SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Murrieta Mesa quarterback Jeff Miller has helped his team reach CIF Southern Section Division 4 semifinals after strong showing in Southwest League against mostly D1 competition. Photo:

It gets harder to pick these honors each week as the playoffs roll on, but for offense it wasn’t difficult landing on Murrieta Mesa quarterback Jeff Miller from Southern California and Modesto Central Catholic running back Dauson Booker for NorCal. We also have our first honoree this week from a team that lost, but find out what kicker Nate Halsell did from Santa Maria St. Joseph. The other three choices are from Pittsburg, Rohnert Park and Westlake Village.

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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

Jeff Miller
(Murrieta Mesa, Murrieta) Sr.

Towson-committed Murrieta Mesa quarterback Miller has been coming up with huge performances in the greatest season in school history, and part of the reason he keeps coming up big is the 6-foot-6, 235-pound Rams’ signal-caller is a pretty big boy.

Last week, in a 54-20 victory over Glendora that gets the Rams to 9-3 and into the CIF Southern Section Division 4 semifinals on Friday night at San Bernardino Cajon, Miller passed for season and career highs of 508 yards and seven touchdowns.

Getting to the 500-yard mark earns Miller a spot in the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book on the Most Yards (Game) list for passing. The seven TDs are exceptional but it takes eight to make that record book list.

Miller has now passed for 3,455 yards and 37 TDs this season, and after seeing varsity action all four years of his high school career he now has passed for 5,720 yards and 58 touchdowns.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Miller’s favorite target, senior wide receiver Giovanni Sanders. He had nine catches for 337 yards and five TDs. The 337 yards actually gets Sanders a higher spot on that Most Yards (Game) list for receiving in the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book than Miller gets on the passing list.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Robert Fletcher
(Oaks Christian, Westlake Village) Sr.

The team’s second-leading receiver (35 catches, 463 yards) didn’t have a catch in the Lions’ 42-13 win over Huntington Beach Edison that propels them into the CIF Southern Section Division 2 semifinals at Upland on Friday night, but the work of Fletcher as a defensive back was directly responsible for three second half scores.

Holding a tenuous 7-6 halftime lead, the 6-foot-1, 197-pound Brown-bound student-athlete was the sparkplug for a 28-point third quarter that sealed the deal.

Miller’s first interception came on Edison’s first drive of the second half and led to a touchdown as did a punt he blocked. His second interception to open the fourth quarter led to a TD that took it from a one-point halftime lead to a running clock. Fletcher also had six tackles and three passes deflected.

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

Nate Halsell
(St. Joseph, Santa Maria) Jr.

Sometimes we honor a young man even when his team loses and that’s the case here as Halsell gets the SoCal special teams honor despite his team falling 55-30 to Paraclete of Lancaster in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 second round of the playoffs.

When the 6-foot-2, 200-pound two-sport star (soccer) puts his foot into the ball it’s almost like Halsell has shot the pigskin out of a Howitzer. When the Santa Maria Times reporter called his first field goal of the game “a chip shot” from 28-yards that gave St. Joseph a 10-7 lead, he certainly was not joking.

Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll may wish he had Halsell at his disposal last Monday night when his kicker’s 52-yard field goal attempt came up just short, because later in the Paraclete loss Halsell was asked to boot one from 58 yards and he split the uprights for what is the longest reported field goal in the state this season.

It takes a 56-yarder to make the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book Longest Field Goals (Yards) list so Halsell made it with two yards to spare.

It’s not like Halsell came out of the woodwork. This is his second 50-yarder of the season after he booted one 50 yards in a loss to Ventura St. Bonaventure. Hallsell also had a 47-yarder in a win over crosstown Pioneer Valley and a 43-yard boot in a win over Santa Ynez.

Imagine how Andrew Alfarro would have felt had he missed improbable game-winning field goal for Rancho Cotate in its crazy CIF North Coast Section playoff win against Eureka? Photo: Harold Abend.

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

Andrew Alfarro
(Rancho Cotate, Rohnert Park) Jr.

Senior quarterback Jake Simmons has been the big hero the past two seasons for Rancho Cotate, and he more than did his part by having a hand in all five Cougars’ TDs, but the real hero of the Rancho Cotate 38-35 victory over Eureka in the CIFNCS Division II quarterfinals was kicker Alfarro.

When the Cougars’ Brandon Slate recovered the ball after Alfarro had a 30-yard field goal attempt on third down blocked with 23.6 seconds remaining by a Eureka line that was surging all night on both sides of the line of scrimmage, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior got a second chance and he made the most of it by drilling a 42-yarder with 11.6 seconds left for the game winner.

“After it was blocked there was really nothing going through my head,” said Alfarro, who still seemed a bit stunned as his friends were mobbing him after the game. “But when coach said get back on the field and do it one more time that’s when I started to focus again.”

Focus may be a bit of an understatement. With perfect form, Alfarro hammered it and split the uprights right down the middle with a few yards to spare. It was the second-longest field goal of his career with a high of 44 yards. Alfarro was also perfect on all five PATs.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Dauson Booker
(Central Catholic, Modesto) Sr.

We don’t always go with high profile players for this feature since they already get a lot of props, but Booker did some real boogieing last Friday in a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II 42-18 victory over Rocklin.

The 6-foot-1, 199-pound running back/defensive back/kick returner actually qualified for all three categories this week but he’s being honored for leading the Central Catholic running attack on a night the Raiders only attempted four passes.

Of the Raiders’ 389 yards rushing and five TDs, Booker booked 226 yards and three of the scores, including a 74-yard run. Teammate Coleby Garrett had 111 yards and two TDs.

Booker also had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and on defense he had six tackles with one for loss and he batted down a pass.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Michael Pryor
(Pittsburg) Sr.

Defense was the name of the game in the Pirates’ 16-7 win over San Ramon Valley in the CIF North Coast Section Open Division semifinals and just like he’s done all season the 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end delivered.

The San Ramon Valley defense had a tough time prying Pryor away from quarterback Clark Baker or keeping him out of the backfield period. Of Pryor’s seven tackles, five were for losses and he had two sacks, and it wasn’t against a stiff. Pittsburg came into the game at No. 13 in the Cal-Hi Sports rankings and the offense it held to 2 yards rushing with four total sacks of Baker was from previous the No. 39 and current No. 44 ranked Wolverines.

So far this season going into a showdown in two weeks with De La Salle, Pryor has 18 tackles for loss of his 46 total tackles with 5.5 sacks and 21 hurries.

Pryor will need to be on fire in two weeks when the Pirates meet De La Salle for the NCS Open Division title. Pittsburg was the last team north of Fresno to beat De La Salle when the Pirates turned the trick in the 1991 NCS 3A title game.

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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