Check inside this post for the honorees who have been chosen among juniors, sophomores, medium schools, small schools and for those who play defense. We tried, but couldn’t get any from Northern California for this season.
To see who has been named Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Football State Player of the Year, CLICK HERE.
For a list of our all-time players of the year for juniors, sophomores, medium schools and small schools, CLICK HERE.
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Congratulations to the following additional Cal-Hi Sports State Players of the Year for the 2017 football season (joining our overall honoree, JT Daniels from Mater Dei of Santa Ana):
STATE JUNIOR OF THE YEAR:
JOE NGATA (FOLSOM)
Before JT Daniels reclassified from junior to senior, we didn’t think we would be choosing anyone in this category other than just rubber-stamping our Mr. Football State POY. Instead, Daniels opened it back up for us and that forced a close call between the other two juniors who were considered among the five finalists for Mr. Football.
Ngata displayed a unique set of skills for the CIF Division 1-AA state champions and edged Jayden Daniels from Cajon of San Bernardino for this honor. Although Ngata didn’t set a state record like Daniels did (he broke the record for total offense yards with 6,4xxx and in fact became the only player in state history to go past the 6,000-yard mark), he was on a 16-0 team in the second highest division in the state. Cajon lost in the CIF D2-AA state final to Serra of San Mateo.
“I thought all along that Ngata was the best player arguably in all of California, and definitely in this section,” Folsom coach Kris Richardson told the Sacramento Bee when it named Ngata as its Metro Player of the Year. He’s also already been selected by NorCal Preps as its Player of the Year.
Ngata, who added an offer from Clemson earlier this week to the many he already has, caught 81 passes for 1,777 yards and 26 TDs for the 16-0 Bulldogs. He also had an 80-yard TD run on a reverse that broke open a league game vs. Granite Bay, broke loose for a 99-yard kickoff return TD to highlight his return game and he averaged 38 yards as the punter.
Folsom QB Kaiden Bennett, another junior on the team, had more than 4,000 yards passing and more than 1,000 yards rushing and you’d have to say would be another Mr. Football candidate for next year off of the squad. Joe is the older brother of Folsom standout sophomore running back Daniyel Ngata and is the younger brother of University of Washington linebacker Ariel Ngata.
The last from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section to be chosen as State Junior of the Year was current Carolina Panthers’ linebacker Shaq Thompson from Grant of Sacramento in 2010. Folsom QB Jake Browning wasn’t the State Junior of the Year in 2013 (he was Mr. Football, however, in 2014) because for that year we chose St. John Bosco’s Josh Rosen.
STATE SOPHOMORE OF THE YEAR:
D.J. UIGALELEI (ST. JOHN BOSCO, BELLFLOWER)
It was thought at the beginning of the season that D.J. would still be biding his time to be the starter for the Braves behind returning senior Re-al Mitchell. By the time St. John Bosco was getting ready for its Trinity League opener, however, Uigalelei had taken over. He first showed what he could do by rallying the Braves for a win on the road at St. John’s of Washington, D.C.
Despite only playing in 12 games, Uigalelei still wound up with 2,905 yards passing and 31 TDs plus another 379 yards of rushing and four more scores. He also did plenty to earn the top state sophomore honor. Two others strongly considered were running back Kendall Milton from Buchanan of Clovis and quarterback Bryce Young from Cathedral of Los Angeles. Since the end of the season, Young and transferred to Mater Dei (presumably to become the starter there after JT Daniels’ departure) so there may be two years of Uigalelei vs. Young matchups in upcoming Bosco-MD games.
Uigalelei becomes the second player ever from Bosco to be State Sophomore of the Year. The first was running back Sean McGrew after the school’s legendary 2013 team finished 16-0.
Playing among the same quarterback brethren that is led by current Tennessee Titan Marcus Mariotta and includes Alabama sensation Tua Tagovailoa, Uigalelei has displayed major college D1 talent from a very early age. Even before he took over as the Bosco starter this season, D.J. had been collecting offers even as a ninth grader. Among those currently showing on his list are USC, Alababama, Arizona State and BYU.
Some of Uigalelei’s top outings came in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs, including 374 yards passing and four TDs vs. Rancho Cucamonga and 273 yards and three scores vs. Corona Centennial. In the Trinity League, his top outing was 405 yards passing and two TDs vs. Santa Margarita.
STATE MEDIUM SCHOOLS PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
KAZMEIR ALLEN (TULARE)
If we had to say who should be considered the runner-up to Mater Dei’s JT Daniels as the Mr. Football State Player of the Year for 2017, Tulare’s Allen would be that player. That’s what scoring 72 touchdowns can do for you.
