Spring Football: Track stars abound

All-state football player McKay Madsen of Clovis North (left) is the state leader as a junior in the discus throw. At right is Concord De La Salle’s 4×100 relay team that clocked 40.83 at recent Sacramento Meet of Champions. All four are football players (three that will be back next season). Photos: kmph.com & @dlstrack / Twitter.com.

We begin ramping up our coverage of California high school football for the 2024 season with a look at a great crop of spring athletes in track and field putting up some sizzling marks, including some from Saturday. We also go over an early look at potential top 10 teams to start for the fall and our thoughts about the Mater Dei head coaching job going to Raul Lara.

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Leading college football prospects have always looked to show their speed and display their strength competing in track and field events in the spring. All-time greats like Ollie Matson, John Henry Johnson, Lynn Swann, James Lofton, Hugh McElhenny, Charles White and Richard Sherman were all track athletes when they were in high school and many won CIF state track titles.

Some of our all-time favorite football players like lineman Don Mosebar, sprinter Kevin Willhite, sprinter Napoleon Kaufman and sprinter D.J. Williams were just about as fun to watch in CIF track meets as they were to watch on the gridiron.

With the advent of 7-on-7 teams in the spring over the last 20 years gaining in popularity, it seemed as if there were a few less younger athletes working on their speed in track as in the past. These days, though, track is back as a vehicle for someone to put up a time in the 100-meter dash or in another event that will add to their athletic resume and can be the difference between getting an offer and not getting one.

Our friend, former colleague and longtime 247 Sports national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins was recently in Stockton and said he thought more kids were doing track in the spring these days than in recent years. Going over all of the various state leader lists (as of May 8) on athletic.net and PrepCalTrack.com shows many athletes who are football players. We also checked through many of the results from Saturday’s CIF section meets for updates. It may not be a perfect list, but we’ve done one in alpha order that starts below mostly for those who are underclass but a few seniors who are state leaders in their events:

Brandon Arrington (Mt. Miguel, Spring Valley)
As a sophomore last season at Helix of La Mesa, Arrington had four TD catches. He’s now at Mt. Miguel and making a name for himself. Arrington Jr. clocked 20.59 last week in the 200 in the Grossmont League finals, which is No. 2 in CIF San Diego Section history. Brandon also has a 10.43 best in the 100. He had a wind-aided 10.41 on Saturday.

Brian Bonner (Valencia)
Sophomore has had a breakout spring on the showcase/combine circuit and has emerged as one of the state’s leading Class of 2026 football recruits. In Saturday’s CIFSS championships, he put up a time of 10.56 in the 100 meters.

Freshman sensation Benjamin Harris helped Long Beach Poly get a CIF Southern Section D1 co-championship on Saturday (with Long Beach Wilson). Counting all sports, it is the 130th all-time CIFSS title for the school (twice as many as any other school in CIFSS history). Photo: the562.org.

Devin Bragg (Los Alamitos)
Junior DB for the Griffins clocked 10.35 in the 100-meter dash as a freshman two years ago and has remained among the state’s top sprinters. He has top marks so far this spring of 10.37 in the 100 and 21.04 in the 200. The 10.37 mark has been listed as the state lead, but there was a 10.36 on Saturday (see below). In Saturday’s CIF Southern Section D1 finals, Bragg took first in both sprint events at 10.38 and 21.15.

Rider Cooper (Portola, Irvine)
He’s not a football star, but caught a couple of TD passes for Portola last season. Cooper, a graduating senior, has been among the state leaders in the 400 at 47.50 and also is among the best in the 100 (10.39) and 200 (21.21).

Adonis Currie (Quartz Hill)
All-state junior DB already had a bunch of D1 offers before this spring. It’s now reportedly up to 21 and him clocking times of 21.07 in the 200 and 10.55 in the 100 has had to have helped him.

DeMare Dezuern (Alemany, Mission Hills)
One of the only highlights for Alemany last season in football was Dezeurn catching 42 passes for 567 yards and five TDs as a freshman. He then went right into track and in an indoor meet set the 60-meter dash state record. Dezuern has a 10.43 best mark so far this spring in the 100.

