SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s honorees are Caleb Sanchez of state No. 1 St. John Bosco (left) and Zack Homan from Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa. Photos: Mark Tennis.

One of the goals of this feature besides tracking potential entries for the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book is to uncover hidden talent that might otherwise only get local recognition. However, with the field of teams pretty much halved last week with just a couple of exceptions, the narrowing funnel in the final weeks of this feature means a couple of our honorees are from high profile programs and all are from teams that are advancing to a section title game. This week we visit Bellflower, Ventura and Perris in Southern California, and in Northern California the stops are in Santa Rosa, Palo Alto and Roseville.

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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
Offensive Player of the Week

Caleb Sanchez (St. John Bosco, Bellflower) Sr.

You may have noticed that it is quite rare for players from St. John Bosco or Mater Dei to get any of these player of the week honors. In most cases, their players are already set with major college offers and have gained a ton of publicity and we do use these honors also to help point the spotlight on those players who may need it.

Caleb started out behind the eight-ball as a college prospect and state player of the year candidate since he was a back-up last season as a junior to Braves’ starter Pierce Clarkson. The senior has more than caught up as a state player of the year candidate and continued that ascent this past week with a monster outing in Bosco’s 43-42 win over Centennial of Corona in the CIF Southern Section D1 semifinals. He completed 13 of 23 passes for 330 yards and six TDs and now has 3,164 yards and 34 TD passes this season. He’s putting up totals similar to Bosco’s last Mr. Football honoree for California, current Oregon State starter D.J. Uiagalelei. It could all be over in this week’s CIFSS D1 final vs Mater Dei, but it also could roll right on into the CIF Open Division state final on Dec. 9.

It’s not a surprise that Sanchez has more than done the job as Bosco’s starting quarterback, but it was a team that returned more than one standout running back so the preseason thinking was that the Braves would be more of a running team. Instead, as Caleb has kept gaining confidence, they’ve been throwing it as much or more than ever.

As of this week, however, the only listed offer for the 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback who can run if he has to is from Nevada. The Wolfpack are rebuilding and it is a great school but it would be nice if Sanchez had more to choose from.

Max Peters was the hero for St. Bonaventure in its CIFSS playoff win over San Juan Hills with an 87-yard interception return in the final minutes. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Max Peters (St. Bonaventure, Ventura) Sr.

The search for the Southern California Defensive Player of the Week takes us to Ventura County and to a school with long tradition of football excellence, including 2007-08 back-to-back CIF Division III state championships.

If you guessed the school was St. Bonaventure, you’d be correct because that is where we find this week’s award winner, and Peters is the honoree for coming up huge in his most recent performance.

The CIF Southern Section Division III semifinal last week between No. 5 seed St. Bonaventure and top seed and host San Juan Hills of San Juan Capistrano was tied 13-13 after the Seraphs, who trailed 13-6 after three quarters, got an equalizer with nine minutes left on a TD run by Keon Glover.

San Juan Hills took the ensuing kickoff and marched inside the St. Bonaventure red zone and looked in position to retake the lead with less than four minutes remaining, but Peters had other ideas.

After a long run got the ball to the Seraphs 31-yard line, San Juan Hills continued to move the ball downfield. On a play that started just outside the 5-yard line, Peters stepped in front of a swing pass, caught the ball for the interception and raced 87 yards to pay dirt for a pick six and a 20-13 lead in what would be the game’s final tally. The clock was ticking at 3:35 and 3:36 remaining as Max scored.

San Juan Hills had another chance but senior Bryan Estrada came up with an interception and St. Bonaventure ran out the clock. The Seraphs now advance to the Southern Section D3 title game this Saturday night at home against Warren of Downey.

Since it’s late in the season and one of Max’s teammates could very well have won this award but almost assuredly will make the Stat Stars feature, we want to give a mention to sophomore Jeremiah Barrios – and we’re sure Peters and the Seraphs faithful would want to give him a shout out as well — because his 17 tackles were obviously a big part of the St. Bonaventure victory. It was just too hard not to notice a game-winning pick six.

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

Sire Gaines (Orange Vista, Perris) Sr.

The Inland Empire and Perris is our destination in search of the Southern California Multi-Purpose/Special Teams Player of the Week and it’s a little over a mile east of the I-215 that we find our honoree at Orange Vista High.

Last week, in a wild 63-46 CIF Southern Section Division 5 semifinal victory by second-seeded Orange Vista over a visiting Anaheim Western that sported last week’s SoCal defensive honoree Josh Faulkner, Gaines, a 247Sports three-star recruit who was recruited for his defense as a strong safety and has committed to Arizona State, was instrumental with his offense.