When Ventura’s Tyler Ebell set the previous state record and also broke the national record with 64 touchdowns scored during a 14-0 season in 2000, he just about had to be Mr. Football as well. In those days, though, there were no state bowl games. With the bowl games, the difference is that Allen wasn’t able to lead an unbeaten team. Still, he comfortably broke Ebell’s state record and also set a new national record.
The other similarity to Ebell is that Allen is going to UCLA as well. The Tulare phenom had been committed to Boise State, but switched to the Bruins after talking to new head coach Chip Kelly.
The only complication in choosing Allen for this honor is the designation of Tulare as “medium schools.” Although the Tribe lost to San Mateo Serra in the CIF NorCal D2-AA final, they were not in the top division of the CIF Central Section playoffs. We have had Central Section D2 schools considered “medium” before and went that way again in part so that Allen could get a statewide honor.
In addition to scoring 72 times, Allen also rushed for 3,336 yards to lead the state and rank third in the nation. He also caught 29 passes for 833 yards and scored on a 99-yard kickoff return.
For pure speed, Allen has to be one the fastest backs in the nation. It’s not so much his 40 speed, but on the track he was one of the top 100-meter sprinters in the state as a junior. Some of the best games Kazmeir had this season included: 30 carries for 335 yards and seven TDs vs. Dinuba, 11 carries for 297 yards and six TDs vs. Porterville, 28 carries for 310 yards and five TDs vs. Tulare Western in a matchup of 9-0 teams and 31 carries for 434 yards and eight TDs in a playoff game vs. Sunnyside of Fresno.
Allen becomes the first State Medium Schools Player of the Year from the CIF Central Section since Garrett Steele of Kingsburg in 2010. Tulare has never had an honoree in this category, but the school’s Milk Can rival, Lemoore, had David Ausberry in the same category in 2005.
STATE SMALL SCHOOLS PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
JOSEPH GARCIA (STRATHMORE)
The CIF Central Section scores another major player of the year honor with Strathmore’s Garcia landing on top in the small schools designation. This is the third time in the last seven years that the Small Schools State POY is from the Central Section. The other two were Edgar Segura of Mendota (2013) and Deontay Greenberry of Easton Washington (2011). The player chosen in between those two for 2012 was QB Jared Goff (Kentfield Marin Catholic).
Strathmore is clearly a “small” school with its small town enrollment, but that didn’t prevent the Spartans from winning the CIF Division 6-AA state title and finishing 16-0. Garcia was sensational in both of the team’s last two wins. He had 44 carries for 270 yards and five TDs against St. Patrick/St. Vincent of Vallejo in the NorCal final that also avenged a loss to the Bruins in the 2016 D6-A state final. Garcia then had 40 carries for 223 yards and four TDs against Orange in the state final.
There were a few players from schools that previously were considered “small” school that are now “medium” that might have been Small Schools POY. The list includes running back Branden Rankins of San Bernardino Aquinas. That school, however, was in the CIF D2-A state games, which is just too high for “small” no matter the enrollment.
For the season, Garcia put up great totals and not just on offense. He had 2,849 yards and 49 TDs rushing and caught 18 passes for 289 yards and three more scores. Garcia also had 79 tackles on defense with 11 for loss and seven sacks. Defensively, he also had two interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
Garcia played on the Strathmore varsity all four years, but didn’t really crank up the numbers until his junior season. Regardless, he finishes among the all-time state leaders in career scoring with 112 touchdowns to go with 6,250 career rushing yards.
STATE DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
KAYVON THIBODEAUX (OAKS CHRISTIAN, WESTLAKE VILLAGE)
This is the fourth time we’ve handed out this defensive honor and it’s the first time it has gone to a junior. An all-time list was created after the honor was, but the first three honorees have been Iman Marshall of Long Beach Poly, Oluwole Betiku of Gardena Serra and Jaelen Phillips last year of Redlands East Valley. They were all seniors at the time.
Thibodeaux, considered the No. 1 prospect in the nation by many from the Class of 2019, made a huge impact at Oaks Christian after transferring in from Dorsey of Los Angeles, which is where he played as a sophomore.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound defensive end racked up 20 sacks with 99 tackles (70 solo) and 28 tackles for loss. Thibodeaux had four sacks in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 title game and helped limit Valencia in a 20-19 victory for the Lions. Entering that game, the Vikings were averaging 55 points per game.
Thibodeaux also contributed to the offense. He lined up at tight end close to the goal line and finished with nine catches for 134 yards and three TDs.
In honors that have already been announced, Thibodeaux has been chosen as the Los Angeles Daily News Player of the Year and the Ventura County Star Defensive Player of the Year. He has 26 D1 offers, including those from LSU, USC, Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida, Notre Dame and Stanford.
Thanks to Stockton office assistant editor Paul Muyskens for contributing to this post. Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports