Defending CIF Division II state champ Chaminade of West Hills and CIFSS Pac-Five contender Alemany of Mission Hills lead with five players to headline group from region that is always loaded with prolific offensive performers. A whopping 10 players with big-time ability as wideouts are chosen.
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Traditionally, the San Fernando Valley (and surrounding areas such as the Santa Clarita Valley and High Desert) has been a hotbed for D1-bound quarterbacks. Of course, within a region with so many good signal-callers, there’s bound to be good wide receivers as well.
This year’s preseason Cal-Hi Sports All-San Fernando Valley team is loaded with wideouts. In fact, we went without a tight end on offense to accommodate another receiver. Realistically, we could have gone with a one-back offense an added another.
It’s only fitting that Hart’s Trent Irwin is threatening the state’s career receiving marks for yardage (5,148) and receptions (281) set in 2012 by Canyon’s Drew Wolitarsky. After all, Wolitarsky surpassed state record marks of 4,486 and 271 set in 2002 by yet another wideout from the region — former Taft of Woodland, USC and NFL standout Steve Smith.
Smith was one the most unassuming athletes in state history and still is the best receiver we’ve ever seen from the region. Off the field, he looked like an average player with not so overwhelming physical characteristics. But get him on the field and the 2002-03 State Athlete of the Year was just a terror at whatever sport he participated in, whether it be football, basketball, track or swimming.
Irwin is similar to Smith in that he’s not physically overwhelming, but has the innate ability to get open, doesn’t bring a lot of attention to himself and just produces.
One team that brought the region plenty of attention was Chaminade of West Hills, the CIFSS Western Division champs, which defeated Irwin’s CIFSS Northern Division championship Hart club en route to the program’s first CIF state title.
In the CIFSS’s top division, the Pac-Five, no San Fernando Valley team has captured the title since 1986, when super sophomore RB Russell White (not to be confused with the school’s current basketball coach) led Crespi of Encino to the title. This year’s best bets in addition to Chaminade is Alemany since both teams lead with five overall selections to this year’s team.
Note: There is no first and second team for this honors squad, but additional players to watch are mentioned in several of the writeups.
WR — Desean Holmes (Alemany, Mission Hills) 5-11, 180, Sr.
He participated in The Opening and made a summer commit to USC, where he’ll join ex-teammate Steven Mitchell. He has some of the same moves as Mitchell and caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior. He transferred to Muir of Pasadena in the off-season but is back in the Valley now.
WR — Trent Irwin (Hart, Newhall) 6-2, 185, Sr.
He will threaten and could surpass state career receiving marks held by Canyon’s Drew Wolitarsky (now at Minnesota). A four-year starter who drew raves for his summer performances, Irwin is a returning first team all-state underclass pick who caught 76 passes for 1,456 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior. He enters the season with career totals of 179 receptions for 3,294 yards and 35 touchdowns.
WR — Dylan Crawford (St. Francis, La Canada) 6-1, 170, Jr.
Last year’s all-state underclass team was filled with wideouts from this region and Crawford might be the best of the lot among 11th graders. He was an all-CIFSS Western Division and the L.A. Daily News newcomer of the year after hauling in 54 catches for 993 yards and 10 touchdowns to help the Golden Knights to a 10-3 mark.
QB — Brady White (Hart, Newhall) 6-2, 185, Sr.
He teams with Trent Irwin to form arguably the best pass-catch combo in SoCal after earning second team all-state honors among juniors. White used excellent timing and anticipation (not to mention an accurate deep ball) to complete 333-of-524 passes for 4,535 yards while accounting for 50 touchdowns for a team that advanced to the SoCal CIF Division II Bowl Game.
RB — James Williams (Burbank) 5-10, 185, Sr.
A repeat selection, Williams will likely end his high school career as a three-time all-CIFSS Southeast Division choice. As a sophomore, he rushed for 1,443 yards and 17 touchdowns and went for 1,469 yards and 22 touchdowns on 164 carries (8.96 ypc) last season as Burbank advanced to the division semifinals.
RB — Dominic Davis (Alemany, Mission Hills) 5-11, 180, Sr.
Great all-around talent who could make this team at cornerback, slotback or tailback, we’re listing him at tailback because it’s where he was an all-CIFSS Pac-Five Division choice last season. This Washington State commit clocked a 4.40 time in the 40-yard dash at the SoCal Nike Camp, the event’s fastest, and his 113.73 SPARQ Rating included a 4.28 20-yard shuttle, a 36-foot power ball toss and a 38.7-inch vertical jump.
OL — Bar Milo (Chaminade, West Hills) 6-5, 315, Sr.
Prime time offensive tackle prospect is the top lineman in the region and the second highest-rated O-Line prospect in the 2015 Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100 behind Rancho Verde’s Tevita Halalilo. He was the best lineman on last year’s CIF Division II state title club and was second team overall all-state.
OL — Sione Taufahema (Alemany, Mission Hills) 6-2, 315, Sr.
A standout run blocker, Taufahema will blow open holes for speedy back Dominic Davis and is a legit guard prospect for the next level. He was an all-CIFSS Pac-Five Division choice last season and earned third team all-state junior honors.
OL — Matt Crow (Alemany, Mission Hills) 6-2, 290, Jr.
Even with all-area standout Aubrey Jackson graduated, the Warriors still have two big time performers on their O-Line. Crow is as talented as he is big and earned all-state sophomore honors in 2013. He’s currently ranked No. 68 in the 2016 Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100.
OL — Christian Stevenson (Saugus) 6-2, 240, Sr.
A repeat selection, Stevenson is one of the top linemen in the rugged Foothill League. Other returnees to watch on the O-line in the Santa Clarita region are Tyler Hendrickson and Tyler Bjorkland of Valencia and Stevenson’s teammate, Steven Allen.
OL — Taylor Tuiasosopo (Paraclete, Lancaster) 6-3, 295, Jr.
He comes from the famous Tuiasosopo football family that has seen seen multiple members star at the high school level in California and Washington. Tuiasosopo is not only athletic and agile enough to play defensive tackle, but also on Paraclete’s basketball team. He also cracked the initial 2016 Cal-Hi Sports Hot 100.
PK — Ben Kreitenberg (Chaminade, West Hills) 5-10, 170, Sr.
He’s a cinch pick for this team after booting nine field goals last seaon, including the game-winner in a dramatic victory over rival Serra of Gardena. This all-CIFSS Western Division and second team all-state underclass pick could also make the team as a punter (41 ypp).
DL — John Carroll (St. Francis, La Canada) 6-3, 220, Sr.
More of a natural tight end, Carroll bests fits on this team on the defensive line because of the abundance of wide receivers. He can more than hold his own on defense too as he racked up 25 tackles to go along with four sacks, 10 hurries and seven tackles for loss. This all-CIFSS Western Division choice on offense had 49 receptions for 694 yards and seven scores.
DL — Nathan Corliss (Palmdale) 6-0, 240, Sr.
A good student, Corliss paved open holes for back Demario Richard (Arizona St.), but similar to Carroll, fits best on this team on the defensive side of the ball. This all-CIFSS Northern Division pick as an offensive lineman and Golden League Lineman of the Year also is better suited size-wise for defense on the next level.
DL — Chris Bounds (Chaminade, West Hills) 6-4, 260, Sr.
An all-CIFSS Western Division choice on the D-Line, Bounds’ future is likely at tight end. Already offered by Colorado, Bounds doesn’t catch the ball often but is a key cog for a program looking to win its second consecutive division and state title. ‘Nade’s Joel Loth is another honors candidate on the D-Line.
LB — Desmond Butler (Harvard-Westlake, North Hollywood) 5-10, 180, Sr.
He snagged first team all-Mission League honors last season after racking up 58 solo tackles, 33 assists and six tackles for loss. As a sophomore, Butler racked up 107 tackles and earned a spot on the All-State sophomore team, but his main goal is to help Harvard-Westlake improve its 0-5 league mark.
LB — D.J. Beavers (Crespi, Encino) 6-1, 220, Sr.
All-area pick by the L.A. Daily News racked up 55 tackles and three sacks for a Pac-Five playoff team. One of the better outside linebacker prospects in the state, Beavers must improve his speed (4.85) and quickness to have the desired impact on the next level.
ROV — Marvell Tell (Crespi, Encino) 6-2, 175, Sr.
Even though he tweaked his hammy at the L.A. Nike Camp, Tell was one of the most impressive athletes with a 108.75 SPARQ Rating that included a 4.62 in the 40, a 4.34 in the 20-yard shuttle, a 40-foot Power Ball toss and a 37.5 inch vertical jump. A repeat selection on this team, Tell was also a second team all-state underclass pick similar to teammate D.J. Beavers. With his size, he’d play a lot near the line of scrimmage with this team.
DB — Jay Jay Wilson (Valencia), 6-3, 220, Sr.
