NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s honorees are Josh Magana of Dinuba (left) and Isiah Del Toro from Western of Anaheim. Photos: & Victor Baltazar / For OC Sports Zone.

For the first time in as long as we can remember two of our NorCal honorees are from the CIF Central Section which we remind our readers that for this and all our weekly features honoring players is considered part of Northern California. One of those two also could be about to reach 7,000 career passing yards. One of those from the south already had a state record book qualifying performance from earlier this season. In all, this week’s winners are from Dinuba, Sacramento, Santa Maria, Anaheim, Redondo Beach and Corona.

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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

Josh Magana (Dinuba) Sr.

We head 25 miles southeast of Fresno to the town of Dinuba where we find our Northern California offensive honoree.

There were bigger offensive performances in Northern California but for more than one reason we’re going to go with Magana.

One of the reasons is we haven’t gotten a winner from Central Section historian and Cal-Hi Sports contributor and good friend Bob Barnett, who sends in top performers from that section every week. Another reason is that in his nomination Barnett pointed out that with his most recent performance Magana added to his career school records for passing yardage and TD passes, and with Dinuba only 3-6 the Emperors only have one game left this season and it gives a chance to give Josh a shout out for his excellent three-year varsity career.

Last week, in a 51-28 win over Exeter, Magana went 17-for-24 for 243 yards and three touchdowns, plus he ran for two TDs and 127 yards on 13 carries.

So far this season, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound signal-caller has passed for 2,021 yards and 23 touchdowns, and in a bit of a twist and after all the sacks and negative yardage is added up, Josh has rushed for one more yard total this season than in the Exeter game with 128, but he does have six TDs on the ground.

With one game to go, Magana has passed for 6,734 yards and 86 TDs, and while the yardage isn’t close to making the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book he could still reach the 7,000-yard mark and the TD passes could qualify for the current list.

Aaron Espero was one of the leading rushers for Inderkum as a junior last season. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Aaron Espero (Inderkum, Sacramento) Sr.

The Capital City is where we land for our Northern California Defensive Player of the Week and we have another player who is a multi-purpose star that’s being recognized.

There are a lot of reasons why Inderkum is 9-0 overall and 5-0 in the Capital Valley Conference, ranked No. 40 in the state rankings and No. 2 in the Sacramento Bee CIF Sac-Joaquin Section rankings, and a big one is Espero.

In a 35-20 victory last week over a decent Yuba City, the 6-foot, 190-pound Espero had a solid games on both sides of the ball, but it’s as a defensive back and not a running back for which he’s being honored.

Aaron didn’t quite hit double-digits in tackles, but nine for a defensive back is still mighty fine and his season high, but he did come up with a trifecta after picking off three passes, one of which he returned 65 yards to paydirt for a score.

On offense, he rushed for 94 yards and one touchdown, and he had a 19-yard pass reception.

So far this season, Espero has six interceptions, 32 tackles, and a forced fumble on defense. On offense, he’s rushed for 584 yards and eight TDs, and has 208 yards receiving and two more scores.

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

Andres Vargas (Santa Maria) Sr.

There’s a bit of a twist to the selection of Vargas as the Northern California Special Teams Player of the Week.

In the intro we reminded readers about us considering the CIF Central Section as part of Northern California, but prior to last year, all the schools in Santa Maria and all of the schools north of them in San Luis Obispo County were part of the CIF Southern Section before being moved for geographical reasons to the Central Section.

Right now Santa Maria is having a tough season at 4-5 and 1-2 in the Ocean League, but Vargas, despite being only 5-foot-6 and 140 pounds was a big factor in helping the Saints end a three-game losing streak.

Last week, in a 41-14 victory over Morro Bay, Vargas contributed 11 points by way of his foot. Andres was 5-of-5 on PATs and 2-for-2 on field goals with a season longest of 45 yards.

On the season, Vargas is a respectable 22-of-25 on PATs and 7-for-9 on field goals with four of the seven splitting the uprights from over 40 yards out.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Isiah Del Toro (Western, Anaheim) Jr.

Orange County is the destination for the selection of our Southern California Offensive Player of the Week where we land three miles west of Disneyland’s Matterhorn, and now add a statewide honor for Del Toro to his being named the Orange County Register Player of the Week.

Western is 8-1 this season and a lot of it has to do with this 6-foot, 175-pound quarterback. Isiah has had some big games this season but last week in a 56-49 scoreboard lighter-upper win against Laguna Beach, Del Toro was like a bull in a china shop with season highs of 390 yards passing and five touchdowns. He even added 30 yards and a sixth score rushing.

So far this season, Del Toro has passed for 2,351 yards and 26 TDs and he’s rushed for 416 yards and three more scores. The passing yardage is the No. 20 reported mark in the CIF Southern Section and with 600 schools in the section that isn’t too shabby.

Gary Bryant Jr. had his name added to state record book earlier this season for touchdown catches in one game. Photo: @TheOpening /

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

Gary Bryant Jr. (Centennial, Corona) Sr.

The Inland Empire is another of our stops this week where we find our Southern California Special Teams Player of the Week.

It’s not that Bryant Jr. is not deserving of being honored, but for the Players of the Week feature we try to track potential additions the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book and also uncover some diamonds in the rough that don’t get the kind of recognition a big-time recruit like Gary gets, and we try to stay away from routs, but finding special teams performances can be a little tough some weeks so he gets the call.

Last week, in a 42-0 rout of Riverside M.L. King by the Cal-Hi Sports No. 8 ranked Huskies, Bryant Jr. got his team going in a hurry. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound wide receiver and special teams star had the second TD in the rout after returning a punt 60 yards to paydirt for a score.

So far this season, Bryant Jr., who has blazing speed and acceleration according to more than one recruiting analyst that has resulted in 23 major D1 offers including just about every Pac-12 school, only has the one punt return and naturally he took it to the house. On a team with a lot of star D1 recruits and only one football for players to get touches, Bryant Jr. leads the team with 35 pass receptions for 707 yards and nine touchdowns.

Earlier this season, Gary did get a state record book qualifying mark with five TD catches in Centennial’s win against Liberty of Henderson, Nev. We wouldn’t be surprised if quite soon he was one of the top kick returners in college football.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Jacob Nash (Redondo Union, Redondo Beach) Sr.

Los Angeles County and The Beach as they sometimes call Redondo Union is where we find our Southern California Defensive Player of the Week.

We like to use cliché’s and play with the names of our honorees but in this case to say Jacob was a one-man wrecking crew on defense could be a bit of an understatement because after Nash was done with arch rival Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates, the visiting Panthers needed an Army Mash Unit.

The reality is Redondo Union needed everything Nash could muster last week in a 17-14 victory in which the 6-foot-3, 215-pound defensive end and two-way lineman had season-highs of 11 tackles with eight for loss, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

To say Nash was in the Peninsula backfield a good portion of the game and in more than one game this season is an understatement. So far for the 6-3 Sea Kings he has 44 tackles with 26 for loss, 13 sacks and two forced fumbles.

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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