More State Football Players of Year

Two of the 2018 State Players of the Year are D.J. Uigalelei of Bellflower St. John Bosco (juniors) & Jordan Wilmore of Lawndale (medium schools). Photos: Mark Tennis.


Check inside this post for the honorees who have been chosen among juniors, sophomores, medium schools and small schools. The choice for juniors was the most difficult and one of the most difficult player of the year football picks ever. It also continues to be a challenge to designate players who are from “medium” or “small” schools in era of competitive equity playoff divisions.

To see who has been named Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Football State Player of the Year, CLICK HERE.

To see who has been named state player of the year for defense, 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 2018 football season (joining overall honoree Bru McCoy from Mater Dei of Santa Ana):

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STATE JUNIOR OF THE YEAR:
D.J. UIGALELEI (ST. JOHN BOSCO, BELLFLOWER)

There are some years and some categories in which the precedent of never having had Co-Players of the Year definitely comes into focus. This is one of those years for the California juniors in football and the other player in this situation with Uigalelei is Mater Dei of Santa Ana quarterback Bryce Young.

But a choice did have to be made and the difference — just barely — is that while D.J.’s sub-par outing in the CIF Southern Section Division I championship game did cause him to drop below Mater Dei’s No. 1 honors candidate, Bru McCoy, as Mr. Football it wasn’t quite enough for him to drop even further behind Mater Dei’s No. 2 honors candidate, which would be Young.

Considered the No. 1 college prospect in the nation by many recruiting services as a 6-foot-5, 240-pounder who can run through or around defenders while on the run and at the same time deliver throws into very tight windows, Uigalelei is the second State Junior Player of the Year from St. John Bosco in its history. The first was current Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback Josh Rosen for 2013. D.J. also follows up from being the 2017 State Sophomore of the Year.

Comparing Uigalelei to Young shows that one had more TD passes — Uigalelei with 48 compared to Young with 39 — while one had more passing yards (Young with 3,846 to Uigalelei with 3,336). Young (along with McCoy) got a CIF state title and had the better game in the CIFSS final. Uigalelei was more sensational when his team beat Mater Dei 41-18 in the regular season, going 15 of 21 passing for 278 yards and five TDs plus another 39 yards rushing on 10 carries.

Some of D.J.’s other big-time outings for a St. John Bosco team that was No. 1 in the nation until it lost to the Monarchs 17-13 included 13 of 15 for 361 yards and six TDs against previously unbeaten Oaks Christian of Westlake Village (56-10 win) plus 14 of 19 for 255 yards and four TDs vs. state No. 8 JSerra of San Juan Capistrano. For the season, he also rushed for 312 yards on 50 carries and scored six times. In that loss to Mater Dei, Uigalelei was only six of 19 for 115 yards and one TD.

With both quarterbacks returning to lead their elite teams next season, this year’s State Junior of the Year dilemma probably will just be one of many debating points between the two players over the next several months, even years. They are both clearly among the top returning players in the nation and we’re just lucky we get to have both of them in California for at least one more season.

Photo: Hudl.com.


STATE SOPHOMORE OF THE YEAR:
TROY FRANKLIN (MENLO-ATHERTON, ATHERTON)

In the most important games of the season as the Bears were on their way to winning the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division 1 title and then the CIF Division 3-AA state crown, Franklin certainly lived up to his acclaim as the top-ranked sophomore college prospect in the state by some recruiting services.

In the CIF D3-AA state final, Franklin scored on a 50-yard TD catch and rushed for 46 yards on five carries to help Menlo-Atherton defeat Lincoln of San Diego 21-7. In the CIF D3-AA NorCal bowl game, Franklin scored twice on catches from 69 and 14 yards out and he had a 70-yard touchdown run as the Bears beat previously undefeated Eureka 27-20. He also scored on a TD run and TD catch in the CCS Open 1 title game when M-A rallied for a 33-28 triumph vs. previously unbeaten Wilcox of Santa Clara.

“I think what made his season truly unique was that we had six different quarterbacks who cycled through as starters,” said Menlo-Atherton head coach Adhir Ravipati. “For him to still be able to impact games on both sides the ball says a lot about him.”

Despite all those quarterbacks (Franklin was used as one himself), the sophomore standout still had nearly 1,000 all-purpose yards and 17 TDs. He also had two interceptions, including a pick six, in an important win vs. Terra Nova of Pacifica. And he had four tackles in the game against Eureka.

“As many ways as we used him, he delivered,” Ravipati said. “You just don’t find hardly any players like him with that height and length but just with that acceleration and explosiveness of a much smaller guy.”

Franklin is the first state player of the year from Menlo-Atherton for sophomores or from any category. Menlo School of Atherton (not the same school) had the State Sophomore of the Year in 1980 with quarterback John Paye. The only others from the CCS have been Tyreese Knox from Jefferson of Daly City for 1981 and Byron Marshall from Valley Christian of San Jose for 2009.

