Player of the Game: Julian Serrano

Franklin quarterback Julian Serrano warms up before his team's season-opening 26-21 win Friday night at Linden High. CRAIG SANDERS/SPECIAL TO THE RECORD

The Franklin football team’s quarterback was most impressive in his team’s most stressful moments.

Julian Serrano, a senior and returning starter, was placed under pressure a handful of times during the first half of his team’s 26-21 season-opening win Friday at Linden High. But Serrano, wearing No. 3 and resembling Russell Wilson with not just the number, but with his agility, turned three would-be sacks into a total of 30 positive yards.

Through three quarters, Serrano had thrown for 357 yards, completing 22 of 28 passes, and throwing four touchdowns: 22, 30 and 30 yards to Damion Pursley and 26 yards to Juan Castillo.

Sure, the Yellowjackets (1-0) had plenty of screen passes to make life easier, but Serrano also displayed a pretty touch on deeper throws to Pursley, who had 10 catches for 175 yards and three TDs through three quarters.

That’s why Serrano is my Week 0 Player of the Game. For every game I cover in 2016, as I’ve done in 2014 and 2015 at The Record, we’ll pick a Player of the Game and do some honorable mention nods.

HONORABLE MENTION

DAMION PURSLEY (Franklin WR/DB, senior)

Pursley was absolutely dominant. His speed, length, hands, instincts and route-running completely overwhelmed the Lions’ secondary from beginning to end. He has the ability to be patient when need be, and to take over as well.

STEVIE THOMPSON (Franklin WR, senior)

Lost in the big night of Serrano and Pursley, was an excellent performance by Thompson, who uses his speed and deceptive strength to pick up a bunch of yardage after the catch.

HUNTER WHITE (Linden RB/LB, senior)

White manhandled Franklin’s defense, in the first half, at least. By the break, White had eight carries for 166 yards, including runs of 76 and 60 yards. Rowdy Reed had both of the Lions’ rushing touchdowns.

 

JUAN CASTILLO (Franklin TE/DL)

Castillo, whose brother Luis Castillo had an interception, hauled in the first TD of the season (26 yards from Serrano on a post) and exploded for a second-half sack. Franklin depends on two-way players and Juan Castillo has to keep it up for them to stay competitive with deeper teams once San Joaquin Athletic Association play begins.

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 High school football, High School Sports, Sports | Leave a comment

The Record’s Preseason All-Area Football First Team

St. Mary's wide receiver Keaton Hampton is a returning All-Area first-team pick for The Record. RECORD FILE 2015

Here it is, without much pomp or circumstance: The Record’s preseason All-Area football first team. Please remember that this is just preseason guesswork, this is not the real thing. 

PRESEASON ALL-AREA FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

QB – Jake Dunniway (St. Mary’s, senior)

RB – Noah Preuss (Calaveras, senior)

RB – Dusty Frampton (St. Mary’s, junior)

RB – Austin Sith (McNair, senior)

TE – Miquan Maxey (Lincoln, senior)

WR – Dewey Cotton (St. Mary’s, senior)

WR – Damion Pursley (Franklin, senior)

WR – Keaton Hampton (St. Mary’s, senior)

OL – Popo Aumavae (St. Mary’s, senior)

OL – Ryan Williams (Lincoln, senior)

OL – Dominic Splan (Tracy, senior)

OL – Mikie Prefling (St. Mary’s, senior)

OL – Kyle Reis (Manteca, junior)

UT – Josh Alvarado (Tracy, junior)

UT – Aaron Thomas (Lincoln, senior)

K – Jack Weaver (East Union, senior)

DEFENSE

DL – Cole Norgaard (St. Mary’s, senior)

DL – Justin Kakala (Manteca, junior)

DL – Keller Salmon (St. Mary’s, senior)

DL – Zach Fleming (Tokay, senior)

LB – Jalend Dinwiddie (Stagg, senior)

LB – Seuseu Alofaituli (Sierra, senior)

LB – Ferrin Manuleleua (Manteca, junior)

LB – Seth Tennis (McNair, senior)

DB/OLB – Nashon Tamiano (Sierra, senior)

DB – David Ford (St. Mary’s, senior)

DB – Isaiah Downes (Lincoln, senior)

DB – Cutrell Haywood (Stagg, senior)

KR – Hassani Zackery (Edison, junior)

P – Tre Tuipuloto Willis Jr. (Lathrop, senior)

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 High school football, High School Sports, Sports | Leave a comment

Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: No. 1

 

PHOTO COURTESY OF POPO AUMAVAE'S TWITTER ACCOUNT

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 second 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 2016. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 26.

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 and 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 he is, player No. 1:

*****

On any list of football player rankings, it’s hard for a lineman to be at the top of the food chain.

After all, barring a fumble or a bad pass, they aren’t touching the ball and helping to move it downfield.

But sometimes, there’s a player so dynamic, so coveted by NCAA Division I programs and so game-changing on both sides of the ball, that he deserves the highest accolade.

That’s St. Mary’s senior Popo Aumavae, a giant but nimble force at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, who’s received 21 NCAA Division I offers, highlighted by Oregon, UCLA, USC, Ole Miss and Michigan. Aumavae has yet to make his decision, and is awaiting a visit and potential offer from a very high-profile Division I team.

Aumavae is a reigning All-Area first-team offensive lineman for The Record, and was named to Cal-Hi Sports first-team all-state defensive line earlier this month. He is also No. 1 on my Top 50 Football Returner Rankings. This is the end of the second year of these rankings. The No. 1 from 2015 was Sierra tailback Mark Paule Jr., who ended up catching a state championship-winning touchdown pass.

“He’s very, very athletic and very balance. When you watch his game film, he’s not on the ground. He doesn’t fall much,” Rams head coach Tony Franks said of Aumavae.. “It’s no wonder that a lot of folks have been excited.”

St. Mary’s knew Aumavae was special early, as defensive coordinator Dave Tipton pointed on Aumavae’s potential to me during his sophomore season, before he was really a household name among Stockton prep football fans. He’s certainly proved his worth, and was seamless in playing defense last year, too.

While he’s quietly confident, he’s a very soft-spoken, family-driven kid, who knows how to conduct himself with power on the field and a gentler approach off it. Franks said the recruiting experience can be overwhelming for someone like Aumavae. After all, they’re all teenagers.

“You keep reminding yourself that these are just young men. These are high school kids,” said Franks, a former UC Davis assistant. “Even though it’s a big ole’ man-sized body, we’re talking about a 17-year-old.

Aumavae and the Rams open their season against San Mateo-Serra at 1 p.m. Saturday in San Mateo. St. Mary’s is No. 13 in Cal-Hi Sports preseason state rankings, and Serra is No. 21.

TOP 50 PLAYERS COUNTDOWN

July 7: Players Nos. 45-50
July 14: Players Nos. 39-44
Today: Players Nos. 33-38
July 26: Players Nos. 27-32
Aug. 2: Players Nos. 21-26
Aug. 12: Players Nos. 15-20

Aug. 15: Players Nos. 11-14

Aug. 17: No. 10 Keaton Hampton
Aug. 18: No. 9 Noah Preuss
Aug. 19: No. 8 Jack Weaver
Saturday: No. 7 Dominic Splan
Sunday: No. 6 Dusty Frampton
Monday: No. 5 Dewey Cotton
Today: No. 4 Aaron Thomas
Wednesday: No. 3 Jake Dunniway
Thursday: No. 2 Cutrell Haywood
Friday: No. 1 Popo Aumavae

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 High school football, High School Sports, Sports | Leave a comment

Prep Football Predictions 2016: Week 0

Football fans in Stockton are focused on St. Mary’s trip to national power Bellflower-St. John Bosco on Sept. 23.

But the Rams have one incredible football game to open the season. As do the rival Lincoln Trojans.

CLICK HERE TO READ AN ONLINE EDITION OF THE RECORD’S 24-PAGE “PILLARS OF POWER” HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW!

St. Mary’s, ranked No.13 in the state preseason by Cal-Hi Sports, ventures to No. 21 San Mateo-Serra at 1 p.m. Saturday. Serra, the alma mater of Tom Brady and Barry Bonds, is ranked No. 2 in the Bay Area by Bay Area News Group, and No. 4 by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Padres have an experienced passing attack, with West Catholic Athletic League reigning MVP and quarterback Sitaleki Nunn leading the way and throwing to tall wide receivers.

St. Mary’s is young in the secondary, with the exception of senior safety David Ford, and must account for that.

However, I believe St. Mary’s will game plan well for this one, and use its biggest advantage: an experienced, strong offensive line anchored by seniors Popo Aumavae, Jarett Carl and Mikie Prefling. Expect a heavy dose of junior running back Dusty Frampton, as the Rams try to control the clock and keep the ball out of Nunn’s hands.

PREDICTION: St. Mary’s 29, Serra 22: It’s hard to pick against the Padres, especially in that rare Saturday home game, but this feels like an enchanted season to be for the Rams. This is truly a coin flip game, and would probably be a “pick ‘em” if it were an NFL game on a betting line.

Lincoln at Antioch, 7 p.m.

All offseason long, the Trojans’ defense has been hearing, and preparing mentally for, two word: Najee Harris. Harris, Cal-Hi Sports’ reigning Mr. Football, surpassed the 2,700-rushing yard mark as a junior as he committed verbally to Alabama. He’s all-muscle, as an heir apparent to Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, and presents one heck of a challenge for first year coach Anthony Martinez’s opening game.

Martinez, an offensive-minded coach, is bringing in the “Code Red” Air Raid passing attack. Which I believe will score some points, but not enough against the team ranked No. 3 in the Bay Area by BANG and the SF Chronicle.

PREDICTION: Antioch 49, Lincoln 31: The Trojans show some promise with that offense, against a Panthers team that allowed lots and lots of points in 2015, but Harris and Antioch’s offense are just too much. No shame in going 0-1 if you open at Antioch.

Modesto-Gregori at Chavez, 7:15 p.m.

La Te’f Grim makes his debut as Titans coach, and senior John Michael Supangan makes his debut as the senior starting quarterback, without having thrown a single varsity pass. Both the San Joaquin Athletic Association and the Modesto Metro Conference have shown flaws the past couple years, but I like the speed, tempo and outlook of the Titans against the Jaguars.

PREDICTION: Chavez 34, Gregori 22

WEEK 0 PREDICTIONS

RIO VISTA over Brookside Christian

SIERRA over Ripon

LATHROP over West

FRANKLIN over Linden

- I’ll be doing my All-Access video with Franklin and covering the game live on Twitter.

CALAVERAS over El Capitan

BEAR CREEK over Grace Davis

ESCALON over Enochs

KIMBALL over Livermore

TRACY over San Ramon Valley

WESTON RANCH over Ceres

ELK GROVE-FRANKLIN over McNair

BEAR CREEK over Grace Davis

HERITAGE over Tokay

MANTECA over Buhach Colony

RENO over Stagg

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 High school football, High School Sports, Sports | Leave a comment

Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: No. 2

Stagg wide receiver Cutrell Haywood awaits a pass during his team's San Joaquin Athletic Association football game against Chavez on Nov. 6, 2015, at Chavez High in Stockton. RECORD FILE 2015

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 second 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 2016. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 26.

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 and 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 he is, player No. 2:

Cutrell Haywood gave us an omen for his high school football career in just his second varsity game.

Haywood, then a sophomore, delivered four interceptions and three touchdown passes in a 55-20 win over Stagg. For his efforts, he was named Cal-Hi Sports’ NorCal Defensive Player of the Week.

 

And Haywood never stopped. As a junior, the All-Area first-team selection racked up 62 catches for 915 yards and 11 touchdowns as a receiver. In the secondary, Haywood had five interceptions for 260 return yards and a touchdown, adding a punt return touchdown as well.

Now, the 6-foot, 185-pound senior is No. 2 on my Top 50 Football Returner Rankings.

He’s there because, quite frankly, Haywood is one of the best two-way players (specifically a WR/DB combo) in Stockton, San Joaquin County and the Sac-Joaquin Section. He’s probably the best in that area in this city and county.

Haywood is also a throwback in that he competes beyond football. While he’s more of a role player, Haywood is a vital part of the Stagg boys basketball team. He averaged nine points, seven rebounds and three assists last season.

His collegiate football future is uncertain, but Haywood has another season to dazzle recruiters and to work hard in the classroom.

Stay tuned as on Friday, Week 0′s high school football kickoff, I’ll unveil Player No. 1!

Last year, No. 1 was Sierra running back Mark Paule Jr. He went on to catch a state championship-winning touchdown pass. Not too shabby!

TOP 50 PLAYERS COUNTDOWN

July 7: Players Nos. 45-50
July 14: Players Nos. 39-44
Today: Players Nos. 33-38
July 26: Players Nos. 27-32
Aug. 2: Players Nos. 21-26
Aug. 12: Players Nos. 15-20

Aug. 15: Players Nos. 11-14

Aug. 17: No. 10 Keaton Hampton
Aug. 18: No. 9 Noah Preuss
Aug. 19: No. 8 Jack Weaver
Saturday: No. 7 Dominic Splan
Sunday: No. 6 Dusty Frampton
Monday: No. 5 Dewey Cotton
Today: No. 4 Aaron Thomas
Wednesday: No. 3 Jake Dunniway
Thursday: No. 2 Cutrell Haywood
Friday: 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 High school football, High School Sports, Sports | Leave a comment

Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: No. 3

St. Mary's quarterback Jake Dunniway fires away against Stagg during their Sac-Joaquin Section Division I football playoff game on Nov. 13, 2015, at Sanguinetti Field in Stockton. CALIXTRO ROMIAS/RECORD FILE 2015

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 second 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 2016. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 26.

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 and 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 he is, player No. 3:

***

Slowly and steadily, you could see Jake Dunniway’s confidence and expertise grow.

Dunniway was St. Mary’s first-year starting quarterback as a junior, and the Rams and their coaching staff did a superb job of easing him into their shotgun pistol offense. Early in the season, the aerial attack was more horizontal, with screen passes to Dewey Cotton.

As the year rolled on, though, Dunniway developed a knack for his receivers, and a formidable downfield passing game to those like Keaton Hampton.

All told, in 13 games, Dunniway completed 65 percent of his passes for 26 touchdowns, four interceptions and 2,584 yards.

He’s a year older, stronger and wiser, and has Cotton, Hampton and Marcus Aponte back in his receiving corps, not to mention a bruising junior running back Dusty Frampton to draw in the defense.

That’s why Dunniway is No. 3 on my Top 50 Football Returners Countdown, one of many quarterbacks and the one with the highest potential for 2016, in part because he has the best team in the area, and maybe the section, around him.

Having a second- or third-year varsity quarterback is invaluable, Rams coach Tony Franks has said. Especially for large-school divisions where quarterback play matters even more, having someone like Dunniway is a luxury. He has the potential of St. Mary’s Noah Righetti from a couple years ago, when Righetti helped lead the Rams to the section Division II finals and won The Record’s All-Area Player of the Year award.

Expect Dunniway to surpass 2,500 yards once again, and to throw for 30 or more touchdowns.

TOP 50 PLAYERS COUNTDOWN

July 7: Players Nos. 45-50
July 14: Players Nos. 39-44
Today: Players Nos. 33-38
July 26: Players Nos. 27-32
Aug. 2: Players Nos. 21-26
Aug. 12: Players Nos. 15-20

Aug. 15: Players Nos. 11-14

Aug. 17: No. 10 Keaton Hampton
Aug. 18: No. 9 Noah Preuss
Aug. 19: No. 8 Jack Weaver
Saturday: No. 7 Dominic Splan
Sunday: No. 6 Dusty Frampton
Monday: No. 5 Dewey Cotton
Today: No. 4 Aaron Thomas
Wednesday: No. 3 Jake Dunniway
Thursday: Player No. 2
Friday: 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 High school football, High School Sports, Sports | Leave a comment

Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: No. 4

 

Lincoln quarterback Aaron Thomas, left, stiff arms a Tracy player during their Tri-City Athletic League football game on Oct. 30, 2015, at Spanos Stadium in Stockton. Thomas is No. 4 on Thomas Lawrence's Top 50 Football Returners Countdown. RECORD FILE 2015

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 second 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 2016. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 26.

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 and 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 he is, player No. 4:

****

When he earned his opportunity, Aaron Thomas flourished.

Thomas, Lincoln football’s incoming starting quarterback, split time with Colby Dickson as a junior. But he took on a heavier load late in the season, and in a start against Tracy, went off as Lincoln won a pivotal 49-28 Tri-City Athletic League game to clinch a playoff bid in late October.

Thomas went 21 of 34 passing for 283 yards in that game, with four touchdowns and one interception. His solid, accurate passing and ability to scramble will be paramount in Lincoln’s new Air Raid offense, dubbed “Code Red” by the Trojans and first-year coach Anthony Martinez.

Martinez and Thomas have a nice knack for one another, as Martinez coached Thomas on the freshman team in 2013 and was his offensive coordinator last year under former coach Brian Gray.

That’s why Thomas, who’s poised for a potentially-massive offensive year, is No. 4 on my Top 50 Football Returners Countdown.

In any industry, an employee (or athlete, or performer) needs trustworthy, talented people around him. And Thomas has that, especially in returning leaders like tight end Miquan Maxey, wide receiver Izaiah Celestine and two-way linemen Ryan Williams and Will George: all of whom are seniors.

As a junior, Thomas had 522 passing yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions through his first seven games: Lincoln’s final three regular-season game and playoff game against Cosumnes Oaks were not entered onto MaxPreps.com.

He also added eight rushing yards per carry with three TDs in that time. Lincoln needs him to do both effectively to contend in the TCAL.

TOP 50 PLAYERS COUNTDOWN

July 7: Players Nos. 45-50
July 14: Players Nos. 39-44
Today: Players Nos. 33-38
July 26: Players Nos. 27-32
Aug. 2: Players Nos. 21-26
Aug. 12: Players Nos. 15-20

Aug. 15: Players Nos. 11-14

Aug. 17: No. 10 Keaton Hampton
Aug. 18: No. 9 Noah Preuss
Aug. 19: No. 8 Jack Weaver
Saturday: No. 7 Dominic Splan
Sunday: No. 6 Dusty Frampton
Monday: No. 5 Dewey Cotton
Today: No. 4 Aaron Thomas
Wednesday: Player No. 3
Thursday: Player No. 2
Friday: 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 High school football, High School Sports, Sports | Leave a comment

Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: No. 5

St. Mary's wide receiver Dewey Cotton, left, awaits a pass from quarterback Jake Dunniway, right, during a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff game against Stagg on Nov. 6, 2015, at Sanguinetti Field in Stockton. Cotton is No. 5 on Thomas Lawrence's Top 50 Football Returners Countdown. RECORD FILE 2015

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 second 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 2016. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 26.

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 and 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 he is, player No. 5:

****

Dewey Cotton knows exactly who he is as a football player.

He’s embraced it, and the third-year St. Mary’s wide receiver has reaped the benefits from that belief, his hard work, and of course, his natural speed and talent.

Cotton, a 5-foot-5, 155-pound receiver and kick returner, is a reigning All-Area first-team selection for The Record, and a Sacramento State verbal commit. He embraces his relatively-small stature, as his favorite NFL player is Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (5-9, 175 pounds).

In fact, when Cotton announced his commitment to Sacramento State on Twitter, he did this:

Through two seasons, Cotton has tallied 92 catches for 1,463 yards and 13 touchdowns. He and fellow wide outs in senior Keaton Hampton (out wide, deep threat) and junior Marcus Aponte (slot) complement each other perfectly. And he has a second consecutive season, now, working with senior quarterback Jake Dunniway.

Plus, he’s one of five seniors who were sophomores on varsity when St. Mary’s lost a heartbreaking, 21-14 Sac-Joaquin Section Division II final to Sacramento-Grant in December 2014. Not to mention, a gut-wrenching 56-49 Division I semifinal at Folsom last November.

“We have all the reason to go all the way to state this year. We have all of that fire from the Grant game, from Folsom. It’s time for us,” Cotton said. “We know it is.”

TOP 50 PLAYERS COUNTDOWN

July 7: Players Nos. 45-50
July 14: Players Nos. 39-44
Today: Players Nos. 33-38
July 26: Players Nos. 27-32
Aug. 2: Players Nos. 21-26
Aug. 12: Players Nos. 15-20

Aug. 15: Players Nos. 11-14

Aug. 17: No. 10 Keaton Hampton
Aug. 18: No. 9 Noah Preuss
Aug. 19: No. 8 Jack Weaver
Saturday: No. 7 Dominic Splan
Sunday: No. 6 Dusty Frampton
Today: No. 5 Dewey Cotton
Tuesday: Player No. 4
Wednesday: Player No. 3
Thursday: Player No. 2
Friday: 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 High school football, High School Sports, Sports | Leave a comment

Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: No. 6

St. Mary's running back Dusty Frampton had 143 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a 65-35 Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff win over Stagg on Nov. 13, 2015, at Sanguinetti Field in Stockton. CALIXTRO ROMIAS/RECORD FILE 2015

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 second 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 2016. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 26.

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 and 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 he is, player No. 6:

*****

As a junior, Dusty Frampton only averaged about seven carries per game for the St. Mary’s football team.

But the bruising running back took advantage of every opportunity he got.

Frampton finished with 710 rushing yards, averaging 7.5 yards per carry, with 17 touchdowns. Translation: if you’re earning one touchdown for every 5.5 carries you get, you’re an exceptional option inside the 10-yard line.

Frampton (and the Rams’ offensive line) saved their best for last (as in the playoffs), as Frampton tallied four rushing touchdowns in St. Mary’s 56-49 Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals loss at Folsom. His most prolific game came in St. Mary’s playoff opener against Stagg, as Frampton posted seven carries for 143 yards and four touchdowns in a 65-35 win. That’s an average of 20 yards per rush.

He’s back as the featured tailback, and pivotal members of the offensive line (seniors Popo Aumavae, Mikie Prefling, Jarett Carl) return.

That’s why Frampton is No. 6 on my Top 50 Football Returner Rankings.

Frampton, proven a beast in an A-gap and under a squat rack, checks in at a muscular 5-foot-11, 214 pounds. That medium height allows him the leverage and a lower center of gravity, and his muscle mass lets him power through would-be tacklers.

His style could be reminiscent of second-team All-Area tailback Marcell Spady from a couple years ago, except with possibly even more strength and explosion. That’s yet to be determined.

TOP 50 PLAYERS COUNTDOWN

July 7: Players Nos. 45-50
July 14: Players Nos. 39-44
Today: Players Nos. 33-38
July 26: Players Nos. 27-32
Aug. 2: Players Nos. 21-26
Aug. 12: Players Nos. 15-20

Aug. 15: Players Nos. 11-14

Aug. 17: No. 10 Keaton Hampton
Aug. 18: No. 9 Noah Preuss
Friday: No. 8 Jack Weaver
Saturday: No. 7 Dominic Splan
Today: No. 6 Dusty Frampton
Monday: Player No. 5
Tuesday: Player No. 4
Wednesday: Player No. 3
Thursday: Player No. 2
Friday: 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 High school football, High School Sports, Sports | Leave a comment

Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: No. 7

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 second 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 2016. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 26.

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 and 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 he is, player No. 7:

*****

You cannot understate a top-notch lineman’s impact on Tracy’s veer offense.

It’s an old-school, run-heavy offense that’s the ultimate in controlled chaos. There must be unspoken communication and trust between the blockers, quarterbacks and running backs. An anchor on an offensive line is paramount, almost as much for his leadership as for his physical skills.

That’s the job of senior Dominic Splan, a third-year varsity center guiding the Bulldogs’ blockers.

Splan, at 6-foot, 255 pounds, is a returning first-team All-Area offensive lineman, and was around for the Bulldogs’ run to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I finals two years ago.

He has NCAA potential, and the trust and chemistry between him and junior quarterback Josh Alvarado could determine whether or not the Bulldogs make a run in the Tri-City Athletic League.

That’s why Splan is No. 7 on my Top 50 Football Returner Rankings. Splan and Tracy have a more manageable schedule than seasons past. It’s still difficult, facing Oakley-Freedom and Liberty-Brentwood, but gone is the near-guaranteed loss of playing Concord-Clayton Valley Charter.

So Tracy has a great chance to return to the playoffs, and in this program, the maturity and skill of the linemen is paramount.

“He knows our offense really well: he’s ran it for three years now. As a lineman and a center, he can talk to the quarterback, he can talk to the linemen,” Bulldogs coach Matt Shrout said of Splan. “He’s kind of the go-between for those guys off the field. If things aren’t going right, he can calm them down and get them back where they need to be.”

TOP 50 PLAYERS COUNTDOWN

July 7: Players Nos. 45-50
July 14: Players Nos. 39-44
Today: Players Nos. 33-38
July 26: Players Nos. 27-32
Aug. 2: Players Nos. 21-26
Aug. 12: Players Nos. 15-20

Aug. 15: Players Nos. 11-14

Aug. 17: No. 10 Keaton Hampton
Aug. 18: No. 9 Noah Preuss
Aug. 19: No. 8 Jack Weaver
Today: No. 7 Dominic Splan
Sunday: Player No. 6
Monday: Player No. 5
Tuesday: Player No. 4
Wednesday: Player No. 3
Thursday: Player No. 2
Friday: 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 High school football, High School Sports, Sports, 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 covers the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League, and has spent more than a quarter century reporting various other sports on the high ... 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