SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s final SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week for the 2018 season are Fresh Ison (left) from Moreau Catholic of Hayward and Don Chapman from Lincoln of San Diego. Photos: & @TeamMakasi /

This week marks the final group of football players we are honoring for this weekly feature for this season. Next week, we are switching to boys and girls basketball and will be writing one one boy and one girl each for Northern and Southern California. Even though the pickings can be slim for football with only a handful of players still going, we found Fresh choices in the NorCal section championships and in the CIF SoCal regional bowl games. The six honorees this week are from San Bernardino, Chatsworth, San Diego, Hayward, Cottonwood and San Jose.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. No more football nominations please, but get them coming for boys and girls basketball. To nominate someone by 12 noon on most Mondays, email

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Jordan Pachot
(San Gorgonio, San Bernardino) Sr.

We go back out to the Inland Empire once again this season for this week’s Southern California offensive honoree, and there’s a bit of a twist to the selection of Pachot as the award winner.

The old expression “turnabout is fair play” sums up what happened when Jordan came up against Anaheim Western.

Last week, in a 43-28 San Gorgonio victory over Western and the Savage brothers, Caine and Cassius, who captured the SoCal offensive and special teams honors last week, it was all Pachot, whose arm must have looked like a hatchet, or a hammer to Western after the 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior quarterback threw for 295 yards and five touchdowns.

This was the week to honor Pachot but it wasn’t even his best outing of the season, although doing it in a CIF Southern Regional Division 5-AA championship game counts a lot more than any bigger numbers he might have put up in a previous game against lesser competition.

The five TDs ties his tops set in a win over Riverside Rubidoux but yardage-wise he’s been over 300 in a game six times heading into a CIF 5-AA Bowl Game championship against the winner of this week’s Rio Linda at West Valley of Cottonwood and its NorCal honoree this week Bailey Sulzer.

Entering the state title game for the 12-3 Spartans, Pachot will have passed for 4,084 yards and 37 touchdowns with 12 interceptions, plus he’s rushed for 253 yards and three more scores.

J.D. Hernandez has been a tackling machine all season long for the Sierra Canyon defense. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

JD Hernandez
(Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) Jr.

For our SoCal defensive award winner we go to the northwest part of the San Fernando Valley just off the Ronald Reagan Freeway where we honor a young man who came up big once again on defense, and in a game dominated by defense, just as he’s done all season as the defensive leader of the Trailblazers. Because we’re at the end of the feature for football this season, we’re taking this opportunity to name Hernandez a weekly winner not just for his recent performance, but his overall body of work this season.

It was nowhere near his top performance but it came in the most important game of the season. Last week, in a CIF Southern Regional 1-A Bowl Game 7-3 win over Upland in a game where Hernandez and his defensive teammates kept the Highlanders out of the end zone, JD had nine tackles with a hurry and he forced a fumble.

The 6-foot, 235-pound junior middle linebacker is also the team’s punter and against Upland he was superb after putting three out of four punts out of bounds inside the 20-yard line.

The nine tackles for Hernandez was way under his average but JD likely doesn’t care. Even so, he’s the fourteenth reported leading tackler in the state with 161 (14 for loss, four sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles) heading into a CIF State 1-A Bowl Game matchup on December 15 at Cerritos College against either Liberty (Brentwood) and Valley Christian of San Jose.

We would be remiss not to give a shout out to JD’s older brother, senior wide receiver and defensive back JJ Hernandez. He actually had 12 tackles on defense and caught three passes on offense for 51 yards against Upland. Two years ago, JJ had a kickoff return for a touchdown in the Trailblazers’ 42-40 CIF Division 2-A Bowl Game victory over Serra of San Mateo.

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

Don Chapman
(Lincoln, San Diego) Sr.

We go to the CIF San Diego Section again this week after last week’s defensive winner was from the far south, and also this is the second time this season we honor a player from Lincoln after honoring Hornets defensive back Patrick White three weeks ago as the SoCal defensive honoree.

This week it’s Chapman, who electrified the crowd with his special teams prowess in the team’s biggest game of the season.

Last week, in a scoreboard lighter-upper 54-42 CIF Southern Regional Division 3-AA Bowl Game victory on the road at Culver City, Chapman, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior safety, wide receiver and return specialist who’s committed to Washington State, made his biggest impact with an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Chapman also returned an interception for a touchdown, rushed for a touchdown, scored on a 2-point conversion and he didn’t score receiving but he had three pass receptions to boot. Not many players can claim to have scored in those different ways in any game let alone a regional bowl game championship.

Chapman will get to display his high school talents one more time as Lincoln will now come north on December 15 to play the winner of the NorCal 3-AA matchup this Friday between Menlo-Atherton of Atherton and host Eureka.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Fresh Ison
(Moreau Catholic, Hayward) Jr.

We’d like to say Fresh is a fresh new face to this feature, although he isn’t, but in a way he is of sorts. The reason is this is not the first time we’ve honored Ison as a Player of the Week, but when we chose the little brother of current Northern Colorado redshirt freshman running back Jullen Ison in October of 2017, it was for his prowess as a kick returner, although he made the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book in that game as well as a running back.

We usually don’t honor a player twice in this feature, and almost certainly never in the same category, but as we wind down this year’s edition of the Players of the Week for football, and with a limited number of games to choose from, coupled with what Ison did as running back, made it almost a slam dunk for Fresh to be named the Northern California Offensive Player of the Week.

Last week, in a CIF North Coast Section Division IV semifinal victory over Novato San Marin, Fresh got a little more than fresh when they handed him the pigskin. In fact, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Ison was more like a bison when San Marin tried to tackle him. His performance last week doesn’t quite get him a second spot in the record book, but his 408 yards rushing and four touchdowns, plus a 23-yard TD reception and a 2-point conversion was too much to overlook for the weekly award.

Moreau is not moving on to the CIF NorCal Bowl games and instead the Mariners will be looking to complete a 13-0 season with a win this Saturday against Fortuna in the NCS Division IV championship where Ison will enter the game with 1,931 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns.

Last year when we honored Ison it was for a 78-yard kickoff return, but he also had a 99-yard run from scrimmage that got him in the record book. Fresh started this season with a bang as well with a 91-yard kickoff return and a 53-yard punt return that both went for scores in a win over St. Patrick-St. Vincent of Vallejo.

Bailey Sulzer is leader of defense that gave up no first downs in section final last weekend. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Bailey Sulzer
(West Valley, Cottonwood) Sr.

With the smallest number of schools of all 10 sections except San Francisco and Oakland, it isn’t often we get to go the CIF Northern Section, but we land there this week in a town 10 miles south of Redding on Interstate 5 where we honor a young man that has been a stalwart for the Eagles on defense and offense this season, but for this award Sulzer is the NorCal defensive honoree.

Last week, in a Northern Section Division III 7-0 victory over Sutter, in which the West Valley defense did not allow a first down and only 29 yards of offense on 37 plays, stats were not complete for tackles buts it’s a safe to assume Sulzer was like a buzz saw like he’s been on defense all season for 12-1 West Valley.

What we know is the 5-foot-11, 200-pound middle linebacker did do was recover a fumble and based on how the defense performed he had to be in the thick of the mix. It doesn’t hurt that the Eagles leading rusher also had a career high 36 carries for 153 yards rushing in the game as well.

So far this season without the tackles total for the Sutter game included, Sulzer has 114 tackles with 14 for loss including three sacks. He also has two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles and a pass interception. At running back, he’ll get a chance to go over 2,000 yards this week when West Valley hosts Rio Linda in the CIF Northern Regional Division 5-AA bowl game on Friday night.

There were two other reasons we wanted to honor Sulzer and West Valley. First, Bailey and his Eagles mates were playing to win a section championship for and honor the memory of defensive teammate Tyson Wacker. The West Valley senior was killed in a car accident in October. A second reason is Sulzer will soon be leaving on a Mormon mission and that also deserves some recognition.

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

Lucas Ramirez
(Valley Christian, San Jose) Jr.

It’s not often that the grind it out running game and defensive-oriented style of Valley Christian relies on the kicking game, but when it has Ramirez, he has come through in fine fettle, and it all culminated just at the right time for the Warriors’ faithful from south San Jose.

In the fourth quarter of a game that featured a muffed punt, an interception, two fumble recoveries and a 55-yard TD reception with time running out, it all came down to Lucas and his nerves of steel. After the Valley Christian special teams blocked an extra point in the second overtime, and after the teams traded four touchdowns in the overtimes, Ramirez split the uprights and Valley Christian came away with a 31-30 victory and a CIF Central Coast Section Open 2 Division championship. The Warriors’ junior also had a 25-yard field goal and was 4-of-4 on points after touchdown.

Besides the CCS title, what made it even sweeter was based on the CCS point system Valley Christian was in a must-win situation since they were going to be the one CCS Open Division runner-up in the three divisions not to advance unless they avenged a 7-3 road loss to St. Francis in West Catholic Athletic League play.

We had said accuracy is the big part of the kicking game of Ramirez and on the season he’s 46-of-50 on PATs and 6-for-6 on field goals, including a 30-yarder for the only points in the St. Francis loss. Now, he and the Warriors get a shot at visiting Liberty in the CIF NorCal 1-A Bowl game on Saturday evening up on the hill in San Jose.

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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