The-6-foot-1, 198-pound senior fulfilled the Coyotes’ faithful’s desires after Sire rushed for 230 yards and five touchdowns. Receiving stats were not reported but accounts of the game had Gaines with two pass receptions for 51 yards. Defensive stats were also not reported but we’re pretty sure Sire had a hand in the defensive efforts of Orange Vista as well.

With the victory, the 10-3 Coyotes will now play for the Southern Section D5 championship and a chance to go bowling this Saturday on the road at top-seeded Newbury Park.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Offensive Player of the Week

Zack Homan (Cardinal Newman, Santa Rosa) Sr.

The Redwood Empire portion of the CIF North Coast Section is where we journey in search of the Northern California Offensive Player of the Week, and it’s at Cardinal Newman where we find our award winner.

Last year, as a varsity starter, Homan played mostly defense as the Cardinals had Santino Acevedo as their primary running back and Zach saw very limited action.

This season, Homan has been more than the man, and with it the Cardinals’ workhorse-like running back has shattered the Cardinal Newman single-season rushing and touchdown records, and in his most recent performance, and in the biggest game of his career, he had his greatest game ever.

Last week, in a 54-28 North Coast Section Division III semifinal victory by third-seeded Cardinal Newman on the road at a No. 2 seed Las Lomas (Walnut Creek) team that has a win over a Campolindo (Moraga) team that nearly upset Cal-Hi Sports No. 14 ranked San Ramon Valley in the NCS Open Division playoffs, Homan ran wild. The 6-foot, 200-pound senior broke his previous single-game school rushing record by rushing for 381 yards and four touchdowns.

Homan already broke the single-season rushing record of 1,863 yards set in 2006 by Brian Hutton two weeks ago when he rushed for 273 yards and five TDs in a 49-14 quarterfinal victory over American Canyon.

Now, with his performance last week, Zack has cracked the 2,000 yards rushing barrier with 2,340 yards and 36 TDs on the ground. He also has 13 catches for 148 yards and one TD receiving. The 37 total TDs and 222 points are also school records.

Heading into a NCS D3 title-game showdown with a top-seeded Marin Catholic team the Cardinals have faced in a championship final four of the last five years the NCS has held section championships for football, the 2,340 yards rushing is the No. 7 reported mark in the state and No. 2 in the North Coast Section.

Brody Krupp has helped Woodcreek of Roseville reach its first-ever CIF Sac-Joaquin Sectiion title game. Photo:

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

Brody Krupp (Woodcreek, Roseville) Jr.

Placer County and a little over 20-miles east of the state capitol along the I-80 corridor is the destination in the search for the Northern California Multi-Purpose/Special Teams Player of the Week, and it’s at Woodcreek where we find the award winner.

Last week, in a 46-13 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 semifinal victory by second-seeded Woodcreek over No. 3 seed Fairfield Vanden, Krupp did a little of everything.

On offense he only had four carries but the 6-foot-2, 220-pound running back had two touchdowns. He also completed the only pass the Timberwolves threw and it went for a 56-yard touchdown.

On defense at inside linebacker he recorded eight tackles and had two defended passes. On special teams he had the lone punt for Woodcreek and it went out of bounds inside the 20 yard line.

The Woodcreek faithful hope Brody will bring his “A” game this week as the Timberwolves will be facing top-seeded and Cal-Hi Sports No. 33 ranked Grant of Sacramento on Friday at Sacramento City College for the Sac-Joaquin Section D3 championship. It’s the first-ever trip to the section football finals for a school that has won a CIF NorCal Open Division title in boys basketball.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Defensive Player of the Week

Joseph Kessler (Palo Alto) Jr.

The far southern reaches of what is known as the Peninsula around 35-miles south of San Francisco and about 23-miles from San Jose is where we venture in search of the Northern California Defensive Player of the Week, and it’s right across the El Camino Real just east of Stanford University at Palo Alto High where we find this week’s honoree.

Last week, in a 45-14 CIF Central Coast Section Division IV semifinal victory by top-seeded Palo Alto over visiting No. 5 seed Leigh of San Jose, Kessler was like a one-man wrecking crew on defense just like he’s been all season after the 6-foot, 200-pound junior middle linebacker recorded 15 tackles with two for losses, plus he batted down a pass.

So far for the 7-5 Vikings and heading into a Central Coast Section D4 championship game showdown with No. 2 seed Mountain View on Saturday at San Jose City College, Kessler is by far the team leader with 165 tackles including 11 for losses. Joseph also has a sack, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

The 165 tackles is currently the No. 7 reported mark in the state and tops in the Central Coast Section.

On a side note we’re pretty sure Kessler would like to give a shout out to fellow junior linebacker Roman Jacobs. He had 14 tackles in the Leigh win.

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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