More State Football Players of the Year

State Junior of the Year Javon McKinley is about to score in CIFSS Pac-5 final vs. St. John Bosco. Photo: Mark Bausman/OC Sidelines.com.

State Junior of the Year Javon McKinley of Corona Centennial is about to score in the CIFSS Pac-5 Division final vs. St. John Bosco. Photo: Mark Bausman/OC Sidelines.com.


Check inside this post for the honorees who have been chosen among juniors, sophomores, medium schools and small schools. One league in the Bay Area has nabbed two of these four player of the year selections.

To see who has been named Mr. Football Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year, CLICK HERE.

For a list of our all-time players of the year for juniors, sophomores, medium schools and small schools back to the 1920s, CLICK HERE.

To join our Gold Club so you can see those lists and many others that don’t exist anywhere else, CLICK HERE.

For info on recommended Jan. 31 speed camp at Palisades H.S. in Southern California, CLICK HERE. This event is designed for all athletes in any sport to become quicker, faster and more explosive.

Congratulations to the following additional Cal-Hi Sports State Players of the Year for 2014 football season:

Juniors: Javon McKinley
(Centennial, Corona)

While he didn’t take home the Mr. Football State Player of the Year award after being a finalist, Javon does earn the nod as our State Junior of the Year after a sensational season capped off with a big-time performance against De La Salle of Concord in the CIF State Open Division Bowl Game.

Against the Spartans, he caught six passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns while also returning a kickoff back for a score. He finished the season with 97 catches for 2,062 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Centennial-Football3Breaking multiple records during the regular season, he got even better in the postseason with 50 receptions for 1,012 yards and 11 scores. Counting all games, McKinley set a new CIF Southern Section record for receiving yards and came close to the state record of 2,165 set in 2011 by Deontay Greenberry from Washington of Easton.

In its amazing recent history, Centennial has not had a State Junior of the Year before McKinley. There has been one just from 2011 from nearby Vista Murrieta, however, when Su’a Cravens of the Broncos received the honor.

The last primary receiver to be the state’s top junior was Steve Smith of Woodland Hills Taft from 2001. He went on to win a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants.

Among the honors that McKinley has already received this off-season is being named by the Riverside Press Enterprise as its Offensive Player of the Year.

Sophomores:
Darnay Holmes (Newbury Park)

This honor was one of the hardest choices to make with the Panthers’ WR-DB getting it in nail-biting close call over Antioch RB Najee Harris.

Photo: Hudl.com.

Photo: Hudl.com.


Look for these two to be battling for top Class of 2017 recruiting rankings over the next two seasons as well as being in the running for Mr. Football in two years. It was similar to comparing apples and oranges given which roles the two played but at this point Holmes is just a bit more of a true two-way player. If we had a Sophomore State Defensive Player of the Year (Holmes) and a Sophomore State Offensive Player of the Year (Harris) we would have picked them both.

On the year, Holmes caught 89 passes for 1,350 yards and 15 touchdowns while also rushing for 169 yards and a score. His big game on offense came early on in the season when he caught eight passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns during a 48-20 win over Agoura while also recording six tackles and a sack on defense.

For the year on the defensive side of the ball, he finished with 54 tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries. This included a nine-tackle game against Westlake of Westlake Village.

“He’s also got a 4.1 GPA and like just the nicest kid in the world,” said Newbury Park offensive coordinator Keith Smith, the 1993 Mr. Football Player of the Year. “People just gravitate to him.”

Speaking of Westlake Village, the last State Sophomore of the Year from Ventura County was Brandon Dawkins of Oaks Christian in 2011. The county actually has done quite well with the honor, but this is the first time for Newbury Park.

With his older brother, Darick Holmes Jr., also on the team, the Panthers reached the CIF Southern Section Northern Division championship game but lost in a mud bath 13-10 to Paso Robles.

Medium Schools:
Anthony Gordon (Terra Nova, Pacifica)

Look below to the small schools and it’s a sweep for the Peninsula Athletic League for two state player of the year awards. The trick in that happening isn’t just that Gordon and Sacred Heart Prep’s Ben Burr-Kirven had sensational seasons but that we consider Terra Nova for medium schools and SHP for small schools (based mostly on enrollment).

Gordon also became the first QB in CCS history to throw for 500 yards or more in a game when he hit 513 vs. Menlo. Photo: Willie Eashman.

Gordon also became the first QB in CCS history to throw for 500 yards or more in a game when he hit 513 vs. Menlo. Photo: Willie Eashman.


The difficulty in choosing the medium schools player is not just evaluating the player but checking the schools to see if we can really call them medium. Some in the CIF Southern Section that at first might appear to be medium actually have close to 3,000 students.

Regardless, Gordon led his team to a section title and almost became the first non-Folsom QB to pass for 5,000 yards in state history. He ended with 4,899 yards and 49 touchdowns for the Tigers. He set CIF Central Coast Section records in both categories and moved up to No. 7 on the all-time state list (the top three totals of which are owned by Folsom’s Jake Browning. To see that list if you are not a Gold Club member, CLICK HERE for details.

After a 2-5 start to the season against a tough schedule, Gordon passed for a season-high 513 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions during a 56-35 win over Menlo School. Terra Nova went on to win five of its final six games and capture the CIF Central Coast Section Division IV championship. During a 52-49 semifinal win over Carmel, he also passed for six touchdowns and completed 19 of his 24 pass attempts for 395 yards.

Gordon is the first San Mateo County player to be the Medium Schools State Player of the Year since Toke Kefu of San Mateo in 2003. He is the first honoree from Terra Nova.

Small Schools:
Ben Burr-Kirven
(Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton)

Another finalist to be our overall Mr. Football State Player of the Year, Ben earns this honor despite missing the first five games of the season for the Gators with an injury.

Ben Burr-Kirven of Sacred Heart Prep scores in CCS Open Division title game win over Bellarmine. Photo: Roger Chen/Prep2Prep.com.

Ben Burr-Kirven of Sacred Heart Prep scores in CCS Open Division title game win over Bellarmine. Photo: Roger Chen/Prep2Prep.com.

Over the final eight games, the two-way Washington-bound standout rushed for an average of more than 100 yards per game as he rushed for 862 yards and 18 touchdowns on just 106 carries while also catching a touchdown pass. On defense, he recorded at least 11 tackles in every game to finish with 116 total tackles while also recording two sacks and two interceptions.

With Burr-Kirven in a starring role, the Gators put together an historic season for a small school, capturing the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division championship with an unbeaten record. We also could have elevated Burr-Kirven into large school consideration, but for individual honors are putting SHC as a small school.

For the second year in a row, the San Jose Mercury News already has named him as its player of the year.

Burr-Kirven is the first State Small Schools Player of the Year from Sacred Heart Prep, but the Gators’ rivals from Menlo School have had several, including Jim Noriega for 1990, Jim McKinley for 1988 and John Paye three straight years for 1980 to 1982.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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