SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s SoCal / NorCal Players of the Week honorees are quarterbacks Nick Coronado from Kimball of Tracy and Jesse Carmona from Ganesha of Pomona. Photos: / Tracy Press &

For week four of our NorCal/SoCal Players of the week we start out in the east end of the San Gabriel valley in Pomona and then head further east to the Inland Empire city of Moreno Valley, conclude our SoCal journey by heading north to Lompoc, and then hit Tracy and Cupertino before heading to The Valley and Clovis for out final NorCal honoree.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate anyone, email We pick the winners on Monday nights.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Jesse Carmona
(Ganesha, Pomona) Jr.

For our Southern California Offensive Player of the Week choice, we head east of Los Angeles to the east end of the San Gabriel Valley not far from where Interstate 10 and Highways 57 and 71 all intersect. It’s in Pomona where we find Carmona, a junior quarterback that is a huge reason the Ganesha Giants are 2-0 in the abbreviated season.

With all those freeways surrounding Ganesha means a lot of cars, but to visiting Bassett from nearby La Puente, Carmona looked more like a racing car than just an automobile.

Last week, in a 54-32 Giants’ win over the Olympians, the 6-foot, 160-pound Carmona was actually more like a one-man wrecking crew. As a passer, Jesse was a pinpoint 9 of 10 for 289 yards and five TDs and no picks, and that translates into a 168.8 QB rating. Carmona used his legs as well to rush for 124 yards on 15 carries with a fifth touchdown.

Carmona was also a big factor on defense where he had an interception he returned 35 yards, a batted pass and six solo tackles.

But wait, there’s more. In this game, Jesse did some kicking and punting, and while his punt didn’t go very far, he was 7 for 7 on extra points.

Two weeks ago in a 20-14 win over La Puente Nogales, Carmona was responsible for all three TDs, one passing and two rushing, plus he ran in a 2-point conversion. On defense he had an interception, a forced fumble and five solo tackles.

Carmona from Pomona is a chant we may be hearing a lot over the next two weeks and later in the fall.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Alexander Gilliam
(Rancho Verde, Moreno Valley) Jr.

The Inland Empire is where we land in our search for the Southern California Defensive Player of the Week. In Moreno Valley just southeast of Riverside is where we find Gilliam, a 6-foot, 245-pound defensive lineman who not only had a lineman’s dream come true once, but twice, in an odd way and in the same game with a somewhat peculiar score.

Gilliam may be a lineman, but against Elsinore of Lake Elsinore he was like a circus juggler with sprinter’s speed. Last week, in a 56-2 Rancho Verde victory over Elsinore that got the Mustangs to 3-0 on the season, Gilliam had two pick sixes.

The start of the game is where we had one of the strange twists. On its opening drive, Rancho Verde fumbled the ball out of the back of its own end zone giving Elsinore a 2-0 lead and possession of the ball.

No worries. On Elsinore’s third play of the next possession, Gilliam batted a pass attempt into the air, caught it while running at full speed, and sprinted past everyone for a 74-yard romp to paydirt.

In the third quarter, Gilliam got his second pick six on another batted pass, only this time he wasn’t a one man show. This time the ball was knocked down, but instead of hitting the ground it bounced off an Elsinore player and right into the hands of Alexander, and on this interception on his way to the house he turned aside several would be tacklers for a 31-yard scoring return.

Deville “Djoker” Dickerson of Lompoc often plays along with his nickname. Photo:

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

Deville “DJoker” Dickerson
(Lompoc) Jr.

For those of you wondering why Lompoc is the destination for our Southern California Special Teams honoree, it’s because when the northwestern most part of the CIF Southern Section was split, Santa Barbara County, where Lompoc lies, is still in the Southern Section while San Luis Obispo County went over to the CIF Central Section, and we consider that section part of Northern California.

We can’t visit Lompoc without reminiscing about the greatest player to ever adorn a Braves’ uniform, 1990 Mr. Football State Player of the Year, former Oakland Raider running back, and recent retired Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland head coach Napoleon Kaufman, currently the Pastor at The Well Christian Community in Livermore.

Dickerson may not make the same kind of name for himself in football as Kaufman did, although he’s done enough to earn the nickname “DJoker,” but what Deville did against San Marcos of Santa Barbara was no joke.

Last week, in a 54-7 rout of the Royals that got Lompoc to 3-0 in this shortened season, the “DJoker” had the last laugh.

San Marcos caught Lompoc sleeping early and took a 7-0 lead on the first play from scrimmage with a 90-yard touchdown.

The lead didn’t last long as Dickerson took the ensuing kickoff and burst out from behind a wall of blockers to go 88 yards to tie it at 7-7 and Lompoc never looked back. In the second quarter Dickerson fielded a punt and made it 28-7 after he returned it 67 yards for a house call.

Dickerson, a junior defensive back and wide receiver, set up the final Lompoc score with a pass interception in a second half that was played in a running clock.

