We have picked one for every game we’ve seen since the first one of the modern era in 2006, and have chosen one based on posted stats & media coverage for every other state final. Perhaps the hardest one this year was in the Open Division, but it just had to be a member of the St. John Bosco defense. We also have one chosen for a team that didn’t win.
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Aaron Williams (St. John Bosco, Bellflower)
It just has to be someone from the Braves’ dominating defense. The transfer from Corona Centennial had the play of the game during 45-0 win over Serra of San Mateo with a 31-yard interception return touchdown in which he dove to the pylon for the final few yards. Williams also was among the team’s tackle leaders with four. He has committed to Louisville.
Roderick Robinson (Lincoln, San Diego)
The Georgia committed RB didn’t do much in the first half, but found room in the second as the Hornets topped perennial power De La Salle of Concord, 33-28. Despite being limited with a hamstring injury, Robinson carried 22 times for 222 yards and four TDs.
Kresean Kizzy (Liberty, Bakersfield)
It wasn’t just that Kresean scored on an interception return, kickoff return and reception to lead the Patriots past Pittsburg, 48-20. Each play was long distance and game-changing. The 48-yard interception return started the scoring for Liberty. The 96-yard kickoff return helped to break the game open. The 85-yard TD reception is one of the longest in state championship game history.
Tre Edwards (Mater Dei Catholic, Chula Vista)
He made tackles all over the place as a junior when the Crusaders defeated Central Catholic of Modesto in this same divisional state final. This time, in a 26-18 win against McClymonds of Oakland, Edwards was the leader once again with six solo and four assisted tackles. Several were behind the line of scrimmage. The four-year varsity standout will play next at UCLA.
Isaiah Jackson (Granite Hills, El Cajon)
Both Isaiah and Maxwell Turner are promising sophomore RBs for the Eagles, but we’ll give the nod to Isaiah since his 2-yard run in overtime was the game-winner in the 31-24 victory vs San Ramon Valley of Danville. Jackson also ended with 13 carries for 92 yards and he had a 10-yard TD run to start the fourth quarter.
Dillon Gresham (San Jacinto)
Grant of Sacramento won the game, 36-34, with a touchdown that came with 18 seconds left and the Pacers had a myriad of contributors. Gresham capped a great season with a great game. He caught 10 passes for 168 yards and three TDs plus he put Grant into an early hole by scooping up a fumble and running it back for an 84-yard touchdown. Gresham with 2,032 receiving yards and 31 TD catches. He set an Inland Empire record for TD catches and was just three short of the state record.
Troy Leigber (Laguna Hills)
His 64-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter held up as the winning score when the Hawks edged Bellarmine of San Jose, 28-27. Leigber has been that type of player all season. He also had a 35-yard touchdown in the first half. In the second half, Leigber helped set up the two TDs that would win the game with long runs.
Ryker Peters (Escalon)
At one point during the Cougars’ 28-7 triumph against Northwood of Irvine, Peters carried the ball 16 straight times. He finished with 177 yards on 33 carries with one touchdown. Peters also had four tackles on defense.
Jimmy Hughes (San Marin, Novato)
He did his best Brock Purdy impression as a back-up QB having to go to the top and led the Mustangs to a 32-8 win over Granada Hills Charter. Stepping in for injured standout Dominic Ingrassia, Jimmy passed for 143 yards and three touchdowns and he had 77 yards rushing, including a 23-yard run that picked up a first down on fourth-and-13.
David Burns (Hughson)
In a slug-it-out in-the-mud 9-6 victory against Muir of Pasadena, Burns, a junior linebacker who was recently a NorCal Defensive Player of the Week, led the Huskies with 12 tackles. He also came up with two interceptions.
Grant Foster (Orland)
The leader of the Trojans, who ended 15-0 after a 20-7 victory over Shafter, rushed for 159 yards and on 29 carries and scored all three touchdowns. Foster ran for two of his scores with the other one coming on a interception return.
Life Pollard (Classical Academy, Escondido)
The only score of the game in a 7-0 win by the Caimans over Santa Teresa of San Jose came on a short plunge by their multi-purpose star. Pollard also rushed for 140 yards in the wet, slippery conditions.
Trey Cooks (Atascadero)
The 6-1, 215-pound power back was well-suited for mud and muck when the Greyhounds blanked San Gabriel 41-0 to win their first CIF state title. Cooks scored the team’s first three TDs on runs of 40, 53 and 23 yards.
Larry McDonald (Pinole Valley, Pinole)
Teammate Ellis Shamsid-Deen was stellar as well with two TD catches and one TD run, but in the 34-21 victory last week over Mendota, it has to be McDonald. He rushed for 262 yards on 23 carries with one TD and he caught a 39-yard pass. Note: Game played on Saturday, Dec. 3.
Jamelle Newman (Lincoln, San Francisco)
Another one with a strong teammate option is Newman. While teammate Ricky Underwood scored three times and had 10 carries for 153 yards in Lincoln’s 54-6 rout of L.A. Crenshaw, Newman had more yards (173) on less carries (8) and scored twice.