|Team B2G 5-star celebrates winning the So Cal regional championship at Passing Down's Fontana regional on Sunday, March 29 (photo by Lorenzo J. Reyna).|
We saw cinderella runs (Rize Up, Rhare Breed HD, Team Apex, Inland Empire Ducks) and we watched the powerhouses (B2G, Ground Zero, Body By Tra) go to work under the 85 degree Southern California sun.
This was the biggest and most talented regional yet for PD, with 56 teams registered for a shot at the So Cal regional championship. In the end, it was B2G's 5-star squad rising above the rest.
But with a stacked tournament comes a plethora of talent on the football field. So who stood out in Cali Gold Mine's eyes? Here's the gold mines from Sunday:
Patrick O'Brien, San Juan Hills
The 6'4" O'Brien had no college offering him a scholarship before he entered PD's So Cal event.
He sure played like he can have 5-10 offers though, as he dissected so many defenses which culminated in B2G 5-star's title victory.
O'Brien showed off a rocket arm and accuracy throughout the tournament. I was especially impressed with his ability to spread the ball around.
Tate Martell, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
Martell was looking like a 5'11" version of Peyton Manning, but not in terms of production or arm strength.
It was his ability to command an offense.
The Class of 2017 fast riser is not even a junior in high school, but yet national power Bishop Gorman trusts him to call his own plays and adjustments. He did exactly that against Southern California's best on Sunday. He played the cerebral game with defenses and averaged 3-4 touchdown passes per game.
Martell currently holds five scholarship offers including USC.
Jordan Love, Liberty (Bakersfield)
Coming into Fontana, there were questions about Love's ability to make the short throws and how rapid his release was.
The 6'3" Love not only answered those questions, but he nearly looked like the complete package at quarterback for Team Ground Zero Panoramic.
Love impressed with the deep ball and the quick corner strikes.
Robbie Blosser, Venice
Like Martell, Blosser is emerging as a Class of 2017 prospect to watch.
The 6'2" Blosser attacked defenses with the deep ball throughout the morning and afternoon for his young squad Team Rize Up.
K.J. Costello, Santa Margarita Catholic
Costello, who recently committed to Stanford, looked patient in the pocket while delivering quick strikes to his wide receivers on Body By Tra.
His composure and spiral to the football were two other strengths he showed.
Max Gilliam, Thousand Oaks
The tall 6'4" dual-threat became Team Elite Athlete's mad bomber.
Gilliam, who holds two scholarship offers from Toledo and Marshall, didn't hesitate to sling it deep to his receivers for Team EA.
Armani Rogers, Hamilton (Los Angeles)
The big 6'6" Rogers looked amazingly comfortable in the pocket and showed a laser release for his team Body By Tra.
Rogers committed to Cal in February 2015.
Javon McKinley, Centennial (Corona)
The 6'2" McKinley was a mismatch everywhere he went on the field, regardless if defenses played a zone coverage or tried to press him at the line of scrimmage.
The Class of 2016 wide receiver showed why he has 18 scholarship offers by becoming B2G 5-star's top possession target and best deep threat.
J.P. Shohfi, San Marino
Shohfi is a name that isn't mentioned much on the recruiting trail. But the 6'1" San Marino receiver provided some tough grabs and big plays along with McKinley and B2G 5-star.
Shohfi was crisp with his routes and showed excellent timing on adjusting to the ball. He made one of the biggest plays of the title game with a sideline grab against two defensive backs who tried to blanket him.
The way he played reminded me of another B2G standout: Stanford commit Trent Irwin.
Stephen Carr, Summit (Fontana)
The early Class of 2017 USC pledge had defensive backs beat on drag routes and streaks while performing for his team Ground Zero Sniper.
Carr isn't the tallest receiver on the field (5'11"), but his footwork, speed separation against a defensive back and his hands reminded me of former Trojan star and NFL receiver Robert Woods.
Damian Alloway, Summit
The 5'10" Alloway was Mr. Do Everything for his squad Ground Zero Panoramic.
The versatile Alloway - who holds nine scholarship offers including Duke, UCLA and Washington - doubled as shut down defender and big play receiver.
Jamal Hicks, Narbonne (Harbor City)
Hicks is a tall, athletic safety at 6'3" with a knack for the big play.
Sounds like Kam Chancellor of the Seattle Seahawks, who's the NFL player Hicks idolizes.
Hicks' eyes, sideline pursuits and wide receiver-like hands could've earned him Defensive Most Valuable Player at the Fontana regional, as he emerged as Team Gamechangers L.A's top ball hawk. But he was the defensive MVP in CGM's book after snatching six interceptions on the day.
Lawson Hall, Narbonne
Hall linked up with his fellow high school teammate Hicks to form an athletic and intimidating defense for Gamechangers L.A.
Hall, who stands at 6'1" and holds four scholarship offers, provided closing speed at linebacker for his 7-on-7 squad.
Alec Stevenson, Malibu
Stevenson was a nice surprise at middle linebacker for Gamechangers L.A.
The undersized 6'0" MLB closed fast on drag routes and anyone trying to cross the middle. Stevenson has been known as a run stuffer at Malibu High but showed his coverage ability in Fontana.
Stevenson, Class of 2016, has also started to see his recruiting pick up with interest from Fresno State.
Brandon Reaves, San Clemente
Reaves showed versatility and blinding speed for Team OC Elite.
Only 5'9", Reaves went full speed on his routes on offense and his backpedal on defense. According to his hudl account, Reaves runs the shuttle in 4.4 seconds.
Reaves currently holds one offer from Colorado State and took an unoffical visit to USC recently.
Elijah Gates, Buena Park
Gates was a defensive back machine for Team Rize Up, who were one of the top surprises of the tournament.
The 5'11" Gates (Class of 2017) showed a nose for the football and excellent change-of-direction speed with the football in his hands.
(Editor's note: all photos were taken by Lorenzo J. Reyna)