The All-Time Starbucks/Black Hat Football Teams for The 209

The 2016 Starbuck’s All-Black Hat Football team includes players from throughout The 209 area code.  That powerhouse region includes 70 high school varsity teams in 10 leagues in seven Northern San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada counties.Starbucks logo copy

The CIF Sac-Joaquin Section leagues included are: Central California Athletic Association, Central California Conference, Modesto Metro Conference, Mother Lode League, San Joaquin Athletic Association, Southern League, Trans-Valley League, Tri-City Athletic League, Valley Oak League and Western Athletic Conference.



RB WILL SEMONE, OAKDALE (Valley Oak League) 

It’s difficult to say much more about Oakdale’s prolific runner.

He finished third in the state with 2,851 yards rushing – despite missing 2-plus games to injury this season – and scored  state-record 6 TDs in Oakdale’s 47-0 rout of previously Bishop’s-La Jolla in the Division 3-A State Bowl.Like all our of First Teamers and MVP picks, Semone earns a $20 Starbucks gift card! Our Second Teamers receive $5 gift cards.

Semone ran for 219 yards and 6 TDs on his 28 carries in the Bowl win, giving him a record-setting season rushing total  for both Oakdale High and Stanislaus County. He also ran for 1,684 yards in his six playoff games this year – gaining at least 200 yards in every game – and  scored 34 touchdowns this season for the 14-2 Mustangs.



The 6-foot-1, 155-pounder was a highlight reel every time he took the field, racing through secondaries and making all sort of catches for the Delta Kings. Haywood was a First Team  Starbucks/Black Hat receiver as a junior, and he absolutely exploded this season.

Haywood caught an even 100 passes for 1,644 yards and a whopping 22 touchdowns in just 11 games. Even though his team had just one playoff game, Haywood still finished as the Sac-Joaquin Section leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns.

He also finished fourth in the state in receptions, fourth in yards and third in TDs.

Haywood caught 17 passes for 211 yards and 4 TDs in 1 35-32 loss to D3 finalist Christian Brothers, and 13 catches for 192 yards and 2 TDs to help beat McNair 46-35 for the SJAA title.


LB NOEL-JOHNSON, TURLOCK (Central California Conference)

The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder was the 2015 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Defensive Player of the Year after a spectacular junior season. then he followed it up with an even more impressive senior year to repeat as The 209’s Defensive Player of the Year.

He was in on 102 tackles while leading Turlock’s aggressive defense, helping the Bulldogs to their first conference title in two decades. He had 34.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and he also caught six passes for 111 yards and 3 TDs.


POPO AUMAVAE, ST. MARY’S-STOCKTON (Tri-City Athletic League) 

The 6-foot-4, 315-pounder is The 209’s star recruit and has a verbal commitment to Oregon and led his Rams to the State Division 1-AA Bowl Game before they fell in overtime to Cathedral Catholic-San Diego.

Aumavae has been a 3-year beast for the Rams, who are 14-1 and have been ranked No. 2 in Northern California much of this season. He was a two-way terror for foes, using his immense size and mobility to clear paths for prolific RB Dusty Frampton and protecting QB Jake Dunniway. He was a first-team offensive lineman on the 2015 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Team.


DB/RB DEVAN BASS, PITMAN-TURLOCK (Central California Conference)

The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder was one of The 209’s top playmakers, carrying the Pride through the season and to the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Division 1 playoffs. Only a loss to St. Mary’s, a game that was razor-thin at halftime, ended the Pride’s season and Bass’ high school career. He ran for 1,036 yards and 14 TDs, including TD runs of 69 and 62 yards; He averaged 8.3 yards a carry and he had a season-high 161 yards on just 12 carries in a playoff win over Monterey Trail.

He caught 19 passes for 398 yards – averaging 21 yards a carry – and scored 4 TDs. One of those scores was a 60-yard that beat Merced on the final moments of a CCC showdown, and his 43-yard catch set up a last-second score to beat Lincoln. He also returned punts 63 and 60 yards for touchdowns, and returned a fumble for a TD. He also was one of the 209’s elite DBs.



The 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior was the 2015 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Underclassmen of the Year after a stunning


debut as a sophomore, and he was even better this fall. He shared the league MVP award and has another season to play in The 209. Here is his 2016 season:

He ran for 859 yards and 17 TDs, while averaging 12.3 yards per carry; In the Wildcats’ 2 playoff games, Rodgers had 15 carries for 271 yards and 4 TDs; He caught 9 passes for 317 yards ad 5 TDs, averaging 35 yards per reception; He hadTD catches of 63, 76 and 91 yards; He was in on 114 tackles, and also had 5 interceptions. He finished with 23 total TDs.



He’s become a legend, not only in Oakdale but across the state, with his old-school Wing-T attack that he occasionally adapts to exploit a running quarterback or an athletic receiver. Last year’s squad reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 final before losing to eventual state champion Central Catholic, and Oakdale suffered staggering graduation losses last spring.

The emergence of RB Will Semone and an aggressive defense set the tone for a program that rolled through the Section playoffs and then overwhelmed Sutter in the second half of last week’s NorCal Bowl.

Aside from Semone, Merzon developed a backfield that included senior Cameron Cherry and junior Bronson Harmon, with QB Marc Dickson occasionally throwing. This was old-school Oakdale football, with the Mustangs showing amazing patience with their running game. Oakdale finished 14-2 after beating Bishops 47-0 in the Division 3-A State Bowl — the school’s first State Bowl title.




The 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior completed 68 percent of his passes (223 of 329) for 4,066 yards, while throwing 46 TDs and 9 interceptions. He led the Rams into the State Division 1-AA Bowl against unbeaten Cathedral Catholic-San Diego, and dropped a heartbreaking decision in overtime after having led the Rams to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 championship.

Dunniway led the Section in passing yardage and finished third in TD passes, and his marquee game

was a 57-21 rout of Tracy (14 of 23, 401 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT). His two-year totals are 6,650 passing

yards, with 72 TDs and 13 INTs while posting a 24-4 record as a starter.

QB DANNY VELASQUEZ, TURLOCK (Central California Conference)

The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder was playing running back as a junior in 2015, until a midseason injury to the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback pushed Velasquez into the role. He returned for his senior season as the full-time starting QB, and led Turlock to its first CCC title in a decade – it’s first outright championship in two decades – and a Sac-Joaquin Section Divison 1 playoff win.

The CCC MVP was a 1K-1K QB, rushing for 1,101 yards and 13 TDs, while averaging 6.4 yards per carry and 92 yards per game; and passing for 1,085 yards with 16 TDs and 7 INTs in 12 games. He also averaged 16 yards per completion.


The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder was as a good a dual-threat as there was in The 209, whether taking a handoff in the backfield and catching a pass downfield. While playing in a pass-heavy spread offense, Green ran for 1,107 yards and 12 TDs while averaging 7.3 yards per carry.

Green also caught 30 passes for 427 yards and 3 TDs, giving him 1,534 yards and 15 TDs. He had six catches for 123 yards and a TD in a Division 2 playoff loss to mighty Central Catholic, and ran for 222 yards in a victory over Gregori to clinch Downey’s fifth straight MMC crown in the regular-season finale.


The 5-foot-11, 215-pound junior has been the centerpiece of a team that played for the State Division 1-AA and finished 14-2 – with its losses to State Open Division champion St. John Bosco and 15-0 Cathedral Catholic-San Diego. The explosive halfback ran for 710 yards and 17 TDs as a sophomore, then broke out this season. Frampton rambled for 2,345 yards and 42 TDs, including 642 yards and 8 TDs in a two-week span in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 final against NorCal power Folsom and the NorCal Bowl against 11-1 Bay Area power Freedom-Oakley. He had 265 yards and 6 TDs in a win over Serra-San Mateo, which was in the State 2-A Bowl.

OL CHRIS MARTINEZ, PITMAN-TURLOCK (Central California Conference)

The 6-foot-4, 255-pound tackle was the CCC Lineman of the Year after leading the Pride to a second-place finish, a trip to the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs and a 10-2

overall record.

OL KYLE REIS, MANTECA (Valley Oak League) 

The 6-foot-2, 260-pound junior is the son of Buffalo coach Eric Reis, and he looks like it while opening holes for the running game, protecting prospect QB Gino Campiotti and even making tackles over on the defensive side of the line (5 tackles for losses). He helped lead the Buffaloes to a 12-2 record and the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 championship.

OL NICHOLAS BERRY, TURLOCK (Central California Conference)

The 6-foot-1, 335-pound center was at the center of the Bulldogs’ physical offensive line, which led Turlock to its first CCC title in a decade and its first outright championship in two decades. The Bulldogs also beat nemesis Merced and dominated Pitman in the always-difficult Harvest Bowl.

OL JARETT CARL, ST. MARY’S-STOCKTON (Tri-City Athletic League)

The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder was the TCAL’s second-best offensive lineman, with only Oregon-bound teammate Popo Aumavae – the 2016 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Lineman of the Year. Carl paved the way for the Rams to have a record-setting season — QB Jake Dunniway threw 46 TDs; Keaton Hampton, Dewey Cotton and junior Marcus Aponte each had 1,000-yard receiving seasons; RB Dusty Frampton ran for  2,345 yards and 42 TDs, and the Rams played for a State Division 1-AA Bowl title.

OL NICO SARALE, OAKDALE (Valley Oak League) 

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior tackle has been a key component in the Mustangs’ prolific Wing-T offense, which has produced 2,600-yard rusher Will Semone, 1,000-yard rusher Cameron Cherry and the program’s third Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 title in 5 years. He helped to the Division 3-A State Bowl, where they routed Bishop’s-La Jolla 47-0.


The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder was the elite tight end in The 209, and his combination of size, speed and strength made him one of the best inside receivers in the Sac-Joaquin Section. He exploited coverage mismatches created by Lincoln’s Code Red offense to catch 59 passes for a whopping 1,100 yards and 10 TDs – crazy numbers for a tight end in high school. Maxie averaged 19 yards per catch, and he had 8 catches that were 40 yards or longer, often after beating lost linebackers on a quick crossing route bef0re turning to head upfield. He also returned a kickoff 73 yards for a TD in the season opener, giving him 11 TDs.


The 5-foot-10, 160-pounder developed into the big-play threat on one of the top teams to ever emerge from The 209, and it’s a big part of the reason the Rams rolled to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I with an impressive series of romps. He caught 4 balls for 133 yards and 3 TDs in a semifinal win over Pitman-Turlock, can caught 4 passes for 95 yards – and 2 acrobatic TDs in the Section final rout of Folsom. He has 47 catches for 1,132 yards, averaging 24 yards per catch, and 16 TDs. He also was among The 209’s top defensive backs.

WR AARON PASCHINI, RIPON (Trans-Valley League)

The 5-foot-11, 165-pounder would have been a stat machine in a passing scheme, but was one of the most physically gifted receivers in The 209 with his ability to time his leaps. Paschini caught 44 passes for 773 yards., averaging 17.6 yards per catch, and scored 12 TDs in 10 games.

K ANGEL LOPEZ, CENTRAL VALLEY-CERES (Western Athletic Conference)

The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder was The 209’s top kicker, providing the distance that allowed Central Valley to be a threat any time its offense got inside the 30-yard line. Lopez hit on 7 of 12 field goals, specializing in long-distance kicks: 4 of his field goals were from 40 yards or, including school-record field goals of 46 yards in Week 4 and then 47 yards in Week 8. Lopez also converted 34 of his 41 PATs, scoring 55 points for the Hawks – who celebrated their first-ever league title by winning the WAC. He sent 19 of his 49 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, and his average kickoff was caught at the 6-yard line.


QB CHRIS LUBINSKY, CERES (Western Athletic Conference)

The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder has the body type a coach like for his pocket passer, and he finishes his two-year varsity career with a 65 percent completion percentage (237 of 366) to go with 5,595 yards, 54 TDs and 16 interceptions in 20 games.

He completed 33 of 46 for 466 yards, with 3 TDs and no INTs, in a 42-41 loss to Pacheco-Los Banos; and then hit on 28 of 39 for 368 yards and 5 TDs in a 48-41 win over Patterson.


The 6-foot-3 185-pound junior returns for his third starting season next fall, with a team that will be his and an offense that should be structured to his strengths – he averaged just 16 passes a game while leading the Buffaloes to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 title and a 12-2 record.  He also was VOL’s Offensive Player of the Year while playing in Manteca’s ball-control scheme: Campiotti threw for 2,101 yards with 24 TDs and 5 interceptions – and also ran for 402 yards and 8 TDs. In the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 final, Campiotti comleted 13 of 22 for 314 yards and 4 TDs –  part of a six-week stretch that featured 12 TD passes and no INTs. He completed 54 of 85 (64 percent completion rate) for 1,026 yards – averaging 205 passing yards a game.


The 5-foot-8, 165-pounder is already a legend in the foothills surrounding Sutter Creek, having led the Buffaloes to their first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section championship, and victories in the NorCal Bowl play-in game and then last week’s NorCal Bowl win over Mendota. The Buffaloes fell to Rancho Christian in the State Division 6-AA Bowl. Thetford finished with nearly 1,900 yards while rushing for 37 TDs, and he caught 15 balls for 175 yards. Thetford averaged 7 yards per run, and averaged 170 yards in each of his 6 playoff games while scoring 17 TDs.


The 5-foot-10, 165-pound rusher ran for 1,449 yards and 16 TDs for the Raiders, who shared the VOL title with Manteca and Oakdale. He also was voted the league’s MVP.

Rice, who ran for more than a 1,000 yards while helping the Raiders to their fourth straight State Small School Bowl as a junior, averaged 9.3 yards a carry and three times scored 3 TDs in a game. He also returned 3 kickoffs for TDs (85, 92 & 98 yards) and had a Pick-6 of 22 yards.

Rice had a season-high 272 yards and scored 3 TDs in a season-opening win over Marin Catholic, then had a season-high 24 carries for 170 yards and 2 TDs to beat Manteca  32-14. He also got in on 28 tackles as a DB, while intercepting 4 passes and blocking a punt.

RB AUSTIN SITH, McNAIR-STOCKTON (San Joaquin Athletic Association)

The 5-foot-6, 160-pounder was a 4-year varsity starter for the Eagles, playing in 41 games and leading McNair to the SJAA co-championship this fall. He ran for 1,226 yards and 12 TDs this fall – averaging 6 yards a carry – and caught 40 passes for 739 yards and 7 TDs. Sith had TD runs of 50, 59 and 77 yards, and TD catches of  95 and 71 yards. He caught 10 passes for 157 yards and a TD in a loss to Merced, and ran a career-high 33 times for 148 yards and 2 TDs to beat Tokay 30-13.


The 6-foot, 180-pounder had a breakout year and was one of The 209’s most reliable receiver in the six-week postseason schedule. He caught 2 TDs in the Section final win over Folsom. In Friday’s 38-35 loss to 15-0 Cathedral Catholic in the Division 1-AA State Bowl, Aponte caught 10 more passes for 126 yards and 2 TDs. His season totals are 62 catches for 1,092 yards, averaging 18 yards per catch with 14 TD receptions. Aponte also ran for 3 TDs, occasionally moving into the Wildcat role.


The 6-foot-5, 240-pounder was one of The 209’s most versatile linemen and could have been selected on either side of the line. We like him on offense due to his great footwork, and check him out pulling (#50) in the video above. Rosko also was the MLL Defensive Player of the Year and was in on 101 tackles, including 11 for lost yardage and 4 sacks.

OL TYLER BOWERS, DOWNEY-MODESTO (Modesto Metro Conference)

The 6-foot, 245-pounder was the MMC Offensive Lineman of the Year and anchored the line for one of The 209’s most prolific offenses. The Knights averaged 37 points a game while going 8-3 and winning their fifth straight conference title.

OL DOM SPLAN, TRACY (Tri-City Athletic League)

The 6-foot, 255-pound center was one of The 209’s elite players on the line, as well as a repeater from the 2015 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Team.

OL JACOB GEIST, LOS BANOS (Western Athletic Conference)

The 6-foot-1, 235-pound tackle was selected as the WAC Offensive Player of the Year and was Merced County’s top offensive lineman for 2015. He took his Tigers to the Sac-Joaqui Section Division 4 semifinals.


The 6-foot-5, 255-pounder was considered one of The 209’s top returning defensive linemen for 2016, but the Rams shifted Norgaard to the offensive line and he blossomed. He’s committed to the University of Nevada as an offensive lineman and was the TCAL Offensive Lineman of the Year after the Rams routed their five leagues by an average of 53 points per game.

K DALLIN TILBY, TURLOCK (Central California Conference)

The 5-foot-11, 165-pound junior was one of the most prolific kickers in the Sac-Joaquin Section, converting 9 of his 13 field-goal attempts for the CCC champion. He hit 9 of his 11 kicks from inside the 50-yard line – missing two from beyond the 50. He also converted 47 of 50 PATs, and 32 of his 72 kicksoffs reached the end zone – the average was kick was to the 5-yard line.


The 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior transferred from Division 1 Lincoln and had to sit out the first five games for the Knights, who play in the Section’s lowest division. The results were even more staggering than expected, with Lee piling up nearly 300 all-purpose yards a week over the final nine games. Lee put up Madden 2016-like numbers, running for 1,724 yards and averaging 17 yards per carry while scoring 21 TDs; He caught 22 passes for 491 yards (22.3 yards per catch) and 8 TDs; He also had 79 tackles and two interceptions; He had an INT return, kickoff return and punt return included with his 32 TDs – and he had 8 2-point runs for a total of 216 points.

We selected the 2016 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Team of the Year the weekend of the State Bowl series. We chose from 70 high schools in 10 leagues spread over 8 counties – making it one of the largest regional all-star football teams in California.


ERIK MEJIA, CENTRAL VALLEY-CERES (Western Athletic Conference)

The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder was the WAC Player of the Year after leading the Hawks to their first-ever league championship, and the Hawks’ defense was among the stingiest in The 209 – giving up less than 12 points a game. Mejia was a first-team Starbucks/Black Hat Football selection as a junior, collecting four sacks and 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He even blocked a field goal.

DL JUAN LOPEZ, TURLOCK (Central California Conference)

The 5-foot-11, 260-pounder was the CCC’s top defensive linemen and his aggressiveness set the tone for a bruising defense that led the Bulldogs to their first outright title in two decades. He had 13 tackles behind the line of scrimmage while helping the ‘Dogs to the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs.


The 5-foot-8, 215-pounder was the top defensive player on a team that is playing for the State Division 1-AA Bowl championship Friday night at Sacramento State, when the 14-1 Rams face 14-0 Cathedral Catholic-San Diego. Stinhilver dominated the Sac-Joaquin Section D1 final vs Folsom, terrorizing the Bulldogs’ backfield and posting four QB sacks. He had 12 sacks for the season.


The 6-foot, 215-pound junior was the centerpiece of a Buffalo defense that posted four shutouts and held seven teams to single digits while earning a share of the league title. Manuleleua led the Buffaloes with 107 tackles, including 17 behind the line of scrimmage. In the Section final win over Placer, he had 16 tackles – with 5 for lost yardage.

LB BRAD CANEPA, SONORA  (Mother Lode League)

The 5-foot-10, 235-pounder was a tackling machine with 140 in 11 games, with 13 of those behind the line of scrimmage. Canepa shared the MLL PLayer of the Year honor and  had 18 tackles in a season-opening win over rival Oakdale – a school that is playing for a State Bowl title Saturday. The linebacker also doubled on offense, running for 521 yards and 9 TDs.

LB JACE KRICK, OAKDALE (Valley Oak League)

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior was the VOL’s premier linebacker this fall, and he helped the Mustangs to a share of the league crown. The Mustangs are the only one of those three teams still

playing, and they face Bishop’s of La Jolla in Saturday’s State Division 3-A Bowl. His Pick-6 in the third quarter of last week’s NorCal Bowl win over Sutter gave Oakdale a third-quarter lead it would never relinquish. Oakdale Coach Trent Merzon called the 27-10 win one of the greatest defensive performances he had ever seen at The Corral.

LB AARIC HOLT, DOWNEY-MODESTO (Modesto Metro Conference)

The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder went wild for the Knights, getting in on 149 tackles and making 12 of those behind the line. He finishes his two-year at Downey by being in on 299 tackles — 28 of those behind the line – for an average of 13 per game. Holt also was the MMC Defensive Player of the Year.


The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder was a first-team performer on the 2015 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Team, and he was once again one of The 209’s premier LBs this season. A four-year starter who helped the Raiders to three State Small School titles, Bland was in on 60 tackles this season while also doubling up as a runner. Bland ran for 774 yards and 14 TDs, and here are his career stats for the Raiders: 1,924 yards and 34 TDs rushing … 13 catches for 186 yards and 2 TDs … He was in on 271 tackles … He had 18.5 sacks … He also has 3 state championship rings, and his performance as a freshman RB keyed the Raiders’ State Bowl win in 2013.


The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder was the VOL Defensive Player of the Year after helping the Raiders to a

share of the league title. Bland was the league’s top DB, and was in on 44 tackles while making 2 interceptions. One of those was a Pick-6 he returned 104 yards for a TD in a win over Manteca. An offensive threat, as well, Bland also averaged 24 yards on his 24 catches, and scored 3 TDs.

DB DAVID FORD, ST. MARY’S-STOCKTON (Tri-City Athletic League)

The 5-foot-8, 185-pounder was a second-team pick on the 2015 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Team, and rose to the top level after getting in on 107 tackles and intercepting two passes for St. Mary’s. The Rams are 14-1 and face 14-0 Cathedral Catholic-San Diego in Friday’s State Division 1-AA Bowl at Sacramento State. Ford was in on 111 tackles as a junior.

DB ULONZO GILLIAM, MERCED (Central California Conference)

The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder could have made this as a first-teamer on offense and defense, but we love the impact he has in the secondary. He got it on 103 tackles, including 15 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 playoff win over Beyer and 14 in a semifinal loss to Oakdale. He also had 2 scoop-and-scores, collecting  fumble and returning it for a touchdown, and return two punts for TDs. The 3-year starter also was the heart of the Bears’ offense: He ran for 1,597 yards and 22 TDs and caught 30 passes for 363 yards and 3 TDs. He finishes with 3,670 career yards from scrimmage and 40 TDs.



The 6-foot-4, 270-pound junior is expected to be one of The 209’s hot recruits in 2017 after getting in on 50 tackles, 10 for losses. He also had 11 sacks.

DL BOLAJI AKINYEMI, TRACY (Tri-City Athletic League)

The 6-foot-210-pound junior was the TCAL Defensive Player of the Year and dropped 10 ballcarriers

for losses, in addition to getting in on 41 tackles and causing 3 fumbles.


He was an underrated performer in Oakdale’s aggressive and agile defense, running down quarterbacks and running backs alike. His pressure destroyed the usualy prolific passing games of Christian Brothers and others, and his Mustangs capped an historic season Saturday night by routing Bishop’s of La Jolla 47-0 for the D3-A State Bowl title – Oakdale’s first State Bowl win.


The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder was in on 55 tackles, and terrorized QBs with his 17.5 sacks. As a tight end, he caught 50 passes for 710 yards and 10 TDs.

LB BRYCE KINSEY, RIPON (Trans-Valley League)

The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder set school tackling records, using his mobility to cover the field. He had 152 tackles, with 3.5 sacks, He finishes his two-year career with a hand in 289 tackles, including 7.5 sacks.

LB JALEND DINWIDDIE, STAGG-STOCKTON (San Joaquin Athletic Association)

The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder had 8 sacks and had a hand in 163 tackles for the SJAA champion,  while also blocking 4 punts. In his 3 seasons with the Delta Kings, Dinwiddie was in on 387 tackles and 18.5 sacks.


The 5-foot-11, 225-pounder was a beast on defense, using his size to overrun opposing offensive

linemen and take down ball carriers. He challenged Sonora’s Brad Canepa – a Starbucks/Black Hat Football First Team pick – as the top linebacker in the foothills.

LB JOHN BECERRA, MERCED (Central California Conference)

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was in on 94 tackles, and 17 of those were behind the line of scrimmage for the Bears – who reached the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 playoffs. He also had 12 sacks and forced 5 fumbles.


The 6-foot, 165-pounder led the Trojans with 75 tackles, and also came up with 4 interceptions. He usually delivered his biggest teams against the Trojans’ biggest foes, with 15 tackles vs. Pitman and a dozen against Antioch and Elk Grove.


The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder plucked six interceptions and also was in on 93 tackles and recovered 4 fumbles. If that wasn’t, he contributed on offense with 113 yards and 2 TDs on the ground and catching 13 passes for 281 yards and 3 TDs.

DB CODY RENTFRO, HILMAR (Trans-Valley League)

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder was a physical player in the secondary – course, he was a physical player while handling the ball on offense, as well. He got in on 87 tackles, including a season-high 17 in a 37-27 loss to small-school power Sonora, and had an interception. On the offensive side, Rentfro had 1,769 yards and 16 TDs and was the TVL Offensive Player of the Year.


The junior was a playaker on both sides of the ball for the Mustangs, but it was his plays in the secondary that helped the Mustangs win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 title and then the D3-A State Bowl title with a 47-0 rout of unbeaten Bishop’s Saturday night.


2015 Starbucks/Black Hat Football Team 

Player of the Year: RB Justin Rice, Central Catholic High (Modesto)

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Derrion Grim, McNair High (Stockton)

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Mustafa Noel-Johnson, Turlock High

Large School Player of the Year: RB/DB Marcel Dancy, West High (Tracy)

Medium School Player of the Year: RB Brad Aquno, Oakdale High

Small School Player of the Year: RB/DB Austin Martins, Orestimba High (Newman)

Underclassman of the Year: Kane Rodgers, Sonora High

Coach of the Year: Roger Canepa, Central Catholic High (Modesto)


Quarterback: Osai Brown, McNair High (Stockton)

Running Back: Jay Green, Beyer High (Modesto)

Running Back: Moses Ghiorso, Central Valley High (Ceres)

Receiver: Michael Lawson, Patterson High

Receiver: Cutrell Haywood, Stagg High (Stockton)

Athlete: Jake Dunniway, St. Mary’s (Stockton)

Lineman: Joseph Moraga, Merced High

Lineman: Popo Aumavae, St. Mary’s High (Stockton)

Lineman: Zac Cardoza, Oakdale High

Lineman: Javier Canella, Central Catholic (Modesto)

Lineman: Thor Rodoni, Pacheco High (Los Banos)

Utility: Lavante Bushnell, Stagg High (Stockton)



Lineman: Michael Osborne, Gregori High (Modesto)

Lineman: Louis Marsella, Oakdale High

Lineman: Erik Mejia, Central Valley High 

Linebacker: Kekupa’a Freehauf, Central Catholic High (Modesto)

Linebacker: Anthony Machado, Los Banos High

Linebacker: Cullen Bearden, Oakdale High

Linebacker: Mike Relloque, St. Mary’s High (Stockton)

Linebacker: Montell Bland, Central Catholic (Modesto)

Defensive Back: Deon White, Chavez High (Stockton)

Defensive Back: Nick Arnaiz, Tokay High (Lodi)

Defensive Back: Tyran Daniels, Downey High (Modesto)


Second Team Offense (To read more about the Second Team, and check out their season highlights, just click this link.)

Quarterback: Brett Neves, Downey High (Modesto)

Running Back: Brandon LaBry, Gustine High

Receiver: Dewey Cotton, St. Mary’s High (Stockton)

Receiver: Alex Chavez, Hilmar High

Receiver: AJ Stewart, Merced High

Utility: Adam Herrera, Los Banos High

Lineman: Dominic Splan, Tracy High

Lineman: Kyle Harp, Hughson High

Lineman: Josh Fala, Sierra High (Manteca)

Lineman: Alex McKeon, Turlock High

Lineman: Garrett Heffrington, Calaveras High (San Andreas)

Athlete: Joe Sheldon, Orestimba High (Newman)



Lineman: Kade Piazza, Lodi High

Lineman: Nate Gookin, Sonora High

Lineman: Deamian Collins, Patterson High

Linebacker: Justice Futch, Hughson High

Linebacker: Austin Rees, Stone Ridge Christian (Merced)

Linebacker: Matt Henriques, Modesto High

Linebacker: Bruyce Kinsey, Ripon High

Defensive Back: Isaiah Downes, Lincoln High (Stockton)

Defensive Back: Ronaldo Tijero, Manteca High

Defensive Back: Chris Munoz, Pacheco High (Los Banos)

Defensive Back: David Ford, St. Mary’s High (Stockton)


OUR 2014 TEAM: We rolled out the 2014 Starbucks All-Black Hat Football Team over three days, firing out one player after another throughout each day. Now we’ve got everyone in one spot, all the kids from offense, defense and our special players of the year categories.

Starbucks rewarded the Players of the Year, and first-team offense and defense, Starbucks logo copywith $20 gift cards Starbucks logo copyand an All-Black Hat Football Team patch ideal for a letterman’s jacket. Second-teamers earn a $5 Starbucks gift card and a patch.

We’ve selected our all-stars from the 70 schools in The 209. While most newspapers select teams from one county, or a handful of schools, Black Hat’s reach extends to seven counties. Lodi to Le Grand, Tracy to Sonora, Los Banos at Sutter Creek – we looked at everyone as we selected our elite team. We also stuck to 11 players on each of our teams, to keep it authentic.



QB NOAH RIGHETTI, St. Mary’s-Stockton – The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder was the model of consistency, leading the Rams to a 12-2 record and the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 final. He completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,845 yards, with 32 TDs and nine interceptions, while running for 232 yards and eight more scores. One of Righetti’s finest games was a 49-29 win over Tracy to clinch the Tri-City Athletic League: He completed 12 of 16 for 244 yards, with three TDs and an interception. Righetti was 32 of 45, for 843 yards and 10 TDs, in the first three rounds of the section playoffs – with season-highs of 340 yards and five TDs in the postseason opener. He was voted the TCAL Player of the Year after a season spent throwing it to Starbucks All-Black Hat receiver Demetrius Ferguson (41 catches, 832 yards, 8 TDs), sophomore Dewey Cotton (36, 501, 1), Stephen Gudino (32, 549, 12) and sophomore Keaton Hampton (32, 538, 5).


DUSTIN CAROPRESO, Los Banos – It was a stunning season for the surprising Tigers, who opened 2014 with a 37-7 loss at the hands of Madera and finished with a loss in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 semifinals. In between, Caropreso and the Tigers went 9-1 and stunned Western Athletic Conference co-favorites Pacheco and Patterson while capturing the crown. Caropreso showed his ability to win the close ones, as his Tigers beat Patterson 47-41 and Livingston 19-13 in overtime in consecutive weeks. Junior QB Adam Herrera bounced back from that initial loss to become the WAC’s Offensive MVP, and coaches selected LB Alec Barcellos as their WAC Defensive MVP. Herrera, all-WAC receiver David Walker and all-WAC lineman Evan Duran will return next season.


RB JUSTIN RICE, Central Catholic-Modesto – Penciled in primarily as a receiver, with a supporting role in the running game, Rice filled in for the injured started in the Raiders’ Valley Oak League opener and never looked back. The Valley Oak League Offensive Player of the Year led The 209 with 2,146 yards, averaging 11.2 yards a carry and leading the Raiders to their third straight state crown. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder also caught 35 balls for 599 yards and three TDs. Rice ran for 924 yards and 8 TDs in the Raiders’ first four playoff wins, before missing most of the State Bowl with an injury. He’s also the brother of 2014 Starbucks All-Black Hat DB Jared Rice.


DB JAKOB MAGANA, Downey-Modesto – Might as well slap the cuffs in Magana right now, because there wasn’t a bigger thief in the state this season. His 14 interceptions were second in the nation – a player in New Mexico swiped 17 – and the 5-foot-7, 135-pounder helped Downey to its third straight Modesto Metro Conference title. Magana had three interceptions in a 42-21 win over Gregori-Modesto, sealing the Knights’ championship on the final night of the regular season, as well as a pick in the quarterfinal loss to eventual section champion Grant-Sacramento.


QB HUNTER PETLANSKY, Central Catholic-Modesto – The 6-foot-3, 225-pound junior is fresh off leading the parochial power to a third straight California Division 4 title, and he played a crucial role in earn this year’s crown. He completed 50 percent of his throws for 2,052 yards with 20 TDs and 6 interceptions, while running for 732 yards and 13 TDs in the Raiders’ 13-3 season. With star tailback Justin Rice sidelined much of the game, Petlansky had 222 yards offense and four TDs in a 31-19 pounding of St. Margaret’s-San Juan Capistrano in the State D4 Bowl. He also threw eight TDs and ran for seven in the Raiders’ five playoff wins.


RB FRANKIE TRENT, Oakdale – A lineman a year earlier, the 5-foot-8, 205-pound Trent was converted into a fullback and provided the foundation for the Mustangs’ 13-2 season and their second Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 title in three years. Trent led a trio of 1,000-yard rushers on the varsity with 1,604 yards and 30 TDs, averaging 6.5 yards a carry without losing a fumble. He was selected the Valley Oak League Player of the Year after the Mustangs won a share of the league title and reached the NorCal D2 Bowl.


RB MARK PAULE JR., Sierra-Manteca – The junior finished second in The 209 and fourth in the Sac-Joaquin Section with 2,024 yards rushing, and he was second in the state with 45 TDs. The 5-foot-7, 150-pounder debuted with four consecutive 200-yard games and had at least six TD runs in three of those four games. Paule averaged 22 carries a game and 7.7 yards per carry while leading the Timberwolves to the Valley Oak League co-title – only the second league title in the school’s history.


LB JERMON COOK, Merced – Bothered by injuries early in the season, the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder was a demon on the defensive side of the ball the second half of the season. He was an all-Black Hat Football linebacker as a junior, as well. Cook averaged 11 tackles a game, helping the Bears to a second straight 5-0 Central California Conference record, and had a combined 47 tackles in a trio of wins over CCC challengers Pitman, Turlock and Buhach Colony. With a healthy Cook on the field, the Bears held their conference foes to 14 points or less.



RB MARCEL DANCY, West-Tracy – The junior was tasked with helping to rebuild a program that had hit rock bottom, and the 5-foot-8, 170-pound junior put his best effort into it. Dancy ran for 1,231 yards and 12 TDs, averaging 7.7 yards per carry, while catching 14 balls for 172 yards. He had 24 carries for 251 yards and three TDs in a win over eventual San Joaquin Athletic Association Chavez, and finished his season with 23 runs for 145 yards and two TDs in a loss to crosstown rival Tracy.

QB PJ WILSON, Downey-Modesto – One season, one position: When it comes to QBs, difficult to challenge the season that the Modesto Metro Conference co-MVP put together. The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder completed 63 percent of his passes, and his 2,901 yards was No. 5 in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Wilson showed good ball security, throwing 34 TDs and just six interceptions, while running for 590 yards and 15 TDs – giving him totals of 3,491 yards and 49 TDs. He threw three or more TDs in nine games for the 10-2 Knights, who won their straight MMC crown.

**RB NATE JONES, Tracy – He missed the first few weeks with an injury, but the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder rebounded to become the Tri-City Athletic League’s Offensive MVP and lead the Bulldogs to the section Division 1 final. An all-Black Hat Football repeater, he lined up at fullback in Tracy’s run-focused offense and that meant most of his yardage came between the tackles. Jones ran for 1,353 yards and 18 TDs, including a 22-carry, 145-yard, 2-TD performance in a 48-38 stunner over Jesuit in the section semifinal. Jones averaged 8.2 yards per carry.

RB PRIEST JENNINGS, Chavez-Stockton – The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder was ninth in the section with 1,774 yards, while leading the Titans to their first playoff berth and the San Joaquin Athletic Association. He averaged 10.5 yards a carry and ran for 10 TDs, and the SJAA MVP had four 200-yard games in a five-week span. The elusive Jennings had at least 113 yards in each of his 11 games, including a 13-carry, 247-yard, 4-TD performance.

** OL TRISTEN TAYLOR, Stagg-Stockton – The 6-foot-7, 305-pounder has committed to Eastern Washington and was the San Joaquin Athletic Association Offensive Linemen of the Year. He and Tokay’s Jacob Wall are the only all-Black Hat Football repeaters on the offensive line.

OL ROBERT MARTINEZ, Turlock – The Central California Conference Linemen of the Year was the key to the Bulldogs’ offense, as the 6-foot-2, 260-pounder was able to handled faster foes with his strength, and stronger foes with his quickness.

OL JONAH OCON, St. Mary’s-Stockton – The Tri-City Athletic League Offensive Linemen of the Year provided the power to push the Rams into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 final. At 6 feet, 295 pounds, Ocon was a force to be reckoned with on the run or the pass.

OL JON CARMELICH, Oakdale – The 6-foot, 195-pounder relied on quickness and strength, rather than mass, to displace defenders and open holes during the Mustangs’ 13-2 season that included a section Division 3 title. He was the Valley Oak League’s top offensive lineman.

OL A.J. CONTRERAS, Central Catholic-Modesto – The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder anchored one of the top lines in The 209, and that unit drove the Raiders to their third consecutive California Division 4 title with Friday’s 31-19 win over St. Margaret’s. Contreras’ blocking keyed an offense that averaged 410 yards a game, as the Raiders went 13-3 – the losses to section D2 finalist St. Mary’s, D2 NorCal finalist Oakdale and 10-2 Sierra.

WR SEAN HAMILTON, McNair-Stockton – He was the key receiver in a junior-dominated passing attack, so we could be seeing a lot of Hamilton and the Eagles in 2015. The 6-foot-1, 15-pounder caught 68 balls for 1,119 yards and 10 TDs – including a 10-catch, 257-yard, 2-TD performance.

**WR DAMARRIO HAMMONDS, Patterson – The Western Athletic Conference MVP and the top receiver in The 209, the explosive Hammonds led the region with 1,164 receiving yards and 18 TDs – while catching 65 passes. He was third in section in TD catches, behind the top two receivers from Folsom High’s record-setting pass attack. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder also might have been The 209’s top DB – and was an all-Black Hat defensive selection in 2013.


QB TYRONE WILLIAMS, Merced – The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder led the Bears to a second straight Central California Conference title, going 5-0 each season, completing 55 percent of his throws for 2,421 yards and 31 TDs. Ball security was an issue in losses to Clovis West (5 INTs) and Monterey Trail (3), but he also had his two best games of the season in the section Division 1 playoffs. Williams threw for 4,528 and 50 TDs in two seasons and was the CCC Offensive MVP this season.

QB NATE PHILLIPS, Modesto – He looked diminutive out there, the 5-foot-9, 160-pounder, but he produced like few others. Phillips was a 2K/1K QB with 2,166 yards passing and 1,33 yards rushing, with a combined 26 TDs, while leading the surprising Panthers to a 9-2 record and the section Division 1 playoffs. The Modesto Metro Conference co-MVP had 489 yards offense (378 pass, 111 rush) with 5 TDs in a 32-27 win over Stagg.

RB CHRIS BROWN, Modesto Christian – The 5-foot-10, 170-pound sophomore had the skills to be the front-line option for any team in The 209, rushing for 1,604 yards and 25 TDs in his varsity debut. Brown averaged 10.2 yards a carry, and had 503 yards and 11 TDs in three playoff games. The Trans-Valley League Outstanding Back also returned two kickoffs for TDs and led the Crusaders to the section Division 6 final.

RB DARUS NELSON, Oakdale – He played a supporting role as a sophomore in 2013, but became a playmaker this fall for The 209’s top running game. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior rushed for 1,489 yards and 10 TDs, averaging 8.6 yards a carry, and was one of three Mustang RBs to rush for at least 1,000 yards during the 13-2 season. He fumbled just once while helping the Mustangs to their second section Division 4 title in three years.

OL TYLER DAVIS, Merced – The 6-foot-1, 265-pound Davis was often clearing the way for Central California Conference MVP Jabar Byrd on the ground and keeping defenders away from QB Tyrone Williams. He helped Merced go 9-3, win a second straight CCC title and average 45 points per game.

** OL JACOB WALL, Tokay – The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder was an all-Black Hat Football offensive line selection as a junior, as well, and has been a cornerstone for the resurgence of the Tigers’ program. Tokay went 7-4 and averaged 30 points a game while moving the ball behind their Wall, and the talented linemen helped Tokay to this season’s stunning, last-second upset of Lincoln.

OL JOSH TUI, Pacheco-Los Banos – The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder was the Western Athletic Conference’s top lineman, regardless of which side of the ball he was on. The two-way, first-team WAC linemen was a dominant blocker, and was in on 39 tackles.

OL JOSH ROY, Downey – The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder was the most effective blocker in the Modesto Metro Conference and was critical during the Knights’ march to a third straight conference crown. Behind Roy and their linemen, the Knights averaged 42 points a game during their 10-2 season.

OL NATE BROWN, Tracy – The 6-foot-5, 270-pounder’s ferocious play up front was critical in the Bulldogs’ surprising charge to the section Division 1 final. Tracy’s season ended with a loss to eventual state D1 champion Folsom, snapping a 10-game winning streak. One of Tracy’s other losses was to Clayton Valley Charter, which is playing for the state D2 title.

WR JADIN BATTLES, Mariposa – The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder was second in the Sac-Joaquin Section with 88 receptions, piling up 1,146 yards (No. 5 in the section) and scoring eight TDs. He had four games with at least 10 catches, including season-highs of 15 catches and 195 yards vs. Livingston.

WR DEMETRIUS FERGUSON, St. Mary’s – The 6-foot, 160-pounder was the Tri-City Athletic League’s premier receiver with 41 catches for 832 yards, averaging 20.3 yards a catch with eight TDs. He overcame a mid-season hand injury and finished with a strong postseason run, helping the Rams to the section Division 2 final. He also had a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD in the title-game loss to Grant-Sacramento.


QB – Osai Brown, McNair-Stockton; Sean Buligon, Edison-Stockton; Lavante Bushnell, Stagg-Stockton; Grayson Dillon, Tokay-Lodi; Bryce Farrell, Summerville-Tuolumne City; Aaron Lerma, Mariposa; Bubba Moreno, Turlock; Shawn Munoz, Enochs; Damien Paulo, Patterson; Hunter Petlansky, Central Catholic-Modesto.

RB – Kamare Bailey, Mariposa; Hunter Calton, Escalon; Rashaad Cooper, Kimball-Tracy; Billy Dahlhoff, Stone Ridge Christian-Merced; Bailey Dahlhoff, Stone Ridge Chr-Merced; Jay Green, Beyer-Modesto; Connor Hamilton, Calaveras-San Andreas; Austin Martins, Orestimba-Newman; Hector Soto, Manteca; Dominic Spadafore, Elliot Christian-Lodi; Marcell Spady, St. Mary’s; Justin Stefani, Buhach Colony-Atwater; Chance Trammell, Lodi; Demetrius Vinson, Gregori-Modesto.

WR – Sean Bingham, Downey-Modesto; Marcellus Boykin, Ceres; Hunter Johnson, Sierra-Manteca; Talalo Limu-Jones, Davis-Modesto; Jacob Mabie, Turlock; Tyler May, Hughson; Austin Miller, East Union-Manteca; L.J. Reed, Tokay-Lodi; Devondre Stendardo, Hughson; Josh Taylor, Merced; David Walker, Los Banos; Lester Williams, Stagg-Stockton.

TE – Jordan Cashman, Summerville-Tuolumne City; Greg Jones, Manteca; Bear Padilla, Turlock; Austin Sith, McNair-Stockton.

OL – Augie Acosta, Chavez-Stockton; Daniel Alvarado, Central Valley-Ceres; Popo Aumauve, St. Mary’s-Stockton; Diego Basulto, Pitman-Turlock; Caleb Blakeley, Modesto Christian; Bo Capps, Escalon; Jorge Carreno, Modesto; Darrell Clemons, Manteca; Matt Konklin, Sonora; Evan Duran, Los Banos; Conner Melton, Sierra-Manteca; Ryan Murphy, Turlock; Clint Schallberger, Tokay-Lodi; Jake Schollenberg, Ripon Chistian; Kenny Severe, Beyer-Modesto; Dalton Stewart, Oakdale; TJ Sweet, Amador-Sutter Creek.

K/P – Dominic Bravo, Pitman-Turlock; Keith Cantrell, Bret Harte-Angels Camp; Tyler Janitz, Gregori-Modesto; Marcus Montano, Manteca; Roberto Saucedo, Stagg-Stockton.



DB JACOB ALVARADO, Tracy – The top defensive back in San Joaquin County, Alvarado was a ballhawk and a wicked hitter. He intercepted nine passes, while causing three fumbles and recovering three others. The 5-foot-7, 160-pounder was in on 113 tackles, including 15 in a semifinal over stunner over Granite Bay. He also caught 19 balls for 322 yards and five TDs for the section Division 1 finalist.

DB JABAR BYRD, Merced – The Central California Conference Player of the Year, he also was voted the CCC’s top defensive back and was one of The 209’s top running backs while leading the Bears to a second straight 5-0 CCC campaign. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder had a crucial interception in the end zone in a 10-7 win over Turlock the clinch the title, and was also in on 26 tackles. Byrd also ran for 1,340 yards (24 carries, 152 yards vs. Turlock) and 18 TDs.

**DB JARED RICE, Central Catholic-Modesto – The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder is a repeater and finishes his senior season with eight interceptions – to go with seven as a junior. He had two of those INTs in tonight’s State Division 4 Bowl, a 31-6 rout as the Raiders won their third consecutive state title. Rice also had 92 tackles, while catching 31 passes for 600 yards and 10 TDs – including two TD catches in the State Bowl.

LB KHALIL HODGE, St. Mary’s-Stockton – The Tri-City Athletic League Defensive Player of the Year, the 6-foot, 225-pounder was the centerpiece in The 209’s top defense. He led the nation with 18.7 tackles per game. Hodge also had four interceptions, including a critical pick in a victory over Tracy to clinch the TCAL title, and caused two fumbles.

**LB TREVON McCRAY, Sierra-Manteca – The Valley Oak League Defensive Player of the Year was a playmaker for the 10-2 Timberwolves, with 18 of his 80 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker led his club to a share of the league title while causing five fumbles and intercepting two passes.

LB CONNER DOWD, Modesto Christian – The Trans-Valley League Defensive Player of the Year had 194 tackles, including 14.5 behind the line of scrimmage. He had two interceptions and caused three fumbles, while posting a number of highlight-film hits. The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder also ran for 862 yards and 13 TDs for the section finalist.

**LB FRANK GINDA, Pacheco-Los Banos – An all-Black Hat Football selection as a junior, Ginda is going to graduate in the middle of his senior year so he can enroll at San Jose State for the spring semester. He signed with the Spartans a few days ago, after the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder averaged 10 tackles a game. He also had nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage, while running for 500 yards and five TDs in spot duty.

LB LECHI NKWOCHA, Manteca – The first-team all-Valley Oak League selection had 13 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and his hard hits forced three fumbles. The 6-foot, 190-pounder also ran for 556 yards and 10 TDs for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 quarterfinalist.

DL TEVITA ESAU, Bear Creek-Stockton – One of the biggest on Black Hat’s team, the 6-foot-3, 309-pound junior dominated the San Joaquin Athletic Association while playing a key role on the Bruins’ defensive front. The SJAA coaches voted Esau as their Defensive Linemen of the Year.

DL SHANE McDERMOTT, St. Mary’s-Stockton – The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder anchored the physical front seven for a 12-2 team that went to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 finals before losing in the final seconds to Grant. The Tri-City Athletic League Defensive Lineman of the Year had 15.5 sacks and was in on 93 tackles, including 10 in a quarterfinal win over Elk Grove.

DL WILL GALLO, Modesto – The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior was Mr. Versatility with 18.5 sacks and 60 tackles for the 9-2 Panthers, while he also caught 36 balls for 646 yards and four TDs. The Modesto Metro Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year was the cornerstone of a rebuilt defense and led Modesto back to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs.


DB SEUSEU ALOFAITULI, Sierra-Manteca – It’s rare to see coach Jeff Harbison promote a sophomore to varsity, particularly to play a sensitive position in the secondary. The 5-foot-7, 185-pounder was in on 59 tackles and flew from one edge of the field to another. He had 12 tackles in a 31-20 win over Oakdale, a win that enabled Sierra to secure a share of the Valley Oak League title.

DB MOSES GHIORSO, Central Valley-Ceres – The team’s Jack-of-all-trades, Ghiorso was the Western Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year, an all-conference RB and an all-conference DB. His six interceptions made him a playmaker on defense, but he also ran for 725 yards and had 517 yards receiving yards – to go with his 20 TDs.

DB TYLER FLORES, Oakdale – Was a late-blooming star for the Mustangs, showing an ability to play the pass as well as come up to help defend the run. He helped silence a potent Inderkum offense in the second half of Oakdale’s 27-23 section title win.

DB MICHAEL LAWSON, Patterson – The Western Athletic Conference’s top defensive back, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior was a playmaker on both sides of the ball. He should be one of The 209’s big-play threats in 2015, and showed signs of his offensive skills with 1,336 yards offense and 9 TDs.

**LB ALEC BARCELLOS, Los Banos – The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year after leading the surprising Tigers to the title with a 6-0 record. Barcellos was an all-Black Hat selection as a junior, as well.

LB CHRISTIAN JOHNSON, Oakdale – The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder was one of a number of talented linebackers in the Valley Oak League and he was critical in the Mustangs’ march to a section Division 2 title and the NorCal D2 Bowl. With Johnson’s aggressive play, the Mustangs dominated potent Rio Linda in the semifinal and then shut out explosive Inderkum in the second half of their 27-23 win in the final.

LB KEKUPA’A FREEHAUF, Central Catholic-Modesto – The 6-foot-1, 240-pound junior was in on 130 tackles, including 18 in the section Division 4 final vs. Sonora and 11 in the NorCal D4 Bowl vs. Capital Christian-Sacramento.

LB BILLY KIRILUK, Sonora – The Mother Lode League’s Most Valuable Player, his dominant play on defense led the resurgent Wildcats to a league title, an 11-2 record and the section title game before losing to eventual state champ Central Catholic. The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder doubled as a bruising fullback, rushing for 684 yards and three TDs.

DL LABRON ALOFAITULI, Sierra-Manteca – The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder was the Valley Oak League’s top lineman and was the lynchpin to the Timberwolves’ physical defense. He was in on 46 tackles, including six behind the line of scrimmage. He also had 3.5 sacks.

DL EZRA RUIZ, Gregori-Modesto – The 5-foot-10, 230-pounder was the Modesto Metro Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and first-team all-MMC on offense and defense. He had 42 tackles and 5.5 sacks, and even intercepted a pass.

DL MYLES CUNNINGHAM, St. Mary’s-Stockton – The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder had 93 tackles and 15.5 sacks for the 12-2 Rams. He deflected eight passes.


DL – Labron Alofaituli, Sierra-Manteca; Jose Ariza, Riverbank; Kenneth Hamel, Merced; Wyatt Hjelm, Oakdale; Mark Hooker, Stone Ridge Chr-Merced; Owen Iniquez, Amador-Sutter Creek; Mustafa Johnson, Turlock; Will Kamps, Ripon Chistian; Jordan McMiller, Lincoln-Stockton; Kory Mora, Modesto Christian; Fabian Morales, Gustine; Ty Nelson, Downey-Modesto; Ty Nelson, Downey-Modesto; Craig Perkins, Bear Creek-Stockton; Adam Roberson, Escalon; Bailey Rodriguez, Los Banos; Josh Rogers, Atwater; Zerek Saldivar, Sonora; Kalan Williams, Chavez-Stockton.

