We have first team, second team, third team just missed and a top 12 chart of the leading Mr. Football State Player of the Year candidates. This is the 36th straight year of Cal-Hi Sports compiling a preseason all-state football team.
Note: There are no writeups for each player (like there will be for the official, end of season all-state first team) but all have writeups (or will have writeups) within this year’s various preseason all-section/all-area teams.
STATEWIDE LINEUP OF THESE PRESEASON TEAMS
(ALL TO BE DONE BY THIS THURSDAY):
CIF L.A. City Section | CIFSS Inland Empire | CIF Central Section | CIFSS SGV Valley | CIF NCS East Bay | CIF NCS Redwood Empire | CIF Sac-Joaquin Section | CIF Central Coast Section | CIFSS Long Beach/South Bay | CIFSS San Fernando Valley/Ventura | CIF Northern Section | CIF/SS Orange County
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Cal-Hi Sports All-State Football
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
WR Tiger Bachmeier
(Murrieta Valley, Murrieta) 6-1, 180, Sr.
WR Rico Flores Jr. (Folsom) 6-1, 190, Sr.
TE Walker Lyons (Folsom) 6-4, 235, Sr.
OL Luke Baklenko (Oaks Christian, Westlake Village) 6-6, 280, Sr.
OL DeAndre Carter (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-4, 340, Jr.
OL Simione Pale (Elk Grove) 6-4, 320, Sr.
OL Raymond Pulido (Apple Valley) 6-6, 320, Sr.
OL Jonah Rodriguez (Madison, San Diego) 6-4, 280, Sr.
QB Malachi Nelson (Los Alamitos) 6-3, 190, Sr.
RB Rodrick Robinson (Lincoln, San Diego) 6-1, 220, Sr.
RB Tybo Rogers (Bakersfield) 5-11, 185, Sr.
PK Aidan Flintoft
(Oaks Christian, Westlake Village) 6-2, 190, Sr.
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL Grant Buckey (Liberty, Bakersfield) 6-5, 275, Sr.
DL Jaeden Moore (Central Valley Christian, Visalia) 6-4, 230, Sr.
DL Matayo Uigalelei (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 6-4, 255, Sr.
LB Trey Edwards (Mater Dei Catholic, Chula Vista) 6-1, 220, Sr.
LB Blake Nichelson (Manteca) 6-3, 210, Sr.
LB Leviticus Su’a (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-1, 210, Sr.
DB Daylen Austin (Long Beach Poly, Long Beach) 6-1, 180, Sr.
DB Maliki Crawford (Pacifica, Oxnard) 6-3, 170, Sr.
DB Christian Pierce (Rancho Cucamonga) 6-2, 180, Sr.
DB Rodrick Pleasant (Serra, Gardena) 5-10, 170, Sr.
DB Aaron Williams (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 6-2, 185, Sr.
P Tashi Dorje (Liberty, Brentwood) 6-2, 170, Sr.
FIRST TEAM MULTI-PURPOSE
QB/RB Elijah Brown (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-2, 180, Jr.
QB/RB Pierce Clarkson (St. John Bosco) 6-0, 195, Sr.
WR/KR Jurrion Dickey (Menlo-Atherton, Atherton) 6-2, 205, Sr.
QB/RB Nicholas Iamaleava (Warren, Downey) 6-5, 205, Sr.
WR/DB Makai Lemon (Los Alamitos) 6-0, 180, Sr.
QB/RB Jaden Rashada (Pittsburg) 6-5, 195, Sr.
Note: WR/KR Jurrion Dickey just enrolled at Menlo-Atherton and may not be eligible to play early in the season.
SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
WR Mikey Matthews (Mission Viejo) 5-10, 185, Sr.
WR Jeremiah McClure (Mater Dei Catholic, Chula Vista) 6-3, 195, Sr.
WR Rashid Williams (Pittsburg) 6-3, 190, Sr.
OL Vaka Hansen (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 6-2, 305, Sr.
OL Alani Noa (Grant, Sacramento) 6-4, 320, Sr.
OL Tobias Raymond (Ventura) 6-7, 255, Sr.
OL Tyson Ruffins (Long Beach Poly) 6-3, 305, Sr.
OL B.J. Tolo (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-1, 290, Sr.
QB Julian Sayin (Carlsbad) 6-1, 185, Jr.
RB Charles Greer (De La Salle, Concord) 5-11, 180, Sr.
RB Brandon Johnson (Highland, Palmdale) 5-11, 185, Sr.
PK Mathias Brown (Sunny Hills, Fullerton) 6-0, 165, Sr.
SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
DL Collins Archeampong (Santa Margarita, Rancho SM) 6-7, 250, Sr.
DL Cameron Brandt (Sierra Canyon, Chatsworth) 6-4, 265, Sr.
DL Lucas Conti (Centennial, Corona) 6-5, 260, Sr.
DL Ashton Sanders (Cathedral, Los Angeles) 6-3, 295, Sr.
LB Deven Bryant (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 6-1, 210, Sr.
LB Victory Johnson (Cathedral Catholic, San Diego) 6-4, 230, Sr.
LB Jerry Mixon (Sacred Heart Cathedral, S.F.) 6-4, 225, Sr.
LB David Peevy (Lincoln, San Diego) 6-4, 230, Sr.
DB Jordan Shaw (St. Pius X-St. Matthias, Downey) 6-1, 170, Sr.
DB Chris Snyder (Mater Dei Catholic) 6-0, 175, Sr.
DB Peyton Woodyard (St. John Bosco) 6-2, 190, Jr.
P Greg Tripathi (Dos Pueblos, Goleta) 5-11, 165, Sr.
SECOND TEAM MULTI-PURPOSE
QB/RB Israel Carter (Centennial, Corona) 6-2, 180, Sr.
TE/DL Cooper Flanagan (De La Salle, Concord) 6-5, 230, Sr.
QB/ATH Jax Leatherwood (Scripps Ranch, San Diego) 6-8, 215, Sr.
QB/RB Jayden Mandal (Buchanan, Clovis) 6-1, 200, Sr.
WR/DB DeAndre Moore (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 5-11, 190, Sr.
RB/LB Dustin Reynolds (Apple Valley) 6-2, 225, Sr.
QB/RB Kadin Semonza (Mission Viejo) 6-1, 190, Sr.
THIRD TEAM JUST MISSED
OL Roger Alderman (Sonora) 6-5, 275, Sr.
RB Caleb Alvary (Simi Valley) 5-10, 190, Sr.
OL Brandon Baker (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-5, 290, Jr.
RB Curron Borders (Antelope) 5-7, 180, Sr.
RB Major Givens (Steele Canyon, Spring Valley) 5-9, 180, Sr.
WR Grant Gray (Norco) 6-3, 180, Sr.
OL Elishah Jackett (El Modena, Orange) 6-7, 280, Sr.
TE Zach Marshall (Carlsbad) 6-4, 220, Sr.
OL Sean Na’a (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 6-4, 275, Sr.
RB Nygel Osborne (Millikan, Long Beach) 5-10, 170, Sr.
OL Cooper Powers (De La Salle, Concord) 6-5, 275, Sr.
RB Devin Rivers (Heritage, Brentwood) 5-7, 165, Sr.
RB JoJo Solis (Aquinas, San Bernardino) 6-0, 175, Soph.
RB Delon Thompson (St. Bonaventure, Ventura) 5-9, 195, Sr.
OL Derek Thompson (De La Salle, Concord) 6-2, 295, Sr.
RB Johnny Thompson (Oaks Christian, Westlake Village) 6-0, 190, Sr.
OL Aitor Urionbarrenechea (Chaminade, West Hills) 6-5, 290, Sr.
DB Zabien Brown (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 5-11, 180, Jr.
