Yes, we know one of these players already has been honored as the Gatorade National Player of the Year. But it’s still an honor in and of itself to be considered a finalist to be Mr. Football for the state of California and for the 2017 season we are going with five. Two have the same last name and two are from the same team. Look for the winner to be named in approximately two weeks.
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Congratulations to the following five players who have been chosen as finalists for the 2017 Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Football State Player of the Year honor. This is the only state football honor that has more than 100 years of history attached to it. Last year’s winner was St. John Bosco of Bellflower offensive lineman Wyatt Davis.
We’re not sure what kind of fan vote on Twitter we’re going to do this year with just five and not six finalists but it will be something.
(All players listed in alphabetical order)
Kazmeir Allen (Tulare) Sr.
A projected three-headed stat monster at Tulare with Allen at running back, Emoryie Edwards at receiver and Nathan Lamb at quarterback became a one-headed monster with Allen putting up astronomical totals. A running back who had committed to Boise State but who signed with UCLA after new Bruins’ head coach Chip Kelly made a concerted effort to land him, Allen already had broken the all-time state scoring record by the end of the regular season. His final total of 72 touchdowns broke the previous state record of 64 set in 2000 by Tyler Ebell of Ventura by eight and it also set a new national single-season record. Allen also ended with 3,336 yards rushing. Breaking down his TDs, he had 62 rushing plus nine on receptions (he had 29 catches for 833 yards) and a 99-yard kickoff return. Tulare won the CIF Central Section Division II title but finished 13-1 after a loss to Serra of San Mateo in the D2-AA NorCal regional final.
Jayden Daniels (Cajon, San Bernardino) Jr.
When Jayden was starting for the Cajon varsity as a freshman, the fun of him having the same last name as Mater Dei’s Daniels was already beginning. Of course, there’s a big difference in competition faced, but Jayden Daniels turned in the type of season that puts him in the conversation for Mr. Football. Although the Cowboys didn’t win the CIF D2-AA state title, Daniels himself still accounted well for himself. It’s his overall season totals, however, that are so eye-popping. Jayden passed for 5,139 yards and 62 TDs, two totals that are in the top six all-time in state history. But it’s the addition of his rushing yards (1,292) and his rushing TDs (15) that makes Daniels’ season so special. When combined, he set a state record for total offense at 6,431 yards and he had 77 total offense TDs. In fact, no other player in California history has even had a 6,000-yard total offense season.
JT Daniels (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Jr.
A finalist from last year and also the 2016-17 State Sophomore Athlete of the Year, JT essentially improved himself in all facets of his game (running, leadership, etc) so that the Monarchs had a college-level quarterback leading them. Daniels passed for 4,123 yards with 52 TDs and just four interceptions. He also rushed for 556 yards and nine more scores. With a similar season next year as a senior, Daniels has a chance to break the Cal-Hi Sports state career yardage record set in 2014 by Folsom’s Jake Browning (16,775) although it may be hard for him to reach Browning’s state and national record of 229 career TD passes. Earlier this week, the USC commit was presented with the Gatorade National Player of the Year trophy. There have been a few times when the Mr. Football State POY, however, was not the same as Gatorade’s national winner, including once with a Mater Dei QB (Matt Barkley’s junior season).
Joe Ngata (Folsom) Jr.
He’s the most talented, big-time prospect from a Bulldogs’ squad that went 16-0 and won the CIF Division 1-AA state championship. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder, who seems to cover five yards with every one of his long strides, more than held his own against the highly touted secondary from Helix of La Mesa in the state final with five catches for 98 yards and one TD. For the season, Ngata had 81 catches for 1,777 yards and 26 TDs. But he did more than just catch passes. Ngata also ran nine times for 150 yards and one TD, scored on a 99-yard kickoff return and averaged 38 yards as a punter.
Amon-Ra St. Brown (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Sr.
We’ve been doing Mr. Football State POY finalists in this format for almost 10 years and in that time have not had two finalists from one team. St. Brown joins teammate JT Daniels as a finalist this year for several reasons. First, the two play different positions. But even with being a receiver, St. Brown did more for the 15-0 Monarchs than just catch passes. He also returned punts. And as a college prospect from the Class of 2018, St. Brown has been on the top of more than one ranking of California’s best players by the various recruiting services. St. Brown also was just last week chosen as the Trinity League MVP, an honor which it can be assumed could have gone to Daniels. Despite missing games early in the season with a finger injury, St. Brown had 72 catches for 1,320 yards and 20 TDs for the Monarchs. He also returned two punts for touchdowns. Last year as a junior, St. Brown had 60 catches for 1,229 yards and 21 TDs.