Dylan Byrd was a 2-point conversion pass away from shocking the Mother Lode League.
Byrd, then the Calaveras quarterback, was not able to convert that pass, and Sonora beat Calaveras with no time on the clock last September in Sonora.
Now, Dylan’s younger brother is in command. And he’s one of six Players to Watch in The Record’s coverage area for Prep Football Week 4.
KYLE BYRD (Calaveras QB, junior)
The younger Byrd may be peaking, and he had a superb game in a 42-7 victory on Friday at El Dorado-Union Mine. Byrd was 8 of 16 passing for 203 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He has to help Calaveras’ dynamic rushing attack of Noah Preuss and Anthony Giangregorio, against a Sonora offense that’s proven more dynamic than years past. Sonora is the No. 1-ranked small-school team by The Modesto Bee, and Calaveras is The Record’s No. 1 small-school team as of Week 4. The Record does not circulate to Sonora.
SEUSEU ALOFAITULI (Sierra LB, senior)
Alofaituli is a middle linebacker with the talents of a safety, and is an incredibly important piece of the Timberwolves’ defense as a third-year varsity starter. Sierra (3-0) entertains Oakdale (2-1) in their Valley Oak League opener at 7 p.m. Friday. And Alofaituli has been all over the field, with a team-high 35 tackles, and two sacks and one interception. He must be a battering ram up the middle to try and subdue Oakdale’s Wing-T attack.
JAKE DUNNIWAY (St. Mary’s QB, senior)
Dunniway, as he guides the No. 7-ranked team in the state and seeks recruiting attention from college programs, goes up against the defense of the No. 10-ranked team in the nation (USA TODAY) in Bellflower-St. John Bosco. Bosco hosts St. Mary’s at 7 p.m. Friday at Whittier College. Dunniway has been the pinnacle of accuracy in his prep career, with 39 touchdowns to five interceptions. This season, that ratio is 13:1.
POPO AUMAVAE (St. Mary’s OL/DL, senior)
Aumavae gets the ultimate test, as the 6-foot-4, 315-pound prospect with 21 NCAA Division I offers and counting. Nowhere else this season will Aumavae battle with as many D-I guys as facing Bosco.
LEO GAYLES (Chavez WR, senior)
Gayles has been a revelation for the Titans’ offense, with 22 catches for 397 yards and seven touchdowns. He trails only Johnnie Lockridge (24) in receptions. Lincoln (1-3), which entertains Chavez (0-4) at 7:15 p.m. Friday at Spanos Stadium in Stockton, is by far the best test for Gayles thus far. It would be a blast to see Trojans senior cornerback Isaiah Downes on Gayles — a great test for Gayles. Certainly, he’s learning from the right person, as Chavez coach La Te’f Grim was a star receiver for Franklin High, Delta College and the University of Pittsburgh.
KEONNEE LINNELL (Lathrop QB, junior)
Linnell had a breakout performance as the Spartans (1-2) 38-32 to Elk Grove-Franklin in a nearly-stunning upset last Friday. Linnell went 22 of 39 passing for 256 yards, four TDs and two picks.
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