LB – Bradley Canepa, Sonora; Noah Faatau, Bear Creek-Lodi; Miguel Hernandez, Central Catholic-Modesto; Robby Huddleston, Merced; Dustin Littlefield, Amador-Sutter Creek; Chad Matau, Enochs-Modesto; Robert Mello, Gustine; Daniel Montejo, St. Mary’s; Zach Moore, Turlock; Christian Nava, Le Grand; Brandon Russell, Tracy; Zack Schott, Modesto Christian; Chris Souza, Hilmar; Seth Tennis, McNair-Stockton; Matt Vargas, Gregori-Modesto; Lebe Velazquez, Pacheco-Los Banos.

DB – Luke Andrew, Modesto Christian; Nick Arnaiz, Tokay; Devan Bass, Pitman-Turlock; Cameron Crump, Lincoln-Stockton; Darius Livingston, Bear Creek-Stockton; Moises Ghiorso, Central Valley-Ceres; Cutrell Haywood, Stagg-Stockton; Bryce Sanguinetti, Sonora; Caleb Sexson, Modesto; Aundre Sherman, Buhach Colony-Atwater.


2013 All-Black Hat Football Team for The 209

**Player of the Year: RB Alex Laurel, Manteca, Sr.

**Offensive Player of the Year: RB Ja’Quan Gardner, Central Valley-Ceres, Sr.

**Defensive Player of the Year: LB Joseph Bello, Hilmar, Sr.

**Linemen of the Year: Cyrus Boone, Lincoln-Stockton, Sr.

**San Joaquin County Player of the Year: QB/RB/DB Daniel Ruffin, Stagg-Stockton, Sr.

**Stanislaus County Player of the Year: RB/LB Matt Ringer, Central Catholic-Modesto, Sr.

**Merced County Player of the Year: DL Jamell Bedford, Merced, Sr.

**Sierra Foothill Player of the Year: RB/LB Mike Seawell, Calaveras-San Andreas, Sr.

**Program of the Year: Manteca High Buffaloes

**Game of the Year: Manteca 69, Central Valley 55 (Section Division 3 playoffs)

**Freshman of the Year: LB Seth Tennis, McNair-Stockton

**Sophomore of the Year: QB Nick Price, Ripon

**Junior of the Year: QB Jonathan O’Brien, Hilmar

**Coach of the Year: Rich Alkire, Modesto


RB Alex Laurel, Manteca: The 5-foot-9, 170-pound tailback had a combined 2,316 yards rushing and receiving, and scored 49 TDs, while leading the 13-2 Buffaloes to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 title and A NorCal Bowl berth. He rushed for a school-record 1,876 yards, 7.4 yards a carry, including732 yards and 15 TDs in four section playoff wins. Here was a video package with our five finalists for Player of the year. If you want to see more video on Laurel, here’s his highlight package..

He had an instant impact, returning three kicks for TDs in the season opener. Thing was, Laurel didn’t start the season as Manteca’s big-play back: He had just 23 carries for 150 yards through three weeks. He broke loose for 194yards and three TDs in a Valley Oak League-opening win over Sonora and, two weeks later, he set the gold standard with a 25-carry, 202-yard game at defending NorCal D2 champion Oakdale.


RB Ja’Quan Gardner, Central Valley-Ceres (click for video): Easily the most explosive runner to ever carry the ball in Stanislaus County, the 5-foot-7, 175-pounder rushed for 2,467 yards and scored 27 TDs – despite playing just 11 games. He carried the Hawks to their first Sac-Joaqin Section playoff berth, where he ran for a career-high 378 yards in a wild, 69-55 loss to eventual section champ Manteca. He was an All-Black Hat RB in 2012.

The three-year varsity star set the career county rushing re ord with 6,009 yards and averaged 11.3 yards per carry as a senior. His second-best game this season? A 22-carry, 330-yard night in a 43-34 loss to Central Catholic – the eventual state champ. Against two of the elite teams in Northern California, Gardner had 708 yards. He averaged 224 yards a game for the 6-5 Hawks.


LB Joseph Bello, Hilmar (click here for video): He was as quick as he was physical for the 13-1 Yellowjackets, and those skills made the 5-foot-11, 205-pounder the mostfeared defensive player in The 209. With Bello able to dictate what took place in the middle of the field, Hilmar opened with 13 straight wins before losing to eventual state champion Central Catholic in the Sac-Joaquin Section final.

The Trans-Valley League Defensive Player of the Year had 140 tackles, including 89 solo, and a season-high 18 tackles in a 19-15 win over Center of North Highlands in a section semifinal. He had an interception and three sacks this season. His job was not to rush the QB, but stay at home and make sure running backs and receivers paid the price for crossing into his zone.


Cyrus Boone, Lincoln-Stockton (click for video): Film can be manipulated, emphasizing strengths and downplaying weaknesses, but there’s no deception when it comes to the 6-foot-2, 250-pound defensive end. Boone lived up his nickname, “The Virus,” and led Lincoln to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. He has a 32-inch vertical jump, with a 255-pound bench press and 375-pound squat – crucial numbers when matched against larger offensive tackles.

What makes Black Hat Football’s Lineman of the Year? It starts with Boone’s ability to play off the block and make the tackle. Toss in quickness, allowing him to catch quarterbacks in the pocket and running backs as they try to reach the corner, and you’ve got a complete lineman. He was the SanJoaquin Athletic Association Defensive Lineman of he Year – and, of course, you’ve got to love a defensive guy they call “The Virus.”


RB/LB Matt Ringer, Central Catholic-Modesto (click for video): The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder finished No. 3 in the Sac-Joaquin Section with 2,348 rushing yards, and scored 34 TDs. He pulled double-duty with 48 tackles as a linebacker, though the heavy load he carried eventually caught up to him – he missed the victory in the state Division 4 Bowl with a thigh injury. Despite his absence, the Raiders beat Bakersfield Christian 36-23 for their second consecutive state title.

Ringer was a workhorse in every sense of the word, including a 38-carry, 243-yard day in the 24-10 win over 13-0 Hilmar for the Sac-Joaquin Section title. He had 38 carries and 285 yards in the regular-season finale, a 17-13 win over then 9-0 Patterson, and 40 carries for 272 yards and four TDs in an early season win over McClymonds of Oakland. His 323 carries were No. 2 in the section.


RB/QB/DB Daniel Ruffin, Stagg-Stockton (click for video): The 6-foot, 175-pounder was the most versatile kid in The 209, playing key roles at three positions for the 10-2 Delta Kings. He had 898 yards and 12 TDs passing, 1,002 yards and 11 TDs rushing, 26 catches for 494 yards and five TDs – a total of 2,394 yards and 28 TDs. He was in on 43 tackles, with two interceptions and eight passes deflected.

He produced one of the plays of the season in Week 9, undercutting a route at the goal line and returning an interception 80 yards to seal Stagg’s upset of St.Mary’s. That snapped the Rams’ 33-game Tri-City Athletic League win streak and was Stagg’s first over St. Mary’s in more than a decade. It also gave Stagg its first TCAL title helped it reach the Sac-Joaquin Section D1 quarterfinals. When the starting QB was injured in that quarterfinal, Ruffin took over and completed 16 of 21 for 266 yards, with four TDs and just one interception.


DL Jamell Bedford, Merced (click for video): The 6-foot-1, 270-pounder was a terror on the defensive front – and is the only repeat selection from the 2012 All-Black Hat Football first-team defense. He was in on 72 tackles and 7.5 sacks, which helps explain why he was the Central California Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He was an All-Black Hat defensive linemen in 2012.

H ealso was the runner-up for Black Hat Football’s Lineman and Defensive Player of the Year, as well, a testament to his strength and aggressiveness. We’ve watched film of Bedford fighting off a double-team block to make tackles, and chasing down running backs and quarterbacks – quite a feat for a 270-pound tackle.


RB/LB Mike Seawell, Calaveras-San Andreas: The 5-foot-8, 160-pounder was the Mother Lode League Most Valuable Player after leading the surprising Redskins to the leaguetitle. He rushed for 1,322 yards and 16 TDs, averaging 11 yards a carry, and caught 14 passes for 430 yards (30.7 yards a catch) and four TDs for the 9-3 Redskins. He was an All-Black Hat defensive back in 2012.

Seawell finished his three-year varsity career with 1,946 yards rushing and 1,366 yards receiving, a total of 3,312 total yards and 40 TDs. He had 13 carries for a career-high 241 yards and four TDs in a regular-season finale win over Summerville, clinching Calaveras’ title.


QB Jonathan O’Brien, Hilmar: When Black Hat Football visited a scrimmage atTurlock in late August, we chatted with Hilmar coach Frank Marquez about this QB options. He pointed out his two choices, but said he had yet to make a final decision. That call came a few days later, and he clearly made the right choice by selecting O’Brien. The 6-foot, 187-pounder led the Yellowjackets to a 13-1 record and the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 final.

O’Brien was close to flawless, completing 64 percent (143 of 224) for 2,110 yards – with 25 TDs and just two interceptions. The Trans-Valley League’s Outstanding Offensive Player didn’t throw a pick the final nine weeks, and added 506 yards and nine TDs on the ground. In a 33-21 win over 8-0 Ripon, O’Brien was 12 of 19 for 226 yards and two TDs – and ran for two scores. He also threw for 260 yards and four TDs in a 31-6 win over rival Hughson.


QB Nick Price, Ripon: The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder is going to be the rarest of players – a four-year varsity starter – by the time he closes his career with the Indians. He primarily played defense as a freshman, backing up all-Black Hat QB Kyle Wengel, before moving behind center this fall. Black Hat realized Price would be a ‘difference-maker’ last July, when he was buried by Manteca’s 300-pound Billy Sharmoug at a contact camp – and bounced up, showing remarkable resiliency.

Price was resilient and so much more, completing 58 percent (109 of 187) for 1,612 yards – with 20 TDs and four interceptions for the 12-1 Indians. He was the first-team QB in the Trans-Valley League, one of the top small-school leagues in the state, and ran for 302 yards and eight TDs. His marquee game? Perhaps the Sac-Joaquin Section quarterfinal, when he comoleted 13 of 15 for 144 yards and two TDs in a 58-21 win over Calaveras


LB Seth Tennis, McNair-Stockton: The 6-foot 190-pounder has got the bloodline to keep improving and to grow into a large linebacker – his father played college ball at Idaho State – but he made a nice debut with 80 tacklesand a sack. He was one of the few bright spots as the Eagles struggled though a 1-9 season. Tennis had 13 tackles in a loss to Tokay, and 11 tackles in four other games. He also had two fumble recoveries against Golden Valley.


Rich Alkire, Modesto: Taking over a program that was 1-9 a year earlier, he rejuvenated not only the players – but the campus and the community. Theresult? The Panthers went 7-4, won the Modesto Metro Conference title and handed potent Stagg of Stockton its only regular-season loss. Alkire installed new schemes on both sides of he ball, exploiting the Panthers’ speed andathleticism, and overcame one of the greatest obstacles that any first-year varsity coach could encounter: He did all of this despite being an off-campus coach.

“From our administration (and especially Athletic Director Donnie Wallace), to a great bunch of men on my coaching staff, to my parents, and mostly the kids on our team, everybody seemed to “buy in” and were always willing to putin the extra work necessary for such a steep learning curve,” Akire said. “The only way we overcome the obstacles of a “new regime” is by a whole lot of selflessness from everyone involved. The character traits I witnessed from the Mo High community were impressive.

“Our team accomplished in one year what I had a goal of doing in two years. I was blessed to be surrounded by a lot of good people and players who were big on service and sacrifice, and small on personal glory. They didn’t use our obstacles as an excuse, they just found ways to put in the work. I learned quickly that Modesto High is a great place to be and I am blessed to be there.”


Manteca High Buffaloes: It was a season to shed the ghosts of the Buffaloes’ past, as coach Eric Reis and his Buffaloes rolled to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 championship and advanced to a Northern California Bowl. Manteca finished 13-2,its only losses to 9-2 Wilcox of Santa Clara and 13-0 Enterprise of Redding.

The Buffs won section titles in 2001, 2005 and 2006, but went six years between playoff wins before rolling to four straight section wins – averaging 53 points in those victories.

Reis relies on Jack Miller (assistant head coach), Rick James and Neil MacDannald(defensive and offensive coordinators), Dan Eavesnon and Ken Mansco (O- and D-line), Bobby and Bo Fryer (DBs), Jason Dukes (WRs and K), Jerry Walser (TE), Brian Rholes (special teams) and Gilbert Martinez (strength).

Manteca’s overall program went 30-5, with JV coach Sean Hogan and his staff (JoshFarris-DC, Mark Varnum-OC and Grover Cetano-WRs) leading their team to a 10-0 season. The freshman went 7-3 under coach Jon Shafer and his staff (ScottBratton-DC, Brad Garlets-OC and Brian Rholes (line).

The key to the Buffs’ success? Reis points to three factors: Great coaches who know the game and have a heart for their players, talented kids who put in the effort during the offseason, and making sure that each player and coach know their role.


