Top 5 Prep Football Nonleague Games

 

Lincoln High football warms up for Stagg on Aug. 29, 2014. RECORD FILE PHOTO

The high school football nonleague season can be a bizarre match-up of different teams with different styles from different cities or even different sections.

Before the new San Joaquin Athletic Association and Tri-City Athletic League were formed, the preseason was at least a good time for rivals like St. Mary’s and Lincoln, West and Tracy or Tokay and Lodi to play. But no more. Those are league games.

With that in mind, there are five nonleague games in the area which stand out above the rest this year. There are more good ones, but these stood out to me most:

WEEK ZERO (Aug. 28)

Lincoln at Stagg, 7:15 p.m.

In a rematch of last year’s 34-14, season-opening Trojans win at Spanos Stadium, a faster, smaller Lincoln team comes to face Stagg, reloaded, more experienced and deeper than a year ago.

With a better squad overall, and home-field advantage, expect Stagg not only to make it closer, but push Lincoln deep into this game.

The atmosphere should be bonkers yet again, as it was at jam-packed Spanos last year. It was muggy, it was intense and the Lincoln Lunatics were deafening. I expect no less a few miles away.

Players to Watch: Lavante Bushnell (Stagg QB, Sr.), Ronald Walker (Lincoln RB, Sr.), Cutrell Haywood (Stagg WR/DB, Jr.), Cameron Crump (Lincoln DB/WR, Sr.)

WEEK 2 (Sept. 11)

Central Catholic at St. Mary’s, 7:15 p.m.

The “Holy Bowl” rivalry was epic down in Modesto last year. The Rams, who would become the outright TCAL champions and a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II finalist, beat the Raiders, now three-time defending CIF State champions, on a last-minute bootleg touchdown from Noah Righetti: 18-13.

This season, Central Catholic may not be as deep as years past, but its starting talent is phenomenal, with WR/ATH Justin Rice and QB Hunter Petlansky, among others. After a Week Zero bye and a Week 1 trip to Santa Rosa-Cardinal Newman, the Rams will be stoked that their home opener is a rivalry game.

Players to Watch: Dewey Cotton (St. Mary’s WR/KR, Jr.), Hunter Petlansky (Central Catholic QB/Sr.), Popo Aumavae (St. Mary’s OL, Jr.), Justin Rice (Central Catholic WR/RB/ATH, Jr.), Keaton Hampton (St. Mary’s WR/CB, Jr.)

Elk Grove at Lincoln, 7:15 p.m.

This matchup doesn’t carry the same weight at the Holy Bowl, but it’s a great barometer for the Trojans, who are trying to overcome consecutive 4-6 seasons. Elk Grove, which St. Mary’s beat 23-15 in a Div. II semifinal last year, is a smashmouth powerhouse. This is the night for Lincoln senior Rodney Jones, who reportedly has an offer from UNLV, to shine as quite possibly the top defensive lineman in the area.

Players to Watch: Rodney Jones (Lincoln DL, Sr.), Tyler Vander Waal (Elk Grove QB, Jr.), Ronald Walker (Lincoln RB, Sr.), Ryan Robards (Elk Grove WR, Sr.), Cameron Crump (Lincoln DB, Sr.)

Tracy's Nate Jones rushes against Turlock in last year's Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. RECORD FILE PHOTO

WEEK 4 (Sept. 25)

Turlock at Tracy, 7:15 p.m.

On the surface, this seems like a standard, San Joaquin County vs. Stanislaus County preseason game. But after last year, this battle of two teams known as the “Bulldogs” comes with a storyline.

Tracy beat Turlock by three on the road in a preseason game in 2014, as quarterback Michael Brown went off with three touchdown passes, a rarity for a Tracy team that runs the veer.

And, No. 7 Tracy nipped No. 10 Turlock 21-19 in a Div. I first-round playoff. Ironically, it was Tracy’s worst-played game in the whole postseason, and the only one it was probably favored in. Tracy went on to upset No. 2 Jesuit 48-38 and No. 3 Granite Bay 27-21 in overtime before a 55-7 blowout loss to No. 1 Folsom in the finals.

