SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s honorees are Barry Weatherspoon (left) of Eagle Rock and Marquis Cropper of Sanger. Photos: Eagle Rock Football / MaxPreps & Gabe Camarillo.

As the funnel narrows come playoff time, the astronomical performances that come against non-playoff teams become harder to find as the competition stiffens. We still have one 400-yard QB, another who almost got there and one of the state leaders in interceptions. This week our stops are in Downey, Irvine and Los Angeles in Southern California, and in Northern California we visit Watsonville, Sanger and Weed.

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

Barry Weatherspoon (Eagle Rock, Los Angeles) Sr.

The journey in search of the Southern California Multi-Purpose/Special Teams Player of the Week takes us to Northeast Los Angeles and a school in the Los Angeles City Section named after its neighborhood around midway between Glendale to the west and Pasadena to the east.

At Eagle Rock we find a senior who is a also a sprinter in track and has established himself as one of the top all-around players in the L.A. City Section and his most recent performance is a perfect example.

Last week, in a wild-and-wacky 55-42 victory by the LA City Section Division II No. 5 seed over 12th-seeded Taft of Woodland Hills, Weatherspoon was seemingly everywhere. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound slotback who also plays defensive back, had three TD pass receptions, a rushing touchdown, plus he had two interceptions on defense, one of which he returned to the house for a pick six.

This has been an especially memorable senior season for Barry since his sister, Haylee, has been playing flag football at Eagle Rock. She recently had a stretch of four games in which she scored 12 touchdowns.

The Eagles’ faithful are hoping Barry can help carry the team once again as the No. 5 seed takes on No. 4 seed Dr. Maya Angelou Community Phoenix in the quarterfinals.

Madden Iamaleava is the younger brother of 2022 All-American and all-state QB Nico Iamaleava (now at Tennessee). Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Madden Iamaleava (Warren, Downey) Jr.

The search for the Southern California Offensive Player of the Week takes us around 12 miles south of downtown Los Angeles to Downey, and we land smack dab in the middle of what looks like a slice of pie bordered on the west by the I-710, the south by the I-105, and on the east and northeast by the I-5 and I-605.

It’s at Warren High where we find our award winner, and now it’s Madden that’s taking the spotlight after backing up his brother, current Tennessee freshman quarterback Nico Iamaleava, his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Last week, in a 34-33 road victory in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs over previously unbeaten and previous Cal-Hi Sports No. 43 ranked Tustin, Madden only completed 12 passes but got the most of them after passing for 441 yards and five TDs with one interception. He also rushed for 29 yards.

With the score tied 27-27, touchdown pass No. 5 for Iamaleava was the game winner and came in the closing seconds of the third quarter on a 65-yard reception by senior wide receiver Jordan Ross to make it 34-27. Earlier in the game Madden and Jordan connected on their first 65-yard TD pass that at the time gave Warren a 27-13 second quarter lead.

After the final tally by Warren, host Tustin scored with around eight minutes left but the PAT was no good, and although there were no more scores by the Iamaleava led Warren offense, the defense shut the door and sends the Bears on to the second round where Madden will look to pad his numbers against visiting Oak Hills of Hesperia.

So far this season for 9-2 Warren, who got bumped up from No. 46 to No. 36 in the most recent Cal-Hi Sports state rankings, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Iamaleava, who as a junior already has nearly 20 offers, including those from Tennessee, Washington, Oregon State, Miami, Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Pittsburg and Auburn to name a few, has passed for 2,357 yards and 29 TDs with only three interceptions for an astronomical 139.2 quarterback rating.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Carter Jones (Crean Lutheran, Irvine) Jr.

To find the Southern California Defensive Player of the Week, we had a to dig a little deep, but we finally found him in Orange County just south of where Highway 133 runs into Highway 241 in Irvine at Crean Lutheran.

Our honoree has been somewhat of a tackling machine all season, so his most recent performance was almost like another day at the office for Jones, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound middle linebacker after he registered 13 tackles and an interception he returned 16 yards in a 37-21 CIF Southern Section Division 6 victory on the road in Newhall at Hart.

So far this season for the 8-3 Saints and heading into a second round game on the road at Simi Valley, Jones, who has 17 offers including Arizona, Cal, Florida State, Louisville, LSU, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Oregon State and Tennessee to name just a few, has 138 tackles with nine for losses, and two interceptions.

The 13 tackles against Hart was only the fourth most for Jones this season. His high was 20 and in bit of a twist it came in an early season loss to Trabuco Hills of Mission Viejo. This was just a good week to select him based on other reported defensive performances that were obtained.

Jones also sees some time at tight end where he has 18 receptions for 115 yards and four touchdowns.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Marquis Cropper (Sanger) Sr.

To find the Northern California Defensive Player of the Week, we head to the heart of “the Valley” as the locals like to call the CIF Central Section, and whenever we visit the Valley we remind readers that for all Player of the Week features, in all sports, boys and girls, the Central Section is considered Northern California.

Our destination is Sanger, and while Cropper has a long way to go to becoming a pro player, Sanger High is the alma mater of a couple of pros including NFL Hall of Fame Oakland Raiders quarterback and coach Tom Flores.

Cropper doesn’t play quarterback, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound senior plays cornerback, and last week in a Central Section Division I 35-0 blanking by the fifth-seeded Apaches over No. 12 seed Garces Memorial of Fresno, Cropper harvested one of his two interceptions into a 30-yard return for a pick six that gave Sanger a 7-0 lead it never relinquished.

Marquis also had three solo tackles and on offense he had 50 yards combined rushing and receiving.

Heading into a quarterfinal match-up on the road at No. 4 seed Clovis East of Clovis, Cropper now has a school record nine interceptions for the year and he has had at least one interception in Sanger’s last five games.

The last two interceptions didn’t show up on on MaxPreps yet, but the nine picks are not only tied for tops in the Central Section but No. 1 in the state heading into the Clovis East game.

Of note is with the win last week Sanger came into the most recent Cal-Hi Sports state rankings at No. 45, and it’s the first time since 2016 the Apaches have cracked that high in the rankings.

Dominic Pierini will be a returning QB next season who had 3,000 yards or more passing as a junior. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Dominic Pierini (Monte Vista Christian, Watsonville) Jr.

A nomination by the athletic director takes us to southern Santa Cruz County and the town of Watsonville and to a school a little less than 10-miles from the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

The nominating email for Pierini came in from Monte Vista Christian Assistant AD Jeff Silveira and highlighted the most recent exploits of the Mustangs’ quarterback.

In a 41-35 victory last week over crosstown St. Francis that got Monte Vista to 6-4 and 3-3 to close out the Pacific Coast Athletic League – Mission North Division, Pierini, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound junior, was 25-of-36 for 388 yards and four touchdowns.

His last TD pass in the fourth quarter was the game winner after Monte Vista overcame a 35-34 deficit.

Unfortunately for Pierini and the Mustangs and their faithful, Monte Vista Christian did not get a playoff spot in the CIF Central Coast Section playoffs. Dominic therefore finishes with 3,043 yards and 34 TDs passing but with his senior season still remaining possibly he can put up some big numbers next season as well.

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

D.J. Horton (Weed) Sr.

We can’t remember the last time if ever we visited Weed other than passing by on I-5 en route to Oregon to the far reaches of the Northern Section just north of Redding and shadowed by majestic Mt. Shasta just a stone’s throw to the east, but that where we find this week’s Northern California Multi-Purpose/Special Teams Player of the Week.

In many small town schools, players go both ways, but in the case of Horton, he does just about everything and last week was a perfect example.

In a 50-30 victory on the road in Maxwell that pushed Weed to 8-2 and 6-2 in the Cascade Valley League, Horton, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound slotback, dual-threat quarterback and strong safety, had 19 carries for 287 yards and five TDs, and he was 3-of-3 passing for 73 yards and two TDs on offense.

On defense, Horton had five tackles and an interception. If that’s not enough he also punted for a 39-yard average with a longest of 45 yards, and he had one punt return. His outing was witnessed by local free-lance writer Jennifer Correia, who sent it in to us as part of an update she emails in every week about some top CIF Northern Section stat stars.

Weed and its star Horton will be moving on to the CIF Northern Section Division V playoffs where the Cougars are the No. 2 seed based on the section’s points system.

Not surprisingly, Horton also is one of the top basketball players in the CIF Northern Section and for the last two seasons he averaged nearly 20 points per game.

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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