It’s finally time to get to the absolute headliners for the 41st annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Football Teams. Go inside this post for writeups of the 11 players on offense plus a kicker and three of six multi-purpose players who have been selected First Team Overall. This is the group that is being honored regardless of school size or year in school. After a year in which we went with four running backs and one receiver, this time we have three receivers and two running backs.
For this year’s First Team Defense plus three more multi-purpose players,
For this year’s Second & Third Team (Gold Club post), CLICK HERE.
MORE OF OUR 41TH ANNUAL ALL-STATE FOOTBALL TEAMS:
Small Schools | Medium Schools | Juniors (Gold Club) | Sophomores (Gold Club) | Players of Year by positions (QB, RB, End, Line, LB, DB)
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FOR ARCHIVE OF ALL-TIME ALL-STATE TEAMS BACK TO THE 1970s, CLICK HERE.
To order a commemorative, official All-State Football patch for those who’ve been named to one of our all-state teams for the 2019 season, go to this link from our friends at Billy Tees, which has been the official merchandiser of the CIF for many years.
FIRST TEAM ALL-STATE OFFENSE (ELITE)
WR Kody Epps (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 5-11, 175, Sr.
For the Monarchs to have been able to remain up there with league rival St. John Bosco as one of the nation’s top teams, someone was going to have to step up in the receiving corps, providing QB Bryce Young with lots of open space to work with. Epps became that guy, and then some. He put his name into the state record book with 28 TD catches in 13 games. He also got into the state record book for the five TD catches he had on an amazing night vs. Mission Viejo in the CIF Southern Section D1 semis to go with 10 receptions for 339 yards. For the season, Epps ended with 93 catches for 1,735 yards and 28 TDs. His big season also helped create a lot of college options for him where there was little at the start. Kody will play next at BYU.
WR John Humphreys (Corona del Mar, Newport Beach) 6-4, 200, Sr.
This slot for John was expected when he already was named as the State WR of the Year. That was easier to do when he set the state record for career TD catches with 78 and had 32 this season for the 16-0 Sea Kings. Even with that, though, he still can’t beat his mom, the former Wendy Rush, for statewide acclaim. Wendy was our 1983 Ms. Volleyball State Player of the Year who starred for Rim of the World (Lake Arrowhead). Wendy and dad Brad, a football player, met at Stanford where John will be in college. John’s older brother, Ben, also was a standout receiver at Corona del Mar and later played at Duke.
WR Jalen McMillan (San Joaquin Memorial, Fresno) 6-2, 185, Sr.
Our State Sophomore Athlete of the Year for 2017-18 since he also excelled in baseball and track in the spring at that time, McMillan will go down as one of the greatest receivers in CIF Central Section history. His TD catches were down this season (only 12), but he broke loose for a long TD catch (from Mater Dei’s Bryce Young) in this year’s All-American Bowl on NBC. For the season, Jalen had 89 catches for 1,644 yards and for his career he put state record book qualifying numbers of 260 catches for 5,234 yards and 54 TDs. McMillan will play next at the University of Washington.
OL Everett Johnson (Turlock) 6-8, 300, Sr.
We watched Everett closely in what turned out to be his final game for the Bulldogs — a close CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 playoff loss at Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills (a team which later won that title). He moves well for his size, he’s smart (3.6 GPA) and he’s a natural leader. He clearly left it all out on the field and was emotional with teammates and family (so we didn’t bother him for photos). Johnson made an early commitment to Cal (he told the Turlock Journal that all of his family and friends have degrees from there) and signed with the Bears in December. In his three years as a starter at Turlock, Johnson never experienced a league loss. He could be a prototype offensive tackle at the college level.
OL Drake Metcalf (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 6-3, 275, Sr.
We noticed him for the first time as a sophomore starter during the first of the two games against Mater Dei two years ago. He went on to be an all-state sophomore, all-state junior and has ended with all-state first team. The Braves have had much bigger linemen during their current era of success under head coach Jason Negro (beginning in 2012), but Metcalf is one of the best. He’s primarily been a guard in high school, but projects to be a center at Stanford. The L.A. Times Lineman of the Year also is one of the smartest players Bosco has had up front, having earned Principal’s Honor Roll status at the school for all four of his years as well.
OL Jonah Monheim (Moorpark) 6-5, 280, Sr.
A former teammate of Jonah’s at Moorpark, receiver Drake London, was one of the top freshman receivers in the Pac-12 this last season at USC. Monheim hopes to do the same as a Moorpark freshman for the Trojans next season, but it usually takes longer for linemen to earn that much playing time. Monheim is a player who moved up all of the recruiting lists since last season and although Moorpark missed the playoffs this year he has gotten all of the local honors needed to make him an all-state player. Monheim is projected to develop at the next level as a guard.
OL Myles Murao (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
6-3, 300, Sr.
With all the attention that Mater Dei players have tended to get in the last five years it can appear that it’s easy for them and that some are getting honors based on reputation. For Murao, though, doing what he did as a senior for the 12-1 Monarchs was anything but easy. He could have taken it easy as a senior after having to undergo knee surgery after a mid-season injury suffered in the sixth game of last season. He was already showing signs of a strong comeback last May at the NorCal Opening event in El Cerrito and by the time the season began he was looking great. Murao, who has signed with Washington, has now added an all-state first team pick to being an all-state sophomore two years ago. He’s been All-Orange County, All-CIFSS and last weekend was named as our State Lineman of the Year.
OL Jeffrey Persi (JSerra, San Juan Capistrano) 6-7, 270, Sr.
Despite JSerra head coach Pat Harlow being a former lineman at USC, Persi is going in a different direction and has signed with Michigan. Under Harlow’s tutelage, Persi was one of the top offensive linemen in the Trinity League as a junior and followed with a strong senior season even though JSerra fell to fourth-place in the league standings. With his size and frame and Michigan’s ability to develop offensive tackles that get drafted by the NFL, Persi’s choice is easy to see.
QB D.J. Uiagalelei (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 6-5, 245, Sr.
So now all of the honors from us for D.J. and his phenomenal high school career with the Braves can be completed: Mr. Football State Player of the Year, SoCal Player of the Year, State QB of the Year and first team all-state. This slot is just automatic after all of the others and we’re not even going through the national ones and more local ones. For him, it’ll be important to turn the page on all of it as quickly as possible and get focused in on being a sponge at Clemson (where he is now after graduating early). Maybe pretend he’s Aaron Rodgers with the Packers learning behind Brett Favre since Clemson quarterback and possible 2021 No. 1 NFL Draft pick Trevor Lawrence will still be around for the 2020 season.
RB Davon Booth (El Monte) 5-10, 185, Sr.
Every year there is usually one or two players who just had such overwhelming numbers that they have to be first team all-state. Booth is one of those this year since he’s a player who would not be characterized as a big-time recruit. What he did do for the 15-0 Lions was lead them to the CIF D5AA state title and as a running back he was No. 1 in the state with 2,935 yards. That total also led by nearly 300 yards over the next highest among reported state leaders (MaxPreps). In addition, backed by converting an amazing 35 two-point conversion runs, Booth will go down as one of the top single-season scoring leaders in state history with 361 points. He scored 48 touchdowns after collecting 44 as a junior.
RB Kendall Milton (Buchanan, Clovis) 6-2, 215, Sr.
The comparisons to Kendall and former Mr. Football POY Najee Harris of Antioch began probably almost as quick as his first couple of carries for Buchanan. He has that same hard-to-describe blend of size, power and track speed that Najee has and although he didn’t approach Harris for high school accomplishment he clearly was just as heavily recruited. Already named as our State RB of the Year with 1,261 yards rushing (20 TDs) plus more than 4,000 career yards, Milton’s final four college visits were to Ohio State, LSU, Alabama and Georgia. He eventually picked the Bulldogs in a choice that also helped Georgia finish No. 1 in the 247Sports final recruiting rankings.
PK R.J. Lopez (Mission Viejo) 6-0, 180, Sr.
Percentages were very important toward R.J. collecting this first team all-state slot. One was his 100 percent mark for PATs (70 for 70) while another was 90 percent (his number of kickoffs for the entire season that were touchbacks and not returned). The brother of former elite-level kicker Nick Lopez at Mater Dei also made six field goals with a long of 46. Also regarded as one of the highest ranked Top 12 kickers in the nation by Chris Sailer Kicking, Lopez will be kicking next at UCLA.
FIRST TEAM MULTI-PURPOSE
(Three more first team multi-purpose choices listed with first team defense)
WR/KR Gary Bryant Jr. (Centennial, Corona)
5-10, 165, Sr.
Although Bryant finished No. 2 on Centennial’s career receiving lists with 147 catches and 2,907 yards, he also has been one of the state’s most electrifying kick returners so he gets to be first team all-state in our multi-purpose category. The Riverside Press-Enterprise Offensive Player of the Year had 58 receptions for 1,134 yards and 10 TDs this season and had two punt return TDs. We saw him get 166 yards against Mater Dei (No. 1 in nation at the time) and he caught eight passes in a playoff loss to St. John Bosco. Bryant announced his college choice at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio and went with USC. He knew he was going there earlier and so did coaches at USC but they let him do the whole, silly hat thing for TV anyway.
QB/RB Tyler Buchner (Bishop’s, La Jolla) 6-3, 190, Jr.
Already named as the State Junior of the Year, Buchner follows that up by being the only junior this year on this year’s first team (other than the punter). We also tried to get more than one from the CIF San Diego Section on first team and probably would have had Helix running back Elelyon Noa much higher if he hadn’t gotten hurt. Buchner was the section’s offensive player of the year and had a great season for the 12-1 Knights. He passed for 4,474 yards and 53 TDs while on the ground he piled up 1,610 yards and 28 scores. Tyler, who came back from a knee injury that cost him his sophomore season, already has committed to Notre Dame.
QB/RB/P Ethan Garbers (Corona del Mar, Newport Beach) 6-3, 190, Sr.
Ethan came on at Corona del Mar immediately after older brother Chase (now starting at Cal) and because Chase was so prominent (he was all-state second team overall for 2016 season) it seemed like we were writing up “Ethan” as “Chase” more than once. The younger Garbers surely had more weapons around him and took advantage. For this season, Ethan led Corona del Mar to its second 16-0 record (the first was in 2013) and to the CIF D1-A state title. He was the only Mr. Football State Player of the Year finalist along with D.J. Uiagalelei (St. John Bosco) and Bryce Young (Mater Dei). He passed for 5,035 yards and had the third highest total of TD passes for a season (71) in state history. Garbers also could run it (he had 142 yards rushing in the state final) and he has been the team’s punter. He’ll play next at Washington. His brother probably will be gone at Cal by the time he’s playing regularly for the Huskies unless that happens next season.