Manteca 69, Central Valley-Ceres 55 in the first round of the section Division 3 playoffs (click for video): When it comes down to it, whatwe love most about high school football is that it’s great fun to watch. Noone’s getting paid, and for all but a handful of players, this is theirculmination of their careers. The game’s supposed to be fun to play … and funto watch … and this one certainly was fun.

It featured two of the 209’s elite runningbacks, Central Valley’s Ja’Quan Gardner and Manteca’s Alex Laurel … along with 18TDs … 1,200 yards offense … 3200-yard rushers … and was decided by a 69-yard fumble return for a TD bylumbering linemen Chase McKee.

Gardner had career highs of 35 carries and378 yards and scored 4 TDs, and he also threw a TD, while CV QB Kendel Johnsonran for 221 yards and 3 TDs. Laurel had 25 carries for 258 yards and 5 TDs, and caught 2 balls for 58 yards – giving him 316 yards of offense.

It was a slugfest as the teams battled throughout the night, with Manteca repeatedly going up by two TDs – only to have CV answer and get within a score. In the final minutes, with CV trailing 62-55 and driving toward the potential tying TD, a controversial call was ruled a fumble and McKee – what an irony, a linemen in this game ruled by speedy skill players – returned it for the decisive TD.

2013 Noah’s Water All-Black Hat Football Defense

DEFENSE/FIRST TEAM (** – All-Black Hat in 2012)

DL Billy Sharmoug, Manteca **: The 6-foot, 300-pounder was the top defensive lineme in the Valley Oak League, and he would have been the VOL’s best offensive linemen if not for his teammate, fellow 300-pounder Isaac McClain. A 3-year starter,Sharmoug was a beast when he lined up over the guard and tackle – using his size to bull rush linemen and then his quickness to grab the ball carriers.

Hewas appropriately called “Captain Chaos” for the mess he made in an opponent’s backfield. He made 35 tackles, including six sacks, and he caused five fumble for the Buffaloes – who went 13-2 and reached the Northern California Division 2 Bowl.


DL Patrick Green, Turlock: The 6-foot-4, 232-pounder is another one of those tremendously athletic kids who plays tight end andcould have been first-team All-Black Hat in either side of the ball. The offseason development between his junior and senior seasons was stunning: Green’s display of strength and agility at offseason combines and camps allowed him to grow from a little-known player into one of The 209’s most talked about two-way prospects.

He got offers from Arizona and Nevada, among others, and made a verbal commitmentto Eastern Washington – one of the elite FCS programs – but has since backed away and is back on the market. While some schools recruited Green as a defensive end, Eastern Washington had him penciled in at tight end.


DL Armando Gauger, Atwater: The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder was a cornerstone on this year’s 6-5 team, which beat crosstown rival Buhach Colony 29-26 in a Week 10 thriller to clinch a playoff berth for the second year in a row. Gauger had six sacks this fall, including three in the playoff loss to potent Elk Grove, and six additional tackles that resulted in a loss of yardage.

He was in on 71 tackles, including a career-high 11 in a 41-7 win over Beyer and 10 in the season-ending loss to Elk Grove. He also caused a fumble and scored on a safety, and was the Central California Conference’s second-best defensive lineman.


DL Anthony Baker, Edison-Stockton: The 6-foot-3, 240-pound defensive end was voted the Tri City Athletic League Defensive Player of the Year after leading the 7-4 Vikings to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs. He had the size to handle many of the offensive linemen he faced, but also was quick enough to jump into the hole and turn a potentially big play into a stop.


LB Jermon Cook, Merced (junior): The 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior was the Central California Conference’s top linebacker and a tackling machine. The middle linebacker had 131 tackles in 11 games, including 100 solo takedowns and 7.5 sacks. He also had three fumble recoveries and blocked four kicks for the 8-3 Bears, who won the conference title with a 5-0 record.

Cook had 3.5 sacks in a 31-6 win over Enochs – a surprising stat considering the mobility of Enochs QB Shawn Munoz – and had a career-high 19 tackles in that game. He also had 15 tackles in consecutive weeks, as the Bears beat CCC rivals Pitman and Atwater in games that were dominated by Cook’s play inside.


LB Reggie Bland, Central Catholic-Modesto: The 5-foot-10, 205-pound pounder capped his high school career Friday with a second State Division 4 championship. With two-way star Matt Ringer sidelined by an injury, Bland stepped into that role on both sides of the ball to lead the Raiders past Bakersfield Christian 36-23.

Bland had 113 tackles, including six sacks, and his mobility allowed him to roam sideline to sideline. Bland benefited from Central Catholic’s extended season – not only did he get in six extra weeks of play, he excelled against these high-quality teams. He caused three fumbles and intercepted a pass, yet also ran for 550 yards and 15 TDs.


LB Jojo Ochoa, Atwater: The 5-foot-10, 225-pounder was a beast at the heart of the defense, getting in on 130 tackles while helping Atwater reach the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 finals. He had 20 tackles in a playoff loss to Elk Grove, and finished his season with 77 solo takedowns and two sacks.

Hedoubled as the Falcons’ burly fullback, rushing for 574 yards and 10 TDs. Ochoaaveraged 5.5 yards per carry and produced his best offensive game when theFalcons needed it: 143 yards and two TDs to beat rival Buhach Colony and clinch a playoff berth.


LB Jacob LeDon, Manteca: The 6-foot-1, 185-pound outside linebacker was voted the Valley Oak League Defensive Player of the Year after helping the Buffaloes to a league and Sac-Joaquin Section Division 2 championship. He was in on 73 tackles, with nine resulting in a loss, as well as three sacks.

He recovered three fumbles and also blocked a field goal. LeDon also spent sometime at fullback, rushing for 97 and catching 14 balls for 148 yards, and scoring three TDs.


LB Brynden McAndrews, Oakdale: The inside linebacker was a building block as th eMustangs tried to rebuild their team after three consecutive trips to theSac-Joaquin Section Division 3 finals. He had the physical ability to take on linemen when playing between the tackles, as well as get to the sideline when teams tried to run ride or throw to their back in the flat.

Oakdale returned just two starters from its 2012 team and lost its first two games of the season, but then won seven of its next nine to reach the Section Division 2 quarterfinals. McAndrews was selected an all-Valley Oak League linebacker by the leagues’ coaches.


DB Jashaan Wright, Golden Valley: The 5-foot-10, 173-pounder was a threat every moment he was on the field. He was an all-Central CaliforniaConference pick at strong safety and receiver. He was in on 66 tackles, including three sacks and 41 solo takedowns in just eight games.

He had a season-high 13 tackles in a 19-14 loss to Golden Valley, and his senior year included three interceptions, four passes deflected and two punt blocks. Wright also caught 32 balls for 682 yards and eight TDs.



DB Jamarius Harris, Stagg-Stockton: The 5-foot-11, 175-pound free safety was one of a handful of talented versatile athletes who led Stagg to one of itsbest season ever. The Tri-City Athletic League’s top defensive back, he played a lot of free safety and had 51 tackles to go with two interceptions. He had seven tackles and a pick in the quarterfinal loss to mighty Pleasant Grove.

Like many of the Delta Kings’ skill players, Harris also doubled as an offensive threat: 312 yards and three TDs rushing, and 552 yards and five TDs. He averaged 13 yards every time he touched the ball on offense – and his future could send him to either side of the line.


DB Damarrio Hammonds, Patterson (junior): The Western Athletic Conference’s top defensive back was also second in the Sac-Joaquin Section with eight interceptions. The junior also spent a little time on the offensive side, catching six balls for 73 yards for the 9-2 Tigers. Hammonds’ speed allowed him to stick with receivers across the field, and he knew how to break down to make an open-field tackle.


DBJared Rice, Central Catholic (junior): The 6-foot-4, 205-pound junior one of the new breed – the athletic double threat who can operate in close quarters or in the open field. The tight end-free safety was in on 64 tackles ,including nine in the 17-14 win over McClymonds in the Northern California Division 4 Bowl. He capped his season by returning a fumble for a TD in the 26-23 win over Bakersfield Christian in the State D4 Bowl.

Rice made a name for himself by ball-hawking in the secondary, intercepting seven passes. Many of his picks were show-stoppers, using his height and great hands to turn apparent receptions into game-changing takeaways. He had two picks in a playoff win over Colfax, and another in the Bowl Game vs. McClymonds, and caught 15 passes for 331 yards and two TDs.


DEFENSE/SECOND TEAM (** – All-Black Hat in 2012)

DL Landon Ichord, Oakdale (junior): He was an all-Valley Oak League tight end, as well as one of the league’s top defensive linemen, after helping the Mustangs to a second-place finish behind Northern California Division 2 finalist Manteca. Ichord was often matched up to face larger linemen, but his strength and quickness helped him win those battles.

He was the Mustangs’ best football player in 2013, coach Trent Merzon said, and was a two-way starter. That has become rarity at Oakdale, where the emphasis has shifted to platooning to keep players and fresh and healthy. Ichord, Merzon said, was simply too good to sit down.


DL Kyle Dawson, St. Mary’s-Stockton: The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder was the Tri-City Athletic League Defensive Lineman of the Year after getting in on 66 tackles and collecting 6.5 sacks. He often lined up at defensive end, and was able to go outside or inside with his pass rush, depending on the offensive lineman across from him. There are examples on his tape where Dawson penetrates beyond the pocket, but recovers and charges back upfield to make a tackle. He was lighter than many of the offensive tackles he faced, but used his quickness to compensate for that.


DL Adam Darwish, Modesto: The physical play of Darwish allowed Modesto’s defense to flourish with a three-man front and made him the Modesto Metro Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year. He was the Panthers’ “Impact Player,” coach Rich Alkire said, an award that goes to the player who – while not having the biggest stats – had the greatest impact on the team’s success. A wrestler, Darwish used balance and agility to fight off double teams and quickness to chase quarterbacks.

“He was instrumental in allowing our young linebacker corps o develop an improve over the season,” Alkire said. “His abiity to keep offensive linemen off our linebackers enabled them to blossom. Most of the holding penalties called against our opponents were committed against Adam.”


DL Travis Gist, Central Catholic-Modesto: The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder (#64 in the video) was the Western Athletic Conference’s top defensive lineman and among The 209’s best on the offensive side of the ball, as well. He was only in on 28 tackles, in large part because the Raiders’ defensive scheme has Gist occupying offensive linemen while linebackers track down ballcarriers.

Gist’s aggressiveness was crucial during a three-game playoff stretch (the final two rounds of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs and NorCal Bowl) that saw Central give up just 31 points, despite playing teams that had combined to average 120 points a game. He and the Raiders won their second straight state championship when they beat Bakersfield Christian in the Division 4 Bowl.


LB Frank Ginda, Pacheco (junior): The 6-foot-2, 220-pound junior was a cornerstone on both sides of the line for the Panthers, but it was his stellar play at linebacker that created headaches for opponents. He was in on 81 tackles, including 10 behind the line of scrimmage and 15 of those tackles came in a 24-21 loss to Central Catholic. Ginda, aka “Frank the Tank,” also had three interceptions and three sacks.

Ginda also rushed for 1,087 yards and 17 TDs, despite finishing the season with a cast protecting his broken hand and getting in just one playoff game. He had aschool-record 306 yards, on 31 carries, in a 29-7 win over Central Valley.


LB Chaz Briggs, Tracy: The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder was a rock of consistency for one of The 209’s top defenses, which allowed atotal of 19 points during a four-week stretch in the middle of the season. The 10-2 Bulldogs dropped their second to Franklin of Elk Grove (a Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 quaterfinalist), then won eight in a row before dropping a D1 playoff quarterfinal to Jesuit-Carmichael.

Briggs was in on 85 tackles, including 11 in the loss to Franklin and 10 in a victory over Lincoln. He had 65 solo takedowns – six resulted in a loss of yardage –and he also rushed for 291 yards and three TDs. He was an all-San JoaquinAthletic Association selection.


LB Ruben Rosas, Patterson (junior): The 5-foot-11, 205-pound junior was the Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, finishing with 104 tackles – nine for losses. Rosas also had two interceptions, returning one for a TD, as well as two sacks and two fumble recoveries. He was the Tigers’ team captain, and was responsible for many of the defensive calls.

Coach Nick Marchy calls Rosas ‘one of the best players I’ve ever coached’ and that one opposing coach told that their offensive gameplan was built on one premise: Moving the ball away from Rosas, rather than challenging the physical middle linebacker.


LB Alec Barcellos, Los Banos (junior); The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder was an all-Western Athletic Conference outside linebacker and palyed key roles on both sides of the ball for the Tigers. He started for Los Banos as a sophomore, and parlayed that experience into a strong junior season – givingTiger fans plenty of optimism as they prepare for the 2014 season. Barcellos averaged seven tackles a game.


LB Trevon McCray, Sierra-Manteca (junior): The all-Valley Oak League insidelinebacker (#53 on the video) had 88 tackles, including 69 solo takedowns, but he made his biggest impact in the opposition’s backfield. McCray was among the best in the Sac-Joaquin Section with his 13 tackles for a loss for the 7-4 Timberwolves – the four losses were to teams that advanced to at least the section quarterfinals.


DB D’Angelo Johnson, Franklin-Stockton: The 6-foot, 195-pounder was the San Joaquin Athletic Association’s top safety, getting it on 70 tackles in nine games for the Yellowjackets. He also played offense – running for 641 yards and four TDs, while catching 25 passes for 366 yards and a TD while playing the slot – but Johnson was most revered for his work on the defensive side of the ball.

He had the size and strength to play the run, but also was quick enough to be a threat in pass coverage. Johnson had a season-high 13 tackles in a 26-21 win over West-Tracy, and 10 tackles apiece in a win over Weston Ranch and a narrow loss to Lodi. He also played some defensive end and had a role on special teams for Franklin.


DB Tanner Morgan, Oakdale: Among all the players on Black Hat’s Team of 2013 all-stars, this free safety is most likely to grow up to be a politician. He’s the first two-time student body president in the history of Oakdale High, and we’re talking about nearly a century of elections. The two-year starter drew raves from coach Trent Merzon for his character and ability to make those around him better. Morgan was the Valley Oak League Utility Player of the Year.

His marquee game was a 40-9 win over Paraclete of Lancaster, intercepting two passes against the Southern California power. He picked off the first pass inthe end zone and his long return set up Oakdale’s go-ahead TD. His second sealed the win, and the confidence from the win helped 7-5 Oakdale reach the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 quarterfinals.


DB Travis Dart, Tokay: The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder hadtwo interceptions, deflected three passes and was in on 56 tackles for the 8-3 Tigers. An all-Tri City Athletic League DB the last two seasons, Dart also was Tokay’s team MVP this year after also rushing for 239 yards, catching 17 balls for 259 yards and scoring 7 TDs.

A three-year varsity started for coach Louis Franklin, Dart transitioned from playing cornerback his first two seasons to become the free safety as a senior. He started on both sides of the ball this season for the Tigers, and was a team captain the last two years. Dart also returned punts and was the team’s longsnapper.



Line: Eduardo Bedolla, Le Grand, sr.; Eric Bejeran, Pitman, sr.; David Bisby, Hilmar, sr.; Mike Bonilla, Amador, sr.; Kody Day, Ripon, sr.; Ty Nelson, Downey, jr.; Jonah Ocon, St. Mary’s, jr.; Josh Priest, Los Banos, sr.; EzraRuiz, Gregori, jr.;

Linebackers: Ben Anitelea, Centra Valley, sr.; Clark Butler, St. Mary’s, sr.; Joel Chavez, Bear Creek, sr.; Dan Gilmore, Calaveras, sr.; Estevon Herrera, Stone Ridge Chr., sr.; Billy Kiriluk, Sonora, jr.; Michael Morris, Ripon, sr.; Lechi Nkwocha, Manteca, jr.; Dennis Orzhekhovsky, Beyer, sr.; JoeyPatino, Tokay, jr.; Tony Romo, Atwater, sr.; Bailey Wright, Linden, sr.; Brock Smith, Hilmar.

Defensive backs: Brandon Dabney, Manteca, sr.; Adam Perez, Pacheco, sr.;Jake Smith, Hilmar, sr.; Papa Snaga, Bear Creek, sr.; Jesus Vega, Waterford,sr.; Will Gallo, Modesto, jr.; Jacob Taloa, Kimball, Jr.

Punter: Hunter Johnson, Sierra, jr.; Anthony Nunez, Tracy, sr.

2013 Alpine Pacific Nut All-Black Hat Football Offense

OFFENSE/FIRST TEAM (** – All-Black Hat in 2012)

QB Jake Pruitt, Sierra-Manteca: We gotta throw this little nugget out there before we start talking about his prolific season. Black Hat saw Pruitt at the Patterson 7-on-7 tournament in July and instantly began raving about him: He had thrown just 8 TDs as a junior, but we already had him on our list of QBs that would be lighting up the sky this season.

He didn’t disappoint, completing 69 percent of his throws for 3,260 yards and 38 TDs while operating out of coach Jeff Harbison’s spread offense. He had three 400-yard games, lighting it up vs. Sonora (27 of 41, 496 yards, 5 TDs), Chavez (35 of 45, 41 yards, 6 TDs) and Colfax (26 of 40, 453 yards, 5 TDs) – with just one pick combined in the three games.

RB Nate Jones, Tracy (junior): The 5-foot-8, 186-pounder /2013/09/21/video-tracys-the-king-of-the-town-after-nate-jones-damon-stroup-lead-it-past-kimball/ was one of the many weapons that coach Mark Shrout turned to during the Bulldogs’ 9-2 season. He rushed for at least 115 yards in each of his last five games and was the San Joaquin Athletic Association Player of the Year. He averaged just 10 carries, yet averaged 10.4 yards on those runs – his most significant performance was a 12-carry, 166-yard, 3-TD game to beat longtime rival Lincoln. He also 32 tackles and an interception for the Bulldogs.

RB Andrew Brown, Ripon Christian **: The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder was one of the most prolific players to even put in a helmet in The 209. These statistics put his impact into perspective: He finished his three-year varsitycareer No. 3 in California in touchdowns (126) and points (781). He also is the all-time leading rusher for San Joaquin County with 5,909 yards, and also had 1,997 yards receiving and 263 yards passing as the focal point of RC’s program for three years.

The Southern League co-MVP had the skills to play big-boy ball, even though his Knights were Division 6, and he ran for 626 yards and 12 TDs in three playoff games while leading them to a section final. He ran for a whopping 2,781 yards and had 658 yards receiving this season. He scored six or more TDs in four games, and five times Brown ran for at least 280 yards in a game.

WR Darrin Gentry, Chavez-Stockton: The 5-foot-11, 160-pounder wasone of the most electrifying players in The 209, catching 61 passes for 1,093yards and 13 TDs in 10 games. He capped his prep career by catching six ballsfor 205 yards and four TDs in a win over Franklin, and caught eight balls for181 yards and two TDs in a 61-58 shootout loss to Sierra in Week 1.

Thatearly season performance out a target in Gentry’s back, as every defense that followed began its game-planning by making sure Gentry would always be accounted for. Despite that focus, Gentry succeeded in being the Titans’ primary offensive weapon. He also had 49 tackles and an interception as a free safety, and returned kickoffs 90, 95 and 96 yards for touchdowns.

WR Trevante Richard, Merced **: The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder received the rare honor of being named the Central California Conference MostValuable Player. It’s not unusual for the conference champion to also have the MVP, but it’s rare for a receiver to bring home that trophy.

Richard, Black Hat’s Punter of he Year in 2012, caught 51 balls for 730 yards and 10 TDs– catching three scoring passes in a 49-39 loss to Jesuit in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs. He caught a season-high 10 passes for 137 yards and two TDs in a critical CCC win over Pitman, and played an equally important role in helping the development on junior QB Tyrone Williams.

WR Jaelin Ratliff, St. Mary’s-Stockton: The 6-foot, 165-pounder was the top receiver in the Tri-City Athletic League and – from an athletic standpoint – might have been the best in all of The 209 during the 2013 season.He averaged 16.6 yards and scored nine TDs on his 37 catches, including three receptions for 103 yards and 2 TDs in a 47-27 Holy Bowl win over Central Catholic – a squad that recently won a second straight state crown.

Ratliff was the Rams’ MVP and also played cornerback for the 6-5 Rams, intercepting two passes and getting in on 27 tackles. One of his hits came when Ratliff onoffense and gained national attention on ESPN, when he leveled a De La Salle player following an interception

TE Jordan Levu, Patterson: The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder left Black Hat with just one decision: Not whether or not he’s a first-team selection, but where to put him? He disrupted many an offense with his marauding tactics as a linebacker (60 tackles, including 23 for a loss), yetalso was a matchup nightmare at tight end (25 catches, 443 yards, seven TDs) because of his height and quickness. He would often use his body to shield offthe defender, then exploit his reach to go out and grab the ball.

Heused those same assets on defense, where he had 14 sacks, three deflections andtwo fumble recoveries – including one he returned for a TD at Central Catholic.Levu’s long arms made it difficult for offensive linemen to get into his body,and that allowed Levu to slide off blockers and get into the backfield.

OL David Soriano, Merced: The 5-foot-10, 247-pound guard was selected the Central California Conference Lineman of the Year – quite an honor, considering the CCC’s reputation for producing outstanding linemen over the years. He helped the Bears average 30 points and 365 yards a game, despite their difficult schedule.

Soriano’s tremendous athleticism, coach Rob Scheidt said, allowed the Bears to utilize him in a variety of roles. Scheidt ranks Soriano as one of the best all-around linemen the Bears have produced in the last two decades.

OLMatt Ray, St. Mary’s-Stockton: The 6-foot-3, 275-pounder was the Tri-City Athletic League Offensive Lineman of the Year after helpingthe Rams average 37 points and 410 yards a game. He can bench 350 pounds and squat 465, and that helped provide the power that enabled Ray to drive defensive linemen backward on run plays. He showed good feet when pass blocking, and also had the agility to be used on trap blocks down the line and to get downfield to provide support blocking on screens.

OL Isaac McClain, Manteca: The 6-foot-2, 300-pound tackle was a three-year varsity starter and formed The 209’s top tackle-guard tandem with fellow 300-pounder Billy Sharmoug. McClain was usually effective at keeping his pad level low, allowing him to put all of his weight into his blocks. He was also agile enough to carry his block 5, 6 and 7 yards downfieldas the play continues.

We’ve seen plenty of tape where McClain takes a page from the defensive linemen’s book, using a ‘bull’ block to drive his foe backward and to the ground. Not surprising, since he was a first-team all-Valley Oak League pick on both sides of the line. Manteca averaged 47 points and 396 yards, going 13-2 with losses to 9-2 Wilcox and Northern California Division 2 champion Enterprise.

OL Spencer Stark, Central Catholic-Modesto**: The 6-foot-2, 305-pounder was the Western Athletic Conference’s elite offensive linemen, and might havebeen the best tackle in The 209 this fall. When coach Roger Canepa faced a‘must-have-it’ situation, the Raiders typically ran behind Stark – and they almost always got the necessary yards.

He’d be a hot college prospect, except college offenses have a preference for tackles that are 6-4 or taller. How effective has Stark been these last two seasons? The Raiders had a 2,000- and 1,500-yard rusher during their state championship season of 2012, and tailback Matt Ringer topped 2,000 yards this season – another state championship campaign.

OL Wyatt Orozco, Pacheco-Los Banos: The 6-foot-2, 225-pound guard was a 3-year starter, who also saw time at center and tackle as the need arose. He primarily played left guard the last two seasons, and boasts a 3.8 GPA. Orozco plays with an old-school intensity, coach Dave Snapp said, and the Panthers usually went to his side during the crucial points of the game.

“He’sa tough andphysical player, with a great motor and the right amount of nastiness it takes to be an offensive lineman,” said Snapp. “He really set the tone for us physically on offense.”

UTILITY Lovell/Lesean Collins, Modesto: The 5-foot-7, 165-pounders were selected the Modesto Metro Conference’s Outstanding Offensive and Defensive Backs after leading the Panthers to a remarkable turnaround season – from 1-9 in 2012 to anearly season upset of potent Stagg and a conference title.

Lovellran for 477 yards and four TDs (10.6 yards a carry), caught 26 passes for 480 yards and four TDs, returned three kickoffs for TDs and picked off three passes. Whether in the backfield the slot, Collins was the most feared weapon in the MMC.

Twin Lesean was the MMC’s top defensive back, intercepting four passes despite the opposition’s hesitancy to throw the ball to his side of the field, and was in on 21 tackles. He also caught 17 passes for 240 yards and two TDs, and returned a kickoff for a TD.

KICKER Kenny Smart, Central Catholic-Modesto**: The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder holds the state record for kicking points, and he bypassed scholarship offers to make a verbal commitment to Harvard. Ivy League schools can’t offer athletic scholarships, but can cobble together academic and other pacts to soften the fiscal burden.

Smart converted 11 of 15 field-goal attempts this fall, including a school-record 53-yarder. He also booted 75 PATs, giving him 108 points this season – fourth-best in the state – and 310 points in his career. He put 77 of 111 kickoffs in the end zone this fall. He punted, as well, averaging 38 yards with a long kick of 56 yards.

OFFENSE/SECOND TEAM (** – All-Black Hat in 2012)

QB Wayne Brooks, Stagg-Stockton: The 5-foot-9, 160-pounder at first appears undersized for the huge role he played at Stagg the last two seasons, until you see him perform for a while. He posted some inspiring stats for the Delta Kings: 5,178 yards with 67 TDs in the air and 1,390 yards with 12TDs on the ground. Stagg was 19-4 in his two seasons, and averaged 45 pointsand 500 yards a game this season.

In a playoff-opening win over Beyer, Brooks completed 20 of 31 throws for 312 yards and 4 TDs, but his greatest effort might have been at St. Mary’s. He passed for 212 yards a TD in the 40-32 upset win, but ran 17 times for 220 yards and 3 TDs in the thrilling victory.

