SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

The final two SoCal/NorCal Offensive Players of the Week are Jahmon McClendon (left) from Monte Vista of Spring Valley and John Torchio from Campolindo of Moraga. Photos: Tammy Ryan/EastCountySports.com & SportStarsMag.com.

For the second time this season for SoCal offense, we went with a CIF San Diego Section running back who makes the state record book with eight TDs. The NorCal offensive choice, meanwhile, is someone who has been torching foes all season long. In all, it’s a lineup representing Spring Valley, Santa Barbara, Moreno Valley, Moraga, Gilroy and Granite Bay.

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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 markjtennis@gmail.com. We only have one more week for these weekly honors in football. After that, we are switching to boys and girls basketball.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Jahmon McClendon
(Monte Vista, Spring Valley) Jr.

When veteran CIF San Diego Section head coach Ron Hamamoto needed his 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior running back to come up big, McClendon came up a lot bigger than his big frame.

Despite being sick and not eating anything all day, and cramping and at times looking like he might not be able to continue, McClendon not only finished the game but finished off host San Diego.

In a 71-48 barn burner that gave Monte Vista the San Diego Section Division IV title and third section championship in school history, McClendon rumbled for 383 yards on 31 carries with eight touchdowns.

McClendon scored on runs of 4, 42, 44, 32, 49, 23, 10 and 48 yards to set a TD record in title games and tie the all-time section record set earlier this year by previous honoree Dorian Richardson of Vista Rancho Buena Vista versus Santana of Santee. That’s a section record that doesn’t include years before the CIF San Diego Section existed.

The 71 points by Monte Vista set another title game record as did the combined 119 points. McClendon came up two yards short of the title-game rushing record, and his total doesn’t make the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book, but the eight TDs does and now McClendon joins Richardson as entries this year on the Most Touchdowns (Game) list.

The efforts of McClendon are a big reason Monte Vista is headed to Orange County on Saturday to face Anaheim Katella in the Southern California Division 5-A regional final.

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

Luis Santiago
(Rancho Verde, Moreno Valley) Sr.

In a wild affair that was tied 7-7 after the first quarter and 21-21 at the half, and had four lead changes and two ties in the second half, Santiago ended up the hero after an extra point the Mustangs’ sophomore kicker had blocked almost cost them the game in a 44-42 victory over host La Canada St. Francis in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 title game.

When Santiago had the PAT blocked with two minutes to go, his team took a 41-35 lead, but St. Francis marched 83 yards down the field and scored with under a minute left.

With little time remaining on the clock, Rancho Verde quarterback Brock White orchestrated his own drive that got the ball to the St. Francis 20. From there, head coach Jeff Steinberg sent Santiago in for a go-ahead field goal from 37 yards out and to the exuberance of the crowd in the visiting stands he split the uprights as time expired.

In a bit of a twist, it was sophomore quarterback White that was named the Press Enterprise SoCal Prep Legends Athlete of the Week, and rightfully so. Had we not honored a running back that rushed for eight TDs, White could have been the SoCal offensive pick this week. All he did was go 24 of 42 for 482 yards and four TDs of 94, 58, 35 and 64 yards to lead Rancho Verde to its first section title since 2011.

Rancho Verde’s title run also produced last week’s SoCal defensive honoree, junior linebacker Jalynd Hunt.

Ashton Borgeson has been a tackling machine for the last three years at Bishop Diego of Santa Barbara. Photo: Noozhawk.com.


Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Ashton Borgeson
(Bishop Diego, Santa Barbara)

For the first time this season, the Gold Coast is our destination for an award winner, and our honoree this week is not only by far the leading tackler on the Cardinals but the 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior is one of the leading tacklers in the state.

In a 37-6 victory over Golden Valley of Santa Clarita, the Cardinals’ middle linebacker was in double-digits in tackles for the 11th time this season in 12 games for 13-1 Bishop Diego and that includes two games he missed.

In the Golden Valley win, Borgeson was right on his average of 13 tackles per game and also had a sack. Even with the fewest games among the state leaders, he is still No. 5 in reported tackles with 156 including eight for loss. The sack gave him eight for the season.

Borgeson gets a chance to bolster his stats even more in a CIF Southern Regional Division 3-AA Bowl Game at Santa Barbara City College versus Quartz Hill that was re-scheduled from Friday to Saturday due to the Southern California wildfires.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

John Torchio
(Campolindo, Moraga) Sr.

It would make perfect sense to say the torch of Torchio has torched another opponent, so we will, because the 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior that moved from wide receiver to quarterback this season has done it again in a 42-7 victory over Livermore Granada in the North Coast Section Division II championship.

Even though Torchio didn’t create an inferno with his stats against Granada, they were formidable for a section title game.

Torchio was 20 of 29 passing for 280 yards and five TDs, and he rushed for 52 yards and a sixth score. In a 10-4 season where each loss was to tough non-league opponents like NCS D3 champion Marin Catholic and Rancho Cotate, as well as NCS Open Division fourth-seed and in league to Diablo Valley – Foothill champion Clayton Valley (Concord), and an Acalanes (Lafayette) team that bowed out in the D3 second round to Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland, Torchio has been consistently solid.

Going into a CIF Northern Regional Division 4-A home game with Milpitas on Saturday, Torchio has passed for 2,962 yards and 33 TDs with only eight interceptions for a 120.3 QB rating.

An interesting twist to Torchio is he has offers from Air Force, Army, Columbia, Dartmouth and San Diego that have been disclosed, but according to Campolindo head coach Kevin Macy schools are recruiting him just as much for safety as quarterback. Torchio is one of the Bay Area’s top pass defending safeties and is also a bruising tackler that forced and recovered a fumble in the Granada win. He leads the team and is second in the NCS with seven interceptions and is second on the team with 71 tackles. Torchio also punts and returns punts.

John’s dad is J Torchio, a former quarterback at Campolindo and also at Cal. We should admit that we’ve known Pops for more than 20 years because he was a college teammate and is a longtime friend of former Cal-Hi Sports publisher Andy Bark, who was our publisher from 1989 to 2008. John displayed great patience waiting for his senior season to become the team leader and so far he’s made the most of the opportunity.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Ethan Crawford
(Christopher, Gilroy) Sr.

If you’re not chosen for one of the three Open Division playoff brackets in the CIF Central Coast Section, and are placed in Division 4 or 5, you know going in you won’t be advancing to a CIF NorCal Bowl Game, but that doesn’t diminish the fact the winners in those two divisions are section champions and get to hang a banner in their respective gyms.

In a storybook season that saw Christopher rebound from a one-win 2016 season that also came one year after head coach Tim Pierleoni lost his wife and his four children lost their mother to cancer, Crawford helped his teammates, Pierleoni and the Christopher community that rallied around the coach, his family and his team in their time despair, achieve their ultimate goal.

In a 24-7 win over San Jose Leland that not only got Christopher to 11-2 but secured the CCS Division IV title, Crawford was key on defense. The 6-foot, 180-pound senior linebacker who also plays wide receiver and even occasionally runs the ball, had two interceptions he returned a total of 43 yards and he also had two pass deflections.

With the two picks, Crawford also finishes the season with eight interceptions. That’s one of the top totals in Northern California.

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

Brennan Holt
(Granite Bay) Sr.

The Grizzlies’ offense didn’t do a lot in the first half of an eventual 22-0 shutout of Del Oro (Loomis) in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title game, but they didn’t have to because the defense and the foot of Holt was more than enough to bolt Granite Bay to a 9-0 halftime lead.

The 5-foot-10, 155-pound senior kicker and punter was all the offense with his kicking and part of the defense with his punting on special teams.

His three first half field goals with a longest of 32 yards was all the scoring for Granite Bay, and he had some super punts as well. He punted four times in the game for a 38.8 yard average with two inside the 20-yard line.

On the season, Holt has made 10 of 12 field goal attempts, is 27 of 31 on PATS, and has punted 41 times for a 34.9 yard average with 13 inside the 20 and a longest of 50 yards.

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


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