These are the best of the best for the 44th annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Football Teams. Go inside this post for writeups of the 11 players on offense plus a kicker and three of six multi-purpose players who have been selected First Team Overall. These players are being honored regardless of school size or year in school. It’s another year with the offense having two receivers and three running backs. QB of Year & Lineman of Year also named.
For this year’s First Team Defense plus three more multi-purpose players,
For this year’s Second & Third Team (Gold Club post), CLICK HERE.
MORE OF OUR 44TH ANNUAL ALL-STATE FOOTBALL TEAMS:
Medium Schools | Small Schools | Juniors (Gold Club) | Sophomores (Gold Club) | Players of Year by positions (QB, RB, End, Line, LB, DB | FINAL All-State Nominations for CIFSS plus LA, SD & Central plus NorCal
If you are not a Gold Club member and want to see the already announced All-State Junior & Sophomore Teams plus many, new updated state record files and more exclusive content, please sign up today. Some of the most promising freshmen will be listed next week in separate feature (also Gold Club). You can now join for one-month rate of just $3.99. For subscription info, CLICK HERE.
FOR ARCHIVE OF ALL-TIME ALL-STATE TEAMS BACK TO THE 1970s, CLICK HERE.
To order a commemorative, official All-State Football patch for those who’ve been named to one of our all-state teams for the 2022 season, go to this link from our friends at Billy Tees, which has been the official merchandiser of the CIF for many years.
FIRST TEAM ALL-STATE OFFENSE (ELITE)
(Thanks to correspondents Chuck Nan & Daniel Poulter for providing most of the writeups)
WR Tiger Bachmeier (Murrieta Valley, Murrieta) 6-1, 180, Sr.
He has been one of the state’s most productive receivers since his sophomore year. Bachmeier checks all the boxes for a reliable “go to” receiver: accurate route runner, great hands and body control. In 2022, he nabbed 97 receptions for 1,341 yards (15.7 average) and 15 touchdowns. Bachmeier’s 136.7 receiving yards per game led the state. His team lit the scoreboard up week after week as the Nighthawks averaged nearly 50 points per contest. Overall, the team had a disappointing season at 6-5 but did make the postseason. Bachmeier’s career numbers are very gaudy: 238 catches for 3,958 yards (16.6 average) and 40 touchdowns. All of those career totals earn slots on all-time state lists. He also logged more than 1,200 yards on kick returns and played defense occasionally. The All-Inland Empire and All-CIFSS D2 choice now heads to Stanford to continue his career.
WR Mikey Matthews
(Mission Viejo) 5-9, 180, Sr.
The second best team in Orange County after Mater Dei was not from the Trinity League, but instead came from Mission Viejo and the CIF Southern Section D1 semifinalists are represented on first team all-state by Matthews. His most impressive accomplishment was being named MVP of the South Coast League for the third straight season. Mikey’s credentials also improved seemingly with every big game, including the recent Under Armour All-American Game. His performance when Mission knocked off Corona Centennial (10 catches, threw a TD pass on a trick play and blocked a field goal) also was the difference for him to be named as our End/WR of the Year for the season. For the Diablos last season, he caught 61 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and 10 TDs. His career numbers also were impressive: 177 catches for 2,402 yards and 28 scores. Matthews already is attending classes at the University of Utah.
OL Brandon Baker (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-5, 295, Jr.
Since Baker appeared on the prep football scene, scouts and recruiters have drooled over the size and athleticism of this young man. In his three varsity seasons thus far, he has exhibited flexibility to play multiple positions on the line in a successful manner. Baker is an adept pass protector and ploughs holes for his running backs. This is evident by the statistics his QB Elijah Brown and running back Jordon Davison (and others) have amassed. He is now the consensus No. 1 tackle prospect in the 2024 class, but amazing teammate and classmate DeAndre Carter is close behind.
OL Luke Baklenko (Oaks Christian, Westlake Village) 6-5, 295, Sr.
Stanford has had an eye for California’s offensive line talent and this season was no different, as the Cardinals signed Oaks Christian’s three-star tackle Luke Baklenko in December of 2022. The 29th overall offensive tackle prospect for the 2023 class rated by 247sports, Baklenko was a three-year starter for the Lions and also has lettered in volleyball and track. Baklenko was the top offensive lineman in the Marmonte League for two straight seasons and won the 2022 Ventura County Lineman of the Year honor. He was a road grader for the Lions, as Baklenko during his senior campaign recorded 77 pancake blocks while helping Oaks Christian to a 7-4 record.
OL Alani Noa (Grant, Sacramento) 6-5, 300, Sr.
Here is a player who made a name for himself as a sophomore, but as a junior suffered along with the rest of the Grant team in a 1-8 season (on-the-field). Everything clicked in 2022, however, as the Pacers won the CIF D3-AA state title and recaptured the spotlight in Sacramento. They had a number of talented skill players, including QB JoJo McCray (already named all-state medium schools), but from an elite standpoint Alani was the obvious main player. He has the scholarship offers (signed with USC) and routinely collapsed everything in front of him. And to be honest, he makes this team because he was seen in person and compares very favorably to many other first team all-state players in the offensive line that we’ve ever seen.
OL Simi Pale (Elk Grove) 6-4, 320, Sr.
The Thundering Herd of Elk Grove are a run first, then run second type of program, as the Delta League giant only attempted 18 passes in 12 games this season. Pale was made for that offense, and has been a staple for the Thundering Herd during his time at Elk Grove. It is no surprise that Pale is signed and bound for Stanford, as the senior has nine other relatives that have played college football. Pale already has made the Sacramento Bee’s All-Metro first team for a third time and was also named a four-star prospect by ESPN. This season, the Elk Grove offense rushed for 3,849 yards and secured an undefeated Delta League slate, while finishing with a 8-4 overall record on the year.
OL Ray Pulido (Apple Valley) 6-6, 320, Sr.
Called both a monster and a menace, Pulido helped power Apple Valley to an 8-3 record and a second place finish in the Mojave River League. Originally an Alabama commit, Pulido rated as one of the top offensive lineman on the West Coast before eventually selecting the University of Arizona as his future home. Pulido was named as the LA Times Offensive Lineman of the Year for the 2022 season and is rated as a four-star prospect by 247sports composite rankings. The senior was quarterback Noah Celie’s best friend, as Pulido didn’t allow a sack all season for the Sun Devils. Due partly to that sack stat, Ray also has now been selected as the 2022 State Lineman of the Year to go along with being first team all-state.
QB Malachi Nelson
(Los Alamitos) 6-3, 190, Sr.
One of the most publicized players to come out of the Southland in the past 20 years, Malachi is blessed with a bevy of talent that had scouts and fans anticipating each game he played. Nelson possesses fluidity, arm strength and the ability to throw into very tight windows. The USC commit and Sunset League Most Valuable Player passed for 2,898 yards and 35 touchdowns this past season. He led the Griffins to a third consecutive league title and a trip to the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinals. Nelson set numerous school records and was chosen the Gatorade California “Player of the Year” for the second time (also in the shortened and late 2020 season as a sophomore). His top honor from us along with first team all-state QB also is going to be State QB of the Year. Malachi already is shown on the all-time QB of the Year lists from his sophomore season. This doesn’t quite match the previously named Mr. Football State POY finalists (junior Elijah Brown was one of those and Nelson was not), but Elijah was the state junior of the year. The Orange County Register didn’t pick one over the other, named them both first team QB and instead picked someone else as its offensive player of the year.
RB Roderick Robinson (Lincoln, San Diego) 6-1, 220, Sr.
Named as our 2022 Mr. Football State Player of the Year several weeks ago, Robinson was the driving force behind Lincoln’s CIF D1-AA state championship team. He rushed for 2,378 yards and 39 touchdowns. Roderick had 218 yards (mostly in the second half) in Lincoln’s win against De La Salle of Concord in the state final, but his biggest game was 476 yards and eight TDs in a victory over eventual CIF D2AA state champ Mater Dei Catholic. Robinson, who became the first Mr. Football winner from Lincoln since Hall of Famer Marcus Allen in 1977, had a commitment to UCLA coming into the season, but switched to Georgia and signed with the two-time national champion Bulldogs in December. Robinson also rounds out all of his honors as State RB of the Year.
RB Dijon Stanley (Granada Hills Charter) 6-1, 175, Sr.
It was to be honest a bit surprising that Dijon was the L.A. Times Player of the Year, but all that did was cement his spot as a first team all-state RB. He’s got the kind of track speed that makes him hard to stop and he was the CIF L.A. City Section 400-meter sprint winner last spring. Stanley led Granada Hills to the L.A. City D1 championship and then there was a CIF D4-AA regional win over Laguna Beach followed by a loss in the state final to San Marin of Novato. He finished with 2,756 yards rushing and 33 touchdowns. Dijon had his biggest game in the section finals as he bolted for 378 yards and five TDs. Stanley has signed a letter of intent with Utah.
