Check here on Saturday as the games are completed for which players have impressed us the most at the StubHub Center in Carson.
Player of the Game: Josh Rosen (St. John Bosco). One week after Jake Browning of Folsom (75 TD passes for the season) had three interceptions and one TD vs. De La Salle, Rosen had two TDs and no interceptions against the same defense. Bosco’s blocking up front was, of course, a factor, and Rosen has dangerous wideouts at his disposal. He still made the plays — with his feet as much as his arm — to bring the Braves to the promised land. He completed 12 of 17 passes for 200 yards and rushed seven times for 69 yards, including the game-clinching 37-yard run on third down with 1:38 remaining.
Unsung Hero of the Game: Reid Budrovich & Richard Cole (St. John Bosco). Another factor that made the Braves such a complete squad in 2013 was its special teams and both the kicker (Budrovich) and punt (Cole) were outstanding against De La Salle. Budrovich put a majority of his kickoffs into the end zone and connected on field goals of 35 yards and 25 yards. Cole pinned the De La Salle offense on the five-yard line and one-yard line on consecutive punts in the third quarter. He also put the ball high on his other punts, which enabled his coverage to surround the returner before going anywhere.
De La Salle Underclass Players of the Game: Even though the team’s most talented sophomore skill player, running back Antoine Custer, couldn’t play, fellow sophomore Andrew Hernandez, stepped in with 57 yards on 12 carries. Sophomore Devin Asiasi also had one catch as a tight end and one sack as a defensive end. Three of the team’s top linemen also will be back next year — Kahlil McKenzie (five tackles), Boss Tagaloa (who will still just be a junior) and Drew Sullivan (300-pound offensive guard).
St. John Bosco Underclass Players of the Game: With Rosen listed above as Player of the Game, sophomore running back Sean McGrew was right behind. He had another strong outing vs. DLS with 24 carries for 148 yards. While many seniors will be lost on defense next year (five are major college recruits), the Braves will continue to have one of the top offensive lines anywhere. Although Damien Mama will be gone, both Zachary Robertson (6-5, 308) and Matthew Katnik (6-2, 295) will be back and their return will be huge in front of a QB as strong as Rosen will be. He’ll be at the first Elite 11 QB tryout of the year in two weeks and it’s a good bet he’ll be an Elite 11 finalist in the summer up in Oregon.
Player of the Game: Donovan Lee (Chaminade). The 5-foot-9, 175-pound triple threat dominated the game after it was 3-3 in the first 12 minutes. He set a individual CIF bowl game record with three interceptions to lead his team to a 41-9 victory. The first one he returned 19 yards for a touchdown to give Chaminade a 24-3 lead. His second one killed an Enterprise drive inside ‘Nade’s 10-yard line. His third was more like a coronation. He was also a weapon catching the ball and scored on a nine-yard sweep to give the Eagles a 17-3 lead. Lee is committed to Colorado.
Unsung Hero of the Game: Rick Gamboa (Chaminade). The senior leader didn’t have his biggest game statistically, but he made big plays early in the game to impact its outcome before teammate Donovan Lee put it out of reach. Gamboa had five total tackles, and one tackle for loss. He also had a sack for minus six yards and displayed the senior leadership that helped Chaminade bounce back from a devastating 36-0 loss to Serra of Gardena in the regular season. Gamboa is a three-year starter and is good bet for one of our all-state teams. He’s also headed to Colorado.
Underclass Player of the Game: Isaiah Matthews (Enterprise). This highly-regarded junior used a statewide stage to show he’s one of the best underclass backs in Northern California. He wasn’t well known by most SoCal fans — until today. The 6-foot-1, 203-pound junior led all rushers with 182 yards on 29 carries and displayed a strong, low-gravity running style. Not a burner, Matthews has the innate ability to make tacklers miss. He also had three tackles from his outside ‘backer position.
Player of the Game: Barrett Barbato (Corona del Mar). The 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior was the leading tackler for the Sea Kings with 10 in their win over Sacred Heart Prep. He also had one of the biggest plays with 58-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first half. Others who shined from the CDM defense, which did not give up more than 21 points in any game this season, included Parker Chase, the team’s top sacker, with five tackles and one fumble recovery.
Unsung Hero of the Game: Cole Martin (Corona del Mar). The junior running back doesn’t get quite the same spotlight as senior quarterback Luke Napolitano, but once again had a solid game. He led all rushers with 28 carries for 157 yards. He didn’t score against SHP, but he only had two yards lost in any of his attempts and finished with 1,875 yards rushing for the season.
Underclass Player of the Game: Ben Burr-Kirven (Sacred Heart Prep). For two-way brilliance, Kirven was the best player on the field. He led the Gators with 16 tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble for loss. He also ran for a 47-yard TD and had 78 yards on seven carries. With his size, speed and the way he leaves it all of the field, he’ll probably be recruited by major colleges next season as a strong safety. Don’t be surprised if some look at him, however, as a Tyler Gaffney-style running back. He even wears the same number (25) that Gaffney did when he was in high school.
Player of the Game: Asauni Rufus (Bakersfield). No doubt about this selection. Rufus befuddled Del Oro of Loomis throughout the game, leading the Drillers to a 56-26 triumph. He only threw seven passes but didn’t need to throw much as his fakes, pitches and ability to run the option converted big plays. Rufus had 19 carries for 184 yards and two TDs. The 6-foot, 190-pounder has committed to Nevada, which doesn’t run an option but does run a read option offense popularized when Colin Kaepernick was there. It’ll be interesting to see how Rufus further develops the passing aspect of his game.
Unsung Hero: Dylan Kainrath (Del Oro). If the Golden Eagles were going to do what they did this season, somebody needed to step up for the graduation loss of 2012 running back Brandon Monroe. Kainrath started the season more known as a top wrestler, but ended the season with 2,088 yards and 27 TDs. An injury to junior Tevon Rhyne also forced him to become the primary ball carrier and in one game (a win over Granite Bay) he had 50 carries. In the loss to Bakersfield, Kainrath had 35 carries for 198 yards and three scores.
Underclass Player To Watch: Nigel Brooks (Bakersfield). He’s a 6-foot-3, 275-pound junior defensive lineman and looks like a major college prospect to us. He was among the Drillers’ top tacklers against Del Oro with seven tackles, including one sack. Junior RB/LB Marcus Bruce also will be a prime time returnee for Bakersfield next season.
Player of the Game: Montell Bland (Central Catholic, Modesto). Just a freshman, we’re going with him for this honor just based on one play – his 26-yard TD run in the third quarter that gave the Raiders a 22-14 lead. On that play, Bland also wowed the crowd by breaking six tackles and driving the pile from the 5-yard line into the end zone. Bland also led all rushers with 16 carries for 103 yards and added another TD on a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter. With Montell able to come in and do what he did in the absence of starter Matt Ringer, his older brother, Reggie, didn’t have to carry it 25 or 30 times and could concentrate more on defense.
Unsung Hero: Donovin Townsend (Central Catholic, Modesto). He was the team’s starting QB until just a few weeks ago when he was sidelined with a shoulder injury. Sophomore Hunter Petlansky then emerged as the starter, but when Townsend came back he continued to shine as a player in the secondary on defense and even carried the ball a few times at fullback. Against Bakersfield Christian, Townsend led the Raiders with 12 tackles, including one sack.
Junior Player to Watch: Brandon Jones (Bakersfield Christian). The 6-foot-3, 210-pound QB has gone over 4,000 yards passing for the season and tied a section record with 54 TDs. He completed 26 of 41 passes for 380 yards in the loss to Central Catholic, but only had two TDs and one interception. It’ll be interesting to see if he develops, improves enough in the summer to generate the same kind of offers that Derek Carr (Fresno State) had when he quarterbacked the Eagles.
Underclass Player to Watch: Sam Mundt (Central Catholic, Modesto). Sam didn’t catch any passes but he’s a 6-foot-4, 210-pound sophomore and just happens to be the younger brother of Johnny Mundt, who starred for the Raiders last season and did very well as a true freshman TE/WR this season at Oregon. Sam looks pretty similar at same age. Smith (Bakersfield Christian). We’ve been wanting to get a peak at Smith since he was starring for the Eagles last season as a sophomore.