NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s SoCal/NorCal honorees are running backs Donovan Harvey (left) from Elsinore of Lake Elsinore & Tristan Risley of Clovis. Photos: & Clovis Roundup.

We start out in the Fresno/Clovis area this week for one of the greatest performances ever in the rivalry series between Clovis and Clovis West. From there, we make two stops not far from the state capitol before heading to Southern California. Our three stops there are in the far reaches of the Inland Empire in Wildomar, and then Santa Fe Springs before we end this week in the San Gabriel Valley and Arcadia.

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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

Tristan Risley (Clovis) Sr.

To find our Northern California Offensive Player of the Week, we head to the heart of “The Valley” as the locals affectionately call the CIF Central Section. Around five miles northeast of downtown Fresno in Clovis we find a Cougars running back that made the weekly “Milestones” put out by Central Section historian and longtime Cal-Hi Sports friend and contributor Bob Barnett. His last name is Risley and at times this season he’s looked more like a Grizzly coming at would be tacklers cradling the pigskin.

The ultimate example was last week in a 60-43 victory over nearby Tri-Rivers Athletic Conference arch-rival Clovis West when Risley delighted the Lamonica Stadium fans and was the main reason the Cougars were able to claim the Range Rider Trophy for the third straight season.

Along the way, Tristan rushed for 440 yards and six touchdowns. Those marks broke the school’s single-game record for most TDs, most rushing yards, and most yards gained by an offensive player including quarterback.

So far this season for a 7-3 Clovis squad, the 6-foot, 180-pound Risley has run for 1,772 yards and 24 touchdowns, plus he has 218 yards receiving and one more score. The rushing yardage is tops in The Valley and the No. 8 reported mark in the state.

Despite limited action as a freshman and a 5-game junior season, Risley has rushed for 3,902 and 50 TDs in his varsity career. He’s the career leader at Clovis High, which has had a lot of great teams over the years, including when the great Daryle Lamonica was there himself.

Kai Wallin’s emergence as a defensive force this season has been one of the reasons that Jesuit of Carmichael rose to the No. 2 seed in this year’s CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 playoffs. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Kai Wallin (Jesuit, Carmichael) Sr.

A little less than 10 miles east of the state capitol and a stone’s throw away from the American River is our destination in search of our Northern California defensive award winner.

At Jesuit in Carmichael, we find a 6-foot-5, 220-pound defensive end named Wallin, who now ads a statewide award to recently being named the JoeD Regular Season Defensive Player of the Year honoree by Sacramento Bee veteran scribe Joe Davidson, an award that could be a prelude to being named the Bee’s Metro Defensive Player of the Year.

Last week, in 48-18 victory over Sheldon of Sacramento that got Jesuit to 9-1 and at 6-0 wrapped up the Delta League, Kai was flying high for the Marauders’ defense after coming up with five sacks in the game, all in the first half, with three coming on successive plays in the second quarter.

The five sacks falls one shy of the Most QB Sacks (Game) list in the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book, and there’s no list for most sacks in a half or most successive sacks, but if there were we’re sure Wallin would be high up on them.

It’s also worth mentioning that Kai can fly high on the hardwood as well. As a power forward on a Jesuit team that went 16-0 in the spring season and finished No. 17 in the Cal-Hi Sports Final Expanded Rankings, Wallin averaged a very solid 7.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

On a final note, we’re also pretty sure Kai would want to give a shout out to Marlon Blanton, his head coach. Blanton, who played at De La Salle and like several other NorCal coaches is a disciple of legendary coach and movie man, Bob Ladouceur, was one of two coaches and their staffs to earn kudos from Davidson as the Regular Season Coach of the Year.

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

Ian Peterson (Roseville) Sr.

We tried hard to find a place to land in the Bay Area for our Northern California Special Teams Player of the Week but no one could make the grade, so we make a second stop in the Sacramento metro area.

Last week, in a 15-13 victory on the road in Sacramento at Inderkum, Peterson was in a pressure cooker situation.

Because of his only gaffe in the game, and we don’t know if it was a bad snap or he kicked it outside the goal posts on a missed extra point, Peterson had the game on the line trailing 13-12 with his foot the determining factor.

As the ball was snapped and the clock expired, Peterson drilled home a 37-yard field goal to win the game. It was the game’s leading scorer’s third field goal of the night.

Peterson, who also kicks off and punts, and occasionally plays wide receiver and defensive back, has made 5 of 6 field attempts and 48 of 50 PATs this season.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Donovan Harvey (Elsinore, Wildomar) Sr.

The southeastern portion of the Inland Empire off the I-15 just north of where it splits with the 215 and not far from Lake Elsinore is where we find our Southern California Offensive Player of the Week.

Things started a little rough for the Tigers’ 5-foot-9, 175-pound running back last week as he was dropped for a 6-yard loss on his first carry. From there, however, Harvey was cruising like a Harley on his next 18 he rushed and finished with 294 yards and three TDs in a 44-34 victory over Temescal Canyon of neighboring Lake Elsinore.

It was the second-straight 200-plus yard performance after Harvey carved out 264 yards on a mere nine carries with four going for scores two weeks ago in a big win over Notre Dame of Riverside.

With the win Elsinore (7-3, 3-1) shares the Ivy League title but earned the top spot from the league in the CIF Southern Section playoffs where Harvey and his Tigers’ teammates will open this week at home against Santa Ynez in the Division 8 playoffs where Donovan will look to add to his 1,313 yards and 13 TDs this season.

In the COVID-shortened spring season, and despite only playing five games, Harvey was the No. 3 reported leading rusher in the Southern Section with 932 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Devin Munoz has been a tackling machine all season for St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Devin Munoz (St. Paul, Santa Fe Springs) Jr.

For our Southern California defensive award winner, we head to the eastern edge of Los Angeles County just east of Downey. Our stop is at a school where the second winningest coach in state history, according to the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book, the late Marijon Ancich, got the majority of his 360 career coaching victories.

At St. Paul, we find a 6-foot-3, 205-pound safety that despite playing mostly in the secondary has been effective at also stopping the run well enough to lead the team in tackles.

Last week, Munoz was at his finest, and the Swordsmen needed all of his season high 21 tackles in a 36-35 victory over Loyola of Los Angeles that dropped the Cubs out of the state rankings and onto the Bubble along with St. Paul.

On the season for the 8-1 Swordsmen, Devin has drilled opponents for 98 tackles, and doing the math that’s an average of over 10 per game. He didn’t have any other defensive stats of note against Loyola, but this season Munoz also has three interceptions, seven batted passes, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble, and for good measure he’s blocked two field goals.

Munoz also is a multi-sport athlete — he’s perhaps best known for baseball — and he has been reported with a 4.3 GPA.

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

Gio Ortega (Rio Hondo Prep, Arcadia) Sr.

The San Gabriel Valley is where we find our Southern California Special Teams Player of the Week, and it’s in Arcadia and across the bike path from Mungi Lake at Rio Hondo Prep.

We couldn’t find details as to why the Kares’ regular kicker didn’t do the kicking, since Ortega was called on to kick PATs for the first time this season. However, his 6 for 6 on extra points last week in a 56-14 thrashing of Viewpoint (Calabasas) was one of the factors in his selection for the honor, but Gio did a lot more, and if we had a Multi-Purpose category for the Player of the Week features like we do for some All State teams, Ortega would be the perfect candidate.

In addition to being perfect as a kicker, Gio made sure the Viewpoint kicker wasn’t by blocking a field goal, but like we said there’s more. He also returned a kick-off 97-yards to the house for a score.

But wait, there’s even more. Ortega plays both offense and defense and has 394 yards rushing and four TDs this season and 238 yards and five TDs as a receiver. Gio didn’t get any carries but he did have one reception for 17 yards, and he also played quarterback for one play and threw a 49-yard TD pass. Ortega also had two tackles and has 23 with four for losses on the season.

What makes things even more interesting is with an enrollment of 88 students, Rio Hondo Prep is the smallest school in the CIF Southern Section to play 11-man football, but it hasn’t stopped the Kares this season. The team is 9-1 and will be in action this week in the Southern Section Division 7 playoffs facing Charter Oak of Covina.

On a final note, with only having 88 students but fielding seven varsity boys and seven varsity girls’ teams, Rio Hondo Prep has a lot of multi-sport athletes and Ortega is one of them as he also plays baseball and basketball.

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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