RB Jaivian Thomas (McClymonds, Oakland) 5-11, 170, Sr.
Thomas’ nickname is “The Jet” and the senior running back proved he was one of the top pure athletes in Northern California this season. An all too common sight for opponents of Oakland Section power McClymonds was Thomas bursting through the opposing defense and seeing the back of his jersey, as the running back ran into the end zone. The dynamic weapon rushed for a staggering 2,528 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns and that was despite splitting time with fellow 1,000-yard tailback Ferrari Miller Jr. Thomas managed 14.5 yards per carry and was named the San Francisco Chronicle Metro Player of the Year. The Warriors made it once again to their fifth straight CIF state championship bowl game, but they fell to Mater Dei Catholic (Chula Vista) 26-18. Thomas won’t have to travel far for college, as the senior has signed with nearby UC Berkeley.
PK Ryon Sayeri (Chaminade, West Hills) 6-1, 165, Jr.
He may be just a junior, but Sayeri just had a spectacular season booting the ball for the Eagles. For his kickoffs, how about 68 of 76 into the end zone? As a place kicker, Ryon rammed it through the uprights 12 times for field goals out of 14 attempts with a longest field goal of 49 yards. He got one through last season as a sophomore from 57 yards out. Sayeri also was perfect on his PATs — 53 for 53 — and that followed up a perfect season of PATs as a sophomore. Even at punting, Sayeri was huge. He averaged 50.8 yards per punt on 32 attempts.
ALL-STATE MULTI-PURPOSE (ELITE)
QB/RB Elijah Brown
(Mater Dei, Santa Ana) 6-2, 185, Jr.
Since the day he set foot on the Santa Ana campus and into the shoes as the starting quarterback as a freshman (replacing possible NFL No. 1 draft pick Bryce Young), Brown has performed with maturity which is rarely seen at the prep level. Despite playing versus top level competition, Brown has never looked overwhelmed. The perfect fit for the Monarchs’ offense, he goes into his senior season with a 29-1 mark as a starting quarterback. Brown was an easy selection as the Trinity League “Offensive Player of the Year.” He threw for 2,785 yards and 31 touchdowns to lead the Monarchs to a fourth consecutive league title and runner-up finish in CIF-SS Division 1. Brown completed 68.1% of his passes (70.5% for his career) and only tossed just four interceptions. He was also chosen for the All-Orange County First-Team and All-CIF SS D1 team. In addition, he was our State Junior of the Year, which followed him being the State Sophomore of the Year for the 2021 fall season. The Monarchs will have the most impressive cast of returning players that any team in state history has had coming into next season. Elijah being the center of all that will no doubt boost his status even more.
QB/RB Pierce Clarkson (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) 6-0, 195, Sr.
After falling in the regular season Trinity League tilt with then No. 1 Mater Dei, Clarkson and the Braves regrouped to avenge that loss, win the section, state and ultimately the national crowns. A huge reason for that was Clarkson’s leadership and experience. The senior finished the season with 2,167 passing yards, 29 touchdowns (6 interceptions) while completing 62.3% of his throws. He also added 454 yards on the ground (8.4 per attempt) and scored five times. Clarkson will bring his consistent play to Louisville next. There he will be joined by Brave teammates Jahlil McClain (WR), Aaron Williams (CB) and Jamari Johnson (TE-H) from Inglewood. Clarkson was also honored to play in the All-American Bowl in San Antonio and the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii. He also was selected as the CIF-SS Division 1 “Player of the Year.” For his SJB career, he passed for 3,319 yards and 42 touchdowns and rushed for 676 yards and nine scores. We go back to San Jose State days with Pierce’s famous QB coaching dad, Steve, and were able to get some photos of the two of them after that state final.
QB/RB Nico Iamaleava (Warren, Downey) 6-6, 210, Sr.
Yes, Nico’s senior totals were more modest compared to 2021 with 1,726 yards passing and 25 TDs in 2022 shown against 2,244 yards and 33 TDs. But he did rush for more yards (399 yds, 6 TDs) and Warren lost games it could have played by falling on a last-second field goal miss to Sierra Canyon in the first round of the CIFSS D2 playoffs. Iamaleava also did enough in his games and in other evaluations to become a 5-star recruit by 247. He’s simply one of the leading QBs/players in the nation and just has to be first team all-state. Nico left for the University of Tennessee very quickly after his final game for the Bears and was even practicing with the Vols as they were getting ready for a bowl game. The speculation is that Iamaleava will be playing early and even starting very soon for Tennessee.