Section By Section Football Greats

Two of the leading players in California high school football history are linebacker/running back D.J. Williams from Concord De La Salle (player of year in 1999) & the late Junior Seau of Oceanside. Photos: Scott Kurtz &

With the first class of 100 inductees going into the new California High School Football Hall of Fame in mind (opening next month), here’s a look at lists of the all-time top players from each of the 10 sections within the California Interscholastic Federation. These are based on the first votes for the Hall of Fame by a 25-member committee plus our own criteria of going by high school and post-high school accomplishments.

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Are they in or are they not? We love Hall of Fames (every school with any kind of history, like 50 years or more, should have one for sports) and thought about doing a list of those who will be among the first 100 going into the first class of the California High School Football Hall of Fame combined with a list of those from each CIF section who perhaps should be going in or already should have been voted in.

This isn’t meant to be a criticism of the first state football hall of fame class because most of the 100 are correct and it was almost an impossible task for those on the committee who voted to come up with 100 honorees. The reason it was 100 and perhaps not vetted as closely as a smaller group would have been is the 100 matches the 100-year anniversary being celebrated this year at the Rose Bowl, which is where the space for the hall of fame will be located. The hall of fame is scheduled to open at the Rose Bowl on the weekend of Nov. 25-26 to coincide with the CIF Southern Section Division I championship game.

It should be known, however, that the 25-member committee that did vote for this hall of fame had no one who voted representing several of the major CIF sections in the state, including San Diego, Central and Central Coast, not to mention the three smallest sections (Northern, San Francisco & Oakland). A large majority was from the CIF Southern Section and/or CIF L.A. City Section. This majority was most obvious in the voting for the top 25 vote getters (only three from the north), but for the overall 100 it did end up at 34 for the north and 66 for the south (including San Diego), which to be honest is close to about what we thought it would be when the process for selections began.

There was a member of the media from San Diego on the committee, but according to John Maffei of the San Diego Union-Tribune, his longtime colleague, Steve Brand, received no contact other than an initial email. Maffei for sure should be asked to be added to this committee. For the record, Cal-Hi Sports was heavily involved in putting together the ballot for this first class and we had a vote. Anyone who ever has a question about anything from our comprehensive state records or our 45 years of covering the entire state also can always ask without anything expected in return other than credit for the work.

What is presented below is a section-by-section list of those who were voted into this first hall of fame and then a list of those who also were considered (researched by us for the actual ballot) and those we have seen who were mentioned by others in the media after the list of 100 came out in August. We also have gone through the sections that have their own Halls of Fame and have added players from them. The ones that currently have them are in the Southern Section, San Diego, L.A. City and Sac-Joaquin.


Bakersfield Christian once had future NFL QB Derek Carr leading the way. His brother, Darren, is the current head coach. Photo:

Players Voted Into State Hall of Fame:
Henry Ellard (Hoover, Fresno) WR
Frank Gifford (Bakersfield) RB
Jimmy Johnson (Kingsburg) DB
Tim McDonald (Edison, Fresno) DB
Don Mosebar (Mt. Whitney, Visalia) OL
Les Richter (Fresno) LB
Jeff Siemon (Bakersfield) LB
Charles Young (Edison, Fresno) TE

Leading Players Not In State Hall of Fame:
John Baker (Kingsburg) OL
Jeff Buckey (Bakersfield) OL
David Carr (Stockdale, Bakersfield) QB
Derek Carr (Bakersfield Christian) QB
Ron Cox (Washington, Easton) LB
Daryle Lamonica (Clovis) QB
Ryan Mathews (West, Bakersfield) RB
Kent Nance (Madera) RB
Lorenzo Neal (Lemoore) FB
Joey Porter (Foothill, Bakersfield) LB
Steve Wofford (Bakersfield) RB
Louis Wright (Bakersfield) DB
Note: Josh Allen (Firebaugh) QB wasn’t yet eligible to be voted on in the spring of 2022.


Former NFL QB Trent Dilfer is shown working with high school QBs at an Elite 11 camp several years ago. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Players Voted Into State Hall of Fame:
Steve Bartkowski (Buchser, Santa Clara) QB
Gary Beban (Sequoia, Redwood City) QB
Tom Brady (Serra, San Mateo) QB
Nello “Flash” Falaschi (Bellarmine, San Jose) RB
Dan Fouts (St. Ignatius, San Francisco) QB
Jim Plunkett (James Lick, San Jose) QB
Ron Rivera (Seaside) LB
Lynn Swann (Serra, San Mateo) WR

Leading Players Not In State Hall of Fame:
Davante Adams (Palo Alto) WR
Jared Allen (Los Gatos) DL
Andre Carter (Oak Grove, San Jose) DL
Trent Dilfer (Aptos) QB
Julian Edelman (Woodside) QB/WR
Herm Edwards (Monterey) DB
Trent Edwards (Los Gatos) QB
Mason Foster (Seaside) LB
Jim Harbaugh (Palo Alto) QB
Erik Howard (Bellarmine, San Jose) DL
Tut Imlay (Salinas) QB
Greg Jones (South San Francisco) RB
Craig Morton (Campbell) QB
Deltha O’Neal (Milpitas) DB
Dan Pastorini (Bellarmine, San Jose) QB/P
John Paye (Menlo School, Atherton) QB
Tim Rossovich (St. Francis, Mountain View) LB
Tim Ryan (Oak Grove, San Jose) DL
Pat Tillman (Leland, San Jose) DB


De’Anthony Thomas is shown playing in his very first varsity game for Crenshaw of Los Angeles during 2008 season. Photo: Scott Kurtz.

Players Voted Into State Hall of Fame:
Jon Arnett (Manual Arts) RB
Hal Bedsole (Reseda) WR
Ricky Bell (Fremont) RB
Anthony Davis (San Fernando) RB
Tom Fears (Manual Arts) WR
John Elway (Granada Hills) QB
Mike Garrett (Roosevelt) RB
Michael Haynes (John Marshall) DB
James Lofton (Washington) WR
Hugh McElhenny (Washington) RB
Freeman McNeil (Banning, Wilmington) RB
Warren Moon (Hamilton) QB
Joe Perry (Jordan) RB
Kenny Washington (Lincoln) RB
Bob Waterfield (Van Nuys) QB
Charles White (San Fernando) RB

Leading Players Not In State Hall of Fame:
Arnold Ale (Carson) LB
Michael Alo (Banning, Wilmington) RB/LB
Nnamdi Asumugha (Narbonne, Harbor City) DB
Ron Cuccia (Wilson, Los Angeles) RB
Roy Foster (Taft, Woodland Hills) OL
Darian Hagan (Locke) QB/RB
Jamelle Holieway (Banning, Wilmington) QB/RB
Keyshawn Johnson (Dorsey) WR
Jack Kemp (Fairfax) QB
Frank Manumaluena (Banning, Wilmington) LB
Rod Martin (Hamilton) LB
Ken Norton (Westchester) LB
Tom Ramsey (Kennedy, Granada Hills) QB
Malcolm Smith (Taft, Woodland Hills) LB
Steve Smith (Taft, Woodland Hills) WR
Steve Smith (University, Los Angeles) WR
De’Anthony Thomas (Crenshaw) RB/KR
Wendell Tyler (Crenshaw) RB
Wesley Walker (Carson) WR
Bob Whitfield (Banning, Wilmington) OL


Players Voted Into State Hall of Fame:
Dick Bass (Vallejo) RB
Jack Del Rio (Hayward) LB
John Henry Johnson (Pittsburg) RB
Maurice Jones-Drew (De La Salle, Concord) RB
Gino Marchetti (Antioch) DL
Ernie Nevers (Santa Rosa) RB*
Jerry Robinson (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) LB
Amani Toomer (De La Salle, Concord) WR
Gino Torretta (Pinole Valley, Pinole) QB
Norm Van Brocklin (Acalanes, Lafayette) QB**
D.J. Williams (De La Salle, Concord) RB/LB
Roy Williams (James Logan, Union City) QB/DB
*Didn’t graduate from Santa Rosa; which was written up as a requirement.
**Didn’t play senior season (World War II).
Note: Vallejo has been in both the NCS & Sac-Joaquin Section over the years.

Leading Players Not In State Hall of Fame:
Jahvid Best (Salesian, Richmond) RB
Vic Bottari (Vallejo) QB/RB
Bill Corbus (Vallejo) OL
Ken Dorsey (Miramonte, Orinda) QB
Zach Ertz (Monte Vista, Danville) TE
Tarik Glenn (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) OL
Mel Gray (Montgomery, Santa Rosa) WR
Matt Hazeltine (Tamalpais, Mill Valley) LB
Derek Landri (De La Salle, Concord) OL/DL
Rey Maualuga (Eureka) LB
Jamir Miller (El Cerrito) LB
Ron Pritchard (Antioch) LB
Aaron Taylor (De La Salle, Concord) OL
Jim Turner (Swett, Crockett) PK/QB
Regan Upshaw (Pittsburg) DL
Note: Jared Goff (Marin Catholic) QB wasn’t yet eligible to be voted on in the spring of 2022.


Player Voted Into State Hall of Fame:
Aaron Rodgers (Pleasant Valley, Chico) QB

Leading Players Not In State Hall of Fame:
Mort Kaer (Red Bluff) QB
Jason Seehorn (Mt. Shasta) DB
Jeff Stover (Corning) DL
Aaron Thomas (Weed) TE
Note: Kaer also won 189 games as a head coach at Weed for 30 years.


Players Voted Into State Hall of Fame:
John Brodie (Oakland Tech) QB
Marshawn Lynch (Oakland Tech) RB
Harold “Brick” Muller (Oakland Tech) WR/ATH

Leading Players Not In State Hall of Fame:
Chris Burford (Oakland) WR
Jackie Jensen (Oakland) QB

Two of the best linebackers from California, Willie McGinest (Long Beach Poly) & Tedy Bruschi (Roseville), stand next to each other during one of the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl parades. Photo:


Players Voted Into State Hall of Fame:
Dick Bass (Vallejo) RB
Tedy Bruschi (Roseville) DL/LB
Eddie LeBaron (Oakdale) QB
Ken O’Brien (Jesuit, Carmichael) QB

Leading Players Not In State Hall of Fame:
Robbie Bosco (Roseville) QB
Lance Briggs (Elk Grove) LB
Virgil Carter (Folsom) QB
Shante Carver (Lincoln, Stockton) DL
Don Doll (Grant, Sacramento) QB*
Tony Eason (Delta, Clarksburg) QB
Jason Fisk (Davis) DL
Aaron Garcia (Grant, Sacramento) QB
Dano Graves (Folsom) QB
J.D. Hill (Edison, Stockton) WR
Colin Kaepernick (Pitman, Turlock) QB
Logan Mankins (Mariposa County, Mariposa) OL
Bill Munson (Lodi) QB
Onterrio Smith (Grant, Sacramento) RB
Paul Wiggin (Manteca) OL
Kevin Willhite (Cordova, Rancho Cordova) RB
*Known as Don Burnside in high school.
Note: Jake Browning (Folsom) QB wasn’t yet eligible to be voted on in the spring of 2022.


CR Roberts went from Oceanside to legendary status at USC. Photo:

Players Voted Into State Hall of Fame:
Marcus Allen (Lincoln, San Diego) RB
Reggie Bush (Helix, La Mesa) RB
Lincoln Kennedy (Morse, San Diego) OL
John Lynch (Torrey Pines, San Diego) DB
Bill McColl (Hoover, San Diego) WR/TE
Rashaan Salaam (La Jolla Country Day) RB
Junior Seau (Oceanside) LB
Alex Smith (Helix, La Mesa) QB
Ricky Williams (Patrick Henry, San Diego) RB

Leading Players Not In State Hall of Fame:
Eric Allen (Point Loma, San Diego) DB
Sal Aunese (Vista) QB
Willie Buchanon (Oceanside) DB
Donnie Edwards (Chula Vista) LB
Arian Foster (Mission Bay, San Diego) RB
La’Roi Glover (Point Loma, San Diego) DL
Wally Henry (Lincoln, San Diego) RB/KR
Deron Johnson (San Diego) ATH
Ted Johnson (Carlsbad) LB
Teddy Lawrence (Morse, San Diego) QB/RB
Mark Malone (El Cajon Valley) QB
Art Powell (San Diego) WR
Noel Prefontaine (El Camino, Oceanside) PK/P
C.R. Roberts (Oceanside) RB
Darrell Russell (St. Augustine, San Diego) DL
Brian Sipe (Grossmont, El Cajon) QB
Robert Thomas (Imperial) LB
Pisa Tinoisamoa (Vista) RB/LB
Cotton Warburton (San Diego) HB


Players Voted Into State Hall of Fame:
Ollie Matson (Washington) RB/ATH
Bob St. Clair (Poly, S.F.) OL

Leading Players Not In State Hall of Fame:
Rod Franz (Galileo) OL
Mike Holmgren (Lincoln, S.F) QB
Note: No one seriously considered voting for O.J. Simpson (Galileo) RB.


Former NFL RB Toby Gerhart (Norco) is still the all-time state career rushing leader. He was supporting his dad, Todd, coaching at Vista Murrieta in 2019 photo. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Players Voted Into State Hall of Fame:
Frankie Albert (Glendale) QB
Matt Barkley (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) QB
Mark Carrier (Long Beach Poly) DB
Chris Claiborne (J.W. North, Riverside) LB/RB
Randy Cross (Crespi, Encino) OL
Randall Cunningham (Santa Barbara) QB
Sam Cunningham (Santa Barbara) RB
Glenn Davis (Bonita, La Verne) RB
Morley Drury (Long Beach Poly) RB
Kai Forbath (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) PK
DeShaun Foster (Tustin) RB
Toby Gerhart (Norco) RB
Tony Gonzalez (Huntington Beach) TE/LB
Pat Haden (Bishop Amat, La Puente) QB
John Huarte (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) QB
DeSean Jackson (Long Beach Poly) WR
Napoleon Kaufman (Lompoc) RB*
Joe Kapp (Hart, Newhall) QB
Billy Kilmer (Citrus, Azusa) QB
Ronnie Knox (Santa Monica) QB
Matt Leinart (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) QB
Chris Lewis (Long Beach Poly) QB
Marcedes Lewis (Long Beach Poly) TE
Ronnie Lott (Eisenhower, Rialto) DB
Todd Marinovich (Capistrano Valley, Mission Viejo) QB
Bruce Matthews (Arcadia) OL
Willie McGinest (Long Beach Poly) DE/LB
John McKay Jr. (Bishop Amat, La Puente) WR
Mike McKeever (Mt. Carmel, Los Angeles) OL
Ron Mix (Hawthorne) OL
Orv Mohler (Alhambra) QB
Anthony Munoz (Chaffey, Ontario) OL
Carson Palmer (Santa Margarita, Rancho SM) QB
Jackie Robinson (Muir, Pasadena) QB/RB
Mark Sanchez (Mission Viejo) QB
John Sciarra (Bishop Amat, La Puente) RB/QB
Richard Sherman (Dominguez, Compton) DB
Dennis Smith (Santa Monica) DB
Gene Washington (Long Beach Poly) WR/QB
Russell White (Crespi, Encino) RB
Ron Yary (Bellflower) OL
Luis Zendejas (Don Lugo, Chino) PK
Gary Zimmerman (Walnut) OL
*Lompoc is no longer in CIFSS; but it was during Napoleon’s years there.

Vontaze Burfict was a dominating linebacker at Corona Centennial and later in the NFL. Photo:

Leading Players Not In State Hall of Fame:
Kermit Alexander (Mt. Carmel, Los Angeles) DB
Bryan Anger (Camarillo) P
Roy “Bullet” Baker (Long Beach Poly) RB/QB
Steve Beuerlein (Servite, Anaheim) QB
Kyle Boller (Hart, Newhall) QB
Lorenzo Booker (St. Bonaventure, Ventura) RB
Mark Brunell (St. Joseph, Santa Maria) QB
George Buehler (Whittier) OL
Vontaze Burfict (Centennial, Compton) LB
Jurrell Casey (Long Beach Poly) DL
Jimmy Clausen (Oaks Christian, Westlake Village) QB
Sean Cody (Los Altos, Hacienda Heights) DL
Kenyon Coleman (Alta Loma) DL
Mickey Cureton (Centennial, Compton) RB
Isaac Curtis (Santa Ana) WR
Rick DiBernardo (Edison, Huntington Beach) LB
Tyler Ebell (Ventura) RB
Marv Fleming (Compton) WR
Mickey Flynn (Anaheim) RB
Steve Grady (Loyola, Los Angeles) RB*
Matt Grootegoed (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) RB/DB
Tony Hill (Long Beach Poly) WR
Edwin “Babe” Horrell (Pasadena) OL
Lawrence Jackson (Inglewood) DL
Malik Jackson (Birmingham, Lake Balboa) DL
Ronney Jenkins (Hueneme, Oxnard) RB
Bret Johnson (El Toro, Lake Forest) QB
Kermit Johnson (Blair, Pasadena) RB
Norm Johnson (Pacifica, Garden Grove) PK
Rob Johnson (El Toro, Lake Forest) QB/WR
Travis Johnson (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) DL
Matt Kalil (Servite, Anaheim) OL
Travis Kirschke (Esperanza, Anaheim) DL
George Kunz (Loyola, Los Angeles) OL
Alex Mack (San Marcos, Santa Barbara) OL
Ken Margerum (Fountain Valley) WR
Chris McAlister (Pasadena) DB
James McAlister (Blair, Pasadena) RB
Earl McCullouch (Long Beach Poly) WR
Mike McKeever (Mt. Carmel, Los Angeles) OL
Randy Meadows (Downey) RB
Blaine Nye (Servite, Anaheim) OL
Mike Rae (Lakewood) QB
Chris Sailer (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) PK
Keith Smith (Newbury Park) QB/ATH
Tyron Smith (Rancho Verde, Moreno Valley) OL
Jack Snow (St. Anthony, Long Beach) WR
Dennis Thurman (Santa Monica) DB
Eric Turner (Ventura) DB
Ed White (Indio) OL
Myron White (Valley, Santa Ana) RB
Robert Woods (Serra, Gardena) WR
Tim Wrightman (Mary Star, San Pedro) TE
*Later won 269 games as Loyola’s head coach (1976-2004).

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle:

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  1. Terry Betterton
    Posted December 28, 2022 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Hello Mark Tennis. We met in the previous century when we were both a lot younger. Best wishes and glad to see you’re still at it

    Terry Betterton, formerly of the Fresno Bee

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted December 28, 2022 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Terry. Yes, much younger.
      Hope you are doing well.

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