Players to Watch: Courtney “C.J.” Hawkins (Tracy FB, Sr.), Brandon Booz (Turlock RB, Sr.)

McNair at Tokay (Grape Bowl), 7:15 p.m.

Last season was a miserable one for the new SJAA against the new TCAL. SJAA teams went 0-10 against the TCAL, and the eventual outright SJAA champion Chavez lost to West, which went winless and finished last in the TCAL, 50-28. There was a close call or two, like Lodi’s 26-22 win over Edison, but it was mostly a destruction.

McNair will struggle with Tokay’s depth and some of its defensive playmakers, but this could be a chance for the Eagles to make a statement in an intradistrict road game.

Last season, Tokay throttled McNair 61-28 on the road behind five rushing touchdowns from quarterback Grayson Dillon and 120 rushing yards from tailback Jeff Evans.

Players to Watch: Osai Brown (McNair QB, Sr.), Jeff Evans (Tokay RB, Sr.), Derrion Grim (McNair WR, Sr.), Nick Arnaiz (Tokay FS/LB, Sr.), Noah Faatau (McNair LB/RB, Sr.)

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Top 50 Football Players Countdown: Nos. 25-31

Being ranked as a Top 50 returner for The Record’s coverage area, in Stockton, San Joaquin County and the Mother Lode, is difficult enough. If you’ve made it this far, then you’ve already made your mark at the varsity level and then some.

In the fourth  installment of my returner rankings, a Top 50 Football Players Countdown, we have seven competitors of that caliber.

With that in mind, my rankings are set to continue with Nos. 25-31.

My Top 50 Football Players Countdown, weighing the best returners in The Record’s coverage area: San Joaquin County and the Mother Lode, is in its inaugural edition. The inspiration and much of the wording describing these rankings is thanks to my good friend and former colleague T.J. Holmes of the Redding Record Searchlight. These rankings are based on past varsity experience, as well as potential impact for 2015. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 28.

Because tangible impact is important for these rankings, there are often more skill position players. Yet, you will see plenty of capable linemen here.

Schools included for these rankings:

  • San Joaquin County: Lincoln, St. Mary’s, McNair, Bear Creek, Chavez, Stagg, Tokay, Lodi, Franklin, Edison, West, Tracy, Kimball, Weston Ranch, Lathrop, East Union, Manteca, Sierra, Escalon, Ripon, Ripon Christian, Brookside Christian, Elliot Christian, Millennium
  • Mother Lode: Linden and Calaveras
If you think I’m wrong, please let me know in comments, or connect with me personally (my information is below).

Here they are, players Nos. 25-31:

No. 31 – Michael Thompson (6-4, 185), WR, Stagg, Sr.

Thompson may have been overshadowed by now-graduated Lester Williams, The Record’s first-team All-Area utility pick, but he still thrived. The 6-4 target hauled in 18 catches for 496 yards and six touchdowns, and Delta Kings coach Don Norton sees him as an even larger component of this year’s offense. His size and proven capability will be difficult for SJAA cornerbacks to handle.

No. 30 – Courtney “C.J.” Hawkins (5-11, 195), FB, Tracy, Sr.

Hawkins, cousin of Nate Jones, Tracy’s beloved and now-graduated tailback who’ll play for Fresno City College, made the most of his limited time as a junior. When Jones was hurt in Week 0, Hawkins took the bulk of the carries and delivered 91 yards in a 51-12 win over Beyer. And, most importantly, it was Hawkins — undoubtedly throwing off the competition — who scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal win at Granite Bay. Look for him to be a vocal and on-field leader in a new-look offense.

No. 29 – Will Kamps (6-1, 220), DE/OL, Ripon Christian, Sr.

Kamps, a Record second-team All-Area defensive lineman last fall, was a pass-rushing monster for the Knights. He racked up 88 total tackles and 16 sacks for Ripon Christian, in a 9-3 season that ended in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI semifinals. Expect him to be back with a vengeance as the Knights vie for a Southern League title.

No.  28 – Hunter Calton (5-10, 190), FB, Escalon, Sr.

