on the Hornet Stadium turf. De La Salle features big tight end Devin Asiasi and electrifying running back Antoine Custer. Centennial will counter with its workhorse back and Arizona commit J.J. Taylor, top wide receiving target Javon McKinley, plus a stacked secondary that features PAC-12 commits Cam Bynum (Cal) and Chacho Ulloa (Stanford). 

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Khalil Hodge will play in the MAC after verbally committing to the University of Buffalo on Wednesday, Dec. 9 (photo contributed) 
Khalil Hodge will now prepare for the cold East Coast winters and Mid-American Conference (MAC) competition, as the City College of San Francisco linebacker announced his verbal commitment to the University of Buffalo on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Hodge took a trip to his future campus and said he immediately became drawn to Buffalo.

“Buffalo just felt like the right fit,” Hodge said. “Everything that I want to accomplish academically and athletically is available to me at Buffalo. Also, being able to leave in January was another intriguing opportunity that I just had to jump on.”

Hodge is set to enroll for Buffalo’s spring semester in January, which will allow him to participate in the Bulls’ spring practices as he fights for a starting position on defense.

In 12 games, Hodge tallied 67 tackles and intercepted two passes, returning one of them for a 31-yard touchdown during the Rams’ 44-7 rout of Diablo Valley College on Oct. 31.

Hodge - who was the state’s leading tackler during his senior year at Stockton - St. Mary’s in the 2014-15 season - held one other scholarship offer from the University of Idaho.

The Bulls finished 5-7 overall this past season and went 3-5 in the MAC. Hodge has one last game left with the 11-1 Rams: the Saturday, Dec. 12 CCCAA state title game against Saddleback College. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Isaac Leppke's third scholarship offer is from outside the track and field realm. He received his latest academic pledge from the University of San Diego on Wednesday, Dec. 2 (photo by Lorenzo Reyna) 
Despite holding state accolades in the hurdles and receiving two track and field scholarship offers, Dinuba’s Isaac Leppke wants to remind people what his passion is: football.

And his chances of playing college football increased on Wednesday, Dec. 2, as the 6-foot-4 Leppke received his first scholarship offer from the University of San Diego.

Leppke had drawn interest from Football Championship Subdivision, Mountain West, Ivy League and Big 12 schools since the conclusion of his junior year.

“USD offered me an academic (scholarship), so it’s whatever money I get based on my grades and other stuff. They are an academic school and don't offer athletic scholarships there. But they’re interested in me as an athlete from what it sounded like,” Leppke said.

During his senior year, the Emperors experimented Leppke in other positions, including wide receiver. He finished with eight catches for 152 yards and scored once in three games out wide, averaging 19 yards per catch for the 5-5 Emperors.

At quarterback, Leppke threw for 1,209 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions during his senior year.

While track powerhouses Fresno Pacific and the University of Iowa have extended a pledge to him, Leppke said he’s “very grateful” a football opportunity came.

 “I don't know if I can live without it. Football is the route I want to go,” Leppke said. “It has been tough with Iowa, but San Diego is a very good academics school and the degree is just as meaningful. To me, there is nothing better than football.”

Leppke added that he won’t commit right away to USD’s pledge and “I may wait a little bit to see what else happens.”

In the end, Leppke is counting his blessings as he’s become Dinuba’s third straight quarterback to land a pledge (David Rico and Marcus McMaryion).

“I thank God for blessing me and keeping me patient through it all. I knew with God that my path would eventually unfold,” Leppke said. “I also thank my parents because my dad spends endless hours helping get my name out. My mom also spends her hard earned money on getting me to college visits and she sacrifices a lot for me.”

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Buena Park head coach Anthony White has energized the Coyotes since taking over in 2010. White, a former University of Utah defensive back, has Buena Park preparing for a Southern Section playoff game against San Clemente on Friday, Nov. 27 (photo credit: Rose Palmisano/The OC Register). 
Since May 2015, Buena Park head coach Anthony White and his Coyotes have found their tenacity and inspiration through the watchful eyes of the visitors who flock to the Orange County school: college football recruiters.

White, once mentored by Urban Meyer and Kyle Whittingham while playing defensive back at the University of Utah from 1999-2002, said nearly 64 coaches from different universities have reached out to him regarding his players.

“They all want the same thing - fast, physical and aggressive football players who are great men on and off the field,” White said.

That influences White to turn his own players into the three aforementioned action words to help deliver a winning product – and keep title hopes alive.

The Coyotes (10-2) have used a relentless defense and explosive versatility out of multiple players to chase down a California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section Southwest Division title, as the Coyotes will now take on San Clemente on Friday, Nov. 27 in a semi-final game.

And, along with the wins, Buena Park players have become recipients of some collegiate scholarships.

There’s lead pass rusher Andrew Wright, who landed a Fresno State pledge recently. Then there’s defensive back and wide receiver Elijah Gates, who has an offer from the University of Cincinnati. Hybrid defensive end/linebacker Cedric Dashiel II has drawn Big 12 and Mountain West interest.

Buena Park’s success, though, isn’t based on talent. As White points out, it’s through a certain area that he wants his players to focus on.

“You can watch all the film, draw up 100 difference blitzes and coverages and if you don't focus on playing your best it won’t matter,” White said. “Something that we do special at Buena Park is focus on us: how can we get better and what do we need to do? We come into each week with a sense of what we need to do rather than what other teams want to try to do to us. We focus on setting the tone and playing with extreme attitude and effort.”

Buena Park comes equipped with an exotic defense that confuses offenses and limits points. The Coyotes will line up in three, four or sometimes six man fronts – then attack throughout the night.

“Our Student-Athletes understand their responsibilities and we have a few motto's: "DO YOUR JOB" and "DO YOUR 1/11th,” White said. “We don’t expect one player to take over the entire game, we expect them to do their 1/11th to the best they possibly can and we believe we have more Student-Athletes who will do their 1/11th than the other team.”

Gates has two primary roles on the Coyotes: burn defensive backs at wide receiver and shut down receivers on offense. Against Corona Del Mar on Nov. 20, Gates locked up the Sea Kings’ top receiver Peter Bush to one catch and seven yards in the 35-17 romp.

The Class of 2017 prospect is an example of a Coyote who accepts his roles.

“I played my game study on their offense really well and knew that 75% of their touchdowns came from their throwing game. Plus I knew they ran timing routes and thought press coverage will work well against their offense,” Gates said.

But Gates doesn’t want to gloat about his accomplishments.

“I want to give a shout out to my defensive line for putting pressure on the quarterback,” Gates said. “We just have players who want to play, compete and put Buena Park on the map as one of the elite schools to compete against.”

Dashiel II, who already has 30 career sacks before his senior year, likes to compare the Coyotes to the NFL’s best defense.

“We’re the Broncos, because they have great defensive backs who cover, good defensive linemen and linebackers and they fly around,” Dashiel II said. “Those guys are the standard and we are trying to be like them in some small way.”

White, however, doesn’t compare his team to the best in the NFL or college. He compares them to Buena Park.

“I require a lot of our defensive players, not just athletically, but require my players to focus on their awareness, effort, toughness, attitude and instinct. I don't want corners, safeties, linemen, linebackers or even kickers - I WANT FOOTBALL PLAYERS, PERIOD," White said. "You can play football players anywhere on the field and they'll make plays, because FOOTBALL PLAYERS are accountable, tough and selfless; all essential qualities of not only being a great player, but a great man.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Elijah Lilly is one of two under-the-radar athletes for San Bernardino powerhouse Cajon High School, starring at wide receiver, returner and cornerback (photo credit: 247Sports).
We’re going to do something rare with this latest feature for Cali Gold Mine. We’ll highlight not one, but two prep teammates who have brought versatility, physicality and play-making prowess to traditional San Bernardino based powerhouse Cajon High School.

Elijah Lilly and Tyrone Gasaway have made fools out of defenders who have done the following: cover them on punts, try to run past them at wide receiver or attempt to tackle them at running back.

Their big plays is among the reasons why the Cowboys sit at 11-1 and have continued their pursuit of a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section Inland Division title.

Here’s a breakdown of both:

ELIJAH LILLY: “Feisty” describes the 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior, who has made his top plays on defense. Lilly takes on the role of blanketing the opposition’s top receiver and responded with five interceptions and 24 pass breakups, both team-high’s through 12 games. He’s physical at the line and stays near the hips of the receiver during coverages. Quarterbacks have a difficult time throwing the ball his way. He won’t just stay over his receiver, but he has keen awareness of where the ball is going and is strong at reading the quarterback’s eyes. As a return ace, he shows an explosive second gear with the ball and can stretch plays for 90-yard scampers. He doesn’t get the ball much at receiver and has done his most damage on swing passes. If he stays at receiver, he’ll have to polish his deep game.

TYRONE GASAWAY: “Power” describes Gasaway’s game at running back. On Wing-T formations, Gasaway takes the pitch, finds his opening and then barrels past one to three defenders for extra yards. With his 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, he’s reliable on third and long plays or inside the red zone. He gains good separation on his routes against defenders and wins one-on-one battles consistently. Also claims victories against soft zone coverages. I’ll need to see more of his ability to fight jams and how he does as a deep threat. Overall, he’s a reliable target.

FINAL BREAKDOWN: These 2016 guys are late bloomers on the recruiting trail and they look like they can land at a college between now and the spring, regardless if they go the junior college route or four-year level. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Linebacker Khalil Hodge once led the state in tackles while playing for Stockton-St. Mary's, but found himself under-recruited and undervalued. But now, the City College of San Francisco defender has landed two Football Bowl Subdivision offers from the University of Idaho and Buffalo (photo contributed). 
Khalil Hodge was once the state’s leading tackler at Stockton-St. Mary’s who had trouble with landing a scholarship offer from a Football Bowl Subdivision program.

But that changed when the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Class of 2015 graduate took the one hour, 32 minute trek to City College of San Francisco and play junior college football.

The undersized and under-recruited linebacker received two FBS pledges from the University of Idaho and Buffalo during the week of Nov. 16, solidifying his case as a bona fide national recruit and making Hodge realize that going to CCSF was the best thing to happen to his football career.

“Coming to San Francisco helped me so much with getting exposure to different big time schools,” Hodge said. “City is a storied program known for getting kids maximum exposure and I felt like I had the talent to go bigger than the options that I had coming out of high school. So I rolled the dice a little bit and now I feel like I am starting to get recruited the way I felt like I deserved.”

In Stockton, Hodge was known for penetrating through gaping holes along the line and halt running backs in their tracks. He still terrorizes running backs at the collegiate level, except he’s added pass coverage skills and forced fumbles to his list of strengths.
Hodge intercepted two passes and jarred two footballs loose for the 10-1 Rams, who will face Chabot College on Saturday, Nov. 28 in the Northern California Football Championship game.

Like the way he closes fast on anyone holding the football, Hodge said his recruiting period picked up in a rush.

“It feels great to land two offers especially because it happened so quick,” Hodge said. “With the season beginning to wind down, I was beginning to wonder what I was going to do for next year. Whether it was get the opportunity to leave or have to come back to CCSF for the Spring.”

Hodge added that the Vandals and Bulls want him on board in Dec. 2015 and “potentially contend for a job right away.”

Said Hodge: “They both want me to play inside, either at the Mike (inside linebacker spot) or at Will (weakside outside linebacker) and be more accustomed to what I did in high school. Both staffs are highly interested and want me to get over there for a visit in early December.”

Hodge’s transition from St. Mary’s and CCSF wasn’t hard. He said the two powerhouses carry the same level of expectations.

“Both are big time programs at the high school and JUCO level, plus they have great staffs who really take care of their players,” Hodge said.

While the Sun Belt and Metro Athletic Conference (MAC) schools want Hodge to jump into its talent pool early, Hodge said he won’t commit to either team right away.

“I'm actually going to ride this recruiting period out,” Hodge said. “In high school, I always dreamed of getting highly recruited and it didn't really happen so now that it's starting to pick up, I definitely don't want to cut it (the recruiting period) short. Also, I have never been to Idaho or New York, so hopefully as soon as the season is over I want to visit both before I make a decision that will affect me and my family for the rest of my life.”


Josh Hokit damaged Edison on offense and defense in the Cougars' 28-6 home win over the Tigers on Friday, Nov. 20. Clovis will now have a rematch against Tri-River Athletic Conference rival Clovis North on Black Friday (photo credit: Central Valley Football). 
With former Oakland Raider legend and Clovis Cougar icon Daryle Lamonica watching from the sidelines, Clovis advanced to its fifth semifinal appearance in six years, knocking off last year’s Central Section Division I champion Fresno-Edison 28-6 on Friday, Nov. 20, at the house named after the former quarterback.

Josh Hokit ensured that his Cougars wouldn’t disappoint Lamonica or the rest of the blue and yellow faithful who filled the Lamonica Stadium seats. The Drexel University commit scored twice – once on a crucial fumble recovery inside the Edison 5-yard line for the opening touchdown and on a 7-yard scamper for the game’s final points – to propel the Cougars into another home game against rival Clovis North on Black Friday with a trip to the section title game on the line.

The first score proved to be the momentum shifter. The Cougars (10-1) marched all the way to the Edison 1-yard line before the Tigers’ defensive wall prevented Clovis from scoring. However, Tiger running back Jaylen King lost control of the ball and Hokit scooped up the loose pigskin for the 2-yard touchdown.

From there, Clovis took complete control.

Quarterback Sean Kuenzinger connected with University of Idaho commit J.J. Wills on a 23-yard scoring strike to take the 14-0 lead. Nash Vidmar and Hokit added the Cougars’ final touchdowns.

The win was retaliation for last year’s loss to the Tigers at Sunnyside High’s stadium, as the Cougars blew a 14-point lead and lost 21-14 to the eventual section champs.


Social media has been abuzz since 8 p.m. on Friday night regarding Jake Constantine’s playing status, after the Camarillo quarterback was ejected during the Scorpions’ 38-7 trouncing of Santa Maria-St. Joseph on the road.

Constantine was tossed after arguing with an official. But Camarillo buried any hope of a Knights’ comeback with the return of Isaiah Otis, as the running back wore down St. Joseph with 164 yards on 19 carries and scored touchdown runs of 18 and 49 yards, with the latter breaking the will of the Knights and extending the lead to 28-0 in the third.

The Santa Maria Times reported that Constantine used foul language following two personal foul calls. The CIF rule for ejections state that once a player is tossed from a game, he must sit out the following week.

Thom Simmons, the CIF Southern Section Director of Communications, told The Times that Constantine will only play next week if the official who made the call has a change of heart.

"There is no appeal process for ejections, the only person who can rescind an ejection is the official who ejected the player," Simmons said.

Scorpion head coach Jack Willard told The Times that he’s confident that the officials will have a change of heart.

“If they rethink the whole situation and put it together in terms of where we're at in the season and what was actually said..." Willard told The Times. "Do I think it should be rescinded? Well yeah, I think it should be done and over with and we should have our whole team Friday."

Several people – including Scorpion players - took to Twitter in support of Constantine, using the hash tag #FreeJake.

One supporter of Constantine is Oxnard-Pacifica quarterback Kane Tinajero, who posted: “Hope Jake’s suspension gets reversed. Anyone who knows Jake knows he’s a fierce competitor. Shouldn't be suspended for playing with passion.”


Spectators who flocked to Kiefer Stadium on Friday anticipated a heavyweight battle between undefeated Westlake Village-Oaks Christian and traditional Southern California power La Puente-Bishop Amat.

What they might not have expected, though, was a shootout where defense was non-existent, as both teams combined for a basketball-like 101 points in Amat’s 61-40 win in the PAC-5 playoffs.

Torreahno Sweet shattered a school record with 370 yards rushing, breaking the previous mark of 369 held by Michael Wagner in 1998. Quarterback Damian Garcia combined for four touchdowns, three of them through the air.

Oaks Christian got 437 passing yards from quarterback Matt Corrall, while USC commit Michael Pittman II had an astonishing 18 catches for 386 yards and five scores.

