Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: Nos. 11-15

 

Weston Ranch tailback Cori Floyd, left top, is primed for a big 2017 after emerging as the Cougars' leading rusher last autumn. [CALIXTRO ROMIAS/RECORD FILE 2016

Don’t let Pac-12 football fool you.

Running the ball still matters. Especially in high school.

With that in mind, my Top 50 Football Returners Countdown rolls on with Nos. 11-14, three of whom specialize in carrying the football, taking a beating and playing a massive role for their teams.

Take a look at Nos. 11-14:

My Top 50 Football Returners Countdown, weighing the best returners in The Record’s coverage area: San Joaquin County and the Mother Lode, is in its third 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 2017. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 25.

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 and Mountain House
  • Mother Lode: Amador, Argonaut, Bret Harte, Linden and Calaveras

Sierra safety Jacob Peterson, right, goes in for a tackle against East Union during a Valley Oak League game last season. [CALIXTRO ROMIAS/RECORD FILE 2016

No. 15 – Jacob Peterson (5-10, 175), Sierra, WR/SS, senior

Peterson came into his own for the Timberwolves last autumn, as the top receiving threat and an incredibly reliable strong safety. Sierra backtracked a bit, losing in the first round of the playoffs after winning Sac-Joaquin Section, NorCal and CIF State titles the year before, but Peterson was excellent. He had 44 catches for 789 yards and five touchdowns, and on defense, managed 92 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Expect his role on this team to blossom.

No. 14 – Cori Floyd (5-10, 172), Weston Ranch, RB/SB, senior

Floyd was a welcome surprise to the Cougars last season, on a team that was led almost exclusively by seniors. He took advantage of his opportunity, as senior tailback Bryant Bowen Jr. struggled with injury issues and thus focused on defense. Floyd became the featured tailback, and had 512 yards on 59 carries with four touchdowns. This season, he won’t have to give carries to Bowen or other weapons like James Walker. Floyd averaged 8.7 yards a carry, which is part of the reason why he’s so high on this list.

“]

Tracy fullback Mason Sarsfield, then a sophomore, runs the football against St. Mary's during a Tri-City Athletic League game in October 2016 at Wayne Schneider Stadium. [RECORD FILE 2016

No. 13 – Mason Sarsfield (6-0, 172), Tracy, FB/OLB, junior

Sarsfield started to really show his promise toward the end of last season, as Tracy’s offensive line dominated to close Tri-City Athletic League play. His coming out party came against Lincoln, with a 176-yard, two-touchdown night. Sarsfield totalled 797 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s also listed as an outside linebacker, but had no defensive statistics registered last year. He is primed for a big season, and has had a year to put on muscle and learn more of the Bulldogs’ veer system.

No. 12 – Cory Glasgow (5-6, 171), Tokay, RB/SS, senior

Glasgow gets the nod in a tough call over Floyd and Sarsfield because of his potential impact on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, Tigers coach Michael Holst, the program’s former defensive coordinator, said Glasgow is the scariest Tokay player to get hit by. As a junior, Glasgow had just nine tackles with one interception, but Holst’s words probably mean his role on the defense will grow. Most importantly, though, Glasgow is primed for a 1,000-yard season, after amassing 901 yards on 142 carries with 10 touchdowns in 2016. Glasgow averaged 6.3 yards per carry.

No. 11 – Oyebolaji Akinyemi (6-2, 210), DE/MLB, Tracy, senior

Akinyemi was a breakout star for Tracy last season, dazzling the Tri-City Athletic League’s coaches, who voted him the TCAL’s Defensive Player of the Year in their postseason awards.

The talented pass-rusher, who can play outside linebacker or defensive end ala Aldon Smith, had 41 tackles, 2.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. Expect those numbers to balloon this season as he becomes a senior leader on a strong team.

2017 TOP 50 FOOTBALL RETURNERS COUNTDOWN

 July 7: Players Nos. 44-50

July 14: Players Nos. 37-43

July 21: Players Nos. 30-36

July 28: Players Nos. 23-29

Aug. 1: Players Nos. 16-22

Aug. 11: Players Nos. 11-15

Aug. 16: Player No. 10

Aug. 17: Player No. 9

Aug. 18: Player No. 8

Aug. 19: Player No. 7

Aug. 20: Player No. 6

Aug. 21: Player No. 5

Aug. 22: Player No. 4

Aug. 23: Player No. 3

Aug. 24: Player No. 2

Aug. 25: 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

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Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: Nos. 16-22

“]

Lincoln running back Will Jones III, left, evades the tackle of Chavez's Leo Gayles during their nonleague football game in September 2016 at Lincoln High's Spanos Stadium in Stockton. [RECORD FILE 2016

This is the time in my yearly football returner rankings where feelings get hurt (unnecessarily, this is for fun), controversy is created (I love that) and debates are sparked (I really love that).

Sounds like fun, right?

My rankings return, as football nears. Week 0, Aug. 25, is three weeks from today.

Take a look at Nos. 16-22:

My Top 50 Football Returners Countdown, weighing the best returners in The Record’s coverage area: San Joaquin County and the Mother Lode, is in its third 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 2017. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 25.

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 and Mountain House
  • Mother Lode: Amador, Argonaut, Bret Harte, Linden and Calaveras

No. 22– Zach Fleming, Tokay (5-11, 214), DE/FB, Tokay, senior

There’s some chatter that Tokay could be the sleeper team in this area. No, not ready to knock off a giant like St. Mary’s, but perhaps one of the most improved groups behind veterans like Ralph Martinez, Cory Glasgow, and this man, pass-rusher Zach Fleming.

The Tigers’ lineman had 52 tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery in 2016, a tough season for Tokay, and those numbers should improve, health and unforeseen circumstances notwithstanding.

Tokay could make a playoff push for the first time in coach Michael Holst’s tenure (they’re the team Lincoln coach Anthony Martinez considers a potential trap game on the Trojans’ schedule). Tokay needs to make sure it wins three if not four preseason games, and beat Lodi and West in TCAL play. Easier said than done, but a real chance this year.

No. 21 – Tim Omstead (5-10, 225), OL/DL, Stagg, senior

With the graduation of McNair’s Gabriel Jones (pass rusher), multiple veteran Bear Creek offensive linemen, and Stagg’s own Kobe Taylor, Omstead could be a premier lineman in the San Joaquin Athletic Association. Omstead, lauded by Delta Kings coach Don Norton as a leader and impact player, had 60 tackles, seven sacks, two interceptions, four pass deflections and two fumble recoveries in 2016. Heck, he deserved more press coverage than we gave him! That’s a superb season, in a league that isn’t known for its defense. Not to mention, he contributes on the O-line for the two-time defending SJAA champions (outright in 2015, shared with McNair in 2016).

No. 20 – Michael Ramos (5-6, 155), RB/SS, Lathrop, senior

Welcome in the first 1,000-yard rusher from 2016 to the list! Ramos, as part of Lathrop’s resurgence under coach Joe Pirillo, delivered 1,015 rushing yards, six touchdowns, 43 tackles and three pass deflections last season. Lathrop will miss Tre Tuipuloto Willis Jr. and Idowu Olaleye, but quarterback Keonnee Linnell is back, too, as the Spartans try to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

No. 19 – Dominick Zackery, (5-10, 155), DB/WR, Edison, junior

It was expected that Hassani Zackery would be an offensive and special teams revelation for Edison last season, and he certainly was.

What we didn’t expect, was how good, and how soon, younger brother Dominick would be on defense.

Dominick Zackery led the Vikings with 96 tackles, as coach Booker Guyton returned to his alma mater, and also had three pass deflections. He’s a veteran on the defense, and it’s the final season he and his brother will (likely) ever get to play together. Something special could be in the works for the two of them and Edison, which struggled and went 2-8 last year, but will likely have more continuity.

No. 18 – Harrison Heath (6-2, 205), MLB/OLB, St. Mary’s, senior

Heath might be the most underrated player on this list, and by me, I mean. No. 18 is probably too low for what a great defensive season he’ll have. But I try to measure potential tangible impact on this list, so you’ll see more running backs and offensive players get a boost over Heath, because a linebacker can have the game of his career, but it might not impact the final score on nearly the same level as a tailback or quarterback. No Heath’s fault, just the way it is. He doesn’t touch the ball on 98 percent of the plays he’s on the field.

As for Heath, he was already beastly as a junior, racking up 99 tackles, three sacks and 1.5 interceptions. St. Mary’s needs his leadership with the graduation of linemen Jordan Stinhilver, Keller Salmon and Popo Aumavae, not to mention linebacker Brandon Sanders, safety David Ford and cornerback Keaton Hampton. Heath, the Jenkins brothers Tre and Drew, and Anthony Rosales Jr. should be veteran rocks for this defense.

No. 17 – Josh Alvarado (5-11, 175), QB, Tracy, senior

Doesn’t it feel like yesterday when Alvarado, now an incoming senior, became a varsity starting quarterback at age 14, not realizing it was against CIF rules for his program to have anyone under 15 playing? Time flies. He’s 16, a senior, and very much allowed to start every game for Tracy if he can.

Alvarado enters his third year starting for Tracy, which reached the playoffs but was routed by Carmichael-Jesuit in November. His prowess has come in running the football out of the veer offense, like last season, when the first-team All-Area baseball pick ran for a team-high 807 yards and 13 touchdowns. Alvarado passed for just 829 yards, with four touchdowns and five interceptions, while completing 42 percent of his passes. Tracy needs more efficiency from its passing game, even if its forte is running, which is part of why Alvarado isn’t ranked higher despite being a third-year starter on a playoff team. Good news: he has a year to prove the passer he is.

No. 16 – Will Jones III (5-10, 185), RB/CB, Lincoln, senior

Becoming a Lincoln High running back has one heck of a history. Think recent USC product Justin Davis, who’s on the roster for the Los Angeles Rams entering training camp as an undrafted free agent. Or those like Louis Rankin or Tyronne Gross, who played professional football. Now, Jones is the primary rusher on a team that wants to run the ball more in 2017, as quarterback Quinton Gaines and head coach Anthony Martinez iterated on Monday.

Jones is the Trojans’ leading returning producer on offense. As a junior, he had 416 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, but on a team that passed a ton and saw the majority of the running come from quarterback Aaron Thomas.

This pick all the way up at No. 16 has a big dose of “potential impact” but Jones gets some benefit of the doubt on a program that’s top four ranked in the area (by me and by Black Hat Football, if you count his San Joaquin County teams only), that made the playoffs last year and appears to be improved on its lines.

This is the time in my rankings where the most controversy and banter sets in, and something tells me Nos. 16-22 will really get it going! Thanks for reading.

2017 TOP 50 FOOTBALL RETURNERS COUNTDOWN

 July 7: Players Nos. 44-50

July 14: Players Nos. 37-43

July 21: Players Nos. 30-36

July 28: Players Nos. 23-29

Aug. 1: Players Nos. 16-22

Aug. 11: Players Nos. 11-15

Aug. 16: Player No. 10

Aug. 17: Player No. 9

Aug. 18: Player No. 8

Aug. 19: Player No. 7

Aug. 20: Player No. 6

Aug. 21: Player No. 5

Aug. 22: Player No. 4

Aug. 23: Player No. 3

Aug. 24: Player No. 2

Aug. 25: 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

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Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: Nos. 23-29

Tracy's Kristien Reyes flips the ball to the official after scoring a touchdown against Kimball during a nonleague rivalry game in September 2016. [RECORD FILE 2016

We are officially more than halfway done.

My Top 50 Football Returners Countdown continues, with seven more entries from six programs: Tokay, St. Mary’s, Manteca, Tracy, Calaveras and McNair.

Here, we have players from both sides of the ball, but once again, we have at least one quarterback included.

Take a look at Nos. 23-29:

My Top 50 Football Returners Countdown, weighing the best returners in The Record’s coverage area: San Joaquin County and the Mother Lode, is in its third 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 2017. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 25.

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 and Mountain House
  • Mother Lode: Amador, Argonaut, Bret Harte, Linden and Calaveras

No. 29 – Andrew Hem (5-7, 134), WR, McNair, junior

Hem was a revelation for the Eagles last season, even in a campaign where coach Terry Hampton decided to run the ball more. The shifty and electric receiver Hem managed 46 catches for 677 yards and six touchdowns as Gabriel Lopez and Rafael Lara split time at quarterback. Lara should be the full-time starter this year, and Hem and the Eagles will have an artificial turf field to fly on, as opposed to the obstacle course it’s been before.

No. 28 – Anthony Rosales Jr., St. Mary’s (5-11, 230), DT/C, St. Mary’s, senior

Rosales had a quietly fruitful season for the Rams. Most of the defensive line attention was paid to mega-prospect Popo Aumavae and pass rusher Jordan Stinhilver. Rosales, though, along with Keller Salmon, was an opportunistic player and tough to block off the edge. He had 30 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries, and that output should blossom this season as he takes on a leadership role. Since he plays center, perhaps he’ll contribute on both lines with the graduation of three-year starting center Jarett Carl.

No. 27 – Ralph Martinez (5-10, 156), QB/FS, Tokay, senior

Martinez is the ultimate example of players we love on this list: impacting both sides of the ball in unique ways. In his time at quarterback last season, Martinez occasionally struggled with accuracy, but managed 530 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions. His top contribution came on defense, where he tallied 48 tackles, three interceptions and a forced fumble. If he grows as a quarterback and keeps contributing in the secondary, he’ll be a very valuable player for Tokay.

No. 26 – John Kelley, Calaveras (5-10, 190), C/DT, Calaveras, senior

Congratulations to Mr. Kelley and Calaveras: he received by far the most support on social media to be part of this life. Plus, when coach Jason Weatherby preaches a player’s name specifically, you listen.

He is a four-year varsity player and starter for one of the Mother Lode League’s most consistent teams, and a program which has reached eight Sac-Joaquin Section championship games.

Kelley and returning quarterback Kyle Byrd are both instrumental to Calaveras, which will look to avenge its early playoff exit from 2016.

No. 25 – Drew Jenkins (5-10, 175), CB/WR, St. Mary’s, senior

Jenkins is the kind of player whose personality you want as a coach. He and twin brother Tre Jenkins III both play in the secondary, and while Tre might’ve received a few more headlines last year, Drew never let that derail his play or his progress. He showed just how good of a cornerback he can be in the postseason, especially in the NorCal bowl game against Oakley-Freedom, when he delivered the game-clinching tackle that sealed the Rams’ trip to state. Look for Jenkins to be one of the Tri-City Athletic League’s, if not one of the county’s top cornerbacks.

No. 24 – Kristien Reyes (5-10, 185), LB/RB, Tracy, senior

Reyes is another valuable two-way player for the Bulldogs, and is in his third year on varsity. He had 51 tackles, four sacks, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble, along with 189 rushing yards and three scores in 2016. He and first-team All-Area selection Bolaji Akinyemi will anchor Tracy’s defense.

No. 23 – Kyle Reis (6-3, 280), OL/DL, Manteca senior

Reis is a returning first-team, All-Area offensive lineman, who was once the Buffaloes’ water boy (as pictured above in 2009 at Weston Ranch High in Stockton). He’s head coach Eric Reis’ son, and has been building toward his senior year with this program for over a decade. Reis is teaming with fellow seniors like Justin Kakala and Mateo Fernandez on what could be the Valley Oak League’s best line.

2017 TOP 50 FOOTBALL RETURNERS COUNTDOWN

 July 7: Players Nos. 44-50

July 14: Players Nos. 37-43

July 21: Players Nos. 30-36

July 28: Players Nos. 23-29

Aug. 4: Players Nos. 16-22

Aug. 11: Players Nos. 11-15

Aug. 16: Player No. 10

Aug. 17: Player No. 9

Aug. 18: Player No. 8

Aug. 19: Player No. 7

Aug. 20: Player No. 6

Aug. 21: Player No. 5

Aug. 22: Player No. 4

Aug. 23: Player No. 3

Aug. 24: Player No. 2

Aug. 25: 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

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Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: Nos. 30-36

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Edison High's Jordan Whatley, left, competes against Weston Ranch in September 2016 at Weston Ranch High in Stockton. [CALIXTRO ROMIAS/RECORD FILE 2016

Five of these next seven players competed in last year’s Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs. Four of these next seven players spent time at quarterback. One of these players won a section championship and NorCal play-in game.

Want to know more?  Read on.

My Top 50 Football Returners Countdown continues with Nos. 30-36.

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 third 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 2017. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 25.

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 and Mountain House
  • Mother Lode: Amador, Argonaut, Bret Harte, Linden and Calaveras

No. 36 – Jalani Flowers (5-6, 170), RB/LB, Stagg, senior

Flowers is primed to do a bit of everything for the Delta Kings. As a junior, he tallied 47 tackles and five sacks, and had 18 carries for 100 yards. With the graduation of linebacker Jalend Dinwiddie, expect Flowers to step up as one of the defense’s leaders. He could follow in the footsteps of Jonathan Phillips and Dinwiddie and be a prolific tackler.

No. 35 – Merle Bass (6-0, 190), WR, Lincoln, junior

Bass posted 29 catches for 395 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore call-up, via senior quarterback Aaron Thomas (now at MJC). While these aren’t astounding numbers, he’s a key part of an Air Raid offense that graduated its top two receivers from a year ago: tight end Miquan Maxey and wide receiver Izaiah Celestine. That means Bass should be a focal point for either senior Quinton Gaines or junior Grant Stevenson.

No. 34 – Alex McNely (6-0, 260), OL/DL, Tracy, senior

The Bulldodgs’ offensive linemen keep performing well, year after year, like All-Area center Dominic Splan in 2015 and 2016. Now, McNely, an All-TCAL selection, returns to anchor an experienced offense with senior quarterback Josh Alvarado and junior fullback Mason Sarsfield.

No 33 – Keonnee Linnell (5-10, 153), QB, Lathrop, senior

Linnell had his ups and downs as a junior, but as a senior in the mighty Valley Oak League, his experience will be invaluable. He completed 46 percent of his passes for 1,088 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The Spartans are in their third year under coach Joe Pirillo, and have gone from an afterthought to a difficult opponent at least, if not the top Division IV playoff seed they reached two years ago.

No. 32 – Quincy Glasper (6-2, 155), QB, Bear Creek, junior

Glasper was prolific as a sophomore, as the Knights won a section Division VII championship and NorCal 6-A play-in game. He completed 55 percent of his passes for 45 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and 3,587 years. These are massive numbers, albeit imperfect. How could someone be No. 33 with that kind of resume? Two reasons, and neither are a bad thing about Glasper.

No. 1: He’s transferring to Bear Creek, and I believe will have to sit out half a season before playing. That limits his season-long impact.

No. 2: When he does play, while he’s playing in an SJAA where the defense is usually lacking, he’ll be playing against large-school teams for the first time. He’s had some amazing games in his two-year career, but they’re against small schools that don’t pack the punch of upper-division competition. He still has to prove himself in this arena.

No. 31 – Ryan Daggett (6-1, 150), QB, Ripon, junior

Daggett returns to a Trans-Valley League runner-up as a second-year starter who competed in the section’s Division V playoffs. As a sophomore, Daggett completed 53 percent of his passes for 1,095 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions, with one rushing score. Daggett could follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Nick Price and become a really valuable varsity quarterback. His 2017 debut is against former Ripon coach Chris Johnson on Aug. 25 at Sierra.

No. 30 – Jordan Whatley (6-3, 170), WR/DB, Edison, senior

I might really be underrating Mr. Whatley, here. He’s incredibly valuable and can play several positions

Whatley proved versatile for Edison last year, even in a season of transition, with 295 rushing yards and two touchdowns, 341 receiving yards and five more TDs, and most impressively, four interceptions and two pass deflections on defense.

He and Hassani Zackery are going to be nightmarish to cover for the Vikings’ opponents.

2017 TOP 50 FOOTBALL RETURNERS COUNTDOWN

 July 7: Players Nos. 44-50

July 14: Players Nos. 37-43

July 21: Players Nos. 30-36

July 28: Players Nos. 23-29

Aug. 4: Players Nos. 16-22

Aug. 11: Players Nos. 11-15

Aug. 16: Player No. 10

Aug. 17: Player No. 9

Aug. 18: Player No. 8

Aug. 19: Player No. 7

Aug. 20: Player No. 6

Aug. 21: Player No. 5

Aug. 22: Player No. 4

Aug. 23: Player No. 3

Aug. 24: Player No. 2

Aug. 25: 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

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Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: Nos. 37-43

“]

Amador linebacker Brandon Wright is one of the Mother Lode League's top returning football players in 2017. [CRAIG SANDERS/RECORD FILE 2016

We’re now into the top 40 of my Top 50 Football Returners Countdown. And high school football is less than a month and a half away.

Every Friday, in honor of Friday Night Lights, we’ll start posting seven of the Top 50 at a time until mid-August. Beginning on Aug. 16, we’ll do one each of the Top 10 every day.

No. 1 will be unveiled at Week 0 kickoff on Aug. 25.

Away we go:

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 third 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 2017. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 25.

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 and Mountain House
  • Mother Lode: Amador, Argonaut, Bret Harte, Linden and Calaveras

No. 43 – Vincent Ferro (5-10, 160), SS/RB, Manteca, senior

If you’re an opponent of the Manteca football team, you’d hope that between their dominant lines on both sides of the ball, their ability to run the ball and their collegiate-caliber quarterback, you’d get a break. Not with Vincent Ferro waiting in the secondary. The Buffaloes’ senior strong safety is coming off a season with 77 tackles and more importantly, a team-high six interceptions. He’ll team up again with guys like Kyle Rachels and Matt Ender in that secondary which, while it was one of the weaker positional groups for much of 2016, is primed to be one of Manteca’s high points.

No. 42 – Jake Lewis (6-2, 210), RB/DL, Escalon, senior

Eight-time champion Escalon is a Wing-T running machine. “Next man up” is cliche but true for coach Mark Loureiro’s squad. With that in mind, the next veteran in line could well be Lewis. He posted 434 rushing yards as a junior, including 7 yards per carry on average, and had 15 tackles on defense. Now that C.J. Gumbs is graduated, Lewis could be a 1,000-yard rusher and take on a much bigger load depending on how Escalon’s sophomore call-ups perform.

No. 41 – Jamal Fullard (5-11, 185), QB, Chavez, senior

You will see a lot of quarterbacks with varsity experience on this list. Even in high school ball, that position is so, so vital that it will be weighted more heavily than others. Fullard split time with John Supangan as starter last season, but managed to amass 920 yards, three touchdowns, eight interceptions, two rushing scores and a sack on defense. The SJAA is pretty wide open with Stagg’s graduation of stars like Cutrell Haywood and Jalend Dinwiddie, but star power does remain for Stagg (Lee Webb and Tim Omstead), Edison (Hassani and Dominick Zackery) and more to be determined.

No. 40 – Kyle Byrd (6-0, 190), QB, Calaveras, senior

Byrd had all of the ups and downs of a first-year varsity starting quarterback, but proved he is the man to lead Calaveras. He completed 44 percent of his passes for 1,116 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Byrd (and the rest of Calaveras, for that matter) struggled in an opening-round Division IV playoff loss to Marysville, but that’s an excellent learning experience. He’s the second consecutive Byrd brother to be Calaveras’ starting quarterback after Dylan Byrd (2016 graduate).

No. 39 – Royal Sitagata (6-2, 376), OL/DL, Lincoln, senior

This is one of the few picks on the list that is weighted more in potential, but here we have a third-year varsity player who can play offensive and defensive line for the Trojans. Lincoln needs Sitagata to be bullish in the trenches, especially in countering opposing TCAL linemen like Tracy’s Oyebolaji Akinyemi and St. Mary’s Max Barth and Anthony Rosales Jr. The Trojans need new leadership on the lines with the graduation of Ryan Williams and Will George.

No. 38 – Kyle Rachels (6-3, 190), DB/QB, Manteca, senior

Rachels is a superb two-sport athlete for the Buffaloes in football and baseball. He improved to conclude the 2016 season, a campaign where he posted 72 tackles and four interceptions. Plus, he plays quarterback in case of an injury to Campiotti or a brief schematic change. That two-way versatility gives him the slight nod over Ferro, though both can be ball hawks for the Buffs.

No. 37 – Brandon Wright (5-10, 180), MLB/RB, Amador, senior

The senior quartet of Daylan Thetford, Andrew Keeter, Anthony Burns and Reese Gilmore are gone after the Thundering Herd’s incredible Sac-Joaquin Section and Northern California championship run. Lost in that headline, though, is the fact that Amador’s leading returning tackler is back. Wright had 157 tackles, two sacks, two two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in 2016. Expect him to be one of the Mother Lode League’s most dynamic defensive players.

2017 TOP 50 FOOTBALL RETURNERS COUNTDOWN

 July 7: Players Nos. 44-50

July 14: Players Nos. 37-43

July 21: Players Nos. 30-36

July 28: Players Nos. 23-29

Aug. 4: Players Nos. 16-22

Aug. 11: Players Nos. 11-15

Aug. 16: Player No. 10

Aug. 17: Player No. 9

Aug. 18: Player No. 8

Aug. 19: Player No. 7

Aug. 20: Player No. 6

Aug. 21: Player No. 5

Aug. 22: Player No. 4

Aug. 23: Player No. 3

Aug. 24: Player No. 2

Aug. 25: Player No. 1

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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Top 50 Football Returners Countdown: Nos. 44-50

“]

Brookside Christian receiver Tyrone Vickers, right, stiff arms a Stone Ridge Christian player during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII football championship game in November 2016 at Bear Creek High in Stockton. [RECORD FILE 2016

Everyone gather round the campfire (or the iPhone app that resembles a campfire, whatever), because my Top 50 Football Returners Countdown is back for a third consecutive season.

Every Friday, in honor of Friday Night Lights, we’ll start posting seven of the Top 50 at a time for the next month-and-a-half. Beginning on Aug. 16, we’ll do one each of the Top 10 every day.

No. 1 will be unveiled at Week 0 kickoff on Aug. 25.

This first patch includes players from Amador, Mountain House, Manteca, East Union, Edison, Franklin and Brookside Christian.

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 third 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 2017. These 50 players reflect the 50 days remaining until high school football season begins with Week 0 on Aug. 25.

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 and Mountain House
  • Mother Lode: Amador, Argonaut, Bret Harte, Linden and Calaveras
http://youtu.be/NmCKBx7g7BY

No. 50 – Juan Herrera (5-10, 165), K, Amador, senior

What better way to start the countdown than with a Sac-Joaquin Section and Northern California champion, who delivered quite possibly the most clutch moment in Amador football history. Herrera drilled a game-winning field goal in the final 10 seconds of the section’s Division VI semifinals as Amador staved off an upset bid from Newman-Orestimba in Sutter Creek.

Herrera, a lefty and soccer player, made 57 of 66 extra-point tries and 7 of 8 field goal attempts with a long of 42.

No. 49 – Jalen Hill (5-10, 175), DE/G, Mountain House, senior

Hill was a superb pass rusher for the Mustangs, who were in just their second varsity season. He posted 9.5 sacks for Mountain House, which is slowly building in a tough small-school battlefield: the Trans-Valley League.

No. 48 – Jaysen Reindel (6-2, 260), OL/DL, East Union, senior

Reindel quietly put together one of the best seasons for a multi-sport athlete in 2016-17. He was an All-VOL offensive lineman for East Union football, which reached the section playoffs for just the third time in the past quarter century. And he was a superb heavyweight wrestler and finished eighth at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters. Reindel and company will miss graduated linemen like Andy Parcells and Joseph Reynaga (North all-stars), and will have a new quarterback to protect after beloved Jack Weaver (three-year starter, also a Lions star) graduated.

No. 47 – Mateo Fernandez (6-2, 260), OL/DL, Manteca, senior

Fernandez was a second-team, All-Valley Oak League selection for the Buffaloes, who split a VOL championship with Oakdale and Modesto-Central Catholic, beat Auburn-Placer in the section’s Division IV finals and lost a NorCal bowl game to Menlo-Atherton.

He will line up with fellow seniors Justin Kakala and Kyle Reis as part of a formidable line. Manteca is an early favorite to win the VOL outright, given how many juniors were on last year’s squad.

“]

Franklin quarterback Julian Lopez, center, passes against Chavez during a heavy downpour in an SJAA football game. [RECORD FILE 2016

No. 46 – Julian Lopez (6-1, 170), QB, Franklin, senior

Lopez was the understudy to Julian Serrano as the year began, but got a heap of varsity experience due to Serrano being injured. Lopez struggled at times, but showed flashes of his potential. He completed 47 percent of his passes for 1,154 yards with nine touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Franklin labored to a last-place finish in the SJAA for a second consecutive season.

