NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s honorees are Sol McGarey from Nordhoff of Ojai (left) and Jasier Smith of Vallejo. Photos: Nordhoff HS Football / &

Two of the selections this week came from nominations. Keep them coming because believe it or not there’s only a few more chances for a football player to get one of these honors before we switch to basketball. We also have another entry this week into the state record book. This week’s stops are in Vallejo, Morgan Hill and Carmel in Northern California. In Southern California we visit Ojai, Hemet and Holtville.

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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

Jasier Smith (Vallejo) Sr.

Solano County is our destination in search of the Northern California Offensive Player of the Week and we land at Vallejo High, a school with a long tradition of athletic excellence.

The football program has sent 13 players on to the NFL, including 1954 Mr. Football State Player of the Year and Los Angeles Rams’ all-time great Dick Bass, and most recently 2009 graduate Rashad Ross, but only one of them played the position our award winner plays, and that’s quarterback.

Not only that, but the most recent performance of Jasier Smith will earn him a spot in the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book. That means Smith joins 1933 graduate Vic Bottari as the second Vallejo quarterback to make the record book because all Mr. Football State Player of the Year winners are enshrined and 1933 Mr. Football honoree Bottari was the Vallejo signal-caller.

In all honesty, Jasier is not in line for Mr. Football, but last week, in a wild 56-54 victory over cross-town St. Patrick-St. Vincent that saw the visitors almost come back from a 56-32 deficit at the end of three quarters, Smith did something that Bottari never accomplished, and Vallejo AD Josh Ramos told us about it in his nomination of Smith.

What he did was throw a school record eight TD passes and in doing so Smith will get an entry into the record book on the Most Touchdown Passes (Game) list.

Smith finished going 21-of-36 for 365 yards with two of six of the TDs coming in the first half and fortunately for the Redhawks’ faithful he tossed two in the third quarter with the final one providing the margin of victory.

So far this season for 6-3 Vallejo, Smith has passed for 1,640 yards and 22 touchdowns going into a Tri-County Athletic League – Stone Division finale versus visiting Richmond where Vallejo will be a big favorite. Smith will get to pad his numbers and with a win the Redhawks will go 4-0 in league heading into the CIF North Coast Section Division IV playoffs.

Zach Rocha and teammates from 8-0 Live Oak of Morgan Hill are playing 8-0 Christopher of Gilroy in a major matchup this week in the CCS. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Zach Rocha (Live Oak, Morgan Hill) Sr.

The search for the Northern California Defensive Player of the Week takes us around 20 miles southeast of San Jose on Highway 101, and we land in a town named after a hill that’s plainly visible from the freeway, and also from the school just east of the freeway. It’s in Morgan Hill at Live Oak that we find our award winner.

Last week, in a 28-10 win on the road in San Jose at Oak Grove, Zach was on the attack on defense and special teams as well. The totals for the 5-foot-10, 180-pound linebacker were 12 tackles with eight solo, he had an interception, a forced fumble, and a blocked field goal an Acorns’ teammate returned for a touchdown.

With the win, Live Oak goes to 8-0 and 4-0 in the Mt. Hamilton League and sets up a showdown for the league championship with a Christopher of Gilroy team with an identical record.

Heading into the Christopher game, Rocha leads Live Oak with 67 tackles and the Acorns’ faithful are hoping he adds a lot more this Friday night on the road in Gilroy.

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

Ashton Rees (Carmel) Jr.

To find our Northern California Multi-Purpose/Special Teams Player of the Week, we took directions from Gold Club member and longtime supporter Geoff Johnston of Carmel who told us about a player he’s seen and is very high on.

In a 46-12 victory last week over visiting Soledad, Ashton did a whole lot of things he got credit for, and one he didn’t get credit for, and in a strange twist, one he did but shouldn’t have.

What the 6-foot-1, 165-pound wide receiver, free safety, kick and punt returner and wildcat quarterback in short yardage situations did do that counted by the rules was return the opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown, and he had two rushing touchdowns both from the wildcat formation.

Rees also returned a punt 75 yards to the house but it got called back on a penalty – and now for the twist.

