Friday, October 30, 2015

ARROYO GRANDE DEFENSE HOUNDS ATASCADERO

Arroyo Grande defenders Brad Mickey (No. 20) and Noah Thinger wrap up Atascadero quarterback Carson Rinkenberger during the Eagles' 24-10 victory over the Greyhounds in a huge PAC-5 showdown (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 
A white and dark blue defensive avalanche tumbled down on Atascadero in a banner PAC-5 showdown at War Memorial Stadium on Friday, Oct. 30, as Arroyo Grande forced four second half takeaways in the 24-10 victory over the Greyhounds.

The Eagle defense entered their road game featuring an 11-man blizzard who froze any offensive firepower in the last three games, with three consecutive shutouts and only 17 points surrendered in the last 20 quarters of play.

Despite giving up a rushing touchdown early during the opening Atascadero drive that ate up nine minutes and 47 seconds in the first quarter, the Arroyo Grande defense rose up and smothered Atascadero’s high-powered read option offense.

Two-way stud Brad Mickey – doubling as workhorse running back and patrolling safety – sealed the league contest by grabbing an air ball from the sky with less than a minute left.

A rejoiced Mickey sounded relieved that his team survived the Greyhounds’ brute force.

“In league play like this and against Atascadero, it’s always going to be a hard-fought game,” Mickey said. “Every yard you have to earn. Nothing is given. We came into this game knowing that we can’t play relaxed and we came out hard.”

Linebacker/defensive lineman Cole Cunningham started the momentum swing and turnover frenzy for Arroyo Grande. After the Greyhounds pounced on a fumble during the previous play, Cunningham stepped in front of a Carson Rinkenberger pass for the first takeaway of the second half. A trio of Alex Cecchi runs helped lead to a 23-yard field goal and the 17-10 lead.

Then on the next defensive series, Arroyo Grande brought a heavy rush up the middle, sacked Rinkenberger and forced a fumble at the AG 41. That later led to a Mickey 41-yard scoring scamper that saw him run left, cut back to the middle, then accelerate to the end zone.

“We ran that play earlier in the game and they strung it out nicely. But our offensive line made a nice adjustment and really washed them down, which helped the cutback to open up,” Mickey said.

Cecchi was the other two-way Eagle star who picked off a pass, with his takeaway coming at the AHS 5-yard line.

“It was a pretty physical game. The first half was an intense game but in the second half, we grinded it out to win the game,” Cecchi said. “We made the adjustments that we needed to and succeeded. We were in the right place at the right time.”


The Eagles move to 8-1 overall and 3-0 in the PAC-5. A victory over San Luis Obispo on Nov. 6 seals the outright league championship.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

GOLD MINE GAME OF THE WEEK: ARROYO GRANDE AT ATASCADERO

R.J. Reusche of Atascadero tries breaking away from a San Luis Obispo defender. Reusche will help lead the Greyhounds' hard-nosed running game into a huge PAC-5 showdown with Arroyo Grande at home on Friday, Oct. 30 (photo credit: Rick Evans/Paso Robles Daily News). 
In the last two seasons, the PAC-5 title has come down to a three-team race featuring Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles and Atascadero.

Now, the two unbeatens left in PAC-5 play – Arroyo Grande and Atascadero – will meet at Memorial Stadium on Friday, Oct. 30 with league title implications in tow.

This game also will likely involve high playoff seedings in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division III bracket.

Here’s a breakdown:

ABOUT THE EAGLES: After falling 27-13 at home against Camarillo on Sept. 12, Arroyo Grande (7-1, 2-0 in the PAC-5) has been on a defensive stampede, with three consecutive shutouts and just a combined 17 points allowed in the last 20 quarters.

Seniors Benny Wilkhomm and Brad Mickey are among the best 1-2 combos in any 805 secondary. Both have combined for seven of Arroyo Grande’s 11 interceptions. At cornerback, 6-foot-1, 180-pound Landon Carter has held his side down with two interceptions and a team-high five pass breakups. Alex Cecchi completes the Eagle secondary with two picks and one forced fumble.

Mickey leads the AG offense with 1,000 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns. Cecchi is another Eagle who goes both ways and does the same amount of damage on offense, proven by his 739 total yards and eight touchdowns.

Junior quarterback Sawyer May has led an efficient air attack with 1,417 yards, 14 touchdowns, one interception and a quarterback rating of 133.6. May's strength has been the deep ball

ABOUT THE GREYHOUNDS: Since taking over a program in 2004 that was previously up-and-down on the football field, head coach Vic Cooper has turned Atascadero into one of the models of consistency in San Luis Obispo County with a 54-27 mark in eight seasons.

This year’s Greyhounds (7-1, 2-0 PAC-5) has an aggressive backfield duo in seniors Marc Martin and R.J. Reusche, who both have over 800 yards rushing in eight games. Martin is the thunder back with his 6-foot-1, 221-pound frame and inside running prowess. Reusche is the outside threat at 6-foot-1, 195-pounds.

Defensively, senior nose guard Tannen Soojian is the 6-foot, 220-pound road block who clogs up running lanes and leads the team with nine tackles for a loss. He’s also the ‘Hounds lead blocking back.

Junior Lucas Sprouse is Atascadero’s top ball hawk with three interceptions and four pass break ups.

GAME INFORMATION: Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Atascadero High.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Cali Gold Mine founder Lorenzo Reyna will be talking about this game and the 805 football scene on KEYT Channel 3 in Santa Barbara this weekend. The entire segment should air on Sunday during the 6 p.m. news. Check local listings or also look for the online link on Lorenzo’s Twitter page @LJ_Reyna. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

DRU MATHIS EMBRACES NEW ROLE FOR BUENA

Buena (Ventura) defensive end/linebacker Dru Mathis stretches out before the Bulldogs' 28-21 victory over Santa Barbara on Oct. 23 at Peabody Stadium. Mathis, who has gained interest from PAC-12, Mountain West and Big 10 schools, has had to learn a new role on defense but the position has led to an increase in his versatility (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 
The best and most wanted college football prospect on the Buena High School (Ventura) football roster is considered a novice at defensive end.

Dru Mathis – a recipient of 13 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship pledges – isn’t used to lining up along the line of scrimmage and collapsing the pocket. However, his past experiences of playing outside linebacker and tight end has earned him the hybrid role on defense, which puts the spotlight on his athleticism and adds to his versatility.

“It (the hyrbrid role) does a lot because colleges see that versatility,” Mathis said. “I can put my hand in the dirt, I can go to linebacker, get some coverages in and run with some routes. Versatility does a lot.”

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior has emerged as Buena’s version of Khalil Mack. Most of the time on the football field, Mathis is staring down at an offensive tackle while preparing to fire off from his three-point stance. He’s also seen lined up in a two-point stance before he pounces on ball carriers.

Mathis has over 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage, and that includes his two sacks in Buena’s hard-fought 28-21 road win over Channel League foe Santa Barbara on Oct. 23.

The hybrid role is usually reserved for the most athletic defender in the front seven. Mathis said he’s embraced the role even though it comes with a learning curve.

“It’s a nice position, but it comes with a lot of technique because you’re in a three-point stance for most of the game,” Mathis said. “It’s a little different from being a will linebacker, but it’s good.”

He’s led the defensive havoc for the 6-2 Bulldogs, who are two victories away from securing their first undefeated league season since 2009, when Mathis’ older brother Kendrick – who is now playing defensive back for San Diego State - wore the Buena colors.

The younger Mathis isn’t just the Bulldog player college coaches are clamoring for, or the player who’s asked to play from two different points of attack. He’s one of the vocal leaders for the Buena defense.

“Our defense is not going to work individually, it’s going to work as a team,” Mathis said.

He helped point out one flaw that has plagued the Bulldogs.

“We need to learn how to finish games,” Mathis said. “We’re good at getting started but we need to finish as hard as we started. It’s going to come.”

Two league battles loom for Mathis and the Bulldogs, with 1-7 San Marcos (Goleta) on Friday, Oct. 30 then the huge rivalry contest against Ventura (4-4, 2-0 in the CL) on Nov. 6, which could decide the CL title.

Along with chasing a league championship and finishing out his senior year, Mathis lives a busy life that’s seen frequent travel miles and more colleges picking up interest. He checked out the University of Nevada during the weekend of Oct. 24 and said Washington, Washington State, Purdue and the University of Buffalo are starting to get intrigued by him. He has official visits lined up for Oregon State and Vanderbilt before the season ends. 

One of the Mountain West schools that offered him early, though, has gotten Mathis’ attention.

“I like Fresno State a lot,” Mathis said. “I like the coaches. They came and watched me play against Rio Mesa (on Oct. 2) and loved what they saw. They’re always on me.”



Mathis, who holds other offers from New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah State and San Jose State, hasn’t decided on when he’ll commit.

Until then, Mathis plans on continuing to shine in his new area.


“I’m bigger, stronger and faster than anyone else and they can see me rush off the edge,” Mathis said. “It’s my first year of playing d-line, so I have to step up to the challenge. It’s kind of hard to play on the line, but it’s also kind of fun especially when you get sacks.”


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

BUENA PARK ATHLETE LANDS FIRST PLEDGE FROM AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE POWER

Elijah Gates intercepts a pass and tries to evade a defender during his appearance at the Passing Down March 2015 So Cal Regional in Fontana. The Buena Park two-way athlete landed his first scholarship offer on Tuesday, Oct. 27 (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 
The University of Cincinnati became the first school to make a dash at landing rising 2017 prospect Elijah Gates, as the Bearcats emerged as offer No. 1 for the Buena Park wide receiver/defensive back on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Gates - who leads the Coyotes with 566 receiving yards, eight receiving touchdowns, four pass break ups and has one fumble recovery in eight games - told Cali Gold Mine that he has positive vibes after receiving his first scholarship opportunity from a Football Bowl Subdivision school.

“It feels great. It's a huge blessing just knowing that my hard work is finally getting recognized,” Gates said. 

Gates started to sell his name on the recruiting trail after his sophomore season. He linked up with club 7-on-7 team Rize Up and helped guide his team to deep tournament runs. Rize Up won the Los Angeles Pylon Invitational in March and qualified for Passing Down’s Best of the West tournament in April with Gates leading the ball-hawking charge.



At 5-foot-11, 175-pounds, Gates is a deadly three-way blend of catching, running and defending. He’s scored on four swing passes that saw him blaze the field for 26 yards or more.

