The 37th annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Football Teams are headlined by these 30 players, chosen regardless of school size or year in school. Three players each from CIF Open Division finalists De La Salle and Corona Centennial have all been chosen. St. John Bosco of Bellflower and Serra of Gardena also end up with two each.
Note: If you want to see more exclusive all-state football content, such as our archives of every all-state team that’s been selected, a list of some of the top freshmen players who were nominated in this cycle and for additional state record updates, that will all be for members of our Gold Club only. To see how you can sign up, CLICK HERE.
For the Gold Club Post of the All-Time All-State Football Archives (every first or second team from the Cal-Hi Sports files) since 1979, CLICK HERE.
Note: Thanks to Paul Muyskens for some of the writeups; thanks to Ronnie Flores & Harold Abend for input about some of the players. We also still have more all-state football picks to do with second annual All-State All-Academic teams.
FIRST TEAM OVERALL OFFENSE
WR Derrion Grim (McNair, Stockton) 6-2, 190, Sr.
Squeezing in as many receivers as possible onto the first team was perhaps the biggest challenge this year. We felt that Grim, who is going to play next at Nebraska, earned his spot for catching 96 passes for 1,928 yards and 34 touchdowns in just 10 games. He tied the single-season state record for TD catches (which was set in 16 games) and he averaged more yards per game than national receiving yards record-setter J.P. Shohfi of San Marino. In a normal year, Shohfi would have been first team too. This year, unfortunately, he slid to second. Grim also already has been named the Stockton Record’s Player of the Year.
WR Michael Pittman (Oaks Christian, Westlake Village) 6-4, 210, Sr.
Considering the opponent was state-ranked Bishop Amat, Pittman’s performance of 16 catches for 354 yards and five TDs has to go down as one of the best in state history. Although it came in a loss, it also put an exclamation point on a tremendous season for the USC-bound standout. Pittman finished with 81 catches for 1,990 yards and 24 TDs and was named the L.A. Daily News Player of the Year.
OL Wyatt Davis (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 6-5, 315, Jr.
Forget that Wyatt is still just a junior for second. He’s still already been picked as the L.A. Times’ SoCal Lineman of the Year. He has the size, speed and motor that make him a candidate for all sorts of honors next year rarely seen for a lineman. As a recruit, Davis also is expected to be one of the top 20 players overall in the nation for next year. Among his offers are those from Alabama, Oklahoma and USC.
OL Frank Martin (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-5, 270, Sr.
He’s been earning high praise from longtime Mater Dei head coach Bruce Rollinson since he sophomore season and has continued to display dominance and leadership. Martin, an All-Orange County pick by the Register and preseason all-stater, also played in the recent U.S. Army All-American Game. He will play next at USC.
OL Nathan Smith (Murrieta Mesa, Murrieta) 6-6, 260, Sr.
This is the first all-state player for a new school that opened in 2009. Smith earned honors from the Riverside Press-Enterprise in helping the Rams average 31.1 points and 309 yards per game. Also one of the state’s top recruits among offensive linemen, Smith already is attending classes at USC.
OL Luke Wattenberg (JSerra, SJ Capistrano) 6-5, 270, Sr.
Already named to the Orange County Register’s All-County team, Wattenberg followed up an outstanding junior season with another strong showing as a senior. He’s also already been named as the co-lineman of the year in the Trinity League. Wattenberg will play next at Washington.
OL Jonah Williams (Folsom) 6-5, 290, Sr.
He transferred to Folsom prior to the 2014 season and after battling through some injuries ended up being an all-state junior. This year, he’s become one of the best using his hands in pass blocking that we’ve ever seen. Many longtime observers of Sacramento area prep football also rank him as the best offensive lineman they’ve ever seen. Williams will play next at national champion Alabama.
QB Ian Book (Oak Ridge, El Dorado Hills) 6-1, 195, Sr.
When we first saw Book as a sophomore, his ability to throw accurately and powerfully on the run was impressive. He’s gone on to become one of the best we’ve ever seen doing that and he wins out in a close call over several other candidates we were looking at for first team all-state QB for having the best combination of recruiting respect (Ian is going to Notre Dame) and playing well against elite competition. For the season, Book had 3,049 yards passing and 30 TDs with 779 yards rushing and 12 more scores. He had 201 yards and one TD passing with one TD rushing in a victory by Oak Ridge over eventual CIF state champ Del Oro. In a close loss to Folsom, Book had 200 yards passing and one TD plus 76 yards rushing and two scores.
RB Najee Harris (Antioch) 6-3, 225, Jr.
Named as our 2015 Mr. Football State Player of the Year, this Alabama commit led the state in scoring during the regular season despite spending most of the second half watching from the sideline with the Panthers comfortably ahead. Also named as Contra Costa Times East Bay Player of the Year and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Metro Player of the Year, he ended the season with 2,744 yards rushing and scored 39 touchdowns while also scoring 33 2-point conversions. He will have a chance next season to become the first player in over 100 years to win back-to-back Mr. Football State Player of the Year honors.
RB Sean McGrew (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 5-7, 170, Sr.
Entering the season, Sean was among the favorites to become our Mr. Football State Player of the Year and while this Washington-bound senior didn’t take home that honor he was a finalist after rushing for 1,852 yards and 27 touchdowns on 200 carries. Our State Sophomore Player of the Year back in 2013 also caught 17 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns while also contributing on special teams. McGrew, the Long Beach Press Telegram’s Player of the Year, will play next at Washington where he may catch passes from 2014 Mr. Football Jake Browning.
RB J.J. Taylor (Centennial, Corona) 5-7, 175, Sr.
Considered to be the top player of the year candidate on a team filled with big time recruits, Taylor rushed for 2,049 yards and 41 touchdowns in helping the Huskies reach the CIF Open Division state bowl game and earn at No. 1 national ranking in one poll. One of eight finalists for Mr. Football State Player of the Year, his two biggest performances on the year saw him score seven touchdowns during a win over Chaminade of West Hills while he helped the Huskies earn the trip to Sacramento by rushing for 261 yards and five touchdowns during a 65-55 win over St. John Bosco of Bellflower. Taylor will join fellow All-State first team selection Khalil Tate next season at Arizona.
PK Manny Berz (Citrus Hill, Perris) 5-10, 180, Jr.
The all-state junior also was a fairly easy choice to be first team all-state. He was co-MVP in his league for a team that won a CIF state bowl game and his numbers were hard to believe. Berz, who has been ringing up field goals since his freshman season for the Hawks’ varsity, made 14 of 16 this season with a long of 51 yards. He also only missed one PAT out of 85 tried and even boomed out his punts for a 46.8 yard average.
FIRST TEAM OVERALL DEFENSE
DL Oluwole Betiku (Serra, Gardena) 6-4, 245, Sr.
One of the most physically impressive kids we’ve ever seen at a Nike camp (sorry we’re always going to call it that), Betiku followed it up with a dominant season. He had 17 sacks for the Cavaliers and had 28 tackles for loss with a final total of 70 tackles overall. He was the Defensive Player of the Year by the South Bay Daily Breeze and was the State Defensive Player of the Year has previously announced by Cal-Hi Sports. Betiku, like so many from Serra, will play next at USC.
DL Hunter Kampmoyer (Bishop) 6-6, 240, Sr.
Picking a third defensive lineman (remember, we have to have at least three on any all-state team) after Betiku and Boss Tagaloa was very difficult and could have gone in several directions. Kampmoyer has been one of our favorites in the senior class for awhile (maybe we have a soft spot for small town kids) and is a top recruit headed to Oregon. On the field, in nine games reported for the Broncos, he had 86 tackles (17 for loss), two interceptions, caught 27 passes for 350 yards and scored four times in goal-line rushing situations. For his four-year varsity career, Hunter also had nearly 350 tackles and 23 sacks.
DL Boss Tagaloa (De La Salle, Concord) 6-3, 295, Sr.
He’s been bossing around opposing linemen at DLS since his sophomore season on both sides of the ball. Tagaloa, however, is known mostly by college scouts as a defensive tackle and one of the best in the nation at that. He had three tackles for loss in the Spartans’ CIF Open Division state title game win over Corona Centennial and will go down as one of the top linemen the legendary school has ever had. Tagaloa will announce which college he will attend on signing day.
LB Zach Brumbaugh (Centennial, Corona) 5-10, 215, Sr.
All of the recruiting stuff doesn’t seem to be there for Brumbaugh compared to others but he had the type of defensive season for one of the top teams in the nation that could not be ignored. First, he was in on an amazing 188 tackles and averaged 13 tackles per game in Centennial’s five postseason contests. Plus, he was chosen as the CIFSS Pac-5 Division Defensive Player of the Year. Can’t argue with that. Brumbaugh has accepted a scholarship offer from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
LB Mique Juarez (North, Torrance) 6-3, 220, Sr.
Already named as the L.A. Times’ Glenn Davis Award winner and State Medium Schools Player of the Year, Juarez gains an expected first-team all-state slot on the defensive side of the ball. Although he passed for 23 TDs and rushed for 1,370 yards and 36 TDs, Juarez is mostly regarded for the next level for linebacker. For the Saxons, he had 146 tackles this season (including 21 for loss) and also had five sacks. In his career, Juarez also set a new school record with 397 tackles. He recently decommitted from USC but he may end up still going there.
LB Caleb Kelly (Clovis West, Fresno) 6-2, 220, Sr.
One of the top linebacker recruits in the nation, Kelly has been terrorizing opponents in the Central Valley for three years. Back in December, Kelly also was honored at his school by legendary linebacker Dick Butkus as the 2015 Butkus Award winner, which is given to the top linebacker in the nation. During the 2015 season, he had 115 tackles, including 23 for loss and 21 sacks. Kelly was still listed as undecided heading into the week of signing day.
LB Colin Schooler (Mission Viejo) 6-1, 220, Jr.
One of two juniors to be a Mr. Football State Player of the Year finalist, along with winner Najee Harris, he made an impact on both sides of the ball for the Division I-AA state champion Diablos. Leading their defense with nine tackles during the 24-0 win over Bellarmine of San Jose, he also carried the ball 31 times for 230 yards and two touchdowns which was the key performance to him becoming a finalist for state player of the year.
DB Troy Dye (Norco) 6-3, 210, Sr.
There’s a reason that Centennial’s Zach Brumbaugh shared Defensive Player of the Year honors for the Big VIII League and that’s because Dye was the other player involved. A big-time hitting strong safety who has committed to Oregon, Dye averaged nearly 10 tackles per game and intercepted four passes. He had 16 tackles in a loss to Centennial and 15 in a win over Citrus Hill, which later would win a CIF state bowl title. Dye’s younger brother, Travis, is a player to watch from the Class of 2018.
DB David Long (Loyola, Los Angeles) 6-0, 175, Sr.
Regarded as one of the best players ever to compete for the oldest school in Southern California, Long played in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl and has already been given multiple honors for the season he had. There aren’t a lot of stats to go by, but no one threw in his direction. Long, who also averaged 21.5 yards per catch and had seven TD catches, also is a 10.61 sprinter in the 100-meter dash. He just committed to Michigan in what was a major coup for head coach Jim Harbaugh.
DB Darnay Holmes (Calabasas) 6-1, 190, Jr.
Our State Sophomore of the Year from last season when he was at Newbury Park had another sensational season. Despite having to sit for the team’s CIF SoCal playoff game, Holmes did plenty to become a first-team all-state player. He has now risen to the No. 1 position among many national recruiting lists as the top cornerback recruit for the Class of 2017. But Holmes did more than that for the Coyotes. He had 1,751 all-purpose yards and in the CIFSS Western Division final against Palos Verdes he scored five times in a multitude of ways. Whether it’s as a receiver or return man, Holmes has All-America talent. We couldn’t fit him in as multi-purpose for this team, but it worked out for defense.
DB Trey Udoffia (Del Oro, Loomis) 6-1, 190, Sr.
Already chosen as the Sacramento Bee’s Defensive Player of the Year, Udoffia was the senior leader for Del Oro’s CIF Division II-AA state championship team. His defensive totals weren’t off-the-charts (54 tackles, four interceptions) but he stood out against Del Oro’s best opponents and he also had 37 catches for 729 yards and eight TDs on offense. Udoffia will play next at Colorado.
P Andrew Nielsen (Hart, Newhall) 6-2, 190, Sr.
Also a very effective place-kicker during his career at Hart with a 51-yarder made this season, Nielsen gains the first team all-state slot as a punter. He was All-CIFSS for the West Valley Division and was All-Daily News and All-L.A. Times. Nielsen averaged 43.8 yards per punt.
FIRST TEAM OVERALL MULTI-PURPOSE
TE/DE Devin Asiasi (De La Salle, Concord) 6-4, 265, Sr.
Our partner at SportStars Magazine, editor Chace Bryson, thought Asiasi was the best player on the field when the Spartans’ topped Corona Centennial in the CIF Open Division state final. He made one leaping catch at tight end, batted away several passes on defense and showed amazing athleticism for someone his size. Many compare Asiasi to recent DLS grad Austin Hooper as a tight end prospect who is leaving Stanford early and may be a first-round pick in the next NFL Draft. Asiasi, along with teammate Boss Tagaloa, will announce their college destination on signing day.
RB/DB Antoine Custer (De La Salle, Concord) 5-9, 170, Sr.
With a big time performance in the final high school game in California this season, he shined on offense and defense for the Spartans, who defeated Centennial of Corona 28-21 in the CIF Open Division state bowl game. In the state finals, he rushed for two touchdowns and had a big hit on defense while defending Javon McKinley to force an incompletion on fourth down. On the season, he had over 2,000 all-purpose yards and scored 21 touchdowns. Custer has committed to Eastern Washington.
WR/KR Javon McKinley (Centennial, Corona)
6-2, 200, Sr.
Our 2014 State Junior of the Year was slowed by injuries this season, but did enough for one of the top teams in the nation and had the type of career in which we felt we had to get him onto the first team. McKinley, also a dangerous kick returner, caught 13 TD passes this season and had 1,173 yards receiving. For his career, he set an Inland area record with 3,752 receiving yards and tied an Inland area record with 43 TD catches. McKinley will play next at Notre Dame where he may catch passes from first team all-state QB Ian Book.
RB/DB/PK Ryan Robards (Elk Grove) 6-0, 190, Sr.
Unlike the other seven finalists for Mr. Football State Player of the Year, his football playing days will come to an end after this past season. Still, for all he did for state-ranked Elk Grove, there was no choice for him to be first team all-state. Leading the Thundering Herd to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I finals, Robards rushed for 2,884 yards and 43 touchdowns, caught two touchdown passes and even showed he could throw the ball as he had one touchdown pass. Defensively, he had 50 tackles, four interceptions and scored three times on defense. He also returned two punts for scores, kicked six field goals and averaged 42.2 yards a punt. Next year, he will be playing baseball at the University of the Pacific.
QB/RB Khalil Tate (Serra, Gardena) 6-0, 210, Sr.
Before heading to Arizona, Tate was the classic dual-threat quarterback as he passed and rushed for over 2,000 yards each on his way to being named Mission League MVP, first team All-Area by the Los Angeles Times at the quarterback position and a finalist for our Mr. Football State Player of the Year. For the year, he finished with 2,036 yards and 17 touchdown passes while rushing for 2,130 yards and 26 touchdowns with his standout game coming during a 28-27 loss to Mater Dei of Santa Ana. In that game, Tate rushed for 356 yards and two touchdowns.
WR/DB Tyler Vaughns (Bishop Amat, La Puente) 6-2, 175, Sr.
Like the L.A. Times, which put Vaughns on the defensive side of the ball for its honors team but only has one multi-purpose player, we just figured we had to find room on the first team for him. Vaughns did play some defense and did well, but it’s as a receiver that he was really special. The USC-bound talent finished the season with 84 catches for 1,319 yards and 13 TDs.