NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week are Nolan Tarzon from Sequoia of Redwood City and Dylan Guerra from Warren of Downey. Photos: &

As was the case for our first set of award winners last week we have more than one honoree who could have been classified as Multi-Purpose, but we don’t have that category for this feature so the players that shined in more ways than one had to find their spots and did. This week’s winners are from Rocklin, Redwood City, Hayward, Downey, Murrieta and El Monte.

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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
Defensive Player of the Week

Nolan Tarzon
(Sequoia, Redwood City) Sr.

Like all the teams in the CIF Central Coast Section, Sequoia played its season opener last week, and our Northern California defensive award winner played a big role in helping the Ravens get off to a solid start.

Tarzon has a last name close to fictional literary and movie character Tarzan, but Nolan doesn’t do his swinging from trees in the African jungle, but from the giant Sequoia Redwood Trees.

Last week, Tarzon swooped down on Woodside and had three of the four Sequoia interceptions in a 40-20 victory in the annual Battle for the Log Trophy.

While the defense of Tarzon was key, a shout out has to go to Sequoia senior running back Simon Talauati who had 182 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Last season, Nolan was a second team all-league performer and he is in his third year on varsity.

Brickhandler could be a high-rising Class of 2021 recruit if he keeps doing what he’s doing at Whitney of Rocklin. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Eli Brickhandler
(Whitney, Rocklin) Jr.

We go to the northeastern portion of the Metro Sacramento area off Interstate 80 to find our NorCal offensive award winner who first caught the eye of Cal-Hi Sports Executive Editor and co-Founder Mark Tennis when he was a freshman performing at a Blue-Grey combine at Freedom (Oakley) in the spring of 2018.

His last name suggests that at some point in the past the Brickhandler family handled bricks, but this Brickhandler is one that can handle a football.

Last week, in a 47-34 Wildcats victory over an always tough Placer of Auburn team that was 12-1 last season, Eli lit up the Hillmen after going 14 of 25 for 274 yards and four TDs passing, and rushing for 134 yards and a fifth score on a 64-yard run.

Two weeks ago, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior quarterback had triple digits in passing and rushing in helping lead Whitney to a 38-10 victory over Paraclete of Lancaster.

Brickhandler only played seven games last season on the JV team before going down with an injury, but he certainly has played a huge part in getting a Whitney team that was 0-10 last year to a 2-0 start this season.

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

Nikko Reed
(Moreau Catholic, Hayward) Jr.

In the intro for this week’s feature it was noted that more than one of the award winners showed outstanding play in multiple aspects of each of their team’s victories, but in the case of Reed, his multi-purpose deeds must indeed take the cake.

In a wild 48-29 Moreau victory over San Marin (Novato) that saw five special teams TDs scored by the two teams combined, the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Reed, had two of them and also scored two more touchdowns.

Nikko’s special teams scores for which he earns the NorCal award for this week came on an 80-yard kickoff return, and a punt return midway through the fourth quarter for the game’s final score.

On offense, he had six pass receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns, and on defense he intercepted a pass with just over two minutes remaining to seal the deal.

Two weeks ago in a heartbreaking 20-19 loss to Del Norte of Crescent City, Reed had all three of the Moreau TDs to give him seven already this season, and the Mariners have needed his production since their best player, Fresh Ison, is still recovering from shoulder surgery he had over the summer.

“Nikko is a special kid that’s been doing it all for us so far,” Moreau head coach Rob Gatrell said. “He’s very explosive, has a high football IQ, and he’s very instinctive.”

In a bit of a strange twist, players named Nikko, Nicholas and Nico combined to score all five special teams touchdowns. Reed’s teammate Nicolas Ledesma had a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and Nico Lofrano of San Marin could have made a case for this award had the Mustangs won since he returned a punt 82 yards for a TD, and also had an 82-yard kickoff return for a second touchdown.

Until the last few months, Escorcia’s accomplishments in track and field have been more noteworthy than in football. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Hunter Escorcia
(Vista Murrieta, Murrieta) Sr.

We go out to the Inland Empire for our Southern California defensive honoree, and there we find another one of our award winners for this week who shined in more than one aspect of the game.

Last week, in a 24-12 victory over Los Alamitos, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound free safety who is committed to Washington State for football but has blazing speed on the track as well as the gridiron, had two interceptions, nine tackles with two for loss, plus he blocked a punt and returned it 30 yards to the house for pay dirt.

Of note is teammate Marcus Nguyen, who also returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and by the looks of the score the Broncos needed both.

Last season, Escorcia had four interceptions to go with 37 tackles in eight games of action.

On the track for Vista Murrieta’s famed program that is always one of the best in the state, Hunter’s best event in the 110 high hurdles. He was third in the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet and went to the CIF state meet, falling short of qualifying for the final.

With the season-opening victory, Vista Murrieta jumped four notches to No. 30 in this week’s state rankings available to Cal-Hi Sports Gold Club members.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Dylan Guerra
(Warren, Downey) Sr.

From the way the Warren quarterback played for his new school, it seems apparent Dylan was chomping at the bit to get into action after the Bears didn’t have a game in week one.

Last week on the road at St. Anthony of Long Beach, Guerra was more like a Grizzly after he went 20 of 32 for 399 yards and five TDs passing, and he rushed for 112 yards and another touchdown that gave Dylan a hand in all six Warren scores.

A quarterback can’t do it without wide receivers, and the combo of Guerra and Keison Evans helped Dylan earn the SoCal offensive award this week after the duo got off to a gigantic start in their new relationship when they hooked up on an 80-yard touchdown pass on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage. Guerra also tossed a 90-yard TD pass to Evans who ended up with eight receptions for 244 yards.

Last season at Arcadia as a junior, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Guerra passed for 3,091 yards and 35 TDs in leading that team to an 11-3 season that ended in a heartbreaking 38-35 loss to Kaiser (Fontana) in the CIF Southern Section Division 8 title game.

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

Joshua Tustin
(Arroyo, El Monte) Jr.

His last name is the same as a city in Orange County, but it’s in El Monte and in Los Angeles County about 40 miles north of Tustin that this Tustin did enough tussling on special teams to earn our Southern California Special Teams Player of the Week honor.

Last week, in a 63-14 shellacking of Nogales of nearby La Puente that got the Knights to 1-1 on the season, Tustin took one to the house when he returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. In total, he had three kickoff returns for a total of 155 yards.

Tustin is another one of our award winners who excelled in more than one aspect of his team’s victory. The 5-foot-8, 160-pound junior running back had 80 yards rushing with a second TD, and he had 62 yards receiving to give him 297 all-purpose yards.

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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