We go with five defensive backs on this team because Wilson has the size to play ‘backer or near the line of scrimmage if the situation calls for it. Wilson is the region’s hardest hitter from his safety spot and keyed Valencia’s run to the CIFSS Northern Division final with his play at running back and receiver. In fact, he’s talented enough to make this team on offense.
DB — Marc Langford (Saugus) 5-9, 160, Sr.
Because of the logjam at wideout, Langford fits best in the defensive backfield. He has good instincts and recovered two fumbles as a junior. He also excels in the return game and caught 60 passes for 565 yards with four going for scores.
DB — Dameon Baber (Palmdale) 5-10, 180, Sr.
This all-CIFSS Northern Division choice helped his team to a 9-3 mark by making 47 tackles, including four for loss, causing a fumble and grabbing five interceptions. If Baber improves his top end speed (4.70 in the 40), he could make an immediate impact on the D1 level as he already fields offers from Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon State.
DB — Liam Cabrera (Canyon, Canyon Country) 5-10, 170, Sr.
Yet another talented wideout good enough to be honored on either side of the ball, Cabrera had 38 tackles and two interceptions for the Cowboys as a junior. On the offensive side, he hauled in 73 catches for 1,243 yards and eight touchdowns. He was an all-CIFSS Northern Division choice on defense.
DB — Mike Little (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) 5-11, 165, Sr.
He’s a three-way, two year starter and fits best on this team as a defensive back. Little was a first team all-Serra League selection as a junior and will provide leaderships to a team looking to have a big season. Regardless of what position he plays on the next level, will need to improve his top end speed.
P — Jonathan Weilbacher (Fillmore) 6-1, 205, Sr.
We cheated a bit to include this standout from the small town of 14,000 in Northern Ventura County. As a junior, Weilbacher averaged 41.1 yards per punt (37-for-1,522) and displayed his all-around talent by racking up 69 tackles and seven sacks as a linebacker while accounting for 770 all-purpose yards.
WR/DB — Isaiah Renfro (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) 6-2, 185, Sr.
A Washington commit and repeat selection, Renfro is one of the region’s most highly-honored players, having earned all-state underclass, first team All-State Small Schools and all-CIFSS Mid-Valley honors as a junior. He upped his offensive numbers (71 receptions, 1,302 yards, 20 touchdowns) but his defensive interceptions dramatically dipped (8 to 1) because teams figured out it was probably not a good idea to throw his way.
WR/ATH — Dymond Lee (Chaminade, West Hills) 6-1, 170, Jr.
Just as his older brother Donovan (Colorado) did last season while taking over as Nade’s top go-to offensive threat from Terrell Newby (Nebraska), Dymond is going to do the same this year. He earned all-CIFSS Western Division honors as a wide receiver, but as he showed in the state regional and championship bowl games, he’s a weapon at a variety of positions.
RB/WR/DB — Myron McAfee (Canyon, Canyon Country) 5-11, 185, Sr.
He can do a bit of everything and will be counted on to help the Cowboys keep pace with Hart in the Foothill League race. McAfee rushed for 661 yards, including a 96-yarder, scored eight touchdowns and added 18 receptions and 15 tackles, a sack and blocked punt on defense.
RB/LB — Matthew Cecil (St. Genevieve, Panorama City) 5-11, 200, Sr.
A tough runner between the tackles, Cecil not only is one of the strongest players in the San Fernando Valley (reported 385-pound bench and 545-pound squat), but also excels at making the first tackler miss. This first team all-Santa Fe League and CIFSS Northeast Division choice rushed for 1,480 yards and 18 touchdowns while collecting 102 tackles on defense.
RB/ATH — Melquise Stovall (Paraclete, Lancaster) 5-10, 175, Jr.
Ranked No. 45 in the Cal-Hi Sports 2016 Hot 100, fifth among running backs, Stovall earned all-CIFSS Mid-Valley Division and all-state sophomore honors. He already has Pac-12 offers after rushing for 2,269 yards and 46 touchdowns.
WR/RET/DB — C.J. Sanders (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) 5-9, 175, Sr.
He’s going to spend his senior season at Notre Dame and then go the famous college with the same name in 2015. The son of former Titans receiver Chris Sanders, C.J. comes from Brentwood Academy in Tennessee, where he caught 52 balls for 734 yards and 12 touchdowns and scored five more times on rushes and returns as a junior. Others to watch as the Golden Knights attempt to get past the first round of the CIFSS Pac-Five Division playoffs are two-way lineman Aaron Haigler and junior RB Leo Lambert, who missed last season with a broken jaw.