Shortly before halftime on a missed field goal, Rees took it in the back of the end zone and raced 109 yards for an apparent touchdown. The problem is, and the reason we don’t have that category in the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book, is because it should not have counted.

Unlike the pros and college, once the ball crosses the goal line on a kickoff or a field goal, it’s an automatic touchback. Somehow the officials missed that rule and never blew the play dead, so it goes into the books as a touchdown.

With the heroics of Ashton against Soledad and so far all season, the Padres are 9-0 and 5-0 in the Pacific Coast League – Mission South Division heading into a regular season finale up the road in Pacific Grove.

In another twist a win will likely put Carmel up against large school Salinas in the Division III playoffs based on the CIF Central Coast Section complicated and sometimes ridiculous points system. Carmel is a small school all the way.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Sol McGarey (Nordhoff, Ojai) Jr.

Ventura County and the beautiful Ojai Valley is our destination in search of the Southern California Offensive Player of the Week and it’s in the city of Ojai at Nordhoff that we find the honoree.

Last week, in a 28-24 win in its regular season finale on the road in Carpinteria that got the Rangers to 5-5 and 2-2 in the Citrus Coast League, McGarey got lots of carries and in 42 times running the pigskin he collected 362 yards and four TDs rushing, plus he rushed for a 2-point conversion.

Winning this statewide honor may hopefully take some of the sting out of a bit of a twisted situation that ended the season for Sol and his teammates.

At 5-5 and 2-2 in league Nordhoff was playoff eligible, and when McGarey and his teammates walked off the field after the win over Carp, they had thought going into the game they would secure a spot with a victory.

However, as is sometimes the case, a late forfeit altered the landscape. Instead of making the playoffs a forfeit by Hueneme made another team playoff eligible and the Rangers’ season was over.

Despite playing in his last game since Sol is a senior, he got over the 2,000 yard mark and finished with 2,016 yards and 22 TDs rushing. Although he almost assuredly will fall behind players on teams still in action, The yardage is the current No. 9 reported mark in the state and No. 3 in the CIF Southern Section.

Tanner Fye of Hemet (32) poses for photo after his last game with teammate Daniel Mendoza. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Tanner Fye (Hemet) Sr.

We head to the southeastern portion of the Inland Empire not far from where Highways 74 and 79 intersect and we land in Hemet to find our SoCal defensive honoree.

It’s at Hemet High where we find Fye, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound tackling machine all season for the Bulldogs and last week was a perfect example. In a 38-13 victory over host Valley View of Moreno Valley, Tanner the linebacker resembled a hammer after registering a whopping 25 tackles with three for losses.

So far this season for the 7-4 Bulldogs, who were 4-0 and won the Inland Valley League for the second straight season, Fye has a whopping 116 tackles with 20 for losses, six sacks and four hurries, an interception, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also occasionally gets in on offense and he has a TD both rushing and receiving.

The 116 tackles are a top 50 reported mark in the state and top 30 in the CIF Southern Section. Fye will get a chance to add to those numbers this Friday night when Hemet hosts Rancho Christian of Temecula in the Southern Section Division 10 playoffs.

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

Fermin Velarde (Holtville) Sr.

Our Southern California Multi-Purpose/Special Teams Player of the Week plays out in the far eastern reaches of the CIF San Diego Section just east of El Centro in Holtville, and in his most recent performance he was very much the epitome of this category that was expanded to include multi-purpose last season.

Not only was Velarde the perfect choice this week, what he did to earn this statewide honor is something we can’t remember ever seeing done before.

In a 53-6 rout of Calipatria that gets Holtville to 7-2 overall and 3-0 to capture the Desert League crown, Velarde had a trifecta when it came to blocking kicks. Fermin blocked a field goal, a PAT and a punt in the same game. For good measure he also had a fumble recovery and registered a team-high 13 tackles, including a sack.

Mr. Multi-Purpose will show his wares again this season but he’ll have to wait a week since Holtville drew a bye as the top seed in the San Diego Section Division V-AA playoffs.

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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  1. J castle
    Posted November 1, 2023 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Watch that all around player Ashton Rees for Carmel HS. He is a multi sport wonder !!!

  2. RLS13
    Posted November 2, 2023 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    So Ashton has set a record that can never be broken 🙂

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