The Lancers will now contend with another unbeaten on Black Friday: Bellflower-St. John Bosco.


Buena Park has a lot of youth on defense, with the unit comprising of mostly 2017 players.

But they grew quickly against Newport Beach-Corona Del Mar and rising ’17 quarterback Chase Garbers, sacking him five times and limiting him to a season-low 117 yards in the 35-17 victory.

Cedric Dashiel II and Ryan Nelson were two ’17 guys leading the pass rush, joining seniors Andrew Wright, Elijah Bynum and Alex Rojas in attacking Garbers throughout the night.

Dashiel II described the defensive performance of the Coyotes:

“Fast, physical, intense and we were focused. I believe we are peaking at the right time,” Dashiel II said.

Elijah Gates - another rising junior who recently got offered by Cincinnati - was dominant in one-on-one coverages against the Sea Kings, holding top receiver Peter Bush to just one catch. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Clovis wide receiver Coltin Velasquez will look to have a breakout game against a traditionally talented Edison High (Fresno) secondary as the Cougars, the No. 1 seed in the Central Section Division I playoffs, take on last year's D-I champion at Lamonica Stadium on Friday, Nov. 20 (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 
One year ago, Clovis High was the young, feisty group looking to shock the Central Valley by stunning the No. 1 seed Edison, but fell to the eventual Central Section Division I champions 21-14 in the semifinals.

Now, the Cougars hold the No. 1 seed at 9-1 overall. And staring at them from the other side of the field at Lamonica Stadium on Friday night? The Edison Tigers.

The Clovis-Edison matchup is one of five big playoff games highlighted by Cali Gold Mine. Here’s the contests worth going to on Friday night:


The Tigers turned to power running and defense to propel their way to a 16-6 victory over Bakersfield last week. One of the best matchups will be Clovis’ dynamic wide receiving duo Coltin Velasquez and J.J. Wills going against Edison’s De’Andre Lockhart and Deshawn Tillman. Another big showdown? Clovis guard Tyler Collier going against national recruit Leveel Tatum in the trenches. Tatum and fellow Tiger defender David Tate were both offered by UNLV on Wednesday, Nov. 18. The last crucial battle that can alter the contest is Edison's running back hero from last week Jaylen King going against the Cougars' hard-nosed senior linebacker Tanner Rice, who has made his mark stuffing the run. 


Underrated athletes will be sprinkled at Jason Williams Field. Two dual-threat quarterbacks take the field as the Scorpions’ Jake Constantine will aim to keep Camarillo’s perfect season alive against Blake Jaeckels and his Knights. St. Joseph’s Joe Guzman and rising 2017 Scorpion prospect Aaron Lamb highlight the running backs. Out on the perimeter, look for Cam’s tall 6-foot-4 cornerback Frankie Tostado to have the task of locking up the Knights’ 6-foot, 180-pound C.J. Cole, who helped end Atascadero’s season last week with 10 catches, 119 yards and two touchdowns in the 26-16 road win to open the Southern Section Northern Division playoffs.


Rare second round battle between two 11-0 teams. The host Falcons rely on a running back committee to take the oxygen away from their opponents, with rising sophomore Richard Newton (team-high 634 yards and 16 touchdowns) leading the way. Defensively, senior defensive back Nathaniel Myles leads the way with three interceptions. The Cardinals will look to use their size and rushing attack to wear down Palmdale. Senior Michael Sorroco (1,163 yards, 15 touchdowns) and 6-foot-2 sophomore John Harris (469 yards and six touchdowns) spearhead the BD ground game. Versatile threat Av Bennett is a weapon at running back, receiver and special teams.


The Lions opened the PAC-5 playoffs with a 56-8 thrashing of Long Beach-Jordan. Now enters traditional Los Angeles region power Bishop Amat and its bevy of speed. Oaks Christian has quarterback Matt Corrall, running back Gil’Scott Jackson II and wide receiver/USC commit Michael Pittman II looking to go off on offense. There’s also fast-rising tight end Colby Parkinson, who has Texas A&M, Michigan and Georgia as early scholarship offers for the 6-foot-7 Class of 2017 prospect. Bishop Amat has two monster weapons in running back Torreahno Sweet and wideout Tyler Vaughns. Sweet has 1,306 yards and 30 touchdowns through 10 games, while the current USC commit Vaughns has 71 catches, 1,155 yards and 12 touchdowns.