DB Aaron Butler (Calabasas) 6-1, 175, Jr.
LB Owen Chambliss (Centennial, Corona) 6-3, 205, Sr.
DB Imari Conley (Central, Fresno) 5-10, 175, Sr.
DL T.A. Cunningham (Los Alamitos) 6-5, 260, Jr.
LB D’Angelo Davis (Serra, Gardena) 6-1, 190, Sr.
DL Wesley Ekpo (Muir, Pasadena) 6-4, 310, Sr.
LB Chris Fewell (Lincoln, San Diego) 6-3, 210, Sr.
DB Jshawn Frausto-Ramos (St. John Bosco) 6-0, 180, Sr.
LB Derek Houston (Rocklin) 6-1, 215, Sr.
DB R.J. Jones (St. John Bosco) 6-1, 185, Sr.
DB Ty Lee (St. John Bosco) 6-3, 190, Sr.
DB Jalen Lewis (Oaks Christian) 5-9, 180, Sr.
DB Emmett Mosley (Santa Margarita) 6-1, 175, Jr.
LB Weston Port (San Juan Hills, SJ Capistrano) 6-2, 220, Soph.
DB Sailasa Vadrawale (Rancho Cotate, Rohnert Park) 6-0, 175, Sr.
LB Tyler Williams (Long Beach Poly) 6-3, 205, Jr.
QB/RB Darius Cowens (Warren, Downey) 6-1, 180, Sr.
QB/P Luke Duncan (Miramonte, Orinda) 6-5, 195, Sr.
DB/WR Vincent Holmes (San Jacinto) 6-0, 180, Sr.
LB/ATH Jason Mitchell (Serra, Gardena) 6-3, 185, Sr.
RB/DB Brandon Ramirez (San Joaquin Memorial, Fresno) 6-0, 195, Sr.
WR/DB Jordan Ross (Warren, Downey) 6-0, 175, Jr.
RB/LB James Tivao (Madison, San Diego) 6-0, 215, Jr.
TOP 12 MR. FOOTBALL STATE PLAYER OF YEAR CONTENDERS
(Based on projected team success & expected individual success)
1. Makai Lemon (Los Alamitos)
For logical reasons, since he was the 2021 State Junior Player of the Year, Lemon also starts out No. 1 for the preseason as the leading player of the year candidate. He was selected after last season in a close call over teammate QB Malachi Nelson and others because of what he did on both sides of the ball. Players who do excel on both sides can have an advantage over someone who is just on offense or just on defense. If Makai has another season like he did last year and Los Al possibly makes it to the CIFSS D1 semifinals, he’ll be tough to beat. Committed to USC.
2. Pierce Clarkson (St. John Bosco, Bellflower)
If the Braves do live up to their preseason positioning and do come out on top in front of Mater Dei this season, their QB will likely be the one in the main spotlight among top player of the year candidates. Clarkson shared the starting role last year, but this year he’ll be the only one in the middle of all that talent around him. Since he can run the ball, we’d be more inclined to put him on first team all-state as a multi-purpose player with perhaps someone like Malachi Nelson on as the QB1. The son of QB coaching guru Steve Clarkson has committed to Louisville.
3. Elijah Brown (Mater Dei, Santa Ana)
The 2021 State Sophomore of the Year will start this season 17-0 as a starter for the Monarchs. He was the team’s No. 2 all-state player last year on our board after the now graduated Raleek Brown (RB). Elijah (no relation) might be 31-0 as the starter after this season. One would assume he’d be Mater Dei’s leading player of the year contender if all of the winning on Edinger Avenue is continuing.
4. Malachi Nelson (Los Alamitos)
Honors already won include being our State QB of the Year as a sophomore. Malachi also has risen to No. 1 in ESPN’s ranking of the top quarterback recruits in the nation and is still No. 2 behind Arch Manning of Louisiana for 247 Sports and Rivals. His team would have to probably get at least to the CIFSS D1 semifinals for his player of the year stock to go up. And with a two-way player on the same roster as Makai Lemon, Nelson also would need to put up the kind of numbers that would be even more impressive than what his teammate ends up with.
