NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week are Carson Yates (left) from Leland of San Jose and Isaiah Creech from Highland of Palmdale. Photos: &

As the funnel narrows and we near the end of the weekly Players of the Week feature for football and transition into girls and boys basketball, with less games and tougher competition, the astronomical numbers can be fewer and far between, and finding Special Teams performances even harder. Even so, we have a solid group of honorees this week from San Jose, Bakersfield and Alameda in Northern California and Palmdale, Santee and Oxnard in Southern California. This was also a week where we got to play some rhyme games and have fun once again.

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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

Carson Yates (Leland, San Jose) Sr.

The Santa Clara/Silicon Valley area is our destination for the Northern California Offensive Player of the Week for the second straight week and once it’s from a public school in San Jose where we find our award winner.

Last week, in a 48-26 victory over Homestead of Cupertino in the CIF Central Coast Section Division V playoffs, the Chargers’ quarterback got the job done, particularly in the second half after his team trailed 20-19 at halftime.

On the ground, Yates opened the floodgates with a whopping 13.4 yards per carry and finished with 161 yards rushing and three TDs, including a 49-yard run. In the air, Carson added 103 yards and one TD for a team that primarily likes to run the ball and totaled 390 yards on the ground – and for that reason we know Yates would want to give a shoutout to sophomore running back Mark Eby, who rushed for 160 and one score.

On the season and heading into a CIFCCS D5 title game for the No. 1 seed against second-seeded Santa Cruz, Yates has passed for 1,627 and 17 TDs and rushed for 907 yards and 14 more scores. He had been out for a couple of weeks with an injury.

This also was a good week to feature Carson since he also passed the 7,000 yard mark for total offense last week in three years as Leland’s quarterback. Entering this week, he has 4,605 career yards passing (45 TDs) and 2,488 yards (41 TDs) rushing.

But there’s more. Yates had a football offer from San Jose State but baseball has been his No. 1 sport so his choice for the future will be to accept a partial offer to play baseball as an outfielder at UCLA.

John Brindley gets congratulatory handshakes after he drilled game-winning field goal for Encinal of Alameda. Photo: @SportStarsMag /

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

John Brindley (Encinal, Alameda) Sr.

We land in the Island City of Alameda where jets used to land at the now closed Alameda Naval Air Station but there are still a group of Jets in town at Encinal, and the school and community breathed a sigh of relief after our Northern California Special Teams Player of the Week came through in the clutch last week to avoid a possible upset.

In the waning seconds of the top-seeded Jets CIF North Coast Section Division V semifinal matchup with No. 4 seed De Anza (El Sobrante), and with the score tied 21-21, Brindley calmly booted home a 26-yard walk-off field goal after host Encinal almost gave up a 21-0 halftime lead.

The Jets, who are in their first NCS championship game since 2010, will now face Del Norte of Crescent City, and while the Encinal faithful hope it doesn’t came down to Brindley’s leg this week, we’re sure the Jets kicker will be ready, just like he was in early November when his 25-yard field goal was the difference in a 10-7 victory over 2016 CIF bowl Ggame titlist Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Chris Gutierrez (Bakersfield Christian, Bakersfield) Sr.

For our Northern California Defensive Player of the Week choice, we go just about as far south as you can go in what we consider Northern California for our weekly player award winners, and to a school with a recent tradition of winning that includes two CIF Southern Regional Bowl Games championships in 2013 and 2016.

We don’t want to say we put the kibosh on last week’s NorCal defensive winner, Thomas Cole from San Luis Obispo, but the twist here is it was Cole and the boys from San Luis Obispo who were the foes last Friday night and the victims of the heroics of Gutierrez.

Gutierrez might only be 5-foot-5, but he must have gotten up pretty high in the air, and ended up standing pretty tall after snagging a school record three interceptions in a 35-13 victory over San Luis Obispo in the CIF Central Section Division 3 semifinals. The Eagles also had a team total of six interceptions in the game.

Gutierrez and his Eagles’ teammates will now host No. 8 seed Central Valley Christian and with a win the No. 2 seed will get a shot at a third CIF SoCal Bowl game title.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Isaiah Creech (Highland, Palmdale) Sr.

As we wandered around Southern California looking for various players of the week to honor we were in the High Desert when we came to a screeching halt after we realized Creech would be our Offensive Player of the Week for Southern California, and what a week it was for Creech.

Last week, in a 58-17 victory over Newport Harbor (Newport Beach) in the CIF Southern Section Division 9 semifinals, the fleet Creech rushed for 243 yards on 17 carries with four touchdowns, including a 56-yard jaunt to paydirt. He also had 32 yards receiving.

The 6-foot-1, 165-pound running back and strong safety was a multi-purpose standout as well with seven tackles (six solo) on defense.

Creech has been putting up numbers all season and is a big reason the second-seeded Bulldogs are into the Southern Section D9 title game as a favorite against No. 5 seed North of Torrance with a trip to the CIF Southern Regionals at stake.

So far this season, Creech will likely reach at least the 1,800 yard rushing mark this week against North as he has 1,794 yards and 27 TDs on the ground with a whopping 11.1 yards per carry. He also has 26 pass receptions for 383 yards and seven additional scores.

On defense Isaiah, has 62 tackles with 15 for losses, three interceptions, two sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown, and if that’s not enough he’s also blocked two punts.

One thing for sure, the Bulldogs’ faithful are hoping Creech can reach back for that extra effort once again and lead the boys from the High Desert to a CIFSS title.

Michael Richter has been one of the defensive leaders for 11-1 Santana of Santee all season. Photo: Ken Todd /

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Michael Richter (Santana, Santee) Jr.

We go back to the CIF San Diego Section for the second straight week for our Southern California defensive honoree only this time it’s the East County area where we land.

The word out of the East County is when Richter lays the wood on defense it can cause a reading on the Richter Scale used to measure earthquakes, and in his most recent performance he showed just why.

Last week, in a 35-14 Sultans victory over Escondido Orange Glen in the CIFSDS D4 semifinals, Richter rocked the Richter Scale with three sacks of the Patriots quarterback. The 6-foot, 185-pound defensive end also tied for team-high with nine tackles. They needed some stops too since Orange Glen featured running back Cael Patterson, the state regular season rushing yards leader.

So far this season, Richter leads the San Diego Section and is No. 9 in the state among reported leaders with 17.5 sacks. He also has 82 tackles.

Ironically, the win over Orange Glen propels the top-seeded Sultans into the CIFSDS Division IV title game against No. 2 seed Serra, where our SoCal defensive honoree from last week, Broock Desta, is a star cornerback.

Santana already owns a 31-14 road victory over Serra in August in a game where Richter had a sack and six tackles. Now, with Serra winning 76-36 last week in the semis over La Jolla Country Day, it’s pretty certain the Conquistadors’ quarterback will be dropping back to pass quite a bit, and the Sultans faithful are hoping Richter can rock him a few times and lead Santana to a CIF San Diego Section title.

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

Scooter Carranza (Pacifica, Oxnard) Sr.

It was only two weeks ago that we honored Pacifica’s Malik Sherrod as our SoCal Defensive Player of the Week. But after receiving an email and state record question from Derry Eads of the Ventura County Star we decided we just had to go with Carranza in this category despite our usual stance of not honoring more than one player from any particular school for a season.

Carranza has been the Pacifica varsity kicker since his sophomore season and in a 37-10 win last week over Crespi of Encino in the CIFSS D6 playoffs he booted three field goals with a long of 39 and also made 4-for-4 on PATs.

That’s not the state record, though, that Scooter may now have. According to Eads, he hasn’t missed a PAT in three seasons and heads into this week’s title game with 146 made PATs in a row, including 76-for-76 for this season. Carranza’s mark of 146 in a row is the highest reported total we know of, but we can’t quite yet call it a record due to a question regarding the career of recent three-time all-state kicker Manny Berz from Citrus Hill of Perris. We know Manny made 85-for-85 as a senior in 2016 and went 44-for-44 as a junior in 2015, but his sophomore year stats may have missing totals. He would have at least 129 of 129 in his final two years at Citrus Hill.

If we get that state record cleared up, look for an update in a future State Stat Stars writeup on Carranza or on a tweet.

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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  1. gloria templin
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Good reporting, enjoy what’s going on up north!!!

  2. gloria templin
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Good reporting, enjoy what’s going on up north!!!

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