RB Michael Ysit, Ripon: The 5-foot-9, 175-pound tailback /2013/11/24/video-mike-ysit-puts-on-a-show-as-ripon-rolls-into-semifinal-showdown-with-state-champ/ rushed for 1,523 yards, caught 26 balls for another 393 yards and scored 27 TDs for the 11-2 Indians. Ysit, theTrans-Valley League Back of the Year, averaged an incredible 153 yards percarry while leading the Indians to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 semifinals.

Ysit had nine carries for a season-high 243 yards – 27 yards per run – and three TDs to beat rival Ripon Christian, but his marquee evening was in the section quarterfinal: 12 carries for 230 yards and three TDs in a 58-21 rout. He also had 65 tackles and nine sacks in 2013, and returned to kicks for touchdowns.

RB Gaige Allen, Kimball-Tracy: The 5-foot-8, 165-pounder was electrifying during his senior year. An all-Valley Oak League selection, he runs the 40-yard dash in 454 seconds an the 100 in 11.1, while benching 200 pounds and squatting 300.

It was that combination of speed and strength that allowed Allen to run for 1,252 yards and 18 TDs in 10 games. His showcase was a 35-14 stunner of Oakdale, when he had 21 carries for 165 yards and three TDs. He also deflected five passes and had a pick, as the Jaguars used his skills in the secondary, as well.

WR Tyler Robinson, Hilmar: The 5-foot-11, 165-pounder was the Trans-Valley League’s Outstanding receiver, and also one of the league’s top defensive backs.He caught 61 balls for 1,038 yards and 15 TDs – and delivered his best game when it mattered most.

In a showdown between 8-0 Hilmar and 8-0 Ripon, Robinson had six catches for 161 yards and two TDs in the ‘Jackets 33-21 win. He also intercepted a pass in that game, and had 38 tackles while helping 13-1 Hilmar to the Sac-Joaquin SectionDivision 4 final.

WR Dylan Canatsy, Ceres: The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder was a prolific receiver during the regular season, catching 80 balls for 1,185yards and 11 TDs. He had 15 catches for 196 yards against Gregori, and 11 receptions for 210 yards and three TDs in a 51-48 shootout over Johansen. He caught a TD in nine of the 10 games for the 2-8 Bulldogs.

Canatsy, along with junior quarterback Brad Bussard (2,853 yards, 25 TDs), ranked among the top statistical performers through the regular season.

WR Tristan Best, Downey-Modesto **: The 6-foot-2, 165-pounder was one of the best in The 209 when it came to crossing the middle, using his height and reach to exploit shorter defenders. He averaged 22 yards a catch, grabbing 34 balls for 814 yards, and scored 12 TDs. His showcase game came against Enochs: Nine catches for 197 yards and four TDs, helping Downey to ashare of the Modesto Metro Conference crown. He also had five catches for 161 yards and two TDs in the regular-season final, a 49-18 win over Beyer that clinched a piece of that conference title for the Knights.

OL Colten Mallette, Lincoln-Stockton (junior): There was no shortage ofcompetition when the 6-foot-2, 290-pounder stepped on the field – his Trojans played the most difficult schedule of any team in The 209. While the Trojans struggled to an 0-5 start against that fierce lineup of foes, they went 4-1 andaveraged 42 points in their five league games.

That helped make Mallette the San Joaquin Athletic Association Offensive Lineman ofthe Year, giving the Trojans reason to be optimistic about next year’s team when the school joins a new league that includes St. Mary’s, Tracy and Tokay.

OL Aaron Lusher, Pitman: The 6-foot, 275-pound was a dominant run blocker, which helps explain why the Pride boasted one of the most effective running games in The 209. Coach Tom Tyler, who ran crosstown rival Turlock’s program previously, called Lusher “one of the best linemen I’ve ever coached.” The Pride would flip Lusher on the right and left sides of theline, positioning him so the running backs would follow his block.

OL Tyler Clays, Argonaut: The 6-foot-5, 320-pound tackle was not only one of the biggest offensive linemen in The 209, but one of its best while anchoring the line for the 5-5 Mustangs. His role was crucial for Argonaut, which used a run-focused offensive scheme and averaged 340 rushing yards per game – as well as 31 points. He was the dominant lineman in the Sierra foothills, and played at a school known for producing hefty and talented linemen.

OL Jacob Wall, Tokay-Lodi (junior): The 6-foot, 237-pound junior guard was a first-team Tri-City Athletic League selection, after having played at Chavez as a sophomore. He was a building block for an offense that averaged 36 points and400 yards a game – and scored a school-record 71 points in one game.

With Wall leading a strong offensive line,Tokay also scored a school-record 396 points this season and its eight wins were the most since 2002. The rushing total of 2,692 yards was 9 yards of the school record, and the Tigers’ offense piled up a school-record 4,516 yards – the old record was 4,016. He also spent some time playing defense for the 8-3 Tigers, getting 27 tackles – three for a loss.

OL Tristen Taylor, Stagg (junior): The 6-foot-6, 285-pound junior played an exceptional left tackle and a first-team, all-Tri City Athletic League selection as one of the cornerstones for one of the The 209’s most dynamic offenses. Didn’t miss a game or a practice, Stagg coach Don Norton said, an he has surprisingly good feet for a kid who is still growing into hisbody. This offseason will be crucial for Taylor, as he hits the summer camp and combine circuit – hoping his combination of height and bulk will draw looks from recruiters. With Baker playing tough up front, Edison held six opponentsto 14 or fewer points in 2013.

UTILITY Ryan Martinez, Le Grand: The 5-foot-11, 185-pound running back/linebacker might be the best ever to wear the Bulldogs’ green-and-gold – he’s certainly one of the most successful and prolific. Le Grand celebrated Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 champions each of Martinez’s three varsity seasons, and he was the primary offensive weapon the last two years for his dad, coach RickMartinez.

The Southern League co-MVP rushed for 2,010 yards and 34 TDs as a senior, after piling up 1,794 yards and scoring 21 TDs in 2012. He also 40 tackles and three picks this season, and twice ran for more than 300 yards. Le Grand was 35-4 in his three seasons, including 12-0 this year.

KICKER Devon Medeiros, Hilmar: The 5-foot-6, 165-pounder earned national recognition when he boomed a school-record 56-yard field goal in a 19-15 Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 semifinal win over Center. Medeiros converted 13 of 20 field-goal attempts, and five of those from beyond 40 yards. He booted three field goals in an early win over Chowchilla, was 51 of 57 onPAT kicks.

Medeiros scored 90 points his senior season, seenth-best in the state, and drilled 43 of his 82 kickoffs into the end zone. He also handled the punting for Hilmar, averaging 39 yards on 53 kicks.


** Quarterbacks: Austin Caldron, Brookside Christian, sr.; KelseD ePauli-Wiltse, Tokay, sr.; Sean Downs, Turlock, sr.; Kendel Johnson, Central Valley, sr.; Joe Menzel, Manteca, sr.; Damien Paulo, Patterson, jr.; Anthony Shuemake, Franklin, sr.; Tae ‘Tiki’ Tonga, Modesto, sr.; Tyrone Williams, Merced, jr.; JP Wilson, Downey, jr.

** Running Backs: KC Brandsted, Sonora, sr.; Jabar Byrd, Merced, jr.; Calvin Gray, Edison, sr.; Isaiah Figueroa, Gustine, sr.; Jason Nelson, Tracy, jr.; Isaiah Robinson, Johansen, sr.; Mark Russell, Lincoln, jr.; Aundre Sherman, Buhach Colony, jr.; Jamill Thomas, Lincoln, sr.; Kris Turner-Jackson, Merced, sr.; Donald White, Amador, sr.; Brock Whiting, Oakdale, jr.

** Receivers: Bradley Clark, Ripon, sr.; Jake Fulkerson, Summerville, soph.; Brian Pasqual, St. Mary’s, sr.; Bryson Sanders, Sierra, sr.; Blake Smallie, Brookside Chr., sr.; Lucas Widmer, Sierra, sr.; Christian Williams, LeGrand, jr.;

** Tight end: Mike Hatfield, Manteca, sr.; Edrico Oliver, Brookside Chr., jr.; Jordan McMiller, Lincoln, jr.; Jesus Ramos, Merced, sr.; Matt Vargas, Gregori, jr.

** Line: Cesar Arreola, Modesto, Sr.; Kyler Bourque, Downey, sr.; Oscar Calderon, Patterson, jr.; Nate Brown, Tracy, jr.; Lance Davis, Escalon; Marquez Harris, Buhach Colony, sr.; Owen Iniguez, Amador, jr.; Ivan Martinez, Atwater, sr.; Jared Taylor, Bret Harte, sr.; Frankie Trent, Oakdale, jr.; Angel Zaragoza, Le Grand, sr.

** Kicker: Marcus Montano, Manteca, jr.; Thomas Reynolds, Downey, sr.; Jesus Sandoval, Franklin, sr.; Thomas Diniz, Escalon, Sr.


Player of the Year: QB Aaron Zwahlen, Downey High – He’s the best passing quarterback to ever take a snap for a Modesto school, completing 64 percent (244 of 379) of passes for 3,852 yards and 49 TDs (13 picks) in 2012. . He was second in the state in TDs and fifth in yardage. His career stats: 576 of 962 (60 percent) for 8,613 yards, 88 TDs and 31 picks over three varsity seasons.

Offensive MVP: RB Anthony Cota, Sierra – He set school records for yards in a game (333), and yards (1,966) and TDs (41) in a season. His career stats were 3,543 yards rushing, 34 catches for 491 yards and 69 TDs. He also showed off his arm as a senior, completing all four passes he tossed for 88 yards and four TDs.

Defensive MVP: DE Nikk Ryan, Oakdale – The defensive end was the Valley Oak League MVP after leading the Mustangs to a fifth consecutive title, their second Section Division 3 title in six years and first-ever Northern California D2 crown. He also ran for 1,153 yards and 20 TDs as a fullback for the 14-2 Mustangs.

Junior of the Year: RB Steven Machado, Orestimba – He was among the state’s top three rushers much of the season, and finished with 1,927 yards and 23 TDs in 10 games. He has career rushing totals of 3,220 yards and 26 TDs in 21 games.

Sophomore of the Year: QB Shawn Munoz, Enochs – The athletic Munoz passed for 1,331 yards and 18 TDs and rushed for 1,051 yards and 12 scores. He had six TD passes and six TD runs of more than 50 yards, completing 57 percent (73 of 129) and averaging 18.2 yards per completion. He averaging 9.4 yards per carry.

Stanislaus County Player of the Year: RB Rey Vega, Central Catholic – Following two stellar years at Davis (3,500 yards, 42 TDs), he sat the first six games after transferring before piling up 1,524 yards yards and 33 TDs in just 10 games. He rushed for a Division 4 State Bowl-record 202 yards – on just six carries – and raced 80 yards for a TD on his first carry in the Raiders’ win in the state final.

Merced County Player of the Year: James Sams, Los Banos – He ran for  2,006 yards while leading the Tigers to the Section Division 4 semifinal. He was the section’s No. 7 rusher this fall and set the school record with 3,878 career yards.

San Joaquin County Player of the Year: RB Nathan Chunn, Escalon – He rushed for a school-record 2,240 yards while leading the Cougars to a third straight Section Division 4 final. A fullback in the Wing-T, he had from 24 to 33 carries in 13 of his 14 games and set a school record with 359 carries He also had  39 TDs.

Foothill Player of the Year: RB/DB Ryan King, Argonaut – He ran for 1,280 yards and 16 TDs in 12 games. His helped Argonaut go 10-0 in the regular season, then had 150 yards and two TDs in a 42-14 win over Hughson to open the playoffs. He also had 13 catches for 182 yards, two interceptions and was the MLL co-MVP.

Coach of the Year: Trent Merzon, Oakdale – The school’s all-time winningest coach, Merzon kept piling up Ws and led Oakdale to a state final. He won his second Section Division 3 title in six years and its fifth straight Valley Oak League title. Oakdale routed three playoff foes before beating Vista Del Lago in the final.

Program of the Year: Central Catholic – CC lost a 45-42 firefight to Downey to put its record at 2-2, then Coach Roger Canepa reverted to his foothill roots and turned his two-headed run game loose. Ray Lomas and Rey Vega each ran for at least 100 yards in nine of the last 10 games, including a 66-6 win over Santa Fe Christian in the Division 4 state final. CC set a state record for margin of victory. Its last three games – Section final, NorCal D4 Bowl and state – were played with running clocks. No school in state history has ever accomplished that.

Upset of the Year: Escalon over Placer – Placer was bigger, faster and had one of the nation’s top defensive lineman – Eddie Vanderdoes. It was a rebuilding year for coach Mark Loureiros’ inexperience Cougars, or so we thought. Placer was 10-0 and looked headed to the State Division 3 Bowl, while Escalon was 8-2 after dropping games to Los Banos (9-1 in the regular season) and Ripon (10-0).

It was an odd game, with two safeties, but in the end it came down to fullback Nathan Chunn and a dominant offensive line led by Alan Gonzalez. Loureiro called the 27-26 win it the greatest upset of his career and his Cougars followed up with a quadruple overtime upset at Los Banos in the semifinals.