Mr. Football State POY Tracker No. 3

Imperial running back Royce Freeman is in the midst of rewriting CIF San Diego Section rushing records. Photo courtesy Student Sports.

Imperial running back Royce Freeman is in the midst of rewriting CIF San Diego Section rushing records. Photo courtesy Student Sports.

It’s boiling down to a two-player race at the top between Adoree’ Jackson and Jake Browning with the key probably being how their teams fare in the CIF Open Division bowl games.

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There has been a preseason tracker of top Mr. Football State Player of the Year candidates and also one that was done for the middle of the regular season. This is the third one and takes us through the end of the regular season plus one week of the playoffs everywhere except in the CIF Central Coast Section.

Each top 10 player is written up and listed with previous position in parentheses

Note: Cal-Hi Sports lists Mr. Football State Player of the Year honorees back to 1890 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book files. Many of these files and features are part of our Gold Club subscription to this site. Join our team today by CLICKING HERE.

1. (1) Adoree’ Jackson (Serra, Gardena) WR/RB/DB Sr.
While his streak of scoring in every game this season came to an end since our last Mr. Football Tracker, his spot at the top still remains. Jackson has still scored in nine out of the 10 games the Cavaliers have played and even if he doesn’t score he’s going to cause your eyes to pop out of your head a couple of times every time you seen him. Entering this week’s games, Jackson has carried the ball 64 times for 544 yards and four touchdowns while catching 36 passes for 785 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, he has made 25 tackles and has six interceptions, which included a streak of intercepting a pass in five straight games. He had a 101-yard interception return for a score in one game and took back two picks for scores in another.

2. (2) Jake Browning (Folsom) QB Jr.
As expected, Jake set the state record for touchdown passes in a regular season with 56 and later this week he is expected to break the state record for touchdown passes in a season. In Folsom’s opening game in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, Browning passed for 430 yards and six touchdowns and now has 4,378 yards and 62 touchdowns this season. With the chance to possibly defeat No. 1 De La Salle of Concord in the NorCal Open Division bowl game and then win the Open Division state title (maybe even against Adoree Jackson’s team), Browning not only would then be Mr. Football for California but possibly Mr. Football USA.

3. (4) Royce Freeman (Imperial) RB Sr.
We said last month he was on pace to shatter his totals from the last two seasons and that has continued to be true. Freeman, in fact, nearly has rushed for as many yards this season as he did all last season. During the regular season, the Tigers went 10-0 as he rushed for 2,426 yards and 38 touchdowns. A first round bye in the CIF San Diego Section Division II playoffs will cost him an extra game to rack up stats, but if the Tigers reach the section finals this Oregon-bound standout could have a chance to finish the season with over 3,000 rushing yards.

4. (NR) Tre Watson (Centennial, Corona) RB Sr.
The highest ranked newcomer in the Top 10, Watson has led the Huskies’ high-powered offense to a current seven-game win streak. He recently rushed for 249 yards and three touchdowns during a 56-23 win over Etiwanda. On the day we did our last Mr. Football Tracker last month, he went and rushed or 382 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Norco. On the year so far, he has rushed for 2,636 yards and 39 touchdowns. With a “C” on his jersey for Centennial and also the captain he will have a “C’ on his jersey next season when he goes to Cal. He could probably start for the Golden Bears right now.

5. (3) John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach Poly) WR/KR/DB Sr.
While he has dropped two spots since we last did the Mr. Football Tracker, it could have been a much bigger drop had the Jackrabbits’ season come to an end in the first round of the CIFSS Pac-5 playoffs as they held on for an 18-16 win over Orange Lutheran. In that game, Smith caught five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Some of Smith’s best outings last year were in the biggest games down the stretch and that is still out there for him.

Junior QB Josh Rosen has been outstanding for state No. 2 St. John Bosco. Photo: Courtesy Student Sports.

Junior QB Josh Rosen has been outstanding for state No. 2 St. John Bosco. Photo: Courtesy Student Sports.

6. (NR) Josh Rosen (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) QB Jr.
In previous Mr. Football Trackers, we listed massive lineman Damien Mama as the top candidate for the Braves, but Rosen’s numbers have started to soar so much so that if the team does indeed do all that it hopes to do this season (Pac-5, SoCal Open, State Open) it’s now more likely that Rosen will be leading player. On the season, Rosen has passed for 2,205 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for 200 yards and eight scores. If it weren’t for an injury that cause him to miss some games, those totals would be much higher.

7. (7) Donovan Lee (Chaminade, West Hills) RB/WR Sr.
He has had a few games in which the Eagles jumped out to big leads that caused him to receive fewer touches. Still, when he has been given the ball this season he has been outstanding. He has now rushed for 1,410 yards and 25 touchdowns while also catching 22 passes for 443 yards and three touchdowns. In Chaminade’s regular season finale, he set several season-highs as he carried the ball 24 times for 274 yards and seven touchdowns as they defeated St. Francis of La Canada 56-35.

8. (5) Damien Mama (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) OL Sr.
It’s might be a little unfair but the big man up front drops a few spots while his quarterback jumps ahead of him. Besides the team passing for 2,679 yards and 30 touchdowns, the Braves have also rushed for 2,434 yards and 37 touchdowns. Should the Braves get a chance to face No. 1 De La Salle in the CIF Open Division Bowl Game, he would get a big chance to show his talent against an impressive defensive front with everything on the line. A dominant showing in that setting could still vault him past others, including his own quarterback.

9. (NR) Ian Fieber (Mission Viejo) QB Sr.
Undefeated and playing in the CIF-SS Pac-5 playoffs, Fieber has a big chance to put himself higher on the list should the Diablos keep winning. On the season, he has passed for 2,414 yards and 23 touchdowns after a junior season that saw him pass for over 2,800 yards and 24 touchdowns. Earlier this year, he committed to San Jose State.

10. (NR) Sumner Houston (De La Salle, Concord) OL/DL Sr.
Although the Spartans may have a running back in John Velasco who was on this tracker previously and who may get strong numbers in upcoming showcase games, we see a case building for Houston as the only two-way line standout for a team that may go down as having one of the best offensive and defensive lines ever. It may not quite be like Derek Landri in 2001 battling different behemoths from Long Beach Poly, but Houston is a rock-solid 6-3, 270-pounder who typifies everything that De La Salle football stands for. If this year’s team wins a fifth straight Open Division state title, it’s probably going to be due to the line play so picking someone who stands out on both sides would get traction.

Other Possible Mr. Football State POY candidates

Hamilton Anoi’I (Serra, San Mateo) WR/RB/DE Sr.
Trevor Bearden (Live Oak, Morgan Hill) RB Sr.
Andrew Celis (Marin Catholic, Kentfield) WR/DB Sr.
Thai Cottrell (Oceanside) WR/DB/RB Sr.
Brandon Dawkins (Oaks Christian, Westlake Village) QB/RB Sr.
Koa Farmer (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) RB/WR/DB Sr.
Coltin Gerhart (Vista Murrieta, Murrieta) QB/RB Sr.
Alif Grayes (Alemany, Mission Hills) QB/RB Sr.
Jalen Greene (Serra, Gardena) QB/RB Sr.
Sumner Houston (De La Salle, Concord) OL/DL Sr.
Brad Kaaya (Chaminade, West Hills) QB Sr.
JaJuan Lawson (Casa Grande, Petaluma) QB/RB Sr.
Jonathan Lockett (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) KR/DB Sr.
Morgan Mahalak (Marin Catholic, Kentfield) QB Sr.
Joe Mixon (Freedom, Oakley) RB Sr.
Luke Napolitano (Corona del Mar, Newport Beach) QB Jr.
Wadus Parker (Elk Grove) RB Sr.
Harris Ross (Pittsburg) RB Sr.
Asuani Rufus (Bakersfield) QB/RB Sr.
Edgar Segura (Mendota) RB/LB Sr.
Ainuu Taua (Lompoc) DL Sr.
John Velasco (De La Salle, Concord) RB Sr.
Robert Webber (Centennial, Corona) QB/RB Sr.
Brady White (Hart, Newhall) QB Jr.
Connor Wynn (Mission Hills, San Marcos) QB Sr.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @CalHiSports

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