As a junior, Calton came out of nowhere to spell senior tailback Christian May after May was injured. Calton was a workhorse, along with fullback Wesley Dick, and racked up 141 carries for 952 yards and nine touchdowns in the Cougars’ machine-like Wing-T offense. Expect Calton to be even more “the man” this year. Escalon, an eight-time section champion, will no longer have to deal with Modesto-Central Catholic, as the Raiders have moved up to Div. III, per section bylaws, following three consecutive banners.

No. 27 – Seth Tennis (6-1, 215), LB, McNair, Jr.

Last season, the SJAA saw very little defensive prowess. That’s where Tennis was the exception to a rule. Tennis shined on an Eagles defense that struggled, posting a team-high 118 total tackles, with a sack, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. As he joins forces with Bear Creek transfer Noah Faatau, the reigning SJAA Defensive MVP, the two will make a heck of a duo.

No. 26– Nick Arnaiz (5-10, 165), FS/LB, Tokay, Sr.

While Arnaiz isn’t the largest player on the field, he’s deceivingly strong and a proven tackles machine for the Tigers, who have reached a program-record three consecutive section playoffs in three consecutive winning season. Arnaiz posted 96 tackles and an interception last year, and moves back into more of a free safety role, where you’ll see him disrupt passing games more than 2014, after spending most of last year at linebacker. He’ll benefit from his defensive coordinator, Michael Holst, moving to the head coach spot this year.

No. 25 – Cutrell Haywood (6-1, 185), WR/DB, Stagg, Jr.

Haywood made quite an impression to the varsity level. In just his second varsity game, the then-sophomore Haywood delivered three touchdown receptions, and even more impressive, four interceptions in a 55-20 win over McNair. He’s got such a high ceiling, that he’s only so low on this list because he played five games only. He’ll only mix in at defensive back this year, Norton said, as Stagg has more depth on defense.

TOP 50 PLAYERS COUNTDOWN

July 9: Players Nos. 46-50
July 16: Players Nos. 39-45
July 23: Players Nos. 32-38
Today: Players Nos. 25-31
Aug. 6: Players Nos. 18-24
Aug. 13: Players Nos. 11-17
Aug. 19: Player No. 10
Aug. 20: Player No. 9
Aug. 21: Player No. 8
Aug. 22: Player No. 7
Aug. 23: Player No. 6
Aug. 24: Player No. 5
Aug. 25: Player No. 4
Aug. 26: Player No. 3
Aug. 27: Player No. 2
Aug. 28: Player No. 1

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oakland A’s trades feeding Stockton Ports

Ever since a scintillating June, the Stockton Ports have been playing mostly .500 baseball. But in the past week, the big league club and general manager Billy Beane have helped rejuvenate their roster.

Last Wednesday, the A’s dealt ace-caliber lefty Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros. Ironically, Stockton, an Oakland affiliate, was at Lancaster, a Houston affiliate. And catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitcher Daniel Mengden simply had to walk across the field to change alliances and clubhouses.

And Monday, the A’s continued their unsurprising fire sale, sending closer Tyler Clippard to the New York Mets. The top piece returned to Oakland is 20-year-old starting pitcher Casey Meisner, formerly the Mets’ No. 15-rated prospect. He’ s a 6-foot-7 righty, and should join Stockton before tomorrow’s 7:10 p.m. home game vs. area code rival Modesto.

Considering the Ports have been up-and-down, anyway, and shortstop Franklin Barreto, the A’s No. 2 prospect, is out indefinitely with a wrist injury, it’s been a good week for Stockton. Plus, first baseman John Nogowski was recently placed on the DL.

New blood can bring new life to a time, even with five-to-six weeks of baseball left. The Ports trail who else but first-place Modesto by five games entering tonight’s 7:10 p.m. game at Stockton Ballpark.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pacific baseball coach Neu bringing in new staff

Mike Neu, the new Pacific baseball coach who was hired Monday, said today in a text message that he’ll bring on an entirely new set of assistants for his staff.

That means Mike McCormick, the Tigers’ pitching coach and former coach Ed Sprague Jr.’s top assistant, will be gone, as will young assistant Joey Centanni, who Sprague saw as a talented, up-and-coming coach.

Check back with recordnet.com/sportsblog for more as Neu fills out his staff.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Top 50 Football Players Countdown: Nos. 32-38

Bear Creek football wide receiver Darius Livingston is No. 35 on my Top 50 Football Players Countdown. (CALIXTRO ROMIAS/THE RECORD)

We’re getting into serious territory.

In the third installment of my returner rankings, a Top 50 Football Players Countdown, we have impact defenders, dangerous wide receivers and more.

With that in mind, my rankings are set to continue with Nos. 32-38.

This time, we have seven players from the cities of Stockton and Tracy.

My Top 50 Football Players Countdown, weighing the best returners in The Record’s coverage area: San Joaquin County and the Mother Lode, is in its inaugural edition. The inspiration and much of the wording describing these rankings is thanks to my good friend and former colleague T.J. Holmes of the Redding Record Searchlight. These rankings are based on past varsity experience, as well as potential impact for 2015. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 28.

Because tangible impact is important for these rankings, there are often more skill position players. Yet, you will see plenty of capable linemen here.

Schools included for these rankings:

  • San Joaquin County: Lincoln, St. Mary’s, McNair, Bear Creek, Chavez, Stagg, Tokay, Lodi, Franklin, Edison, West, Tracy, Kimball, Weston Ranch, Lathrop, East Union, Manteca, Sierra, Escalon, Ripon, Ripon Christian, Brookside Christian, Elliot Christian, Millennium
  • Mother Lode: Linden and Calaveras
If you think I’m wrong, please let me know in comments, or connect with me personally (my information is below).

Here they are, players Nos. 32-38:

No. 38 – David Corralejo (5-11, 270), DL, St. Mary’s, Sr.

Corralejo has the honor of being the only consistent starter, depending on the look, from a talented, senior-laden St. Mary’s defense of a year ago. Everybody else graduated. So Corralejo is vital, hoping to expand upon his 42 tackles from 2014, and include more pass-rushing. The Rams need all the experience they can get on this side of the ball.

No. 37 – Jovon Woods (6-1, 185), WR/RB, Franklin, Sr.

Woods was the signature offensive threat in a disappointing 1-9, and 0-5 in the SJAA 2014 season for Franklin. Now, hoping he doesn’t have to fill in at quarterback, given junior Stevie Thompson remains healthy, Woods hopes to be the man. In 2014, Woods had 351 rushing yards and three touchdowns, plus 10 catches for 152 yards and three more TDs.

No. 36 – Trent Griffith (5-10, 170), LB, Tracy, Sr.

Griffith was a tackles machine as the rare junior on the 2014 Tracy defense, racking up 92 of them total. He was a fiery player, and joined some senior teammates in memorably thanking the Bulldog fans after their section championship loss to Folsom in Sacramento. He and fellow senior linebacker Nate Turner must be versatile leaders this year.

No.  35 – Darius Livingston (5-11, 192), WR, Bear Creek, Sr.

Livingston’s success is paramount for the Bruins’ offense, after losing Brice Weber and Craig Perkins. Though his stats from last year were not posted on MaxPreps, Livingston certainly had a key impact on Bear Creek as a junior, after transferring from rival McNair. I expect him to be Bear Creek’s go-to option.

No. 34 – Zach Aguilar (6-0, 205), DL, Tracy, Sr.

Aguilar was an underrated piece of a talented defensive line, led by Haiden Hall and Anthony Karjalainen last year. He posted four sacks, with 55 total tackles. Tracy coach Matt Shrout, who specializes in coaching the D-line, is excited for Aguilar’s senior campaign.

No. 33 – Jonathan Phillips (5-6, 180), LB, Stagg, Sr.

Last year’s Delta Kings defense was supposed to revolve around senior linebacker Jeffrey Valverde. And while he was good, it was Phillips as a tenacious surprise earning a team-high 112 total tackles. Surely, Stagg will score plenty again in 2015, but needs Phillips for defensive stops when it matters most.

No. 32 – Brandon Zaunbrecher (5-8, 195), RB, St. Mary’s, Sr.

