NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s honorees are Dawit Crain of Yucaipa (left) and Gunter Golla from Garces of Bakersfield. Photos: John Murphy & George Ayonayon.

Not only do we have an addition to the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book this week for defense, something this feature tracks, we have a winner from the CIF Central Section on offense who is a coach’s son who threw for more than 400 yards and six touchdowns. That Central Section stop is in Bakersfield with the other Northern California stops in Sacramento and Oakland. In Southern California, we visit Agora Hills, San Clemente and Yucaipa.

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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

Gunter Golla (Garces Memorial, Bakersfield) Soph.

The far southern reaches of the CIF Central Section is our destination and it’s in Bakersfield at Garces that we find the Northern California Offensive Player of the Week.

Our winner, Gunter Paul Golla III, who is the son of Garces head coach Paul Golla, actually Gunter Paul Golla II, got a double nomination from two friends of Cal-Hi Sports. Not only did Golla make the Milestones missive of Central Section historian Bob Barnett, but former high school sports scribe and current Garces Sports Information and Communications Director Trevor Horn sent in a nomination.

Since he’s playing for his father and his father played high school and college football, we could says it’s in the blood, and maybe it is, but our sources tell us Coach Golla was a tight end/linebacker type in his playing days, and Gunter is a quarterback.

Last week, in a 47-13 victory in Porterville at Monache, Gunter was really gunning after setting three school records.

His 407 yards passing broke the school record by 37 yards. The six TD passes Golla threw in the game broke the old record of five. And his 55 yards rushing added to the passing yards for 462 combined yards broke a record set in 1956 of 415 combined passing and rushing yards.

So far this season, his first playing any kind of high school football, Golla has passed for 1,034 yards and 12 TDs and he’s rushed for a score. Gunter did not play football last season as a freshman after having knee surgery.

There were two other players that earned spots in the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book for performances last week also from the CIF Central Section, but one of them was just picked as a player of the week last week, junior Jerod “Bubba” Smith of Fowler, and we have featured the other one, Fresno Sunnyside’s Tanner Wilson, many times in the last two seasons. These honors are attempted to be spread around to as many players as possible.

Hakim Reynolds of Sacramento Grant had not one not two but three pick six touchdowns for the Pacers in their game last week vs Burbank. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Hakim Reynolds (Grant, Sacramento) Sr.

To find the Northern California Defensive Player of the Week we head around six miles northeast of the state capitol to the Hagginwood district of Sacramento and find ourselves at Grant High.

After some lean years both during and prior to the pandemic, the storied Pacers’ program is back among the top teams in Northern California and looking for another great season after winning the CIF 3-AA State Bowl Game championship last season, and while Reynolds was a contributor to last season’s team with two interceptions, he outdid that in one game in his most recent performance.

Last week, in a 48-0 Metropolitan League opener against crosstown Burbank, not only did Reynolds have three interceptions, he took all three to the house for pick sixes. The 6-foot, 195-pound inside linebacker also had four tackles with one for a loss.

We could not find out what the distances were of each of the three picks, but what we can tell you is the three interception returns for scores ties Reynolds with eight other players for the most all time and earns Hakim a spot in the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book on the Most Pass Interception TDs (Game) list.

Of note is Reynolds also is only the second player from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section to have three pick sixes in a game. The first time was way back in 1994 when at the time Earl Kahanu of Patterson was only the second player to accomplish the feat.

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

Joshua “Bam” Oludayo (Oakland) Sr.

The CIF Oakland Section is where we head in search of the Northern California Multi-Purpose/Special Teams Player of the Week and we land just off the 580 freeway where MacArthur and Park Boulevards intersect at Oakland High School.

We had some amazing multi-purpose performances last week but Oludayo gets the nod for what he did in a 38-0 win over Hercules that gets the Wildcats to 3-0 to start the season.

After what Oludayo did against the visiting Titans, Bam was more like a battering ram after the 6-foot, 165-pound senior running quarterback, who also plays free safety, rushed for 194 yards and two touchdowns on offense. What else did he do: he returned a punt 73 yards to the house for paydirt on specials teams, and on defense Bam had two pass interceptions and three tackles for loss.

