With De La Salle of Concord having the distinction of two former players on the Atlanta Falcons’ roster and with San Mateo Serra’s Tom Brady once again leading the New England Patriots, California once again ranks at the top among all states this season with 14 grads in this year’s Super Bowl.
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CALIFORNIA SUPER BOWL ALUMNI 2017
(All players listed in alphabetical order)
QB Tom Brady (Serra, San Mateo)
This is Brady’s all-time best seventh Super Bowl appearance (regardless of position) and he of course could break a tie with Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw to become the first QB to lead a team to five Super Bowl wins. He’s already been an MVP three times and Serra also is one of only three schools in the nation to have had more than one grad earn MVP honors in the game. Serra’s other was Lynn Swann of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The other two schools are the one is Louisiana where both Eli and Peyton Manning are from and San Diego’s Lincoln High for Marcus Allen and Terrance Davis.
Granite Hills has had at least one player in the World Series (Shane Spencer) and is the school of seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. Now the Eagles get Cardona in the Super Bowl. The Patriots’ long-snapper also is one of just two current NFL players who also are active in U.S. Armed Forces. He is a Naval officer.
OL Chris Chester (Tustin)
He’s from the same school as recently retired NFL lineman Sam Baker and running back DeShawn Foster, who played in the 2004 Super Bowl for the Carolina Panthers. Chester, who plays offensive guard for the Falcons, actually was a running back for the Tillers who had 815 yards rushing in his senior season.
DB Patrick Chung (Rancho Cucamonga)
It’s been a great year for Rancho Cucamonga, which had perhaps its best team ever this season with a final No. 7 overall state ranking. Now, the Cougars have an alum in the Super Bowl. It’s not the first time for Chung, of course, since he’s been a mainstay of the Patriots’ defense for several seasons.
WR Julian Edelman (Woodside)
A favorite target of Tom Brady’s and also from San Mateo County, Edelman caught the go-ahead TD for the Patriots two years ago with 2:02 left in their 28-24 win over Seattle in the Super Bowl. He was one of those extremely versatile players you hear about from time to time at Woodside where he was a quarterback for a 13-0 team in 2004. Edelman also showed he could play WR, DB, RB and return kicks.
DB Dashon Goldson (Narbonne, Harbor City)
Four years ago, Goldson played in his first Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers and now returns for the Falcons with a stop in Washington in-between. He’s the second Narbonne player to make it to the Super Bowl. The first was tight end Brandon Manumaluena of the St. Louis Rams in 2002.
TE Austin Hooper (De La Salle, Concord)
The rookie tight end out of Stanford had some big third-down catches early on in Atlanta’s win over Green Bay in the NFC championship. At DLS in the veer offense, he naturally didn’t catch many passes and was more effective as a defensive end. He was a pass rushing beast in the 2012 CIF NorCal Open Division title game against unbeaten Folsom and its sophomore phenom QB Jake Browning.
OL Andy Levitre (San Lorenzo Valley, Felton)
We actually recall seeing Andy’s last high school game in the CCS playoffs in a 2003 matchup against Palma of Salinas. There were family reasons why that game in Gilroy was attended, but he impressed as a lineman and was named to one of our all-state teams. He joined the Falcons this season after four years with the Buffalo Bills and three with the Tennessee Titans. He played collegiately at Oregon State.
OL Alex Mack (San Marcos, Santa Barbara)
His free-agent signing by the Falcons has been seen a major reason for the team’s huge improvement since last season. He came from the Cleveland Browns and had been named to three Pro Bowls for his play at the center position. Mack went to Cal after starring in wrestling and football at San Marcos. He was the team’s Co-MVP on defense and went to the CIF state meet finals in wrestling as a senior.
TE Joshua Perkins (Gahr, Cerritos)
Here’s one of the most inspirational players in this year’s game since Perkins was undrafted after his collegiate career at Washington. The Falcons’ tight end played alongside Detroit Lions receiver Dwayne Washington on one of those Gahr teams from a few years ago that threw the ball all over the yard.
DB Jordan Richards (Folsom)
The era of great teams led by head coach Kris Richardson at Folsom (where he was joined by great friend Troy Taylor as a co-coach from 2011 to 2015) gets its first player to the Super Bowl, but we have a feeling it won’t be the last. Richards was the 2010 team’s top defensive back and also shined as a running back. That also was the team led by Mr. Football State Player of the Year Dano Graves that won the CIF Division II state title over Serra of Gardena. Richards then went to Stanford where he was an All-Pac12 player in the secondary and then was drafted two years ago by the Patriots.
WR Matthew Slater (Servite, Anaheim)
A teammate at Servite with Ryan Kalil, who played in last year’s Super Bowl for the Carolina Panthers, Slater has become one of the best special teams players in NFL history. He’s a six-time Pro Bowl pick because he does what he does so well, which is cover kicks and punts and block for returners. Slater still holds Servite sprinting records in track. He clocked 10.62 in finishing second in the 100 at the CIF state track meet.
TE Levine Toilolo (Helix, La Mesa)
One of an amazing three tight ends for the Falcons who are from California, Toilolo is one of the tallest players in the NFL at 6-foot-8. He is the third from Helix to appear in the Super Bowl. The first was Bruce Walton of the Dallas Cowboys in 1976. Bruce is the brother of legendary basketball player Bill Walton (also Helix). Reggie Bush of the 2010 Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints was the second.
RB Terron Ward (De La Salle, Concord)
We’re still waiting to hear if two brothers have ever won back-to-back Super Bowl rings, but Terron and older brother T.J. have a chance to do just that. T.J. Ward, of course, was a defensive back on last year’s winning team from Denver. Terron, who led DLS to its 2009 CIF State Open Division bowl win over Crenshaw of Los Angeles, also could become the fifth former Spartan with a Super Bowl team win. His Falcons’ teammate, Austin Hooper, would be the fourth. In addition to T.J., Aaron Taylor of the Green Bay Packers (1997) and Amani Toomer of the New York Giants (2003) also have been on world championship squads. Patriots’ backup QB Matt Gutierrez (2008) was on a Super Bowl roster, but his team didn’t win.
More Fun Facts: Neither of this year’s two head coaches, Bill Belichick of the Patriots or Dan Quinn of the Falcons, is from California. That does break a four-year streak of there being at least one of the two from the Golden State — 2013 Jim Harbaugh (Palo Alto), 2014 Pete Carroll (Larkspur Redwood), 2015 Pete Carroll & 2016 Ron Rivera (Seaside)….
California’s total of 14 this year edges the total of 13 for both Texas and Florida. California also was first last year but with only 12. In 2015, there were a whopping 22 from the Golden State (again more than any other state), but that doesn’t break the record of 25 set in 1995 by the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers and tied in 2008 by the Patriots and New York Giants.
Stockton office assistant editor Paul Muyskens contributed to this post. Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports