SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week are Kayden Collins of Canoga Park and Roland Russo from Bullard of Fresno. Photos: @CanogaFootball & @PAGMETER.

As the funnel narrows, the performances in each of the three categories for Northern and Southern California are not always earth shattering but this week we dug deep in a couple of places to come up with our six honorees. We start out in the LA City Section in Canoga Park, head south to San Diego and finish up in Downey for our Southern California stops. In Northern California, we visit Fresno, which we consider NorCal for all our individual honors, then north to Modesto, and finally we go further north and end up in Rocklin.

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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 Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Kayden Collins (Canoga Park) Sr.

The San Fernando Valley portion of the CIF Los Angeles City Section is where we land in search of the Southern California Offensive Player of the Week, and in Canoga Park we found a dandy running back that picked the right time to have his best game ever. Now, he gets a statewide honor for his efforts.

Last week, in a huge upset for the LA City Section Division I No. 13 seed Canoga Park over top-seeded Dorsey, Kayden had the perfect cadence after leading the Hunters to a 43-20 victory with a career high 346 yards rushing on a whopping 42 carries with two TDs, including a 66-yard romp to the house.

The 6-foot, 165-pound senior also had four tackles and batted down two passes as a free safety. About the only thing Collins didn’t do well is play quarterback as he’s occasionally done this season. You guessed it. He threw a pick.

With his yards against Dorsey, Collins is now not only the reported LA City Section rushing leader but his 2,376 yards is the reported top mark in the state heading into a Division I title game against second-seeded Venice.

Collins did the heavy lifting against Dorsey but we’re pretty sure he’d want to give a shout out to teammate Dane Reed. The junior had 74 yards and three TDs rushing and had a passing TD reception for a fourth score, plus he had a sack on defense.

X marks the spot when Xander Medina of Scripps Ranch gets in on the tackle. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Xander Medina (Scripps Ranch, San Diego) Sr.

It’s been a while since we visited the CIF San Diego Section but that’s our landing spot in search of this week’s Southern California Defensive Player of the Week. It is in the northeasterly most portion of San Diego and the Scripps Ranch neighborhood. There we find Medina, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound linebacker and tight end who has been having a great season for Scripps Ranch.

Last week, Xander helped deliver an early Xmas present to Falcons’ fans by being a major contributor on both sides of the line of scrimmage in a convincing 28-7 victory by the No. 2 seed over neighboring sixth-seeded Rancho Bernardo in the San Diego Section Division II semifinals. It’s his defense, though, that earns him a statewide honor.

The swarming Falcons’ defense had 79 total tackles and Medina had a team-leading 13 of them, plus he intercepted a pass. On offense he had one of two Falcons’ receiving TDs and finished with three receptions for 35 yards.

So far this season for 10-1 Scripps Ranch, and heading into the Division II title game against No. 4 seed La Jolla, Medina is second on the team with 61 tackles and has a team high seven for losses including two sacks. On offense, he has 13 receptions for 199 yards and three touchdowns.

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

Jordan Shaw (St. Pius X-St. Matthias, Downey) Jr.

Around 15-miles southeast of downtown Las Angeles and a stone’s throw away from where the 710 and 105 freeways in Downey intersect is where we land in search of the Southern California Special Teams Player of the Week, and it’s at a small Catholic school named St. Pius X-St. Matthias where we find Shaw.

Last week, in an exciting 46-43 victory by the CIF Southern Section Division 7 second-seeded Warriors on the road at Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach, Shaw, a 6-foot, 165-pounder who has seven Pac-12 offers, contributed in multiple ways, and St. Pius X-St. Matthias needed every bit of his production to hold off the hosts. However, it’s his 75-yard kickoff return for a second quarter touchdown for which he’s receiving this statewide special teams honor.

We mentioned that Shaw did more than just take a kickoff to the house. Jordan also had a 93-yard yard TD reception to open the game and had another TD receiving to give him three scores on the night. Shaw finished with 253 total yards and had an interception when playing defense at cornerback, the position he’s being recruited for.

Jordan also has been a kick returning star all season. Entering last week, he was shown with five punt return TDs on the year with none on kickoffs. We now know it’s five on punts and one on a kickoff.

Shaw now will lead 11-2 St. Pius X-St. Matthias into the Division 7 title game against No. 5 seed Aquinas of San Bernardino.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Roland Russo (Bullard, Fresno) Sr.

The heart of the CIF Central Section and the city of Fresno about 5-miles north of downtown of the largest city in “The Valley” is where we land for this profile. Russo was nominated by Central Section historian and longtime Cal-Hi Sports friend and contributor Bob Barnett, who included Roland in his weekly Milestones report.

To say Roland was rolling last week in a 49-21 Division II victory for top-seeded Bullard over visiting Kingsburg would be an understatement.

One week after tying his career best with four TD passes in a win over crosstown rival Clovis West, Roland ran it up a notch higher. According to Barnett, he tied a school record with seven touchdown passes for 398 yards, the second-highest total in school history, and Bullard has a long history of being a quality football program.

So far this season for the 8-4 Knights, and heading into a showdown with No. 2 seed Bakersfield for the D2 title, Russo has thrown for 2,998 yards and 32 touchdowns. The reported stats to MaxPreps have not been updated but the passing yardage would be top 20 in the state and the No. 2 mark in the Central Section.

Russo didn’t do it alone and we’re sure he’d want to give a shout out to teammate Jayden Davis, who had three interceptions on defense and caught two of Russo’s TD passes.

Nolan Croasdale roams the secondary for Central Catholic’s stingy defense. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Nolan Croasdale (Central Catholic, Modesto) Sr.

We head to the Central Valley and the city of Modesto in search of our Northern California Defensive Player of the Week and land at Central Catholic where we find our honoree.

The Raiders had several players that stood out last week in a 35-0 rout by the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II top-seeded Raiders over fourth seed and 11-0 Antelope. However, we don’t do co-anything in any of our weekly or season ending honors, so Nolan gets the nod after tying with several others for a team high with five tackles, and he had a fumble recovery and two batted passes as well.

Croasdale also got into the act on offense with three pass receptions for 96 yards, including a 48-yard TD catch.

So far this season for the 11-1 Raiders and heading into the D2 title game against upstart No. 7 seed Monterey Trail of Elk Grove, the 6-foot, 170-pound Croasdale has 35 tackles from his defensive back position, two fumble recoveries and an interception. He’s been described in several articles as the leader of the Central Catholic secondary (including one for the game vs. Antelope) and having seen him in person that is a very accurate description of him.

Besides his defensive prowess, Croasdale has been an even bigger weapon on offense. He leads the Raiders in receiving with 26 receptions for 534 yards and three touchdowns. This is on a team that runs the ball three times as many times than it passes and no other receiver on the team has 100 yards receiving this season.

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

McGregor TeSelle (Rocklin) Sr.

We head out the Interstate 80 corridor around 20-miles east of the state capital to Rocklin to find our Northern California Special Teams Player of the Week and no one had to sell us on TeSelle after what he did with his foot for the Cal-Hi Sports No. 8 ranked Thunder last week.

In a wild and wacky finish in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals it was the foot of TeSelle that was the difference in a 51-48 victory by the No. 1 seed over fifth-seeded St. Mary’s of Stockton.

With under a minute left in the game, McGregor pulled the trigger on a 40-yard field goal that tied the score at 48-48. Then, after an interception by Kyran Bell, the Thunder got the ball down to the St. Mary’s 20-yard line with enough time for one more play.

Naturally, Rocklin head coach Sam Pulino called on his kicker to seal the deal and TeSelle trotted out on the field. St. Mary’s had two timeouts left and when McGregor lined up for the 37-yard field goal the Rams called a timeout to ice him before the ball was snapped.

The Rams tried to ice him a second time but to no avail as TeSelle drilled a 37-yarder that split the upright and probably would have gone 50 yards. As the ball sailed over the crossbar, bedlam broke out on the field and in the stands at Rocklin.

“When they iced me the first time, I thought it was normal,” TeSelle told the Sacramento Bee. “When they iced me the second time, I took it as disrespect. I wanted to send them packing.”

It was the third field goal of the game for TeSelle, who was also 4 of 5 on PATs

Heading into the CIFSJS D1 title game against a Folsom team Rocklin trounced 40-7 in Sierra Foothill League action, TeSelle is 4 of 4 on field goal attempts and 13 of 16 on PATs. In the Folsom, game he made his only other field goal of the season, a career high 42-yarder, and was 5 of 5 on PATs against the Bulldogs.

We also want to give a shout out to junior Will Lui of Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa), who was aced out by TeSelle. We thought we had witnessed the winner in the Cardinals’ 44-22 victory over Tennyson of Hayward in the CIF North Coast Section Division 4 semifinals. Liu was 3 for 3 on field goals with a longest of 39 yards that had plenty to spare, plus he was 5 of 5 on PATs, but TeSelle’s performance was even more impressive and came in a contest between two highly state-ranked opponents.

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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