The thing that separated Oludayo from others considered is he covered all the bases, offense, defense and special teams.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Harrison Novak (Agoura, Agoura Hills) Sr.

The search for the Southern California Offensive Player of the Week takes us to the far western reaches of Los Angeles County just north of Highway 101 and south of the Ventura County border in Agoura Hills at Agoura High.

Agoura Hills is about 15 miles north of Malibu and the Pacific Ocean, so it’s close enough for this self-described surfer dude, also reported with a 4.1 GPA, to catch some big waves, and being 5-foot-7 and 155-pounds is the perfect size for a surfer. However, for a quarterback that needs to be able to see over the heads of linemen to pass the ball effectively, it conceivably could be a disadvantage in putting up big passing numbers.

For Novak, however, it’s no problem, and although it’s this past week’s performance for which Harrison is being honored, the last two weeks have seen him come up big.

Last week, in a 34-27 victory over Camarillo, Novak was 23-of-30 for 351 yards and three TDs, plus he was the team’s leading rusher with 54 yards and two rushing scores.

Two weeks ago, Novak passed for 394 yards and six TDs in a barn-burning 54-53 overtime victory against neighboring Calabasas.

So far this season for the 5-0 Chargers (including a forfeit win), who were 1-9 last season with Novak sharing time at quarterback, Harrison has passed for 1,103 yards and 11 TDs in four games.

That’s not waiting for a wave. That’s creating one and it’s one Novak and the Chargers hope to keep riding for the rest of the season.

Riley Kelley has been quite the ball hawk in his first five games this season at San Clemente. Photo: San Clemente Football / MaxPreps.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Riley Kelley (San Clemente) Jr.

For our Southern California Defensive Player of the Week stop, we head to the southernmost part of Orange County and find our honoree at San Clemente.

Defense has been something San Clemente has been very proficient at this season which shows the Tritons at 5-0 and No. 15 in the most recent Cal-Hi Sports state rankings. Kelley has been a key to its success and last week was a perfect example in a 31-7 victory over an always tough Edison of Huntington Beach.

With the score tied 7-7 in the third quarter, the defense turned things around with turnovers and Kelley had two of them with pass interceptions. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound junior defensive back also had six tackles with five solo.

So far this season, Kelley also has five interceptions and that’s tied for the No. 2 reported mark in the CIF Southern Section and the state.

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

Dawit Crain (Yucaipa) Sr.

When we expanded this category from Special Teams to Multi-Purpose/Special Teams last year it was because sometimes it was hard to find a kicker or punter that fit the criteria, but this week we have a kicker, and to find this young man with an incredible story we head to far eastern part of the Inland Empire around 15-miles east of San Bernardino in Yucaipa.

Two years ago, the San Bernardino Sun did a story about Crain who in 2009 was adopted out of an orphanage from Ethiopia with his older brother, Sintayehu. Dawit knew nothing about football but he was not new to kicking. Being tall (Dawit is now 6-foot-5) he made a perfect soccer goalie and that was the sport he and his brother played after coming to the United States.

Word got out that Dawit had a booming leg and he became the Yucaipa kicker and punter as a sophomore. That season his numbers were not outlandish, but were solid on a Thunderbirds team that finished 7-4.

Now, after two straight weeks of outstanding kicking, Crain has been named the Southern California Multi-Purpose/Special Teams Player of the Week.

Last week, in a 20-12 victory over Palm Springs, Dawit was 4-for-4 on field goals with a longest of 38-yards, he had four punts for a 39.8 yard average with one inside the 20, and he had six kickoffs with a longest of 65-yards and four touchbacks.

Two weeks ago, in a 43-0 shellacking of Palm Desert, Crain drilled three field goals. That’s seven field goals in two weeks and that’s enough for this selection.

Yucaipa has a bye this week so Dawit can rest up his leg and get ready for a Citrus Belt League opener the following week at neighboring Beaumont.

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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