NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s NorCal/SoCal honorees are Hunter Babb of Caruthers (left) and Kamarie Smith of Long Beach Poly. Photos: & John Napalan / All-In Press &

Two of the leading sophomore players in the state had huge outings last weekend, but the beauty of having a multi-purpose/special teams category is that we can pick them both. We also have a player with a 105-yard interception return that for our purposes is not a state record tie of 99 yards since we’ve tracked every long return of more than 105 yards for over 40 years. And these days, the tape don’t lie. This week’s honorees are from Caruthers, Salinas and El Cerrito in the north plus Long Beach, Santa Monica and Rancho Santa Margarita in the south.

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Notes: We will continue to have flexibility to one of the honorees by calling it 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

Hunter Babb (Caruthers) Sr.

The search for the Northern California Offensive Player of the Week takes us to “The Valley” as the locals like to affectionately call the CIF Central Section, and the destination is a little over 15 miles south of Fresno on Highway 41 in Caruthers.

Over the past few years we’ve visited Caruthers since they’ve had a very competitive girls basketball team but this week it’s a running quarterback named Babb on the Blue Raiders’ team that we honor, and the nomination comes by way of the Milestones missive of longtime Cal-Hi Sports friend and contributor and Central Section historian Bob Barnett.

Last week, in a 46-18 victory on the road in Firebaugh, Babb came up big in helping Caruthers rebound from an 0-2 start after rushing for a school record 364 yards on 34 carries and tied a school record by scoring six touchdowns.

Two weeks ago on the road in San Luis Obispo, and in a 38-28 loss, Babb rushed for 286 yards on a whopping 40 carries with three touchdowns. In the season opener, a 35-21 defeat at the hands of Coalinga, Babb had 161 yards rushing and two TDs, and while he didn’t complete any passes against San Luis Obispo and Firebaugh, he was two-for-seven for 34 yards and a TD with an interception in the Coalinga loss.

So far this season, the 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior signal-caller has rushed for 811 yards and 11 touchdowns to earn the top reported mark in the Central Section and the No. 2 spot in the state.

Kamani Jackson of El Cerrito celebrates after team won CIF North Coast Section D3 title last season. Photo: Joseph Porrello / Richmond Pulse.

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

Kamani Jackson (El Cerrito) Sr.

It’s been a while since we visited El Cerrito for one of our player of the week features but that’s where we find the Northern California Multi-Purpose/Special Teams Player of the Week, and the member of the Gauchos we’ve chosen is a doozy after he scored four different ways to garner the honor.

Last week, in a 63-14 rout of host Freedom of Oakley, Jackson, a 247Sports Three-Star recruit who is being recruited as a defensive back and an athlete by several schools, including San Diego State, Washington State, San Jose State, Nevada, Portland State, UNLV and Utah State, and will be at Washington State next Saturday for an official visit, had the Freedom faithful wishing he hadn’t visited Oakley last Friday night.

The four scores, three of which came in the first half, came on a 50-yard run, a 60- yard pick-six, a 75-yard kickoff return, and a 21-yard pass reception. Talk about being all over the field.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Fabian Ceja (Rancho San Juan, Salinas) Sr.

To find our Northern California Defensive Player of the Week we head to Salinas, around 60 miles south of San Jose, and at the northern entrance to a Salinas Valley area made famous as the setting for the novels of Nobel Prize winning writer and Salinas native John Steinbeck.

Despite the fact Rancho San Juan is a new school in only its fourth year, it’s the second time we’ve visited the school since we had a Multi-Purpose/Special Teams Player of the Week winner from the Trailblazers last season in November.

This week, it’s Ceja we reward for his record-setting performance last week, and with it comes a statewide honor to go with being selected the Monterey Herald Prep of the Week for boys.

With Rancho San Juan leading 21-13 and only 10 seconds left to play, and with visiting Los Altos threatening to potentially tie the score with a touchdown and 2-point conversion, Ceja came up with an interception that looks to be 5-yards deep in the end zone and took it 105 yards to the house for a pick six that ended the game and gave Rancho San Juan a 27-13 victory.

Not only does the 105-yard interception return make the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book on the Longest Pass Interception Returns (Yards) list, it’s the longest interception return not only in school and Monterey County history, but it’s the longest in CIF Central Coast Section history period, and the lone entry for the CCS on that list in the record book.

Rancho San Juan doesn’t report its stats, but in local reports it was learned that Fabian had a pick six two weeks ago in a season opening loss to Seaside.

There are some who wouldn’t count any interception returns beyond 99 yards as a state record since officially anything longer is just counted as 99 yards. But our state records have always had a category for longest interception returns beyond and now days those long plays can be confirmed by watching it on Hudl. To see the play that Fabian Ceja made, CLICK HERE.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Kamari Smith (Long Beach Poly) Soph.

For our Southern California Offensive Player of the Week we head to Long Beach, and to a school with a deep athletic tradition in both boys and girls sports at one of the largest public high schools by enrollment in the state.

It’s at Long Beach Poly where we find our award winner, and despite being just a sophomore, he’s turning some heads as one of the top players on the Cal-Hi Sports No. 11 ranked Jackrabbits.

Last week, in a game against visiting Mission Viejo when that team was ranked No. 5 and Poly was No. 12, Smith came up huge. In a see-saw affair that saw the 5-foot-10, 165-pound wide receiver pulled in a TD pass for the game winner with 28 seconds left, and Poly pulled out a 32-28 victory after leading 17-6 at the half, then surrendered 22 straight points before Smith’s TD catch sealed the comeback from the 11-point early fourth quarter deficit.

For the game, Smith had seven receptions for 253 yards and three touchdowns.

Smith, who already has offers from Colorado State, Oregon State and Utah, is following in footsteps of previous standout Jackrabbits’ wide receivers, including Gene Washington, Tony Hill, Earl McCullough and JuJu Smith-Schuster, plus others.

Sophomore Trent Mosley helped make Santa Margarita’s long bus trip to Bakersfield an enjoyable experience. Photo:

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

Trent Mosley
(Santa Margarita, Rancho SM) Soph.

The search for the Southern California Multi-Purpose/Special Teams Player of the Week takes us to the far eastern reaches of Orange County and Rancho Santa Margarita. It’s at Santa Margarita Catholic that we find our award winner and he had a huge hand in helping the Eagles move up two spots to No. 15 in the recently released Cal-Hi Sports state rankings.

Santa Margarita went on the road last Friday for a three and a half-hour journey to visit Liberty of Bakersfield, the two-time defending CIF Central Section Division I champions and the 2022 CIF Division 1-A Bowl Game state champion.

Several players came up big in the Eagles’ 34-14 win over No. 20 ranked Liberty, but it’s Mosley, who is one of the top sophomore recruits in the state, that takes home the honors.

As a wide receiver, the 5-foot-10, 160-pounder pulled in nine catches for 187 yards and two TDs, including an 82-yard romp to the house. The Santa Margarita offense got the most out of Mosley as well after he took three snaps from the wildcat formation and scored twice, including a 38-yard TD run.

So far this season Mosley, who already has offers from Arizona, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Oregon, San Diego State, Stanford, Texas A&M, UNLV, USC and Washington, has 20 pass receptions for 323 yards and the two TDs, plus he has 85 yards rushing and six touchdowns. Mosley also gets some time on defense and has three tackles this season, including one in the Liberty win.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Charles Cravings (Santa Monica) Jr.

We head to right where the Pacific Coast Highway and the I-10 intersect for this honor and that’s in Santa Monica. It’s at Santa Monica High where we find the Southern California Defensive Player of the Week who came up big in helping the Vikings move to 3-0 on the season, and that’s already surpassed the 2022 wins total for Santa Monica when it went 2-8.

The performance that Cravings is being honored for came in a 28-9 win on the road at West of Torrance. The 6-foot strong safety, who also plays wide receiver and occasional running back, had three interceptions and two passes defended, a forced fumble, and nine tackles including one for loss. Cravings also had four pass receptions for 59 yards and one touchdown, plus he had a 27-yard kickoff return.

Santa Monica fans have been craving Cravings’ defense all season and he has more than produced. So far, he has five interceptions and that is tied for the top reported mark in both the CIF Southern Section and the 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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