5. Matayo Uiagalelei (St. John Bosco, Bellflower)
The brother of 2019 Mr. Football State Player of the Year D.J. Uigalelei was the State Sophomore of the Year for the short 2021 spring season as he debuted the combo skills of playing tight end on offense and pass rush end on defense. With so many offensive weapons it’s unclear how much offense that Matayo will be playing this season but he’s such a nightmare matchup that he may get more than a few snaps each week. As strictly a dominant rush end, becoming player of the year is more difficult. He still has to be on this list of contenders, however, with that unique athleticism that he has.
6. Nicholas Iamaleava (Warren, Downey)
The path for Nico to be a top player of the year candidate goes something like this: He puts up huge numbers all season for the Bears, but they still fall down into the CIFSS D2 or D3 playoffs. An Open Division championship team like Bosco or Mater Dei spreads it out too much so that one guy (a little like MD last season) doesn’t emerge as that team’s main guy. Iamaleava leads Warren to the greatest season in its school’s history, perhaps even winning a CIF state title.
7. Jaden Rashada (Pittsburg)
He could be the top candidate from Northern California. Jaden is the highest ranked QB (committed to Miami) and he doesn’t have to lead the Pirates to a win over De La Salle in the CIF North Coast Section, either. There is a path for him to lead Pitt to a lower division state title. Rashada also has all of the talented teammates he needs at the skill positions for him to have a huge season while being successful in that scenario as described.
8. Rodrick Robinson (Lincoln, San Diego)
He’s considered the No. 1 RB in California and will be looking to lead the Hornets to the CIF San Diego Section Open Division title. It is going to be tough for Lincoln just to get into the four-team Open Division playoffs with a mix of top teams that includes Cathedral Catholic, Mater Dei Catholic, Carlsbad, Madison and Helix. He can come up with the highlight reel touchdowns and wins, however, that if Lincoln is that team, then its big-time running back is going to be rewarded.
9. Julian Sayin (Carlsbad)
San Diego powerhouse teams Cathedral Catholic and Mater Dei Catholic are more spread out with their returning standouts so just like Rodrick Robinson at Lincoln could be highly honored by the end of this season, the same can be said for Sayin as a QB. Julian is among the top Class of 2024 QBs in the nation and will have TE Zack Marshall and WR Justin Johnson (both transfers) to throw to this season.
10. Charles Greer (De La Salle, Concord)
While the Spartans usually have a two-way standout like Zeke Barry from last season who is their leading honors candidate, it’s easy to see that Greer may be that guy this time. The Fresno State committed RB had a breakout 1,000-yard season as a junior and will be running behind one of the top offensive lines in the state. When the Spartans line up TE Cooper Flanagan and OLs Cooper Flowers and Derek Thompson on the same side, the holes will be there and Greer has shown he knows how to pop through them. DLS tight ends usually don’t get enough touches on offense to be a player of the year candidate, but Flanagan could change that and also can make a difference as a defensive end (like Austin Hooper back in the day).
11. Blake Nichelson (Manteca)
There may not be a more versatile performer in the state this season. Nichelson was the state’s leading rusher last season with more than 2,000 yards rushing. But he’s also one of the state’s leading recruits as a linebacker. Plus, the Buffaloes literally could put him anywhere on the field on both sides of the ball and he’d make a difference (WR, TE, DE, DB). Nichelson also has the teammates coming back around him to have a monstrous season.
12. Kadin Semonza (Mission Viejo)
The Diablos may have what it takes to close the gap between themselves and the big three of Mater Dei, Bosco and Corona Centennial this season. If it were to be them, for example, and not Los Alamitos that makes that jump, then the play of Semonza, Mission’s returning QB, will likely be the main reason for it. He also has all of the returning targets he needs, led by WR Mikey Matthews.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports