NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s NorCal/SoCal honorees are running backs Kainoa Acia (left) from Del Oro of Loomis and Isaiah Young of Diamond Bar. Photos: Logan Shepard / & Diamond Bar High School.

For this week’s award winners we have two from Northern California from schools both named the Golden Eagles, one in Loomis and the other in Fresno. We also head to Turlock where we honor a player who helped orchestrate perhaps the biggest upset in the state so far this season. For Southern California, we actually have a kicker getting special teams/multi-purpose honors from the community of West Hills. We also visit Diamond Bar and Newport Beach to find our other two winners.

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Notes: We have a new twist to this feature that gives more flexibility to one of the honorees by expanding the Special Teams category to now be Multi-Purpose/Special Teams. Multi-Purpose is already a category for All State honors. For these honors, we also consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate anyone, email

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Kainoa Acia (Del Oro, Loomis) Sr.

Once again this week we tried to stay out of the Metro Sacramento area for finding our Northern California Offensive Player of the Week, but we’re back again for the fourth straight week after the performance by Acia against an Antelope team whose quarterback Jasiah Bateman was the winner four weeks ago. This week we’re in Loomis to honor the Golden Eagles’ star running back.

Kainoa fell two yards short of making the Most Yards (Game) list in the rushing section of the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book, but his 413 yards rushing with four TDs in a 46-26 victory over Antelope in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II quarterfinals was record breaking. It’s a school record for rushing yardage, a Placer County record, and a record for the powerful Sierra Foothill League. We should mention that there is a small chance someone from the county had 414 yards or 413 yards. Our list just happens to end at 415.

Heading into a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinal showdown with Granite Bay, No. 2 seed and 9-2 Del Oro is looking to post a second win over the Grizzlies this season. For the season, Acia’s emergence at running back has helped the Golden Eagles earn a State TOP 50 ranking earlier in the season and this week they were put back in at No. 49. He has rushed for 1,343 yards and 12 TDs.

Cole Gilbert of Turlock receives congratulations after he led the Bulldogs to their historic upset of Stockton St. Mary’s. Photo: Mark Tennis / Cal-Hi Sports.

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

Cole Gilbert (Turlock) Sr.

There were any number of plays that Cole made during Turlock’s 51-50 upset win against St. Mary’s of Stockton in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 playoffs that if even one of them went differently that the Bulldogs would have lost in their upset bid instead of winning at the end.

With a one-point win, just the fact that Cole ran for two two-point conversions, threw a go-ahead two-point conversion pass with 1:11 left and even caught a two-point conversion pass shows that if one of those plays didn’t work that it easily may have been a 50-49 loss. All four of those two-point conversion plays came in succession, too.

As a runner, Gilbert’s 67-yard run for a touchdown in the first half gave the Bulldogs their first lead at 13-7. He earlier had thrown for 29-yard score. He finished with 11 carries for 145 yards and two TDs. As a passer, Gilbert finished 19 of 33 for 321 yards and four scores. And to show the multi-purpose part of his night, Cole added two catches on trick plays (throwbacks to the QB) and one of those went for a score.

“A couple of things that hurt us the most was with their quarterback pulling us in different directions,” said St. Mary’s head coach Tony Franks. “We did a better job of that in the second half, but just could never get control of the game.”

Gilbert had one game in which he had to come out early with an injury (48-0 loss to Clovis West), but for the season for the 8-4 Bulldogs he has passed for 2,636 yards and 26 TDs (only three interceptions). He also enters the D1 section semifinals against Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills with 651 yards rushing and nine scores.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

David Cummings (Clovis West, Fresno) Sr.

We head to the heart of “The Valley” as many locals still affectionately call the CIF Central Section, and we land in Fresno at Clovis West to honor this week’s Northern California Defensive Player of the Week.

Last week, in a 24-21 Division I quarterfinal victory by the top-seeded Golden Eagles over No. 8 seed Clovis, Cummings came up big and his team needed every one of the 17 tackles he registered.

So far this season for a 10-1 Clovis West team that came in up nine spots to No. 25 in the most recent Cal-Hi Sports rankings, and heading into a semifinal showdown with No. 33 ranked Fresno San Joaquin Memorial, Cummings has 101 tackles, two interceptions, one of which he returned for a pick six, and a forced fumble.

Cummings’ previous season high for tackles was 16 in that strange 45-0 loss to Central of Fresno. He also had 12 tackles each in later wins in back-to-back weeks against Clovis East and Clovis North.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Isaiah “Zay” Young (Diamond Bar) Sr.

For our first stop this week in Southern California, we visit the far eastern reaches of Los Angeles County that lies in the hills just north of Northern Orange County and just south of Pomona.

At Diamond Bar High we find a workhorse of a running back who has played a huge role in helping get the Brahmas to 11-1 this season, and last week’s performance was just another example.

All Young did in a 42-7 victory over Riverside Hillcrest in the CIF Southern Section Division 9 quarterfinals was rush for 292 yards and two TDs, including a 59-yard romp to paydirt, plus he caught a 14-yard TD pass on his lone reception of the game that was also his first receiving touchdown this season. Zay also plays linebacker and had four tackles against Hillcrest.

When we say Zay is a workhorse we mean it. Of the 315 carries for 1,947 yards and 23 TDs rushing for Diamond Bar as a team, Young has 259 of the carries, 1,739 of the yards and 22 of the touchdowns. Last week’s output was a season high and career high mark for Zay and the second time this season he’s cracked the 200-yard mark.

Defensively, Young currently has 40 tackles, two interceptions, one of which was a pick six, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery he took to the house for a score.

Mason Kubichek can be a tackling machine for the Corona del Mar defense, but he also can catch passes on offense. Photo: OC Sports Zone.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Mason Kubichek
(Corona del Mar, Newport Beach) Sr.

Orange County around midway between the Route 73 toll road and Highway 1 just east of Upper Newport Bay is where we find our Southern California Defensive Player of the Week award winner.

Last week Kubichek helped hold in check a host Chaparral of Temecula team previously ranked No. 45 in the Cal-Hi Sports rankings and whose offense scored 62 points two weeks ago to open the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.

In a 41-28 victory by top-seeded Corona del Mar that got the Sea Kings to 9-3 this season, and bumped them up five spots to No. 38 in the most recent state rankings, Kubichek checked in with a whopping 20 tackles from his middle linebacker position.

Mason got into the action on offense as well at wide receiver after the 6-foot-1, 195-pounds senior caught four passes for 92 yards, including a 60-yard TD reception.

So far this season and heading into a D3 semifinal match-up on the road at 12-0 Yorba Linda, Kubichek has 104 tackles, an interception, six passes defended, and two forced fumbles. On offense, Mason has 17 catches for 283 yards and two touchdowns.

On a final note we’re sure Kubicehk would like to give a shout out to his Sea Kings’ teammates, particularly senior quarterback David Rasor, who threw for a season-high 307 yards and a career high six touchdowns in the win vs Chaparral.

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

Ryon Sayeri (Chaminade, West Hills) Jr.

We tweaked the criteria for this award this season to make more players eligible by adding Multi-Purpose to what was previously only a Special Teams category. However, this week as we visit the western San Fernando Valley, we find a Chaminade player who is being honored as the Southern California Multi-Purpose/Special Teams Player of the Week because of what he did with his foot.

He didn’t win the game with his successful boot, and Ryon wasn’t trying to split one of the nearby canyons, but Sayeri soared one 49 yards with no time left in the first half to give Chaminade a 24-21 lead in an eventual 38-28 victory over Citrus Valley of Redlands in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 quarterfinals.

Sayeri also had five touchbacks on six kickoffs in the game and averaged 65.8 yards per kickoff with a longest of 75 yards.

So far for the 9-3 Eagles, who are currently No. 20 in the most recent state rankings and face off with No. 9 Inglewood in the semifinals this Friday night, Ryon has shown an incredible foot.

The No. 1 rated kicker and No. 8 rated punter in the nation for the Class of 2024 by the prestigious website, he has made all 46 of his PAT attempts and he’s 10 for 11 on field goals. The 49-yarder was his longest this season, but Ryon has successfully gone through the uprights twice from 47 yards, and one each from 43 and 42 yards.

Of his 71 kickoffs, 65 have gone for touchbacks and for the season he’s averaging 68.5 yards per kickoff with 78-yards his longest. Sayeri didn’t punt last week but on 28 punts this season he’s averaging a whopping 51.1 yards per punt with a longest of 70 yards.

For his three-year varsity career, Sayeri has made all 79 PATs he’s attempted, 17 of 19 fields with a longest of 52 yards. Lastly, of his 117 kickoffs, 101 have gone for touchbacks.

It would not be a stretch to say that Sayeri is the best kicker and punter in the Golden State.

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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  1. jim harrigan
    Posted November 16, 2022 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    You guys should feature Ethan Torres of Acalanes High School in Lafayette, California. He plays both ways and is an excellent prospect.

    Jim Harrigan
    San Juan Capistrano, CA

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted November 17, 2022 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      We will look for him next week, Coach H.
      Hope you’re doing well in coaching retirement.

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