STATE MEDIUM SCHOOLS PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
JORDAN WILMORE (LAWNDALE)

This was a division in which running backs were considered as the most viable player of the year candidates. Wilmore is a player who’s been starring at Lawndale since his sophomore season and capped a phenomenal prep career by leading the Cardinals to the CIF Division 2-A state championship.

In the state final against unbeaten San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno, Wilmore churned out first down after first down in the fourth quarter after opening the game with several sizzling runs. He finished with 220 yards on 29 carries as Lawndale defeated San Joaquin Memorial 20-12. The team also had a win against CIF D2-AA finalist Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth but for being D5 in the CIF Southern Section has been deemed medium school for all-state and player of the year honors.

During his three varsity seasons, Wilmore’s totals for each season were remarkably similar. He had 2,236 yards rushing this season and 22 touchdowns. That came after he had 2,220 yards and 31 scores as a junior and even his sophomore season (2,289 yards and 24 TDs) were almost the same.

There was a difference this year, however, is that Wilmore missed time in October with a foot injury and also played only sparingly in a couple of games. In one game vs. Hawthorne, for example, he scored on an 85-yard run on his only carry. This year also saw the power-packed 5-foot-8, 200-pounder shine in other end-of-season outings with titles on the line. Wilmore rushed for 278 yards on 22 carries and have three TDs in Lawndale’s 42-14 victory over unbeaten South Hills of West Covina in the CIF SoCal D2-A bowl game. He also had 22 carries for 219 yards and a pair of scores when the Cardinals downed Palos Verdes (PV Estates) 34-20 in the CIFSS D5 championship.

With all of his career stats compiled, Wilmore ended with 6,745 yards rushing and had 84 total touchdowns scored. His yardage ranks among the top 25 on the all-time state career list and is the most ever by a player from the South Bay region of the CIFSS. For career scoring, Wilmore will get onto that all-time state list as well.

Speaking of the South Bay, Wilmore is the second from there to be medium school player of the year in the state in the last four years. He follows Mique Juarez from North of Torrance, the 2015 honoree. Others on the medium school player of the year list from the South Bay are Matt Engle of El Segundo for 2002 and Tim Wrightman from Mary Star of San Pedro for 1979.

Two other running backs who were considered for this state player of the year category were Christian Hunter from Kaiser of Fontana and Cameron Skattebo of Rio Linda.

Wilmore committed to USC last summer, but did not sign with the Trojans in November and is continuing to take trips. Wilmore received an offer reported just this week from UCLA.

Alex Aguilar of Shafter will end career as one of state’s most prolific players for combined rushing and passing. Photo: KERO TV / YouTube.com.


STATE SMALL SCHOOLS
PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
ALEX AGUILAR (SHAFTER)

This is the second straight year that the CIF Central Section has had the state small school player of the year following Strathmore’s Joseph Garcia from last season. This also is now the fourth time in the last eight years that the Small Schools State POY is from the section. The other two prior to Garcia were Edgar Segura of Mendota (2013) and Deontay Greenberry of Easton Washington (2011). The player chosen from the section in this category in 2008 turned out to be a good one, too: quarterback Derek Carr of Bakersfield Christian.

Shafter was runner-up in the CIF Central Section D5 playoffs to Kennedy of Delano, but behind Aguilar defeated the Thunderbirds earlier in the season and was unbeaten for the regular season. Both teams clearly are small schools by our calculations, but Kennedy was mysteriously jumped up to D4-A for the CIF bowl games. It should be noted that the following CIF state championship teams from lower divisions are from schools that are just too large for student enrollment to be considered “small schools”: Lincoln of San Francisco (D6A), San Diego High (D5A) and Rio Linda (D5AA). Hilmar (D6AA) and McClymonds of Oakland (D4A) do have more typical “small school” enrollments, but didn’t have one player who rose up to the level of what Aguilar accomplished. Last week, McClymonds’ Michael Peters was named Small Schools State Coach of the Year and overall State Coach of the Year.

Shafter has never had a small school state player of the year before, but in 1973 the Generals were led by David Turner, who for that season is listed as the medium schools honoree.

Aguilar was recently named Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight season by the Bakersfield Californian. It made sense because Aguilar set the CIF Central Section record with 140 total touchdowns for his career, according to section historian Bob Barnett. This season alone, Alex passed for 3,436 yards and 44 touchdowns while he also rushed for 1,178 yards with 20 other scores.

In addition to the section record 140 total touchdowns for his career, Aguilar finished with 8,209 yards passing and had 3,436 yards rushing. His total of 11,645 combined yards isn’t close to the top two totals in state history by Jayden Daniels from Cajon of San Bernardino (2015-2018) and Jake Browning of Folsom (2012-2014), but it is one of the top 10 in state history.

Aguilar also didn’t just play quarterback at Shafter. He also had 66 tackles on defense with one fumble return TD and one interception return TD.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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