This Southern Section Southwest Division battle between 9-2 teams in Orange County could come down to defense. Seven different Corona Del Mar players have intercepted a pass, with senior strong safety Sutty Barbato leading the way with two picks and nine breakups. The Sea Kings’ 2017 quarterback Chase Garber has gotten on some college coaches’ recruiting lists by throwing 2,598 yards, 32 touchdowns and three picks. Buena Park has an impressive foursome of defenders in linebacker Ricky Barbosa, hybrid defensive end Cedric Dashiel II, linebacker Anthony Wright and defensive lineman Ryan Nelson; all of whom have made eight tackles or more behind the line of scrimmage, with the 6-foot-4, 216-pound Wright tops with 18 stops for a loss and 9.5 sacks. Class of 2017 prospect Elijah Gates – who was recently offered by the University of Cincinnati - doubles as play-making wide receiver and shut down cornerback for the Coyotes.  

Monday, November 16, 2015


Marques Evans went into lock down mode this past year at cornerback, which has turned Newbury Park's 2017 prospect into a possible hot commodity on the recruiting trail (photo credit: 
The corner of Lesser Dr. and N. Reino Rd. in Newbury Park, Calif. is where you’ll locate “Evans Island.”

Marques Evans of Newbury Park High School emerged as one of the top island cornerbacks in the 805 this past year and, with another year of high school eligibility left, the 2017 prospect looks like the Panthers’ next highly-wanted college football prospect.

While Evans has shown his versatility through kickoff returns and playing wide receiver, it’s his skills at cornerback that has Cali Gold Mine glued. Here’s a closer look:

WHAT TO LIKE: He already passes the size test at a reported 6-foot-1, 180-pounds. Tall cornerbacks have become all the buzz for college and NFL teams with the emergence of Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman. He covers and hovers over a wide receiver during man coverage like a fast moving cumulonimbus cloud. Has a long wing span that comes in good use when the ball is thrown his way in the end zone. Does an excellent job of keeping himself locked onto a receiver and rarely gives up any pass, proven by the eight pass deflections he had when tested by quarterbacks this past season. On screen passes, he closes fast on the football and tackles the ball carrier like a hard-hitting safety. Physical player who comes equipped with a mean streak for all four quarters.

Evans tripled as a cornerback, receiver and return ace for the 6-5 Newbury Park Panthers in 2015-16 (photo credit: Michael Coons/Acorn Newspapers). 

WHAT TO BUILD ON: Need to see more of his ability to play the run, especially against toss sweep or option plays. Though he’s done fairly well when he plays off of a receiver, he’s been more effective at playing up at the line of scrimmage against wideouts.

OVERALL: Evans is a marquee talent at a traditional powerhouse in Ventura County. The size/speed/aggression trifecta that he brings at cornerback should make him a highly-wanted college prospect. The junior, who intercepted three passes for the 6-5 Panthers in 2015-16, says UCLA is the lone school talking to him so far. His cornerback skills makes him look like current Bruin DB Adarius Pickett.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Injured Sacramento-Inderkum player Derrick Henderson (left) checks cell phone messages with Tiger teammate Ryan Davis during the Tigers' 82-32 rout of Lincoln on Friday, Nov. 13. Inderkum players helped dedicate their 50-point victory to slain Grant High cornerback Jaulon Clavo, who was lost to a shooting outside of the GHS campus (photo credit: Steve German). 
The Sac-Joaquin Section has been painted in blue and yellow colors to honor Grant High School – following a tragedy in the 916 on Friday, Nov. 13.

Grant Pacer football cornerback Jaulon Clavo was one of two players shot inside a car well away from the GHS campus, which happened before kickoff of the Pacers’ section playoff game against Modesto-Beyer. The game was postponed due to the shooting. Clavo – who spent three seasons with Grant after starting his prep career at Inderkum High during his freshman year – was pronounced dead later that night. Fullback Malik Johnson was the other Pacer who suffered gun shot wounds. 

The shockwaves reverberated throughout the Sacramento region – and prompted one family member at Inderkum to play the game of his life in honor of Clavo.

Cousin Jimmie Johnson rumbled to 178 yards and two touchdowns as his Inderkum Tigers trounced Lincoln 82-32. Johnson spoke to the Sacramento Bee’s Joe Davidson with tears falling from his eyes.

Said Johnson: “I was getting taped up for the game when I heard he got shot in the neck and died. He was a great guy, and we grew up together. He always made me happy. I saw him last weekend ... but I didn’t get to say I loved him.”

He wasn’t the only one rallying behind Grant. So is Granite Bay High; the Pacers’ possible opponent if they beat Beyer in a game now scheduled for Monday, Nov. 16, at 5 p.m.

Granite Bay, which beat Downey 42-31 on Nov. 13, reportedly tied blue and yellow ribbons on a sign that reads “Welcome to Granite Bay.”

Beyer head coach Doug Severe expressed his sympathies to Grant through the Modesto Bee.

“My heart goes out to the coaches, players, the family of those players and the community of Grant High,” Severe told The Bee. “I know how much I love my kids. The game of football becomes such a minute detail when talking about the life of young people. That’s someone’s child, a teammate, a friend, somebody who won’t be at school on Monday.”


Fresno’s Edison High is another school that has dealt with its own personal tragedies. The Tigers lost former players Marquis Sutton and Deondre "Day Day" Howard to shootings in the last three years, with Howard losing his life in Aug. 2015.

But Edison showed the same grit, cohesiveness and heart that turned them into the Central Section’s Division I champion and state playoff representative last year, upending the mighty Bakersfield High Drillers 16-6 at Sunnyside High on Nov. 13.

How did the Tigers do it? Power running and stout defense – the same ingredients that powered last year’s 12-2 team. Jaylen King did the ground work with 127 yards on 27 carries. A quarterback sack and safety from linebacker Jake Hanson helped seal the win.

Fellow Tiger defenders Leveel Tatum III, Kobe Manning, Dee Tillman and David Tate all helped bottle the Drillers’ air attack, holding BHS to 15 passing yards.

Next up, Clovis High and the top-seeded Cougars, in a rematch of last year’s epic 21-14 semifinal game won by Edison.


Orange Lutheran running back Brandon McKinney sprints past St. Bonaventure's defense during the first quarter of the Lancers' wild 54-44 road playoff win over the Seraphs in a PAC-5 playoff game (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 

Led by an astronomical 576 rushing yards and L.J. Northington, Brandon McKinney and Dominick Austin collaborating for seven touchdowns, Orange Lutheran ran past a feisty St. Bonaventure team at Ventura College 54-44.

Northington tucked it and ran to the tune of 102 yards on 10 carries with three touchdowns, often finding his creases in the middle of the Seraphs’ defense. Juniors McKinney and Austin combined for 17 carries, 240 yards and four touchdowns against a Seraph defense that had no more than seven defenders in the box for most of the night.

Now comes this daunting task for the Lancers: stunning the state’s No. 1 team in Corona-Centennial on Friday, Nov. 20. The Huskies already own a 35-14 rout against OLU on Sept. 11 in a non-league game played at Orange Coast College.


I’m not the most familiar with Grant High. The only time I’ve ever interacted with a Pacer player was through camps and tournaments during the off-season.

But whenever I do talk with a Pacer, they’ve always been approachable and polite, even though they live in what’s considered an unsafe environment. On that note, I’ve done stories on various athletes throughout California who have had to overcome personal tribulations to cement their name in front of college coaches.

The death of Clavo doesn’t…I repeat…doesn’t represent a problem with Grant High. Shootings can happen anywhere. As it is, Marquis Sutton’s death occurred 15 minutes south of where I used to live, and the community support for Edison High that year stretched throughout the 559 and 661.

I won't be at the Grant/Beyer game on Monday, but my hope is that every seat will be taken to prove that evil will never win.