NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week are Liam Smith from Hillsdale of San Mateo & Clash Orsborn from Mission Bay of San Diego. Photos: Courtesy school &

Once again this week we remind readers that besides looking for hidden talent that doesn’t get a lot of ink, we use this feature for finding entries in the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book. This week we have both categories covered. We start in San Mateo and then go to Brentwood and Patterson in Northern California. For Southern California, we find our record book entry in San Diego. From there, we head north to Huntington Beach and then continue north to Lawndale.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate anyone, email We are picking the winners on Monday nights for the rest of the spring season.


Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Liam Smith (Hillsdale, San Mateo) Jr.

We land on The Peninsula around 20 miles south of downtown San Francisco to find our Northern California offensive honoree.

There were bigger NorCal performances stat-wise than what Smith did on the field last week, but we don’t always look for the biggest numbers or pick kids that already are getting a lot of ink. One of the things we try to do with this feature is occasionally find a “diamond in the rough” as the old saying goes, and give a young man some statewide recognition he might not otherwise get, and possibly a lifetime memory of his high school career that might be the biggest award he ever gets – and in Liam we have one.

Last week, in a 42-41 overtime victory over nearby Capuchino of San Bruno, the Fighting Knights’ quarterback was 19-of-34 passing for 304 yards and five touchdowns. Smith also rushed for 62 yards and Hillsdale needed all his production.

His final pass of the game in overtime was tipped but senior Tyler Douglass hauled it in for a 10-yard touchdown, his second receiving TD of the game. Senior wide receiver Zach Leighton, who had two TD receptions from Smith and 129 yards receiving, booted home his fourth PAT on four attempts.

Capuchino got the ball on its possession and scored, but Smith can thank his defense for helping him get this statewide honor because they stopped the host Mustangs on a 2-point conversion attempt to win the game.

For the season, Smith has led Hillsdale to a 5-2 record with more than 1,200 yards passing (17 TDs) and just more than 200 yards rushing (4 TDs).

Jayden Ennis has been a defensive leader at Heritage (Brentwood) all season long. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Jayden Ennis (Heritage, Brentwood) Sr.

The far eastern part of Contra Costa County bordering the Delta area is where we find our Northern California Defensive Player of the Week.

Ennis, a 6-foot, 200-pound strong safety who occasionally plays wide receiver, is another example of a young man who rarely if ever gets the spotlight, although he was previously named All Bay Valley Athletic League at linebacker. On the Patriots’ team, most of the props go to junior running back Devon Rivers, however, this week it’s Jayden getting the attention.

Last week, in a 50-30 BVAL victory over neighboring Freedom of Oakley, Ennis played defense as if he were possessed. He had a season-high 18 tackles with six for losses, and interception, a fumble recovery and a batted pass.

On the season, Jayden also leads the 4-3 Patriots with 51 tackles in six games played.

Ennis would certainly want to give a shout out to Rivers, who had a performance nearly worthy of our NorCal offensive award after rushing for season highs of 223 yards and four touchdowns.

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

Johan Mendoza (Patterson) Sr.

For our Northern California Special Teams Player of the Week we head to the Sac-Joaquin Section just off of I-5 around 15-miles southwest of Modesto and 15-miles due west of Turlock, and to a town also known as the Apricot Capital of the World.

It’s in Patterson where we find a senior kicker and punter who probably likes apricots, but when he puts his foot into the pigskin more often than not all he leaves opponents with is the pits and fits.

Last week, in a 59-43 barn burning victory over Golden Valley of Merced, Mendoza was a doozy. He was 8-for-8 on PATs and connected on his lone field goal attempt after splitting the upright from 39 yards out. He also had 10 kickoffs and averaged just over 50-yards a kick with two touchbacks. Johan only punted once and it went for 43 yards.

The Tigers have played nine games and are 7-2, and they score a lot of points, averaging 46 per game. The result is that on the season Mendoza has made 55-of-56 PATs and all three field goal attempts. The 64 total kicking points is the top reported mark in the state according to MaxPreps and tied for sixth in the nation.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Clash Orsborne (Mission Bay, San Diego) Sr.

The Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego is where we stop to snag our Southern California Offensive Player of the Week.

We like to have fun with names and maybe it’s a little corny, but other than in one loss for the 7-1 Buccaneers, opponents have learned it doesn’t pay any cash to clash with Clash.

Last week in a 60-6 victory, visiting nearby San Diego Kearny learned the hard way after Orsborne went airborne to the tune of 19-for-25 passing for 342 yards and eight touchdowns. He also rushed for a score meaning he had a hand in nine touchdowns. The eight TDs makes the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book on the Most Touchdown Passes (Game) list.

Orsborne joins two other quarterbacks who have passed for eight TDs in a game this season, junior Justyn Martin of Inglewood and sophomore Trevor Lagarde of Torrance North.

On the season, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Orsborne has passed for 2,066 yards and 31 TDs with only four interceptions. The fleet-footed signal caller, who also runs the 200 on the Mission Bay track team, also has 189 yards rushing and nine more scores. The passing yardage is the No. 3 reported mark in the CIF San Diego Section and No. 18 in the state.

Austin Grbic has helped Edison’s defense do well in wins against Corona del Mar and San Clemente. Photo: Matt Szabo / @DailyPilotSport.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Austin Grbic (Edison, Huntington Beach) Jr.

Orange County is our destination in search of our Southern California Defensive Player of the Week. At Edison, around a mile inland from Huntington State Beach, we find a 6-foot-2, 200-pound defensive end who has played a huge role for the defense of the 5-3 Chargers in the seven games he’s played this season.

Last week, and after Austin and twin brother Cody missed the loss two weeks ago to Cal-Hi Sports No. 13 Los Alamitos due to Coronavirus contact tracing, Grbic returned with a vengeance to the state No. 30 Chargers by coming up with four big sacks, including three in the fourth quarter, to help hold off No. 40 Corona del Mar in a 28-20 home victory. Austin finished with eight total tackles and defensive back Cody had three tackles.

On defense this season Austin has 39 tackles with 16 for losses, 12 sacks, a safety and a fumble recovery. On offense at tight end, Grbic had a TD reception in a 23-21 loss to state No. 24 Orange Lutheran.

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

Jacob “JJ” Lewis (Leuzinger, Lawndale) Sr.

Our final stop in Southern California is off the 405 on Rosecrans Avenue in Lawndale, around three miles east of Manhattan Beach. At Leuzinger we uncover Lewis, who’s been making significant contributions on offense, defense and special teams for the Olympians but for this week’s honor he snags the Southern California Special Teams Player of the Week award.

Last week, in a 51-0 rout of Beverly Hills, the 6-foot, 180-pound free safety, wide receiver and return specialist took both punts he returned to the house, one for 77 yards and the other one was a 67-yarder.

On the season, Lewis, who recently got an offer from Cal as a defensive back to go with offers from Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and Southern Methodist, has done a little of everything.

Of the five TDs “JJ” has scored this season, one came on a 90-yard pick six in a loss to Cal-Hi Sports state No. 5 Mission Viejo, and besides the two punt returns last week he had two TDs as a wide receiver in a victory over Calabasas.

Lewis and his teammates have a huge game coming up on Friday at North (Torrance) where they will take on unbeaten state No. 28 Inglewood for the Ocean League title. Leuzinger is only 5-3, but two of the losses are to Long Beach Poly and Mission Viejo.

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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One Comment

  1. raiderlaz18
    Posted October 25, 2021 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Pittsburg’s might go to college but i thought he’s a sophmore and should at least play one more season.

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