For Deville, it was the second punt he’s returned for a TD after getting a 57-yarder two weeks ago in a rout of Goleta Dos Pueblos. He didn’t have any pass receptions last week, but so far this season he has registered two TDs as a receiver.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Nick Coronado
(Kimball, Tracy) Jr.

For our Northern California Offensive Player of the Week honoree, we head east of San Francisco Bay over the Altamont pass on the 580 and 205 freeways to Tracy. There we find a quarterback that was on the winning end of a scoreboard lighter-upper with Kimball on the winning side.

We take this opportunity to remind readers that the purpose of this feature is three-fold, one is to honor outstanding performances, and we try to find a diamond in the rough at the same time that doesn’t get statewide props, and third is to act as a resource for updating the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book. For Coronado, his performance qualifies for all three criteria.

Last week, in a wild 62-56 victory on the road at Patterson, Coronado does get a spot in the record book, and the game itself gets three more spots, and all three have a strange twist to them.

Coronado is being honored because he had a monster game after the junior signal-caller went 33 of 47 for 491 yards and seven touchdowns. Nick was also pretty quick with his feet after rushing for 87 yards on 12 carries with an eighth score.

The seven passing TDs is one short of making that list, but the 491 yards passing does make the record book in the Football Individual Records: Single Game Passing section’s Most Yards (Game) list.

The other three stats that make the record book are the 1,340 combined yards for the two teams, but Patterson had the bigger number after outgaining the Jaguars, 674 to 666.

Another out of the ordinary twist is had Patterson won, in all likelihood Tigers’ running back Jordan Imada would be the NorCal offensive honoree. He rushed for 416 yards and five TDs in a losing effort and that mark barely makes the 415-yard cutoff for the record book’s Single Game Rushing section Most Yards (Game) list.

The last bit of strangeness is the 56 points Patterson scores makes that record book list for the most points by a losing team.

It seems like this pandemic-ridden season has had a lot of twists and turns and we’ve only been in action around a month.

Coronado started at quarterback for the Jaguars as a sophomore and had several big outings, but nothing like 491 yards. His name also is familiar to us because his mother, Bianca, organized at least one local rally back in January for parents to push for high school athletics to resume. The games resume and her son gets to be in a game like that is quite remarkable.

Henry Hodgkins is making his short spring season count at Monta Vista (Cupertino). Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Henry Hodgkins
(Monta Vista, Cupertino) Sr.

Our Northern California Defensive Player of the Week is from the San Jose metro area around 10 miles west of downtown and just as you start to get to the foothills of the mountains that separate Silicon Valley from the Pacific Ocean.

There we find Hodgkins, and while this Henry isn’t a king like one of the English kings named Henry, the Matadors’ middle linebacker had a royal-like performance for Monte Vista to help them go to 1-2 with their first win of the season.

Last week, Hodgkins was like a linchpin on defense. The Matadors’ 6-foot, 210-pound senior linebacker recorded 25 tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered one of them, and Monte Vista needed every bit of his production in a 16-14 victory over Lynbrook of San Jose in which they fell behind early on and then had to hang on after the hosts had an opportunity to score on the game’s final drive.

We don’t have details as to what Hodgkins did to stall the final Lynbrook drive, but it’s probably safe to say he was part of the defensive effort that ran out the clock.

Tackle stats can be questionable, but there’s no question Henry is an outstanding player. He has been all-league as a sophomore and junior and in the fall of 2019 he had nearly 70 tackles and five sacks.

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

Hayden Petersen
(Buchanan, Clovis) Sr.

Since we’re heading to the CIF Central Section once again, we remind readers that for all our Players of the Week features for all sports, the Central Section, or The Valley as locals call it, is considered part of Northern California.

For our NorCal special teams honoree, we land in the Fresno suburb of Clovis and to a school that has been a home to the CIF state track meet until the pandemic forced the meets cancellation last year.

Last week, in a 45-38 victory over cross-town arch rival Clovis, the Bears’ 6-foot, 178-pound strong safety and two-sport star had one of the biggests play in a game that got Buchanan to 3-0 and a No. 21 ranking in the latest Cal-Hi Sports state rankings.

With the score tied 31-31 at the half, Petersen took the second half kickoff 80 yards to the house to give Buchanan a 38-31 lead.

We mentioned that Petersen is a two-sport star but football is not the sport he’ll be playing at the next level at Fresno State, its baseball. Besides being a member of the state-ranked Bears football team, Hayden also plays for the Buchanan baseball team that is currently 5-0 and No. 3 in the latest Cal-Hi sports rankings and also nationally ranked.

Buchanan also is no strange place for top athletes who shine in football and baseball. One of those who did that there was Brock Jones, currently slapping the ball all over the yard for Stanford in baseball. Fresno State baseball fans can only hope Petersen does something similar when he eventually concentrates on just the one sport.

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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