On defense, Gates is Buena Park’s top island cornerback with his closing speed and angle pursuits to the football.


Gates added that Mississippi State, Norte Dame, UCLA, Washington State and Oregon are also showing interest. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

GOLD MINE THOUGHTS: BUENA GETS DEFENSIVE, LOMPOC LEAPFROGS TWO TRAPS

Buena (Ventura) defenders Moises Vargas (No. 1), Mason Beling (No. 22) and Rick Lopez swarm and drag down Santa Barbara wide receiver Chris Jellison during the Bulldogs' 28-21 road win (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 
They faced a deep wide receiving core, had their best defender double teamed on the line of scrimmage throughout the night, but in the end the Buena (Ventura) Bulldogs are prowling toward the Channel League title after holding off Santa Barbara 28-21 in a defensive battle on Friday, Oct. 23 at Peabody Stadium.

Buena (6-2, 2-0 CL), kept a talented core of Santa Barbara Don wideouts in check. Despite seeing Mason Bigelow and Chris Jellison combine for four receptions of 20 yards or more, the Bulldog defense built the stonewall and limited scoring opportunities against an offense that came in averaging 39.6 points per game.

And some of Buena’s biggest defensive plays came from a novice at defensive end: highly-wanted linebacker Dru Mathis, who finished with two sacks while firing off from a three-point stance.

“We went out there and did our best. They were a passing team so we had to get our best pass rush from the defensive line – and this is my first year of playing on the d-line, so I had to step up to the challenge,” Mathis said. “It’s kind of hard (playing defensive end), but it’s also kind of fun especially when you get sacks like tonight.”

Past Buena games have seen the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Mathis line up at the will linebacker spot and go in destruction mode. But this season, he’s the Khalil Mack for the Bulldogs as he’s been utilized in a hybrid role.

“It is a pretty nice position, but it comes with a lot of technique,” Mathis said. “I was in a three-point stance for most of this game so it’s different for me, but it’s good for me. I’m bigger, stronger and faster than anyone else and people can see me rush from the edge.”

Mathis, though, doesn’t want the light to illuminate on him. And this is Ventura County’s top college football defensive prospect who has seen the spotlight a lot because of 13 scholarship offers; plus late interest from Washington, Buffalo and Purdue surfacing.  

“When they (Santa Barbara) put the attention on me, it opened the door for our other players. And it led to a team effort for our defense,” Mathis said. “We won’t work individually, we work as a team.”

Juan Gaytan provided some game-shifting moments with a recovered fumble that went 25 yards to the SB 1-yard line and then scored a 1-yard run on the next play to make it 21-14. Cornerback Anthony Castillo was rarely tested and helped limit the big play opportunities that SB has been known for throughout the year.

“We knew it was going to be a good game because they got a great passing game. But our defense and DB’s held it down,” the 5-foot-8 Castillo said.

Buena has not had a perfect league season since 2009, when the Bulldogs went 5-0 in the CL and Mathis watched his illustrious older brother Kendrick lead BHS to league perfection.

Not only are the Bulldogs at the halfway mark of a 4-0 league season, but the 53rd annual Buena-Ventura game on Nov. 6 could decide the league title, since the Cougars currently sit at 2-0 in the league standings after trouncing San Marcos (Goleta) 49-7.

TRAP GAMES? WHAT TRAP GAMES FOR LOMPOC?

In the last two weeks, Lompoc High players heard how Santa Ynez and St. Joseph (Santa Maria) would challenge and perhaps trip up the Braves, since both were either unbeaten or nursing one loss before heading to Huyck Stadium.

Well, the Braves (7-1, 2-0 in league) have not only cleared those two hurdles, but put up 42 points in back-to-back routs of the Pirates and Knights, with the latest a 42-21 onslaught of St. Joseph on Oct. 23.

And this was a Braves team down 21-14 at halftime, before pouring on 28 unanswered points in the Los Padres League battle.

Head coach Andrew Jones, who is the proud owner of three Southern Section titles including one title he won as the quarterback of the 2002-03 team, told the Santa Maria Times that this game is the defining moment of the year for his team.

"When you're in a big-time game like this, playing such a great team, and you're down, you've got two options: You can quit, or you can fight back," Jones told the SM Times. "And our guys just fought back. That was impressive."

DINUBA QUARTERBACK GOES THREE WAYS AGAINST SELMA

Before the season, Dinuba High quarterback Isaac Leppke was hailed as a throwing and running threat for the Emperors.

But now, you can receiving threat, as the 6-foot-4, 180-pounder caught three passes for 58 yards and a 14-yard touchdown reception in Dinuba’s 20-14 Central Sequoia League win over an improved Selma team. He finished with 12 of 17 passing for 157 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

But it was his receiving ability that fooled the Bears.

“It was actually really fun to perform as an athlete,” Leppke said. “I told my team that I wanted to do whatever was best for them so that we could start turning the season around. I'm trying to be more of a team player and use my athleticism to make that change happen. I feel like my speed can be used for a lot of things and it really showed that night.”

Leppke already looks like a possession target with his tall frame. He also comes with hops, proven by his recent appearance in the CIF State Track and Field championships in the hurdles.

ALL IS WELL AT CLOVIS HIGH FOLLOWING THE AFTERMATH OF A CONTROVERSIAL LOSS

There was no lightning illuminating the night time sky, no 40-hour postponement and lastly, no 13 on 11 disadvantage, as Clovis High rumbled to a 34-13 trouncing over Buchanan at Lamonica Stadium.

The beat down came off the heels of one of the most bizarre Central Section games in recent memory that even saw the USA Today post a story. Central High had handed Clovis its first loss of the year 21-20. But on at least five plays, the Grizzlies lined up with as many as 13 defenders on the field. No penalty for too many men on the field was called and the film went straight to the CIF Central Section office.

This time, the Cougars (7-1, 2-1 in league) went to the ground attack and defense to tame the Bears in this Tri-River Athletic Conference rivalry game. Two-way athlete Josh Hokit scored two rushing touchdowns on a night that saw Clovis rack up 222 rushing yards; 176 of them coming in the first half.

Jared Hill, Tanner Rice and defensive end A.J. Nevills helped contribute to the defensive charge, as Clovis held Buchanan to 89 passing yards.


Clovis now has a heavyweight showdown against league unbeaten Clovis North on Oct. 30 at Veterans Memorial Stadium. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

HIDDEN RUNNING BACK TREASURES

Camarillo running back Isaiah Otis said he hasn't heard from any four-year university and junior college, and this is a running back with 1,253 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns for the 7-0 Scorpions (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 
In the backfield from the Central Valley to Westlake Village are these hidden treasures at running back.

These Class of 2016 prospects are either watching the sun descend on their three-year varsity run or have finally broken out for their senior campaign.

Maybe a late offer from any four-year college can happen for these highlighted players. Here’s some underrated backfield gems:

JOSEPH “JO JO” MCDANIEL, HANFORD

From the school and city that produced former UCLA running back Shawn Wills and ex-Michigan Wolverine commit Avery Horn comes Joseph McDaniel, who’s a 5-foot-11, 215-pound thoroughbred. McDaniel – who drew interest from the Mountain West and Iowa State before the season – currently has 3,406 yards on 495 carries and 42 touchdowns in his three years of wearing a Bullpup uniform. He’s smashed defenses on inside runs and has six 100-yard games for the 8-0 ‘Pups.

KOLLIN STOCK, CENTRAL VALLEY CHRISTIAN (VISALIA)

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Stock doesn’t look like a trailblazer with his speed, but he’s unafraid to squeeze himself in between the tackles and break off a long gain. He follows the big boys up front at CVC and has 1,172 yards with 15 touchdowns this season, including two 200-yard outings.

DARIUS SMITH, RIDGEVIEW (BAKERSFIELD)

He’s only 5-foot-7 and 165-pounds, but Smith has been electric for the reigning Central Section Division II champs and unbeaten Wolf Pack. Smith - who’s a three-year varsity letterman for football – has shattered career marks in rushing yards (897) and touchdowns (14) this season.

QUINCY JOUNTII, LIBERTY (BAKERSFIELD)

After a rough 0-2 start, Jountii and the Patriots are starting to turn the corner by winning three of their last four games. Jountii has three 100-yard games during this tear. He’s had most of his interest from different mid-major programs in the Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision.

AUSTIN VREELAND, SANTA YNEZ

Vreeland is the weapon the Pirates want to give the football to, especially with his quick second gear. The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder has combined for 1,187 yards and 14 touchdowns for the resurgent 7-1 Pirates, who were 1-9 last year.

ISAIAH OTIS, CAMARILLO

The 5-foot-9, 185-pound Otis has been one of the best breakthrough athletes for undefeated Camarillo. The senior has 1,253 combined yards (861 rushing) and 19 touchdowns. Otis has told Cali Gold Mine that not one school, including a junior college, is talking to him.

PERRY MARTIN III, THOUSAND OAKS

The senior went from a torn ACL and meniscus last year to 1,023 yards and 15 touchdowns for the 6-1 Lancers, who are in the hunt for the Camino League title.

GIL’SCOTT JACKSON II, OAKS CHRISTIAN (WESTLAKE VILLAGE)


On a team with a USC commit (Michael Pittman II) and a 2018 prospect who landed a USC offer recently (Matt Corral), Jackson II is emerging as a late blooming college football prospect at the La Tienda Rd. private school. Jackson II shows a wicked second gear after he crosses the line of scrimmage, leaving defenders who are chasing him down exhausted as they've seen Jackson II run to 951 yards and 15 touchdowns in seven games. 


GOLD MINE GAME OF THE WEEK: ST. BONAVENTURE (VENTURA) AT OAKS CHRISTIAN (WESTLAKE VILLAGE)

St. Bonaventure (Ventura) quarterback Darius Vines will be among a handful of college football ready talent in the St. Bonnie/Oaks Christian contest on Friday, Oct. 23 at Westlake Village. Vines holds two scholarship offers from Eastern Washington and Montana State (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 
The “Gates of Heaven” student section will look to be loud, proud and overheard throughout Westlake Village, while the home crowd will carry the hope that their team improves to 8-0 overall.

The Marmonte League rivalry contest between St. Bonaventure (Ventura) and Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) adds another chapter on Friday, Oct. 23, with a standing room only crowd imminent.

College football talent will be scattered throughout the field in this Southern California contest. The Seraphs have taken the last two meetings including the 21-17 victory at Ventura High last year.

ABOUT THE SERAPHS: St. Bonaventure (5-2) spent its bye week trying to regroup from a disastrous 49-20 loss to Camarillo that saw the Seraphs’ 19-year streak of beating Ventura County public schools come to an end.

Defense had to have been a big emphasis during the last two weeks of practice on Telegraph Ave. The Seraphs’ unit has surrendered 30 or more points in four games this season.

Versatile defensive back Keegan Romero and cornerback Chris Santoyo will have some huge assignments this week as they’ll go against the slew of offensive playmakers on Oaks Christian’s side.

Offensively, the arm and legs of quarterback Darius Vines has carried St. Bonnie. Vines – who recently got offered by Montana State – is deadly on scrambles and keeper runs. Chuck Wick is a rising sophomore at running back for the Seraphs. Noah Gianelli gives Vines a solid red zone option as a 6-foot-3, 220-pound tight end.

ABOUT THE LIONS: Playmakers, playmakers and more playmakers fill the 7-0 Lions’ 2015-16 roster.

Quarterback Matt Corral floats bombs in the air for his wide receivers to grab and adds a mobile element on read option runs. The 2018 prospect landed his first offer from USC a week ago. His top target is a current Trojans commit: athlete Michael Pittman II, who leads the Lions with 42 catches, 960 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Running back Gil’Scott Jackson II has had a breakout season with 99 carries, 951 yards and 15 touchdowns. He told Cali Gold Mine that PAC-12 schools Colorado, UCLA, Washington and Arizona State have shown interest in him.



Senior defensive back Lee Pitts is the Lions’ top takeaway machine. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Pitts has six interceptions and four pass breakups. Towering 6-foot-7, 225 pound Colby Parkinson doubles as big-play tight end (averages 23.9 yards per catch) and edge rusher on the defensive line.

BEST MATCHUP: Darius Vines versus Lee Pitts. St. Bonnie could try to establish the run early, but when Vines goes to the air he must be aware of Pitts’ presence.

DON’T SLEEP ON: Casey Roddick, tackle/guard, St. Bonaventure. He’s the Seraphs’ tower of power at 6-foot-4, 328-pounds and comes with run blocking dominance.

GAME INFORMATION: Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Oaks Christian High.



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

RISING STAR WATCH: ROMAN ALE

Roman Ale has received the label of sleeper by his Narbonne (Harbor City) football coaches, as he's calmly led the Gauchos to a current 5-2 mark in 2015-16 while holding one scholarship offer (photo credit: Martin Henderson/OC Sidelines). 
It’s rare to find a sleeper prospect on a team like Narbonne High, considering all the collegiate attention that most of the Gaucho senior class has received.

But quarterback Roman Ale fits that label.

All Ale has done for the Los Angeles area powerhouse is dissect defenses with his arm and legs and do it with just one scholarship offer from Dartmouth.

Here’s a breakdown of the southpaw:

WHAT TO LIKE: He has outstanding awareness in the pocket. He doesn’t get rattled by pass rushes and does a strong job of keeping himself inside the offensive tackles to unleash his throws. Shows solid feet in his three to five step drop. Not only does he have a strong left arm, but is capable of quickly locating the open wide receiver and feed him the ball. Tough option keeper runner who isn’t afraid to run through the middle of the defense. Never panics when under duress.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: As of now, he doesn’t have the strongest zip to his throws. His passes sometimes floats in the air for a long period of time. On option keepers, he tends to miss out on the open hole. He’s not the fastest runner either. Most of his best throws were made through the play action.

OVERALL: Ale’s attitude is cool and chill like a customer who doesn’t rant at the grocery checkout line. He looks like someone who could make a Football Championship Subdivision program or a Mountain West team content.





Sunday, October 18, 2015

GOLD MINE THOUGHTS: TRAFFIC JAM IN THE SOUTHERN SECTION NORTHERN DIVISION

Bishop Diego's Michael Agnoli (No. 35) goes in motion while quarterback Spencer Stovesand looks his way during the second half of the Cardinals' 43-20 rout of Immanuel (Reedley) on Oct. 16 (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 
I traveled down Highway 101 and ran into one of biggest traffic congestions I’ve ever endured while on my way to La Playa Stadium on Oct. 16. Flash floods and the closure of Interstate 5 led to a glutted three hour jam for me and several drivers who were going southbound for the Immanuel (Reedley) and Bishop Diego (Santa Barbara) contest.

But once I got in the Eagles/Cardinals game before the opening kickoff, I saw Bishop Diego in cruise control on offense, defense and special teams, as the undefeated Cardinals trounced the Central Section power 43-20.

The game was billed as a private school heavyweight showdown, with both teams arriving to La Playa at 6-0. Immanuel scored on its opening drive with John Gurrola scoring a 3-yard reception. However, the Cards not only re-took the lead on the next drive through the first of four rushing touchdowns, but got a huge special teams’ assist that shifted the momentum of the night.

Av Bennett – a track and field star and recipient of a football scholarship pledge from the University of San Diego – came crashing toward Viktor Cooper’s field goal attempt, stretched out his hands and blocked the 26-yard attempt that later turned into an 89-yard field goal block touchdown return by Tommy Murrillo, making it 14-6.

