SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s honorees are Jayden Daniels from Cajon of San Bernardino & Isaah Crocker from Inderkum of Sacramento. Photos: & James K. Leash/SportStars.

Possibly two of our six picks for this week also are getting added to the all-time state record book. Clark Phillips of La Habra is going in as a state record co-holder with three interception return TDs. Isaah Crocker from Inderkum of Sacramento may go in with a 99-yard missed field goal return TD. Others chosen are from San Bernardino, Lompoc, Sunnyvale and Corning.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate someone by 12 noon on most Mondays, email

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Jayden Daniels
(Cajon, San Bernardino) Jr.

The Cowboys are riding high after a 3-1 start, including a Citrus Belt League opening 39-7 victory last week over Redlands and a big part of it is due to the prowess of this 6-foot-3, 175-pound junior signal-caller.

Last week, Daniels came up huge but it wasn’t even his biggest passing output of the season. Against Redlands, the Cowboys quarterback was 29 for 37 for 455 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 88 yards and a fifth score. Three weeks ago, in a 49-46 win over Murrieta Valley of Murrieta, Daniels passed for 542 yards and six TDs and had 31 yards rushing.

For quarterbacks with only four games under their belts, Daniels is No. 3 in reported stats in the state with 1,448 yards and 17 TDS and behind previous 2017 Southern California Offensive Player of the Week honorees Brad Jeremiah of Christian (El Cajon) and Jonathon Martin of Culver City.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Clark Phillips III
(La Habra) Soph.

He’s only a sophomore, so he’ll likely get a lot more chances, but only a handful of players make the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book and Phillips has made it already.

Last week, in a 49-14 victory over Ontario Colony, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound cornerback had a dream game after he returned interceptions of 35, 42 and 60 yards for touchdowns. He also had three carries for 78 yards rushing and caught one pass.

The three interception returns for scores in a game ties for the most ever in California history, according to the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book. Phillips becomes the fifth player to accomplish the feat and the first since Darrius Vukobradovich (Grace Brethren, Simi Valley) did it in 2015 during a 61-7 win against San Pedro Mary Star of the Sea in the CIFSS East Valley Division playoffs. The first to have three interception return TDs in one game was Jim McClain of Tulelake in 1978. That record wasn’t matched until 1994 by Earl Kahanu of Patterson. It was tied for a third time in 2003 by Jared Billups from St. Bernard of Playa del Rey.

Phillips also is already beginning to collect interest from D1 colleges.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Special Teams Player of the Week

Johnny Manzo
(Lompoc) Sr.

They love their football in Lompoc and the Braves fans are very faithful so you can imagine the buzz around town with the team off to a 5-0 start and outscoring opponents 256-28.

Last week, in a 42-0 pounding of Righetti of Santa Maria, Manzo, a senior wide receiver and defensive back, tickled their fancy. For the second time this season he returned a punt for a touchdown, and he also has a kickoff return for a score earlier this season.

The punt return against Righetti was 46-yards and the one he scored on in a shellacking of Nipomo was 72 yards. In his only kickoff return this season, Manzo took it 68 yards to the house. Besides his three special teams TDs Manzo has rushed for two scores and has two more receiving.

Roman Stein was our preseason All-CCS quarterback. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Roman Stein
(Fremont, Sunnyvale) Sr.

It’s not a total surprise that this 6-foot-2, 180-pound quarterback has been putting up big numbers since despite coming from a bit of an obscure program in the Central Coast Section he did turn some few heads a few months ago at The Opening Oakland at El Sobrante De Anza.

Last week, in a 58-41 victory over Mountain View, Stein was mighty fine after going 18 of 30 for 434 yards passing with six touchdowns. He now has 1,514 yards and 16 TDs but he does have seven interceptions.

It was a third straight victory for the Firebirds and not surprisingly in the three wins Stein has had 13 TDs and only one pick.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Brandon Stewart
(Corning) Sr.

The town of Corning is well known for its olives but besides being a town of pits this versatile, multi-purpose star has made Corning a town of picks.

Last week, in a 36-14 Cardinals victory over Central Valley of Shasta Lake, Stewart gave them fits and made it the pits for the hosts’ wide receivers just like the Corning cornerback has done all season when he had two picks. That ties him for the reported state lead this season with six interceptions.

Against Central Valley, he also rushed once for 19 yards, returned a punt 32 yards and had three tackles.

On the season, besides the six interceptions for the 4-1 Cardinals, Stewart has two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble, making him part of nine defensive takeaways. Stewart also has 23 tackles in five games and he’s even hit the scoreboard when he returned a punt 68 yards for a TD in a win over Orland.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Special Teams Player of the Week

Isaah Crocker
(Inderkum, Sacramento) Sr.

We rarely have had back-to-back winners from the same school but even after Devon Ross was recognized last week for defense it was almost impossible to not recognize this 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior that got an invite to The Opening finals and who has a who’s who of college offers including Nebraska, Oregon, Alabama, Oregon State and UCLA at the top of the list.

Crocker was like a rocket in the Tigers’ 64-0 plastering of Woodland Pioneer but his biggest accomplishment was a 99-yard return for a score off of a missed field goal. We at first thought it was a 99-yard punt return but it turns out that was reported incorrectly to or by the Sacramento Bee. According to the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book, a 99-yard punt return would have put Crocker’s name into the book. We currently don’t have a category for longest missed field goal return and could start one with Crocker but just a hunch that somewhere, somebody has brought one of those missed field goals from deep in the end zone all the way out for a score.

The wide receiver and defensive back also caught 60-yard and 40-yard TD passes and had an interception on defense he returned 20 yards.

Another part of the reason Crocker got the nod is that we are about state record keeping and have been for over 40-years. A Gold Membership gives you access to the records section but as a tease we’ll tell you the longest punt return in our files is 103 yards in 1932 by Arnold Sallaberry of Chowchilla. Former NFL receiver Wesley Walker of Carson also is among the few who have had a 99-yard punt return score.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend

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