Though Zaunbrecher was the third option at tailback behind the graduated Marcell Spady and Tavonne Johnson, he made the most of his touches. Zaunbrecher averaged 7 yards per carry, and had 284 total rushing yards for four touchdowns. This is one of those selections where potential impact is weighed heavily. Though, he will battle for touches against newcomer Dusty Frampton, who was a junior varsity standout.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Reaction: Pacific hires Neu as baseball coach

Word came trickling through Twitter on Sunday night that the University of the Pacific had hired its 17th head baseball coach in program history. And it turned out to be former Cal pitching coach Mike Neu, a 37-year-old, former big league pitcher and native of Napa.

I spoke to Neu for the first time this afternoon, and you can ready my story here.

Here, though, are five thoughts on Neu, a first reaction to his hiring and what it means for Pacific.

  1. Eclectic and established: Pacific athletic director Ted Leland said last week that his new hire would need to wear many hats: coach, mentor, winner, recruiter and more. Neu seems to fit that mold perfectly. He’s been a professional ball player, and an undersized one for his position, at 5-foot-10. He’s been an associate scout for the Royals and Braves, a JC assistant and head coach, a Division I assistant, and finally, he’s gotten the job to run his own D-I program. Ed Sprague Jr., who retired as coach June 30 after 12 seasons, has a remarkable playing resume, as the only baseball player to ever win an Olympic gold medal, an NCAA championship and a World Series. But he had zero coaching experience to lean on when he came in, and thus the recruiting experience and all of the other minutiae was a steep learning curve. Not for Neu.
  2. Private school problems: Leland also said last week that he prefers a candidate who has experience working at a private institution. Of all the things Neu has, that is not one. Recruiting is certainly difficult in this way, with a high tuition and only so much scholarship money to go around. He realizes it, and will utilize the “scrap it together” mentality he did to win two Big 8 Conference championships at Diablo Valley College. Of course, that’s a little bit tougher in the West Coast Conference with Pepperdine, San Diego and Loyola Marymount hauling in Southern California talent that UCLA or USC miss. Maybe your team can manufacture runs, but will it be enough to overcome the eight or nine that are produced by their power hitters?
  3. A bit o’ stress: Certainly, most of the stress in Neu’s life today is good stress. To take over a D-I program, and one with sparkling facilities, at that, before your 40th birthday, is a wonderful accomplishment. And at home, he has a wife, a son, and a baby on the way in a couple more months. Yet, that’s where some stress must lie. He’ll be commuting from Martinez for the time being, an hour without traffic, so really, it’ll always be more than that. It’s certainly better than living apart from his family for a bit, or making them move at a time when relaxation and health are key for his wife. And though he will be fulfilled and grateful personally and professionally these next few months, it will no doubt yield a lot of sleep depravation. Such is the life.
  4. Pitching and power: Neu was honest in assessing Pacific, in that he hasn’t found the proper time to get a read on his roster, the 2015 recruiting class and the team’s most glaring needs. He did say, though, that he feels top-of-the-line starting pitching can help the Tigers at Klein Family Field, which isn’t a notorious pitcher’s park, but one that can be difficult to hit the ball out of, given the high wall in left field. He wants power hitters, too. And in general, those are great things to have. The starting rotation was supposed to be the cream of the crop for the Tigers this year, yet, it was the starters who struggled almost as much as the error-prone defense during an 0-13 start.
  5. Patience:  Neu should rest a little easier knowing that Leland and company want a winner built steadily and correctly. He’s not expected to come in and win 35 games and a WCC title next spring. That would be absurd, given Pacific is coming off a 14-37 season and a ninth place finish out of 10 teams in the WCC. He has time to gain the trust of the current players, truly bring on multiple recruiting classes of his own and instill a culture of winning that has been lacking, except for a few bright spots here and there, in 71 years of Pacific baseball.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Alexander siblings commit to Cal State Stanislaus

Elisabeth and Dylan Alexander, sister and brother and graduates of Weston Ranch High School, will both play college basketball south on Highway 99, at NCAA Division II Cal State Stanislaus.

Elisabeth Alexander graduated this spring, and was a second-team All-Area selection for The Record. Dylan Alexander graduated in 2013, after scoring 18 points and helping lead the Cougars to the CIF NorCal Division III quarterfinals.

He played for San Jose State as a freshman, before transferring to Casper College (JC) in Wyoming for his sophomore year. Alexander knew he wanted to keep playing eventually at a four-year program, but didn’t want to transfer right away and deal with the year’s sitout.

Cal State Stanislaus is where Chris Teevan, Dylan Alexander’s coach his senior year of high school, played his college ball after Modesto-Beyer High and Modesto Junior College.

Check in with The Record and recordnet.com next week for the full story on the Alexander siblings.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Top 50 Football Players Countdown: Nos. 39-45

Lincoln senior quarterback Colby Dickson is No. 41 on my top returner rankings. PHOTO FROM HUDL

Today is one of the deadest days in American sports.

It’s the All-Star break for Major League Baseball, the wave of NBA free agency has subsided, NFL training camp has not yet begun, the Women’s World Cup was dope, but it’s over, Wimbledon finished up last weekend and ESPN is digging frantically for barely-relevant story ideas.

Thankfully, they have the ESPYs.

Yet, high school football is beckoning, as the hot Stockton sun continues to bounce off the artificial turf and those infuriating little pieces of black rubber.

With that in mind, my returning player rankings is set to continue with Nos. 39-45.

This time, we have players from the cities of Manteca, Stockton, Lodi and Tracy.

My Top 50 Football Players Countdown, weighing the best returners in The Record’s coverage area: San Joaquin County and the Mother Lode, is in its inaugural edition. The inspiration and much of the wording describing these rankings is thanks to my good friend and former colleague T.J. Holmes of the Redding Record Searchlight. These rankings are based on past varsity experience, as well as potential impact for 2015. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 28.

Because tangible impact is important for these rankings, there are often more skill position players. Yet, you will see plenty of capable linemen here.

Schools included for these rankings:

  • San Joaquin County: Lincoln, St. Mary’s, McNair, Bear Creek, Chavez, Stagg, Tokay, Lodi, Franklin, Edison, West, Tracy, Kimball, Weston Ranch, Lathrop, East Union, Manteca, Sierra, Escalon, Ripon, Ripon Christian, Brookside Christian, Elliot Christian, Millennium
  • Mother Lode: Linden and Calaveras
If you think I’m wrong, please let me know in comments, or connect with me personally (my information is below).

Here they are, players Nos. 46-50:

No. 45 – Austin Miller (6-2, 170), WR/CB, East Union, Sr.

Miller was returning quarterback Jack Weaver’s top target a year ago, hauling in team-highs with 45 catches, 821 yards and nine touchdowns. At 6-foot-2, he’s a solid size for a Valley Oak League target, and he and Weaver should be as in-sync as ever. Miller won’t always have huge games in a winged offense, but just as soon as you forget about his potential, a big play will be coming.

No. 44 – Danny Goodacre-Lopez (6-6, 180), TE/WR, Chavez, Sr.

It was easy to lose Lopez-Goodacre in last year’s Chavez offense, behind the focus, senior tailback Priest Jennings, and the top scoring wide receiver, senior Lamar Housely. But Lopez-Goodacre was consistently an end zone threat, earning a team-high 32 catches for 423 yards, with four touchdowns. He’ll see the ball plenty from either Deon White or Keith Dosier, whomever starts for the Titans at QB.

No. 43 – Jeff Evans (5-7, 175), RB, Tokay, Sr.

Evans isn’t biggest, most bruising running back, but he was consistent for the Tigers as a junior. He delivered team-highs with 87 carries for 721 yards and seven TDs. Those seven scores matched QB Grayson Dillon, who’s graduated.

No.  42 – Jarett Carl (6-1, 200), OL/C, St. Mary’s, Jr.

The only unit that wasn’t senior-heavy for the Rams a year ago was the offensive line. It was a learning group at first, but one that excelled eventually, especially behind the leadership of Carl, as well as Popo Aumavae and A.J. Husary.

No. 41 – Colby Dickson (6-1, 185), QB, Lincoln, Sr.

Dickson began 2014 as the everyday starter, only to be replaced, and then eventually split time with senior Antwan Busby. Again, Dickson will have competition from the lower ranks, which were incredibly successful for the Trojans last year. He’ll need to improve his accuracy and downfield throwing, but comes back with invaluable experience to what is a rejuvenated, faster roster overall.

No. 40 – Jacob Torres (6-0, 230), OL/DL, Tracy, Sr.

Torres and his teammates on both sides of the line could be interchangeable on this list. Truly, that’s the Bulldogs’ strength. Though they’ve lost a phenomenal senior class of skill position guys, Torres and company are a force. Add on guys like Haiden Hall and Zach Aguilar, and you’re set to contend in the TCAL again.

No. 39 – Nathaniel McAlister (5-4, 150), WR, Tokay, Sr.

McAlister was part of an awesome trio of wide receivers last year, with now graduated L.J. Reed (Fresno State) and T.J. Gotelli (Rice walk-0n). And McAlister, out of the limelight, produced 25 catches for 359 yards and five touchdowns. He’ll be a key target for new quarterback Jared Zermeno.

TOP 50 PLAYERS COUNTDOWN

July 9: Players Nos. 46-50
Today: Players Nos. 39-45
July 23: Players Nos. 32-38
July 30: Players Nos. 25-31
Aug. 6: Players Nos. 18-24
Aug. 13: Players Nos. 11-17
Aug. 19: Player No. 10
Aug. 20: Player No. 9
Aug. 21: Player No. 8
Aug. 22: Player No. 7
Aug. 23: Player No. 6
Aug. 24: Player No. 5
Aug. 25: Player No. 4
Aug. 26: Player No. 3
Aug. 27: Player No. 2
Aug. 28: Player No. 1

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Top 50 Football Players Countdown: Nos. 46-50

The Top 50 Football Players Countdown begins with Nos. 46-50. RECORD FILE PHOTO

Football season isn’t just close. It’s here.

My Top 50 Football Players Countdown, weighing the best returners in The Record’s coverage area: San Joaquin County and the Mother Lode, is set for its inaugural edition. These rankings are based on past varsity experience, as well as potential impact for 2015. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 28.

Because tangible impact is important for these rankings, there are often more skill position players. Yet, you will see plenty of capable linemen here.

Schools included for these rankings:

  • San Joaquin County: Lincoln, St. Mary’s, McNair, Bear Creek, Chavez, Stagg, Tokay, Lodi, Franklin, Edison, West, Tracy, Kimball, Weston Ranch, Lathrop, East Union, Manteca, Sierra, Escalon, Ripon, Ripon Christian, Brookside Christian, Elliot Christian, Millennium
  • Mother Lode: Linden and Calaveras
If you think I’m wrong, please let me know in comments, or connect with me personally (my information is below).

Here they are, players Nos. 46-50:

No. 50 – Max Nicol (5-11, 145), WR/DB, Linden, Sr.

Nicol was the Lions’ top versatile option in a frustrating year overall, with 89 rushes for 693 yards and six touchdowns. He also added 25 catches for 407 yards and a receiving TD. He and quarterback Anthony Craven must be in-sync if Linden hopes to compete in the Mother Lode League.

No. 49 – James Gibbons (5-10, 150), QB, West, Sr.

The Wolf Pack’s offense was mostly focused on the running of junior Marcel Dancy a year ago, but having a senior quarterback return like Gibbons is paramount. For West, Gibbons threw for 666 yards, with five touchdowns and five interceptions. As he improves and gives the Wolf Pack more balance, the better off they’ll be in league. A year ago, West won its first five nonleague games before dropping five consecutive games in the Tri-City Athletic League.

No. 48 – Jonathan Wright, WR/DB, Lodi, Sr.

Wright was a dual threat for the Flames, rushing for 366 yards and three touchdowns, and hauling in 166 receiving yards and another touchdown. He posted 22 tackles and a fumble recovery on defense. Lodi needs veterans like Wright on both sides of the ball to hang tough in the TCAL.

No.  47 – Anthony Craven (6-0, 197), QB/LB, Linden, Sr.

Craven returns after throwing for over 1,000 yards with eight TDs and eight picks in 2014. He added five rushing touchdowns as well. It was a difficult season for Linden in the revamped MLL, with now includes perennial power Sonora, and longtime coach Mark Miller and company have work to do after a 2-8 season overall, and 1-5 campaign in the MLL.

No. 46 – Matt Meehleis (6-1, 195), QB/DL, Lodi, Sr.

Meehleis only threw 15 passes for last year’s edition of the Flames, as a backup quarterback, but was superb as a pass-rushing lineman, with a team-high seven sacks with 26 tackles. He’ll be key in giving the Lodi offense a jolt of energy after Chance Trammell, a second-team All-Area tailback, moves on via graduation. Lodi finished fifth out of six teams last year in the TCAL, ahead of West and behind Lincoln, Tokay, Tracy and St. Mary’s.

TOP 50 PLAYERS COUNTDOWN

Today: Players Nos. 46-50
July 16: Players Nos. 39-45
July 23: Players Nos. 32-38
July 30: Players Nos. 25-31
Aug. 6: Players Nos. 18-24
Aug. 13: Players Nos. 11-17
Aug. 19: Player No. 10
Aug. 20: Player No. 9
Aug. 21: Player No. 8
Aug. 22: Player No. 7
Aug. 23: Player No. 6
Aug. 24: Player No. 5
Aug. 25: Player No. 4
Aug. 26: Player No. 3
Aug. 27: Player No. 2
Aug. 28: Player No. 1

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ten Teams to Watch in 2015-16: McNair football

McNair High quarterback Osai Brown threw for 3,229 yards and 33 touchdowns as a junior. RECORD FILE PHOTO

Osai Brown is in the shotgun. Sean Hamilton and Derrion Grim are out wide.

And if you’re an opposing defense, you’re in trouble.

That’s just a scene setter for this year’s edition of the McNair football team, which no doubt should feature an outstanding aerial attack, as it did in 2014-15.

Last season, Brown’s varsity debut, he delivered 3,229 passing yards, 33 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, to go with 481 rushing yards and six more TDs.

Hamilton, an incoming senior like Brown and Grim, was his top target throughout the season, with 68 catches for a whopping 1,119 yards and 11 TDs.

That’s why McNair, a contender in the pass-happy, offense-heavy San Joaquin Athletic Association, is my final Team to Watch in 2015-16.

Grim was one of the best midseason add-ons in the section last year, kind of like Tokay’s L.J. Reed, who’ll be playing college ball for Fresno State.

The wideout Grim, a verbal commit to West Coast power Boise State, had 35 catches for 637 yards and 10 touchdowns in just five games played. Extrapolate those numbers into at least a 10-game season, and it gets downright scary.

Although McNair needs to establish a consistent running game, it may have the man to anchor a defense that needs to improve. Seth Tennis, an incoming junior linebacker, powered the Eagles with 118 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 2014.

Thanks for reading, folks, and make sure to stay tuned for my Top 50 Returning Football Players Countdown, which begins tomorrow (July 9) with Nos. 46-50.

MORE TEAMS TO WATCH: Stagg footballWeston Ranch boys basketballEast Union girls soccerSierra footballWeston Ranch boys soccerTracy baseball, St. Mary’s girls basketball, Manteca boys basketball, East Union softball

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
  • Blog Authors

    Bob Highfill

    Bob Highfill has been with The Record sports department since 1990. He started as a part-time reporter/agate clerk then covered the high school sports beat before taking on the Pacific athletics beat. In 2006, he was named sports editor. Bob was ... Read Full

    Scott Linesburgh

    Linesburgh has been a member of The Record's sports department since 1988. A native of Wantagh, N.Y., he has covered the Stockton Thunder hockey franchise since its inception in 2005 and has spent more than two decades reporting on motorsports and ... Read Full

    Thomas Lawrence

    Lawrence became a prep and general assignment sports reporter for The Record in August 2014. He has covered high school, college and professional sports and more in his career. From November of 2011 through summer 2014, he covered college and prep ... Read Full
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • RSS Related Content