The Cards then turned to the defense and the tree trunk legs of Micahel Sorraco.

The 5-foot-8, 210-pounder - who looks like past big backs in a Cardinal uniform – rushed to 191 yards on 24 carries and scored three touchdowns, including a 62-yard scamper that opened the third quarter. On the next defensive series, BD overwhelmed Eagle quarterback Caleb Paulson and forced a fumble at their own 23. That later led to Spencer Stovesand scoring on a 2-yard quarterback sneak and burying the Eagles further.

At 7-0, the Cardinals are currently among three unbeaten teams left in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division (III) football standings along with Palmdale and Camarillo. It’s a gridlock at the top, but roads will become clearer soon on which team will land the No. 1 seed come playoff time.

‘HOMECOMING KILLERS’ SURVIVE IN CALABASAS

They were featured in a You Tube video that was released prior to the Camarillo/Calabasas showdown titled “Homecoming Killers” and screaming the words “You’re next Calabasas” at the end of the 56 second reel.



The epic homecoming clash between two Southern Californian undefeated squads turned out to have great theatrics. Leads were exchanged, NCAA Division I prospects made plays for Calabasas, DI hopefuls on the opposite side responded back with huge plays of their own and in the end, the Scorpions slayed another giant in the Coyotes 40-39.

Camarillo football continues to capture the imagination of its city. The Scorpions have relied on players who grew up with one another and stayed true to their roots when opportunities were presented to attend Newbury Park, St. Bonaventure, Calabasas, Oaks Christian, etc.

Now comes the next sequence to this film: the Camino League. All four teams are 4-3 and better. Plus the rest of the Scorpions’ schedule – beginning first against Newbury Park at home on Friday, Oct. 23 – are a combined 15-6.



FRESNO RISING – AND HAS RARE BATTLE OF LEAGUE UNBEATENS COMING

Just four years ago, Fresno High was 0-10 and started a head coaching carousel.

Now, 30-year coaching veteran and FHS legend Ray Reyes has the Warriors at 6-1…and eyeing the North Yosemite League championship after shocking league boss Sunnyside 40-34.

How are the Warriors turning the tide under Reyes? A power running game that follows the brute force of the "Tongan Horse" in 6-foot-1, 311-pound right guard Ofa Kuma and the electric play of lead back Nyric Hinton, who piled 223 yards on 34 carries and two touchdowns against the powerful Wildcats - including the 2-yarder in the games’ final minutes. Hinton has 919 yards and 12 touchdowns in seven games for Fresno Unified’s best feel good story.


Next up? A 35 minute road trip to Reedley to take on fellow league unbeaten Reedley High on Oct. 23. 

GOLD MINE GALLERY: IMMANUEL (REEDLEY) AT BISHOP DIEGO (SANTA BARBARA)

All photos by Lorenzo Reyna:




































Thursday, October 15, 2015

RISING STAR WATCH: MATT CORRAL

Quarterback Matt Corral of Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) landed the first of what could be many scholarship offers on Thursday, Oct. 15, as USC came calling first (photo contributed). 
Three days ago, Matt Corral of Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) was among 15 quarterbacks in the 805 region highlighted by Cali Gold Mine because of his knack for the deep ball and for being a two-year varsity starter as a sophomore.

Now, Corral landed the first of what should be many scholarship offers, as the 6-foot-3, 190-pound cannon launcher received his first pledge from USC on Thursday, Oct.15.

It’s ludicrous to think that Corral is just a sophomore, because his arm strength is unreal and few high school signal callers in California has his intangibles. Here’s a closer look:

WHAT TO LIKE: He’s a master at fooling defenses with the pump fake then unleashing the Hail Mary. He also has thrown the long ball without faking the throw and then letting the 47-yard bomb loose, proven at the 29 second mark of his 2015-16 film. He’s unafraid to take aggressive strikes down the field and has sometimes sailed his ball past two defenders for his receiver to grab. Has excellent pocket awareness. Rarely tucks the ball in and runs, but when he does he won’t go down on first contact.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: Right now, his strength has been the long range throws through play action calls. Need to see his ability to quickly release the ball out and how he does on short throws. His passes sometimes hangs in the air too long, which could lead to multiple interceptions down the road.


OVERALL: The PAC-12 has hit Oaks Christian hard on the recruiting trail since the school opened for the 2002-2003 season. Corral has now kept the PAC-12 coaches coming to the pristine private school after getting one prestigious university to extend an early offer. It’s unique to see how far along Corral is in his develop. What’s scary is that after this season, he has two more years to become the complete package.




GOLD MINE GAME OF THE WEEK: IMMANUEL (REEDLEY) AT BISHOP DIEGO (SANTA BARBARA)

Av Bennett has been a running and ball hawking presence for undefeated Bishop Diego. The 6-0 Cardinals take on another unbeaten from Fresno County, Immanuel of Reedley, on Friday, Oct. 16 at La Playa Stadium (photo credit Janice Graham). 
They come with religious backgrounds, power running attacks and no losses so far this season.

Immanuel of Reedley (6-0) and Bishop Diego of Santa Barbara (6-0) will meet in a key Central Section versus Southern Section battle on Friday, Oct. 16 at picturesque La Playa Stadium in the 805.

One of these teams could be a section title holder in their respective divisions. Here’s a closer look at the contest:

ABOUT THE EAGLES: The theme this year for Immanuel is “Finish.” It’s the hashtag used for the Eagle football accounts on Instagram and Twitter, which means finish the season as a section champion.

Last year’s team lost 44-16 to Corcoran in the Division V title game. This year’s team has averaged 34.5 points per game on offense with a running back committee.

Junior Kyle Dunnigan is the top back with 415 yards and six touchdowns. Versatile senior Ryan Case gives the Eagles a dangerous outside element with 147 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns. Case averages 13.4 yards per carry. Junior Bryhan Cantu adds to the Eagles’ ground-and-pound approach with 98 yards on 20 carries for an average of 4.9 yards per carry.

Senior quarterback Caleb Paulson – who split playing duties with Aaron Daggs last season – has guided an efficient Eagle air attack with 1,232 yards, a 58% completion percentage, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions. His top receiver is Chris Rosedale, who has 21 catches for 444 yards and five touchdowns. John Gurrola adds to Immanuel’s receiving core with an average of 16.2 yards per catch.

Defensively, linebacker Andrue Lackey is tops with six tackles behind the line of scrimmage despite battling injuries this season. Four-year varsity starter Cody King leads Immanuel with 40 tackles and an average of 13.3 per game. Case is the top ball hawk in the secondary with three interceptions.

ABOUT THE CARDINALS: Fast starts are nothing new for Bishop Diego. Since 2012, BD has begun the year at 6-0 or better under head coach Tom Crawford.

Three running backs power the inside game for BD. Michael Sorracco leads the Cards with 504 yards on 87 carries and has muscled his 210-pound frame to nine scores. Rising sophomore John Harris – who’s built like a possession wide receiver at 6-foot-2, 195-pounds – has stretched defenses out to the tune of 281 yards on 39 carries and five touchdowns in five games. Av Bennet not only gives BD quality depth in the backfield with 198 rushing yards, he’s also a playmaker at strong safety.

Linebacker Matt Shotwell is the Cards’ defensive leader with 90 tackles, 64 solo stops and has two sacks. Sophomore Dylan Streett is a long, rangy safety at 6-foot-2, 175-pounds and has two picks this season.

The Cardinals took last year’s meeting at Reedley 20-17 in overtime.

BEST MATCHUP: Caleb Paulson versus Av Bennett. Paulson has been a reliable game manager while Bennett is a threat to score a pick six anytime he hits the field. Even though Immanuel doesn’t throw the ball much, Paulson has to account for Bennett whenever he’s asked to deliver strikes down the field.

DON’T SLEEP ON: Ryan Case. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior captain is a do-everything weapon for Immanuel. He has 288 all-purpose yards and a team-high three interceptions so far in 2015-16.


GAME INFORMATION: Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

RISING STAR WATCH: JUSTIN PRINCE

Justin Prince intercepts a pass against Serra (Gardena) in the 41-40 overtime loss on Sept. 18. Prince is emerging as the Gauchos' next big-time recruit at Narbonne High (photo contributed). 
Twelve players at Narbonne High School in Harbor City have reeled in some offers and letters from different colleges. One of those players is a prince….

Justin Prince that is.

Idaho has shown early interest in the 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior who is emerging as the Gauchos’ next hitter and ball hawk. Gaucho wide receiver coach James Finley called Prince “a really big hitter who loves contact and is one of the smartest, most instinctive defensive backs in Southern California.”

After breaking down Prince in our film room, he has the makings of a bona fide national recruit, especially at a place that will likely send at least seven players to the NCAA Division I ranks come National Signing Day in February 2016.


WHAT TO LIKE: Has quick reaction speed like an advanced GPS system and redirects himself to the football. Shows excellent eyes and awareness on where the play is going. Runs with a low center of gravity and adjusts his hips well to where the ball is heading. Has the cover speed of a cornerback and sticks to the hips of a wide receiver during man coverage. Isn’t afraid to come crashing down at the line of scrimmage against the run. Buries his shoulder into a ball carrier’s hips and rarely goes above the torso. Hard-nosed, cerebral player.

WHAT TO BUILD ON: Need to see how consistent he is with using his hands to shed blocks against screen and swing passes. Also will be curious to see how he fares against bigger and faster receivers, since most of the wideouts he’s gone against are either as tall as him or shorter.


OVERALL: Prince will keep the college football coaches coming to “The ‘Bonne.” He’s been called a young Brian Dawkins at NHS. He’s a defensive back who knows where plays go and covers his territory like a tiger in the jungle.


Monday, October 12, 2015

THE 805 IS THE PLACE TO BE RIGHT NOW FOR QUARTERBACKS

Max Gilliam is one of many faces dominating the Central Coast quarterback scene, as the Cal commit and Thousand Oaks star has helped lead a new crop of 805 signal callers (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 
The 805 of California is 15 deep at the quarterback position this season.

There are gems sprouted down Highway 101 from Arroyo Grande to the Los Angeles County line. One signal caller is already PAC-12 bound, another is starting to pick up steam from the PAC-12, while a dual-threat has shredded defenses for the state’s No. 11 ranked team.

This area has got to have some of the best quarterback play under the stadium lights right now. And looks like the 2018 class for the 805 is stacked too.

Here’s who has been balling out at quarterback for their teams and who to keep an eye on down the road:

MAX GILLIAM, THOUSAND OAKS

Currently committed to Cal, Gilliam continues to run Thousand Oaks’ offense with mastery; with 2,374 combined yards and 32 touchdowns for the 6-1 Lancers. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Gilliam comes equipped with a rocket arm, quick release and the speed of a gazelle.



CAMERON RISING, NEWBURY PARK

The sophomore is off to an unbelievable start with 1,972 yards, 28 touchdown passes and just one pick. He could become the next Gilliam in the south 805 region because of his ability to run and throw. Rising is one of best quarterbacks in the section at fooling defenders with the play action fake. Washington State and Cal have made early offers for Rising.

Darius Vines escapes pressure against Camarillo during the Seraphs' 49-20 loss on Oct. 9. Vines currently has an offer from Eastern Washington (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 


DARIUS VINES, ST. BONAVENTURE (VENTURA)

Though he had a rather rough outing against the state’s No. 11 ranked Camarillo on Oct. 9, plus happens to be a multi-sport athlete who reportedly is swinging toward baseball, the 5-foot-11, 165-pound Vines is an electrifying one with the ball in his hand. He may not have previous Seraph legend Ricky Town’s arm or high football intelligence, but Vines is a raw athlete and plays like a young Russell Wilson. 

MATT CORRAL, OAKS CHRISTIAN (WESTLAKE VILLAGE)

Corral got his varsity start as a freshman and hasn’t looked back since. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Corral has a knack for fooling defenders with the pump fake then unleashing the long ball. He’s also a powerful runner on read option plays. UCLA has shown early interest.



TANNER DARLING, SIMI VALLEY

Though Simi Valley is 2-5, Darling has been a highlight for the Pioneers. He’s combined for 2,074 yards and 22 touchdowns as a thrower and runner. Darling is a solid bomber and is slippery when under pressure.

Camarillo quarterback Jake Constantine hands the ball off to Elijah Alexander during the third quarter of the Scorpions' dominant 49-20 rout of St. Bonaventure (photo by Lorenzo Reyna). 


JAKE CONSTANTINE, CAMARILLO

All he’s done at Camarillo is the following: lead an aerial assault, make ridiculous throws when under duress and now…knock off three of the biggest heavyweights in the 805 (Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande and St. Bonaventure). He raised his value even more with 225 yards and a combined five touchdowns in the 49-20 trouncing of the proud Seraphs on Oct. 9. Mid-majors have been watchful of Constantine.



BLAKE JAECKELS, ST. JOSEPH (SANTA MARIA)

From Mark Brunell’s alma mater, Jaeckels has become the running/throwing threat that the legendary Knight quarterback once was. Jaeckels not only has 1,394 yards, 15 touchdowns, two interceptions and five rushing scores, but he’s helped guide St. Joseph to the best record (6-1) among the teams in the Santa Maria/Orcutt area.

BRENT PEUS, SANTA BARBARA

Last year, Peus looked like a quarterback relying more on his arm and legs but not the cerebral aspect. Now, the senior has become more of a student of the game and it’s shown in his quick release and decision making. He also isn't afraid to take aggressive shots down the field, as he's darted the ball between two defenders for his receiver to haul in the touchdown grab. 

TANNER SHEAN, SANTA YNEZ

The Pirates have been one of the best stories in the 805 at 7-0 and Shean’s play has been a contributing factor. Only 5-foot-11 and 165-pounds, Shean has been the accurate game manager for the undefeated Pirates with a 73.6% completion percentage, 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions.

SAWYER MAY, ARROYO GRANDE

Look for May to headline the 805’s 2017 quarterback class. Like Shean, the two-year varsity starter May has limited his mistakes with 1,236 yards, 12 touchdowns and one pick for the usually run-heavy Eagles. May’s strength has been the deep ball.

KELLEN ROBERTS, DOS PUEBLOS (GOLETA)

The Chargers are still searching for an identity with their 2-5 start, but the Class of 2017 prospect gives DP some hope for this season and the next. Roberts has completed 70.6% of his throws with 13 touchdowns, six interceptions and a QB rating of 103.5. He’s a fearless runner in the read option as well.

GRANT BUCKNER, WESTLAKE

He was once the backup to Malik Henry before Henry went to IMG Academy in Florida and then Long Beach Poly. While the 6-foot, 185-pound Buckner may not have Henry’s athleticism or overall skill set, he’s shown precision passes and accuracy when the Warriors call on him to deliver downfield strikes.

EDDIE GUERRERO, RIO MESA (OXNARD)

Guerrero is part of a quarterback rotation at Rio Mesa, but he’s clearly been the more consistent running and deep pass option for the Spartans. He’s known as “Steady Eddie” among his peers.

KESHAUN MATA, SANTA PAULA

Mata has been one of the best stories in the last two years for the 805. He conquered cancer, plays with a prosthetic leg and the junior is in his second varsity season with the Cardinals. He’s dismantled defenses with his mobility and long ball game.



KEEP AN EYE ON: MASON QUANDT, ST. BONAVENTURE


The Class of 2018 prospect and West Hills (Chaminade) transfer already has size (6-foot-3, 190-pounds) and can make the throws that not too many sophomores can make. Once he polishes his footwork, he could become Bonnie’s next most highly-touted quarterback.