St. Mary’s (Stockton) speed, Central Catholic of Modesto beef and new players coming up at key positions for some schools made the first-ever spring football event held this week at Stagg High in Stockton a success.
Note: We hope you enjoy this free post on CalHiSports.com. Some of our upcoming preseason football features will be available only to our Gold Club members, including Class of 2024 and Class of 2025 Hot 100 player rankings, preseason all-section teams and more. To check out getting a Gold Club membership to see all of those rankings plus all of our updated state record lists, totally authentic historical features, and more, CLICK HERE.
Spring & summer football has always begun for yours truly going to one or two combine-style events in May or June.
Last year it was the Elite 11 regional quarterback camp held in early June at Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach. That event this year was held right after the busy weeks of the CIF state basketball championships so it wasn’t possible to head down there at that time.
The easy solution this year was to travel just two miles from the home office in Stockton to check out on Wednesday what was billed as the High School Football Showcase and was held at Stagg High.
Head coach Don Norton of the Delta Kings has always cared about players and kids in the 209 area code who may not play for him. His event at Stagg and having it on Wednesday, May 17 was inspired by the first-ever showcase event held on Thursday at Serra of San Mateo that was co-headlined with players from De La Salle of Concord. The thinking was that maybe a few colleges might stop by one day earlier to see some additional prospects from the Stockton area.
Several colleges did have coaches who were in Stockton and watched as Stagg’s coaches put the players through a 40-yard dash, agility drills, position specific drills and then one-on-ones plus 7-on-7s to close the circuit. A 200-yard relay race that had to include at least one lineman and one linebacker also was held to end the event.
It wasn’t just players from Stockton who came out. Players from Central Catholic of Modesto, Manteca and Escalon (all three well-known powerhouse programs) were there, along with those from St. Mary’s, Edison, Lincoln, Stagg, Weston Ranch, Downey of Modesto and Kimball of Tracy.
MVPs (Listed with year next season)
Quarterbacks – Carson Lamb (Downey, Modesto) 6-0, 180, Jr.
Running Backs – Asante Carter (St. Mary’s, Stockton) 5-10, 180, Sr.
Wide Receivers – Jaythn Long (Lincoln, Stockton) 5-11, 150, Sr.
Offensive Line – Troy Leota (Central Catholic, Modesto) 6-5, 290, Sr.
Defensive Line – Gabriel Valeros (St. Mary’s, Stockton) 6-2, 260, Sr.
Linebackers – Tommy Perea (Manteca) 5-9, 205, Sr.
Defensive Backs – Elijah Chrim-Cordero (Lincoln, Stockton) 5-11, 180, Sr.
St. Mary’s is FAAAAAAST
In its wins last year over Central Catholic and De La Salle and even in its one loss (a shocker to Turlock in the Sac-Joaquin Section D1 playoffs), team speed for St. Mary’s of Stockton was a real strength. The Rams may be faster this fall and their players on Wednesday did nothing to dispel the thinking they’ll have one of the top teams in Northern California.
The big question is whether the defense will be improved, but as far as speed on offense that will be an exclamation point. Sophomore WR Kenny Moore did some limited action, but his track speed is well-known and he remains on pace to get close to 20 D1 offers by his senior season. Asante Carter will be a three-year starting running back, he was MVP of the RBs on Wednesday, and he is bigger and stronger at nearly 180 pounds.
The Rams have not one but two QBs who can throw and run well. Samson Hunkin started last season. Junior Devin Rasmussen can spin it as well. Both players certainly are athletic enough to be used in other ways on offense, which should give head coach Tony Franks a lot of options.
Upcoming junior WR/Slot Terrence Hampton made some players grab air on several of the short passes he caught, Fred Rodriguez (6-2, 290) was one of the top offensive linemen we saw and DL Gabriel Valeros (6-2, 260) was the d-line MVP.
Central Catholic’s Size
It’s always a pleasure running into longtime Raiders’ head coach Roger Canepa, who brought several of his players to the Stockton showcase. He knows all about the speed that will be coming at St. Mary’s, but for him it’s always about having big bodies up front that can control the line of scrimmage.
Although the Raiders will have a top-level returning QB in Tyler Wentworth, the Central Catholic run game should shine with the addition of OL Manasse Itete from Modesto Christian and the development of OL Troy Leota and OL Kaisarra Afusia-Breeland. Itete (6-5, 300) was an all-state small school pick as a junior and has collected numerous D1 offers since he went more full-time into football after previously also starring in basketball at MC. He didn’t need to do much at the showcase and only did some of the drills, but looked fine. Leota (6-5, 290) did everything, did it with passion and was MVP of the offensive linemen. Kaisarra (6-5, 260) was not far behind.
More Players To Note
*Sorry but it’s just not possible to see everything and everyone going on at the same time at a combine or showcase. Some players who had a good showing probably were missed.
*Graduating senior Owen Nash of Escalon was on the list of players who was supposed to be there, but he wasn’t. That’s okay because these events should be about the upcoming seniors and juniors. The funny thing about that, though, is that junior Sam Jimenez of the Cougars made some great catches that would have made Nash proud. Junior Ryan Lewis (6-3, 220) also is a player who continues to get bigger and stronger as a DE/TE since we saw him playing as a freshman in the 2021 CIF NorCal regional final vs Marin Catholic.
*The host school has a returning center/DE in Jeremiah Singleton (6-2, 265) who has received local honors since he was a sophomore. He showed great lower body strength as a center and it is noted that he also long snaps. The Delta Kings also have a Class of 2024 linebacker, Marquise Thomas-Gray (5-9, 200), who did some things we liked.
*Kimball of Tracy WR Darius Doyle (5-9, 160) was part of a group that won the 4×100 relay at the end of the event. Doyle was a third team all-state junior WR last season for the Jaguars and should be one of the top receivers in the SJS.
*It was a small group of QBs who all had their moments. The MVP was Carson Lamb from Downey of Modesto, an upcoming junior who may show that there will be no drop off for the Knights (10-1 last season) due to the graduation of QB Conner Stoddard. The team’s sack leader from last season, Derrick Kirkendall (6-2, 195), worked out with the RBs and also was on pass coverage during this event. He was one of the best players we saw.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle.