NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s NorCal/SoCal Players of Week are Michael Kamps of Ripon Christian & Caine Savage from Western of Anaheim. Photos: Andy Alfaro / The Modesto Bee &

For the first time we believe in the four years we’ve been doing NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week we have two of them who are brothers. This because it was possible this week for us to honor Caine Savage from Western of Anaheim for SoCal offense and his twin brother, Cassius, for SoCal special teams. Go inside to see how many more TD catches Caine needs to tie single-season state record. Other honorees this week are from Ripon, Rohnert Park, Atherton and San Diego.

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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 Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Michael Kamps
(Ripon Christian, Ripon) Sr.

We go just north of Modesto to a school that in the past has been known as a basketball school with the boys winning three and the girls winning two CIF Division V state championships, but it’s been over 20 years since the Knights snagged a state title, and now the football team is in a position to win a section championship and Kamps has been a huge reason the team is 12-0 heading into a title game showdown with Hilmar this Friday night for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI title.

Last week, in a 25-13 win on the road for the fourth-seeded Knights at top-seeded Modesto Christian, Kamps was instrumental in the win on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and the result is his performance earns the 5-foot-11, 183-pound senior the NorCal Offensive Player of the Week honor.

At running back, Kamps had another routine day at the office after rushing for 152 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown. He also had an 18-yard TD reception. On defense, from his linebacker position he had eight tackles, an interception and he batted down three passes.

So far this season, Kamps has 1,585 yards rushing with 28 TDs and he has 365 yards receiving with eight additional scores. On defense, Kamps has 54 tackles with five for loss, 2.5 sacks, two pass interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

A bit of a twist is that with Ripon Christian winning the Division VI Southern League, the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoff rules move a team up for the playoffs to the division of the league. Hence, Ripon Christian, a Division VII school, is playing for a D6 championship which would make the victory even more impressive if Kamps and his teammates can pull it off and move on to a CIF NorCal regional bowl game.

Elias Rantissi has been racking up huge tackle totals for Rancho Cotate for three years. Photo: Harold Abend.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Elias Rantissi
(Rancho Cotate, Rohnert Park) Sr.

When we were tagged on Twitter in a Tweet that talked about some astronomical tackling numbers in a 42-7 Rancho Cotate victory over American Canyon in the CIF North Coast Section Division II quarterfinals, we contacted Cougars head coach Gehrig Hotaling to get some confirmation and what he sent us was a copy of the stat sheet his coaches use to record defensive statistics.

We were familiar with Rantissi since this is not the first time his numbers have been recognized as he’s been written up as a State Stat Star of the Week, but this time his and the rest of the team’s tackling numbers were off the charts.

Rantissi has had some huge games this season, but against an American Canyon team that runs the ball eight times for every pass it attempts, he and his teammates feasted on the Wolves’ pitch running game and the season high 20 tackles the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Rantissi put up made him a very solid choice as the NorCal defensive honoree.

Besides the 20 tackles, Rantissi also had a pass interception from his linebacker position. So far this season on defense, and when he’s not snapping the ball as the Rancho Cotate center, Rantissi has an NCS leading 158 tackles (13.16 per game) for the 11-1 Cougars, with 4.0 sacks, the one interception and a fumble recovery.

Elias would want us to give a shout out to his tackling crazy teammates. Senior Riley Cronin, who put out the original Tweet, was one of five Cougars defenders with double-digit tackles against American Canyon with 18, junior Tai Peleti had 17 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery, sophomore Mihalis Santorineos had 17 tackles, and senior Conor Barbato had 13 tackles.

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

Anthony Walker
(Menlo-Atherton, Atherton) Sr.

To say that the foot of Walker heated up at the right time would be a bit of an understatement. Because of his kicking prowess, the past two weeks the Bears’ placekicker has been named this week’s Northern California Special Teams Player of the Week.

Last week, in a 17-7 victory by the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division 1 second-seed over Palo Alto in the semifinals, the 5-foot-11 senior kicker had a 47-yard field goal and was 2-for-2 on point after touchdowns. Walker also kicked off four times with two going for touchbacks.

The previous week, in a 45-28 victory over Milpitas, Walker booted a 45-yard field goal and was 6-for-6 on PATs.

So far this season for the 11-2 Bears and heading into the CIFCCS Open 1 title game matchup with Wilcox of Santa Clara, Walker is 4-of-5 on field goal attempts, 46-for-48 on PATs, and on 64 kickoffs he has 24 touchbacks.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Caine Savage
(Western, Anaheim) Jr.

In all the years of doing this feature we have had brothers from the same school that have won a weekly award in the same season, but this is a first as we have brothers winning in the same week. Caine snags the SoCal offensive honor while his twin Cassius takes home the special teams award.

Last week, in a 49-21 CIF Southern Section Division 11 title-game victory over Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates, Savage made Orange County history. With eight receptions for 169 yards and four touchdowns it gave Caine reign of the county record for touchdown receptions for one season.

With the big game for Caine that came at the best possible time, Savage now has 1,828 yards receiving and 29 touchdowns this season. That breaks the record of 28 TD receptions recently set by John Humphrey of Newport Beach Corona del Mar.

Savage had already etched his name in the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book on the Most TD Catches (Season) list, but the 29 TD receptions ties him for No. 5 all time and with at least one game to go when the Pioneers meet San Gorgonio (San Bernardino) in the CIF Southern Regional 5-AA Bowl game, and one more after that if they can pull off the victory, Savage could not only move up on the list but could challenge the state record of 34 TD catches set by Cole Thompson of Folsom in 2014, and tied the next season by Derrion Grim of Stockton McNair. Savage also needs just one more TD catch to tie the CIF Southern Section record of 30 set in 2013 by Matt Byer of Oak Park.

Cassius Savage has returned two kickoffs for TDs this season. Photo:

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

Cassius Savage
(Western, Anaheim) Jr.

As previously mentioned, it’s the Savage brothers week and Cassius was not going to let his twin brother Caine steal all the glory.

As a result of his performance on special teams, and he also got into the act as a receiver, Cassius snags this week’s SoCal special teams award.

In the Pioneers 49-21 victory over Peninsula (Rolling Hills Estates), the 6-foot-1, 150-pound wide receiver, defensive back and return specialist, returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. Savage also had three pass receptions for 83 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown catch.

Cassius doesn’t have the gaudy numbers of his twin Caine this season, but he also has a 91-yard kickoff return for a score, and he’s caught 56 passes for 1,001 yards and 15 touchdowns.

On defense, Savage has been just as brutal on opponents with 49 tackles, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Devin Brown
(Morse, San Diego) Sr.

For our SoCal defensive honoree we go to the eastern side of San Diego to honor a 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker that picked just the right time to come up huge on defense.

Last week, in a 22-16 victory over previously unbeaten Central of El Centro that secured a CIF San Diego Section Division III championship, not only did Brown have 10 tackles with one for loss, but he picked off an errant pass, his first interception of the season, and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.

So far this season for the 10-4 Tigers and heading into a CIF Southern Regional Division 4-AA Bowl game on the road at Central Valley Christian of Visalia, Brown is No. 4 in the San Diego Section with 150 tackles (11 for loss), seven sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and a blocked punt.

Morse won its first section football title since 1994 and did on the same weekend that San Diego city schools Lincoln and San Diego High also won CIF SD Section divisional crowns.

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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