NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s choices are QBs Ryan Hilinski of Orange Lutheran and Nathan Gordon of Pacifica Terra Nova. Amazingly, both of their brothers are currently listed as quarterbacks at Washington State. Photos: Twitter.com & Hudl.com.


We honestly didn’t know until after picking this week’s two NorCal/SoCal Offensive Players of the Week that their brothers are teammates on the depth chart of quarterbacks up at Washington State. Ryan Hilinski (Orange Lutheran) and Nathan Gordon (Pacifica Terra Nova) are quarterbacks as well and both are out to strong starts this season. Other honorees this week are from Rocklin, Fresno, Harbor City and Rancho Santa Margarita. Two of those named also will be playing each other on Friday.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate someone by 12 noon on most Mondays, email markjtennis@gmail.com.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Nathan Gordon
(Terra Nova, Pacifica) Sr.

Two boys from the Central Coast Section and one from the Northern Section were finalists this week for the NorCal offensive honors but in the end it was the Tigers’ signal-caller that gets the nod.

Following in his brother’s footsteps, the 5-foot-11, 150-pound senior quarterback passed for 382 yards on 22 of 30 with three touchdowns as Terra Nova was a 28-17 winner over a Salinas team that was coming off a 42-6 win over perennial power Oak Grove of San Jose.

It was the second-straight big outing by Gordon, who passed for 344 yards and five TDs in a 63-21 win over Scotts Valley.

Terra Nova had to unfortunately forfeit its opener so it will be hard for Gordon to catch his brother, Anthony Gordon, who passed for 4,899 and 49 TDs in his 2015 senior year. After going the JC route, Anthony is now on the roster at Washington State.

The runners up had huge performances as well. Seth Park of Redding Shasta had 248 yards rushing and five TDs plus a TD catch, and Joseph Barnes of Gilroy had 244 yards rushing and three TDs and he also had a TD reception with 84 yards receiving.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Blayden Brown (Rocklin) Sr.

The Thunder got to 3-0 and remains on the bubble in the Top 50 state rankings in large part due to this 6-foot, 210-pound middle linebacker and running back.

Each week, venerable scribe Joe Davidson of the Sacramento Bee has a fan vote for the Bee’s Player of the Week from five choices, and while we take nominations and welcome them there was little doubt about Brown being our NorCal defensive honoree.

In a 40-22 win over crosstown rival Whitney in the annual Quarry Bowl, Brown had three interceptions, one of which he returned 26 yards for a touchdown, and seven tackles. With the three picks, he also now has five on the season.

We can’t forget to mention Brown is also the leading rusher (206 yards, four TDs) for the Thunder and he rambled for 47 yards and a TD against Whitney.

A side note from Davidson about Brown is “Blayden has been dominant for a team that expects to challenge for the Sierra Foothill League title and his dad is Brian Brown, a star running back for Elk Grove in 1984.”

Eli Riofrio of Fresno Clovis West was chosen to the all-state underclass team after last season as a kicker. Photo: Twitter.com.


Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Special Teams Player of the Week

Eli Riofrio
(Clovis West, Fresno) Sr.

Another nomination by Central Section historian Bob Barnett results in the longtime Cal-Hi Sports friend and contributor being spot on once again with this Golden Eagles’ kicker.

According to Barnett, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound kicker and punter had a career night in a 30-9 win over crosstown Edison. Riofrio kicked three field goals and made all three extra points for a 12 kicking-points night.

One of the field goals was from 49 yards out, which is third-best in Clovis West history. For his career, Riofrio has now booted 18 three-pointers over the crossbar and between the uprights.

Riofrio and the Golden Eagles will be playing this week at Rocklin, home to our NorCal Defensive Player of the Week.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Ryan Hilinski
(Orange Lutheran, Orange) Jr.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior quarterback is the latest SoCal offensive honoree to go over the 500-yard passing mark in a game this season.

In a 40-20 victory on the road for the No. 12 state-ranked Lancers at Vista Murrieta of Murrieta the story was Hilinski, who completed 29 of 42 passes for 505 yards and four touchdowns.

A side note is Hilinski is the younger brother of Tyler Hilinski, who starred at Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks and then Upland. Last Saturday the Washington State sophomore came off the bench to pass for 240 yards and three TDs as the Cougars erased a 21-point fourth quarter deficit with Hilinski under center in a 47-44 triple overtime victory over Boise State.

And also listed as a back-up QB for the Cougars is Anthony Gordon, formerly of Pacifica Terra Nova and older brother of our NorCal Offensive Player of the Week for this week, Nathan Gordon.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Demontii Peoples
(Narbonne, Harbor City) Sr.

The 6-foot, 175-pound Peoples has certainly been a favorite of the people on the Gauchos’ side of the stadium twice this season.

Last week in a 34-15 win at Palos Verdes, he got the scoring going with a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown. Peoples also had three pass deflections and five tackles.

In the first week of the season for the No. 8 state-ranked Gauchos, Peoples had a 42-yard interception return for a TD in a huge 17-14 win over No. 19 Serra of Gardena.

On the season besides the two interceptions for TDs, Peoples has 14 pass deflections and 16 total tackles.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Special Teams Player of the Week

Dylan Brady
(Santa Margarita Catholic, Rancho Santa Margarita) Sr.

Brady makes it two out of three SoCal honorees this week and the second straight SoCal special teams winner from the powerful Trinity League. We could have gone with all three SoCal winners this week from the Trinity League, but we’ll probably get JSerra’s Malik McClain later in the season and do have to mix it up just a little bit.

Brady’s 55-yard field goal is just shy of making the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book and it’s not among the top 15 in Southern Section history, and its shy of the Orange County record of 60 yards set in 1999 by Chris Kluwe of Los Alamitos.

However, the long boot by the 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior is the longest reported field goal in the state this year and according to Santa Margarita Catholic keeper of records Adrian Peters the 55-yarder is a school record.

Of note is Brady is 25 of 26 this season on kickoff touchbacks, 20 of 21 on PATs and he’s punting for a 36.9 yard average with six of seven punts going out of bounds inside the 20-yard line.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at marketingharoldabend@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend


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