Presented by LE BOULANGER bakery, this is the latest in a new feature highlighting the most outstanding players from the South Bay/Peninsula region of the CIF Central Coast Section. This week’s three honorees are Kirk Johnson from Valley Christian of San Jose, Tali Finefeuiaki from Wilcox of Santa Clara and Griffin Intieri of Burlingame.CLICK HERE for details on how South Bay/Peninsula football fans can win 2 free San Francisco 49ers tickets.
Le Boulanger South Bay/Peninsula
Offensive Player of the Week
Kirk Johnson (Valley Christian, San Jose) Sr.
It was a perfect time for Johnson to show all of his abilities as an all-state level running back when the Warriors were playing state No. 22 Bellarmine of San Jose last Saturday at home.
At times, the Bells closed the holes. At others, though, Johnson blasted through them and on just about every carry as they say he “moved the pile” gaining key yardage and first downs.
When the night was over, Valley Christian had vanquished the Bells 42-17 and Johnson had 22 carries for 220 yards and three touchdowns. His first two scores from two and five yards out gave VC a 14-0 lead. His third touchdown, on a spectacular 56-yard reversal of the field jaunt, pulled the Warriors out front 28-7 at halftime.
Johnson has committed to the University of Texas where his father, Johnnie, was once a star. Younger brother Collin (a junior) will follow him to Austin the following year.
Le Boulanger South Bay/Peninsula
Defensive Player of the Week
Hesekaia Tali Finefeuiaki (Wilcox, Santa Clara) Soph.
“You can call him Tali,” Wilcox head coach Dan Brown chuckled with respect to the difficulty of pronouncing the full name of our latest La Boulanger Defensive Player of the Week. Actually, you can call him “Mr. Turnover” after he helped the Chargers tie a state record with nine interceptions with four returned for TDs (close to a record) in a 67-20 win over cross-town rival Santa Clara in the first high school game ever played at Levi’s Stadium.
The sophomore electrified the 12,000 fans witnessing the Friday Nights Lights Black Bear Diner inaugural game after having a hand in five turnovers with two ending up scores. Tali had three interceptions, running two back 85 and 30 yards for touchdowns, and another for 28 yards for 143 yards total on interception returns. Finefeuiaki also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble – and for good measure he even batted down a pass.
Earlier this season, he had 16 tackles in a win over Palo Alto.
To tie a state record for interceptions with additional turnovers takes more than one player and Brown wanted to get in a word for other Chargers’ players involved in the record as well as Levi’s Stadium.
“I was wondering what the deal was with those interceptions maybe being a record. As for playing in Levi’s it was a fun one, the kids were elated, on top of the world. To them it was like finding a million dollar bill on the ground.”
Team captain Manu Turituri also had three interceptions, bringing one back 45 yards for a score. Julian Jones had a 13-yard pick six and Isaac Namowicz got into the big play act with an 87-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. On offense running back Matthew Alquetra ran for four scores.
La Boulanger South Bay/Peninsula Special Teams Player of the Week
Griffin Intieri (Burlingame) Jr.
As quiet as its kept after an 11-1 season last year, the Panthers are 6-0 to begin the season and the defending Peninsula Athletic League – Bay division champions are 1-0 after a 35-14 win over Atherton Menlo-Atherton that saw Intieri involved in a lot of scoring.
The senior running back and defensive back is honored for special teams but multi-purpose would have been just as appropriate. His 95-yard return of the opening kickoff jump-started Burlingame against the Bears.
After that play, he took over on offense and rushed for 207 yards with three TDs including runs of 75 and 77 yards. Intieri also picked off his third pass of the season and batted one down as well.
Note: To send in nominations for next week’s LE BOULANGER South Bay/Peninsula Players of the Week, send info to email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include usable photo if possible as well, which means not from a newspaper or major national website.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend