All-State Football: Medium Schools

Two of the state’s top RBs the past two seasons have been C.J. Verdell of Chula Vista Mater Dei Catholic & Tyler Nevens of Hacienda Heights Los Altos. Photos: &

How to get numerous area player of the year running backs onto these teams was a major challenge, which is why we went with four on the first team and basically put two others onto multi-purpose. Calabasas, which lost to Madison of San Diego (considered large schools) in the CIF Division 2-AA SoCal final, leads the way among these teams with three selections.

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There were four major area player of the year running backs we really wanted to get picked onto this year’s Cal-Hi Sports Medium Schools All-State football teams. The problem was that neither of those four was state leading rusher Eric Melesio from Norte Vista of Riverside.

Melesio, who clearly would have broken the single-season state record if Norte Vista had been able to get a 15th game but didn’t due to an overtime loss to San Gorgonio of San Bernardino in the CIF Southern Section Division 7 title game, piled up a hard-to-believe 4,459 yards in 14 games and scored 56 touchdowns. According to our own Cal-Hi Sports state records, he fell short of the record total of 4,495 set in 2000 by Tyler Ebell of Ventura. Melesio also fell short of being the Riverside Press-Enterprise Offensive Player of the Year in a close vote to junior receiving sensation Marquis Spiker of Murrieta Valley, but still was a no-brainer for us to choose on our all-state medium schools first team.

The other player of the year running backs that were pushing for first team slots and wound up getting them included C.J. Verdell of Chula Vista Mater Dei Catholic (San Diego Section), Tyler Nevens of Hacienda Heights Los Altos (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) and Will Semone of Oakdale (Modesto Bee). Two other running backs that were too hard to ignore were Stephen Carr of Fontana Summit (one of nation’s highest-ranked at the position by college recruiters and headed to USC) and Bobby Cole of Chatsworth Sierra Canyon (rushed for 220 yards in CIF Division 2-A state final for winning team).

What we ended up doing was going with four of them on first team offense — Melesio, Verdell, Semone and Cole — and went with two others who did enough catching passes and/or returning kicks — Nevens and Carr — that we could put them on first team multi-purpose. With all of those running backs, the only first-team medium schools receiver ended up being junior Jalen Hall of Los Angeles Hawkins.

Cole was joined on the first team by Sierra Canyon offensive line teammate Kanan Ray, who is headed to UCLA.

Calabasas, which lost to San Diego Madison (considered large schools) in the CIF SoCal Division 2-AA final, also placed two on the first team with QB Tristan Gebbia and DB Darnay Holmes. Gebbia previously has been announced as the Medium Schools State Player of the Year. Holmes was the State Sophomore of the Year two seasons ago when he played at Newbury Park. Both of those players also obviously will be strongly considered for the super elite All-State teams for all divisions combined (still to be released). The Coyotes also had a third player honored with junior Reggie Hughes landing on the second team for defense.

Los Altos was the third school that had two first-team picks. In addition to Nevens on multi-purpose, three-year Conquerors’ punting standout Hunter White was named to the first team as the punter.

Note: Schools broken down into large, medium and small in most cases based on section playoff divisions but also on where they’ve been traditionally. We also will not generally consider a school with 2,000 enrollment or more small school at all no matter what section playoff division that school is placed. We therefore probably have more medium schools than we have had before.

Cal-Hi Sports All-State Football
Medium Schools

Sierra Canyon running back Bobby Cole already has been named Offensive Player of the Year by the L.A. Daily News. Photo: Paul Muyskens.

WR – Jalen Hall (Hawkins, Los Angeles) 6-3, 195, Jr.
OL – Aaron Banks (El Cerrito) 6-7, 315, Sr.
OL – Drew Dalman (Palma, Salinas) 6-4, 270, Sr.
OL – Kanan Ray (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) 6-4, 280, Sr.
OL – Alijah Vera-Tucker (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) 6-5, 290, Sr.
OL – Andrew Voorhees (Kingsburg) 6-6, 295, Sr.
QB – Tristan Gebbia (Calabasas) 6-3, 190, Sr.
RB – Bobby Cole (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) 5-9, 190, Sr.
RB – Eric Melesio (Norte Vista, Riverside) 5-9, 175, Sr.
RB – Will Semone (Oakdale) 5-10, 180, Sr.
RB – C.J. Verdell (Mater Dei Catholic, Chula Vista) 6-1, 190, Sr.
PK – Clay Eggeman (Capistrano Valley, Mission Viejo) 5-11, 165, Sr.

DL – Martin Andrus (Los Angeles) 6-1, 280, Sr.
DL – Brandon Gooding (Ventura) 6-4, 235, Sr.
DL – Sebastian Olver (Marin Catholic, Kentfield) 6-5, 250, Sr.
LB – Dondre Baker (Rio Mesa, Oxnard) 6-1, 225, Sr.
LB – Montell Bland (Central Catholic, Modesto) 6-1, 215, Sr.
LB – K.J. Latu (Paraclete, Lancaster) 5-11, 215, Sr.
DB – Darnay Holmes (Calabasas) 5-10, 190, Sr.
DB – Greg Johnson (Hawkins, Los Angeles) 5-11, 190, Sr.
DB – Deommodre Lenoir (Salesian, Los Angeles) 5-11, 190, Sr.
DB – Devin Lloyd (Otay Ranch, Chula Vista) 6-4, 210, Sr.
DB – Daniel Scott (St. Francis, La Canada) 6-3, 195, Sr.
P – Hunter White (Los Altos, Hacienda Heights) 5-11, 170, Sr.

Corona del Mar’s Chase Garbers throws during one of last summer’s Elite 11 quarterback events. He will play next at Cal. Photo: Tom Hauck/

QB/RB – Jordon Brookshire (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) 6-0, 200, Sr.
RB/KR – Stephen Carr (Summit, Fontana) 6-0, 200, Sr.
WR/DB – Brian Casteel (Charter Oak, Covina) 6-2, 185, Sr.
QB/RB – Chase Garbers (Corona del Mar, Newport Beach) 6-3, 215, Sr.
QB/RB/DB – Kaleb Hayes (San Gorgonio, San Bernardino) 6-1, 180, Sr.
RB/KR – Tyler Nevens (Los Altos, Hacienda Heights) 5-11, 185, Sr.

WR – Cutrell Haywood (Stagg, Stockton) 6-2, 175, Sr.
TE – Moses Robinson-Carr (Antelope Valley, Lancaster) 6-5, 225, Sr.
OL – Peselao Gauta (Garden Grove) 6-5, 280, Jr.
OL – Dominic Gudino (Olympian, Chula Vista) 6-2, 300, Sr.
OL – Stanton Manumaluena (Norte Vista, Riverside) 6-1, 285, Sr.
OL – Tyson Pauling (Silverado, Victor Valley) 6-5, 330, Sr.
OL – Chantz Russell (Marin Catholic, Kentfield) 6-6, 275, Sr.
QB – Jack Newman (Analy, Sebastopol) 6-1, 180, Sr.
RB – Chance Bell (Burroughs, Burbank) 5-10, 180, Sr.
RB – Nick Calzaretta (Redwood, Larkspur) 5-11, 200, Sr.
RB – Emilio Martinez (Palma, Salinas) 5-11, 185, Sr.
PK – Trey Miller (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) 6-1, 170, Sr.

WR Cutrell Haywood of Stockton Stagg is one player who is benefitting from a school being reclassified medium from large. Haywood led the state in receiving yardage during the regular season. Photo: Calixtro Romias/Stockton Record.

DL – Joey Berzins (Campolindo, Moraga) 6-3, 240, Sr.
DL – Kadence Jackson (Mission Bay, San Diego) 6-3, 275, Sr.
DL – Wallace Tagata (Channel Islands, Oxnard) 6-3, 220, Sr.
LB – Pika Fakava (San Gorgonio, San Bernardno) 5-11, 220, Sr.
LB – Reggie Hughes (Calabasas) 6-2, 210, Jr.
LB – Rahyme Johnson (Salesian, Los Angeles) 6-4, 210, Sr.
LB – Dillon Keefe (El Modena, Orange) 6-1, 190, Sr.
DB – Elijah Blades (Muir, Pasadena) 6-2, 170, Sr.
DB – Damon Cole (El Cerrito) 6-1, 170, Sr.
DB – Waylon Free (Lynwood) 6-3, 180, Sr.
DB – Zane Pope (Moorpark) 6-2, 185, Sr.
P – Alex Pourdanesh (University, Irvine) 6-2, 225, Jr.

DB/KR – DaRon Bland (Central Catholic, Modesto) 6-1, 175, Sr.
QB/RB – Kaymen Cureton (Leuzinger, Lawndale) 6-2, 200, Sr.
QB/ATH – Kyle Lindquist (Pleasant Valley, Chico) 6-5, 200, Sr.
RB/KR/WR – Jordan Mims (Menlo-Atherton, Atherton) 6-0, 190, Sr.
TE/LB – Daniel Moraga (Pacifica, Oxnard) 6-4, 215, Sr.
RB/LB – Toa Taua (Lompoc) 5-10, 2015, Jr.

Notes: In addition to Tristan Gebbia as Medium Schools State Player of the Year, also already announced earlier was Trent Merzon of Oakdale as Medium Schools State Coach of the Year.

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

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