No. 45 – Nate Banks (5-10, 200), MLB, Edison, junior

Banks is transferring to Edison, where he presumably will have to sit out half the season per the CIF’s transfer rules. Banks was a tackling machine for the Knights, posting 204 total tackles and an interception last season. While the SJAA is hardly a powerhouse, large-school league, Banks will have to prove himself against stiffer competition. Still, 200 tackles is no joke, and he might be one of the most underrated players on this list. So is the guy following him: his former teammate:

No. 44 – Tyrone Vickers (5-11, 160), WR/DB, Brookside Christian, senior

While Reuben Lee gets a lot of the Brookside Christian headlines, Tyrone Vickers has played some superb football on both sides for the Knights and deserves respect. As a junior, Vickers had 45 catches for 658 yards and five touchdowns, and shined in the secondary with 133 tackles and four interceptions. Like Banks, Vickers can boost his stock big-time against heightened competition (Brookside Christian gets its chance with Bay Area’s Milpitas this season).

2017 TOP 50 FOOTBALL RETURNERS COUNTDOWN

 July 7: Players Nos. 44-50

July 14: Players Nos. 37-43

July 21: Players Nos. 30-36

July 28: Players Nos. 23-29

Aug. 4: Players Nos. 16-22

Aug. 11: Players Nos. 11-15

Aug. 16: Player No. 10

Aug. 17: Player No. 9

Aug. 18: Player No. 8

Aug. 19: Player No. 7

Aug. 20: Player No. 6

Aug. 21: Player No. 5

Aug. 22: Player No. 4

Aug. 23: Player No. 3

Aug. 24: Player No. 2

Aug. 25: 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

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Jackson to interview for Pacific job

Noah Jackson, an assistant coach for the past two seasons under Mike Neu, is interviewing for the position of Pacific baseball team head coach.

Jackson confirmed today that he is interviewing for the job on Monday. Neu accepted the job as Cal baseball’s head coach on Wednesday. Neu, a former major league pitcher with the Florida Marlins and Oakland A’s, was Cal’s pitching coach from 2012-2015 before coming to Pacific for two seasons.

Jackson played for Cal from 2001-2003 (after transferring from Arkansas). He was a volunteer assistant with Cal in 2015, and came to Stockton with Neu the following season.

Jackson, who spent time in the San Diego Padres organization as a scout before getting into college coaching, grew up in the Bay Area and is Dusty Baker’s godson.

For more on Pacific’s search to replace Neu, follow this blog, The Record, recordnet.com and Record sports reporter Thomas Lawrence (@RecordPreps) and sports editor Bob Highfill (@BobHighfill) on Twitter.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

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San Joaquin County Football: Bracket of Champions

“]”]

St. Mary's safety Tre Jenkins III, left, and Manteca lineman Justin Kakala are two of San Joaquin County's best returning football players in 2017. [PHOTOS BY CRAIG SANDERS, PHOTO EDIT BY ELIZABETH ROBERTS

Imagine if we could take away all of those less-interesting, nonleague football games, and settle who owns San Joaquin County once-and-for-all.

How sweet would that be? Well, in the make believe world of summertime blogging, we’re making it come to life.

I’ve crafted an eight team, San Joaquin County Showdown championship bracket. The seeds I’ve given to teams, which were largely drawn from my final power rankings of 2016, are almost exclusively based on last year’s results. For close calls, though, I used a bit of the team’s outlook for this year and its continuity as a program in general.

Before Stocktonians get upset that there are no San Joaquin Athletic Association teams, you must first look at the recent head-to-head matchups with the Valley Oak League and Tri-City Athletic League. Last year, for example, the team that finished seventh place out of eight VOL teams (Weston Ranch) beat the third-place finisher in the SJAA (Bear Creek) by over 50 points.

Bear Creek had beaten league champion Stagg by a point earlier in the season. That’s too big of a number to ignore. Plus, the TCAL’s top three (St. Mary’s, Tracy and Lincoln) has not been touched against the SJAA in the past three years.

Without further ado, here’s a quick rundown of the top eight seeds, with their record last year in parenthesis:

1. ST. MARY’S (14-2, 5-0 TCAL)

This is a no-brainer. The Rams cruised to Tri-City Athletic League and Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championships (seriously, the DI final against Folsom was 56-25), won a NorCal Division 1-AA bowl and were inches away from taking the state championship against San Diego-Cathedral Catholic (a 38-35 loss in overtime). The Rams will a slew of graduated seniors, but return Division I talents like running back Dusty Frampton, two-way star Tre Jenkins III and lineman Max Barth.

2. MANTECA (12-2, 6-1 VOL)

The Buffs were a junior-laden team last year, but managed to split a VOL championship with Oakdale (which Manteca beat) and Modesto-Central Catholic. Manteca hammered Auburn-Placer in the section’s Division IV final and lost to Menlo-Atherton in the Division 3-AA regional bowl game. The Buffaloes return superb talents like quarterback Gino Campiotti and lineman  Justin Kakala (who could be playing for Cal next season).

3. TRACY (5-6, 4-1 TCAL)

Never let the Bulldogs’ overall record fool you. Many of those losses were to excellent nonleague teams (plus St. Mary’s in the regular season and Carmichael-Jesuit in the playoffs). Tracy returns key pieces like quarterback Josh Alvarado, fullback Mason Sarsfield, defensive lineman Bolaji Akinyemi and linebacker Kristien Reyes. Tracy has a great chance to be TCAL runner-up once again, and will keep it closer against St. Mary’s than last season’s drubbing.

4.LINCOLN (5-6, 3-2 TCAL)

The Trojans proved that their offense could score, and quickly, under new coach Anthony Martinez. While quarterback Aaron Thomas, tight end Miquan Maxey and receiver Izaiah Celestine are gone from that unit, they have plenty of playmakers. The quarterback should be either junior Grant Stevenson or senior Quinton Gaines, and tailback William Jones III and receiver Merle Bass could have big seasons. Lincoln’s story will be decided in its last two weeks: hosting Tracy (Week 9) and St. Mary’s (Week 10).

5. EAST UNION (6-5, 3-4 VOL)

Head coach Willie Herrera, behind third-year starting quarterback Jack Weaver, guided the Lancers to just their third section playoff appearance in 25 years last fall. East Union earned key wins over Lathrop and Weston Ranch, and took rival Sierra to overtime. Weaver and fellow Lions North All-Stars Jake Harries, Andy Parcells and Joseph Reynaga have graduated, but the continuity of Herrera’s staff and the optimism from a playoff run remain. That continuity gives East Union the slight nod over No. 6.

6. SIERRA (6-5, 3-4 VOL)

The era of head coach Jeff Harbison came to a close after 12 years, a tenure that included a 2015 state championship. Sierra made the playoffs again in 2016, but had an up-and-down year, and lost two of its best three players due to violating team rules during the second half of the season. Take virtually any high school team, and it’ll be difficult to recover from that. In comes Chris Johnson, two years removed from 12 seasons coaching his alma mater Ripon High. Johnson is passionate, honest, and guess what? He gets to open his Sierra reign against Ripon on Aug. 25 at home.

7. LATHROP (4-6, 3-4 VOL)

The Spartans proved late in the season, with wins over Sierra and Weston Ranch, that close losses earlier on to Hilmar and Elk Grove-Franklin really hurt this group that had a lot of potential. Lathrop was the top seed in the Division IV playoffs in 2015 (though it did lose in the first round to No. 8 Los Banos). The Spartans have some nice continuity, and can return seniors in quarterback Keonnee Linnell and tailback Michael Ramos. Third-year coach Joe Pirillo (a Manteca High graduate who played for coach Eric Reis) has vastly improved what is a young program that had never won before his tenure.

8. WESTON RANCH (4-6, 1-6 VOL)

Weston Ranch had another strong preseason in 2016, going 3-0, but the VOL can be a tough place for a program on the rise. The Cougars have showed strong lines, an ability to run the ball and a playmaking defense, but have yet to find footing in the passing game. Still, Weston Ranch has grown the past couple years and brings back a very good running back in senior Cori Floyd. Weston Ranch lost by one touchdown in Week 10 to Sierra last season. What’s changed since last year? Head coach Seth Davis (Manteca High product, also played for Reis) had his first child: a daughter named Cadence.

Alright, take a deep breath. Have a sip of water. Maybe make a sandwich.

Ready? Let’s get back into it.

Here are my quick projections for what would ensure in these games. For fun, we could have a neutral site championship game (Spanos Stadium is the prettiest venue around here) or we could see if Levi’s Stadium is available.

COUNTY QUARTERFINALS

No. 8 Weston Ranch at No. 1 St. Mary’s

The Cougars are trying to make a name for themselves. They’d be fired up. They might sprint all the way from the French Camp Road exit of I-5 to Sanguinetti Field on El Dorado Street. And it would show early. The defense would make a stop or two, and Floyd would break free for a touchdown. But eventually – probably late in the first or early in the second quarter – the Rams’ depth and offensive versatility would grab control and win big.

No. 5 East Union at No. 4 Lincoln

This is a fascinating matchup. The VOL has certainly had better depth than the TCAL, especially last year. The second- or third-tier teams a year ago like East Union, Sierra and Lathrop were far better than the TCAL’s bottom rung. East Union has a good ability to run (which Lincoln struggled with) last year, and can stop the run. But, in the second year of the Martinez tenure, and with some legitimate offensive firepower, the Trojans could afford to make a few mistakes and allow some early big runs. Lincoln starts slow but wins by multiple touchdowns.

No. 6 Sierra at No. 3 Tracy

A great test for the new coach Johnson, but coach Matt Shrout’s team would hold onto the football and allow Alvarado and Sarsfield to slowly ruin Sierra’s spirits. The Timberwolves would strike a couple times – probably a touchdown catch or two from senior Jacob Peterson – but overall the Bulldogs would own the night.

No. 7 Lathrop at No. 2 Manteca

I really tried to avoid a league matchup, especially in the first round, but five VOL teams made that impossible. I’m sure Pirillo and Reis wouldn’t be happy about two matchups in one year, BUT THIS IS MY TOURNAMENT OKAY? Manteca wins handily, like it did during last year’s VOL season, but Linnell and Ramos give the Buffs’ defense trouble occasionally.

COUNTY SEMIFINALS

No. 4 Lincoln at No. 1 St. Mary’s

The Rams would win their 14th in a row in the series. Lincoln’s skill position players, and some of their linemen, have been able to match St. Mary’s well the past few years. But the Rams’ offensive line bullied the Trojans last year, and Frampton is still around to put up a spectacular game.

No. 3 Tracy at No. 2 Manteca

This is what I’m talking about. Two of the top three public school programs in San Joaquin County, going head-to-head with some excellent history between the two. You’ve got seven combined section championships here (five for Manteca and two for Tracy), and a game that used to be a yearly contest. After all, Tracy used to be in the VOL, too. This would be an excellent matchup between two teams that love running the ball and stopping the run. Tracy’s veer would be a bit different than some of what Manteca’s used to (like Oakdale’s Wing-T), and the lines would be well-matched. In the end, Manteca’s ability to pass (Campiotti) and its experienced linemen Kakala, Kyle Reis and Mateo Fernandez would make the difference. Buffs 28, Bulldogs 27.

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY SUPER BOWL

No. 2 Manteca at No. 1 St. Mary’s

A whole lot of green. The parochial power against a public school that’s over 100 years old. Eight section titles and three NorCal bowl game appearances between the two teams. St. Mary’s coach Tony Franks and Manteca’s Eric Reis have 33 seasons between them in their posts (Franks 15 in a row, 18 overall and Reis 15 overall, all in a row). Plus, the two have a combined 305 victories between them (Franks is at 167, Reis at 138). Manteca has several players that could be difference-makers on a large-school power like St. Mary’s, too (and before parents get on me, I don’t care what St. Mary’s student enrollment is. This program is a large-school power). But the Rams’ depth and speed compared to some of the teams the Buffaloes would face in the VOL would be too much.

No surprise, but still an accomplishment, defending NorCal champion St. Mary’s would win the San Joaquin County title before embarking on Tri-City Athletic League play.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

 

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The Way Too Early 2017 All-Area Football Team

“]

St. Mary's running back Dusty Frampton carries the football against Cathedral Catholic during the CIF State Division I-AA championship on December 16 at Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium. [CALIXTRO ROMIAS/RECORD FILE 2016

It’s 78 days until kickoff, which means the anticipation is at a whisper, not a scream.

Still, it’s never too early (I mean, it is, but this is fun nonetheless) to construct a “Way Too Early” look at how our first team All-Area squad could look after this upcoming season. Keep in mind, I’m only considering returning varsity players (newbies always make a splash and make the list, so don’t worry about them for now).

AUTHOR’S NOTE: There’s a good chance I’m missing someone worthy. If I am (especially if you know them), take a deep breath and please send me a calm email. If they are a good fit for the list, I may just update it to include them. Thanks for your consideration!

FIRST TEAM

Offense

QB – Gino Campiotti (Manteca, senior)

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

RB/FB – Mason Sarsfield (Tracy, junior)

RB/WR – Reuben Lee (Brookside Christian, senior)

WR/UT – Marcus Aponte (St. Mary’s, senior)

WR/UT – Hassani Zackery (Edison, senior)

WR – Jacob Peterson (Sierra, senior)

OL – Kyle Reis (Manteca, senior)

OL – Max Barth (St. Mary’s, senior)

OL – Alex McNely (Tracy, senior)

OL – Jaysen Reindel (East Union, senior)

OL – John Kelley (Calaveras, senior)

UT – Jalen Williams (Brookside Christian, junior)

UT – Lee Webb (Stagg, senior)

“]

Manteca lineman Justin Kakala, center, chases Placer tailback Anthony Kerrigan during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship on Nov. 26, 2016, at Lincoln High's Spanos Stadium in Stockton. [CRAIG SANDERS/RECORD FILE 2016

Defense

DL – Anthony Rosales Jr. (St. Mary’s, senior)

DL – Justin Kakala (Manteca, senior)

DL – Rayshon Dozier (Manteca, senior)

DL – Tim Omstead (Stagg, senior)

LB – Ferrin Manuleleua (Manteca, senior)

LB – Kristien Reyes (Tracy, senior)

LB/DL – Oyebolaji Akinyemi (Tracy, senior)

LB – Harrison Heath (St. Mary’s, senior)

DB – Dominick Zackery (Edison, junior)

DB – Vincent Ferro (Manteca, senior)

DB – Drew Jenkins (St. Mary’s, senior)

DB – Kyle Rachels (Manteca, senior)

DB – Tre Jenkins III (St. Mary’s, senior)

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

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Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

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All-Area Softball Player of the Year Watchlist

“]

Tracy senior Mikayla Coelho is a candidate for The Record's All-Area Player of the Year honor. [CLIFFORD OTO/RECORD FILE 2017

The hard part isn’t singling out good candidates for who could be The Record’s next All-Area Softball Player of the Year.

The hard part is limiting them to a reasonable number (in this case, a “Magnificent Seven”). Of course, as with any postseason awards we do, the winning teams have a much better chance at landing an honor like this.

Here’s a look at eight of the area’s top candidates — and by no means all of them, please email any good suspects I might’ve missed to tlawrence@recordnet.com — for our yearly honor.

SAIGE PYE (Bear Creek, senior)

Pye has enjoyed a superb four-year varsity career, after spending one year at St. Mary’s and the past three at Bear Creek. The future Georgia Tech slugger is batting .585 with nine home runs, 10 doubles and 35 RBI. Pye has 32 career homers, which is the best all-time from any player from a Stockton high school, according to Cal-Hi Sports. The area’s record holder (who I believe is also tied for the state record) is Elliot Christian’s Kaila Shull at 45.

CARLEY MORFEY (St. Mary’s, junior)

Morfey is the ultimate dual-threat pitcher and slugger for the Rams. The two-time, first-team All-Area selection is batting .471 with 12 doubles, a homer and 21 RBI. In the circle, Morfey is 18-3 with a 1.41 ERA, 154 strikeouts and 32 walks.

MIKAYLA COELHO (Tracy, senior)

Speaking of dual-threat, the Cal Golden Bear to be is batting .514 with 14 doubles, two triples, two homers and 24 RBI. As a pitcher, Coelho is 9-1 with a 1.81 ERA, including two complete game wins over St. Mary’s where she gave up one run each time. This is a pitcher who’s gone toe-to-toe with Sheldon in the section finals (and maybe will have to again).

CARLY LUCCHETTI (Linden, junior)

Lucchetti has been scalding at the plate for the Lions, going 8 for 11 in four games last week. She’s batting .589 with a homer, 13 doubles, 18 RBI and 26 stolen bases. Linden reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V finals last May but Calaveras is well ahead in the Mother Lode League.

ALANDA CARDON (Calaveras, sophomore)

Speaking of Calaveras, which is a formidable team full of excellent contact hitters, Alanda Cardon is that and more. The sophomore is batting .537, but has the most pop of the bunch, with five homers and five doubles.

RACHEL CID (Tracy, junior)

Cid, an Oregon verbal commit, launched a two-run homer against St. Mary’s on Tuesday, is batting a whopping .600 with seven homers, nine doubles and 45 RBI.

CHARDAE HOSKINS (Escalon, junior)

Escalon is at the very southern end of San Joaquin County, and we don’t get a chance to cover them much, but the Trans-Valley League leaders have been superb. And Hoskins is an excellent threat as a hitter and pitcher. Hoskins is batting .465 with eight doubles, six triples and three homers, and is 9-1 with a 1.47 ERA and 101 strikeouts in the circle.

CONNECT WITH THOMAS LAWRENCE

Twitter: @RecordPreps

Facebook: Thomas Lawrence

Email: tlawrence@recordnet.com

Phone: 209-546-8272

Ask a Question: ask.fm/RecordPreps

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    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

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    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

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