Dredon Fowles (Birmingham, Lake Balboa)
One of the leading RBs last season for the Patriots, who were L.A. City Section Open Division champs and played in CIF D3-AA state final, was Fowles. The junior is now on the track team and ran a leg for the 4×100 relay that is a CIF state title contender with a best of 41.03 seconds.

Benjamin Harris (Long Beach Poly)
He’s just a freshman, but already has made a name for himself at the home of the state’s all-time best boys track program (which tied Long Beach Wilson for the CIFSS D1 team title on Saturday. Harris, who is reportedly going to be a starting RB contender as a sophomore in the fall for the Jackrabbits in football, has a best of 10.38 seconds in the 100, which was No. 2 in the state entering this week. He had a 10.43 mark on Saturday.

Jaden Jefferson (De La Salle, Concord)
The all-state sophomore from last season as a receiver-defensive back for the Spartans turned heads last week with marks of 10.40 (wind-aided) in the 100 and 21.12 in the 200 in the East Bay Athletic League championships. Earlier this season, Jefferson was part of a foursome of all DLS football players who ran 40.83 in the 4×100 relay, which is second-fastest so far in California. Junior QB Toa Faavae, sophomore DB Jayden Nicholas and senior DB Johnathan Guerrero ran the other three legs. Jefferson was second on Saturday in the CIF North Coast Section D1 championships at 10.58.

Paul Kuhner (Acalanes, Lafayette)
Kick return specialist and multi-position standout for the Dons on their CIF D3-AA state title team in football from last fall took over the state lead on Saturday by winning the 100 in the CIF North Coast Section championship with a wind legal time of 10.36 seconds. It also is second-fastest in NCS history. Kuhner, a senior, is heading to Princeton for college later in the summer where he will likely continue to do both sports.

D.J. Lee (Mission Viejo)
Probably the No. 1 DB recruit for the Class of 2025, the junior for the Diablos won the CIFSS D3 section title on Saturday in the triple jump. His mark of 46-2 also could give him a shot to qualify for the CIF state meet through the CIFSS Masters Meet.

McKay Madsen (Clovis North, Fresno)
He was one of the top players last fall for CIF Central Section champion Clovis North in football as a fullback/linebacker and has been one of the state’s top grid-track athletes for the past two years. He’s a junior who still has another year to go with the Broncos. Madsen’s track events are the shot put and discus. He’s leading the state in the discus at 197-5 and is near the top in the shot at 63-6. Another Clovis North football standout, senior LB Brayden Bitter, has a best of 62-3 in the shot. Madsen captured both throwing events on Friday night in the CIF Central Section D1 finals.

Kanye Martin (Granada Hills)
One of those on the Highlanders’ 4×100 relay squad that has been leading the state with a 40.29 mark is Martin, who was a senior RB/DB for them last fall in football.

Myles McFarland (Cosumnes Oaks, Elk Grove)
Last season as a junior in football, Myles racked up 770 yards and six TDs on 51 catches. In the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section divisional finals on Thursday night, McFarland took over the state lead in the 110 hurdles at 13.78 seconds. He also should be a contender at the CIF state meet in the 300 hurdles.

Dylan Ochoa (Northview, Covina)
He caught three TDs and rushed for two scores last season for the Vikings. For track, Dylan, a senior, has been the state leader in the 400 with best time of 47.11 seconds. He had his state lead topped over the weekend, but won in his division in the CIFSS divisional championships.

Deshonne Redeaux (Oaks Christian, Westlake Village)
The highly-ranked sophomore who was our State Freshman Athlete of the Year for 2022-23 (also because of track and football together) missed games at the end of the 2023 football season with a knee injury. It’s great to see he’s back and running top times in track, including being part of Oaks Christian’s sprint medley relay (a state leader).

Trevor Rogers (Acalanes, Lafayette)
Leading player for the CIF D3-AA state champions last football season headed to Cal next season is the current state leader in the long jump at 24 feet, 4 inches. Rogers also was second team all-state overall as a wide receiver.

Zion Shelton (El Cerrito)
We saw him in the NorCal D2-A regional playoff game vs Los Gatos and he can cover on the outside and catch passes. He’s a senior, though, and will need to be replaced next season. In track, Zion entered the weekend as the current state leader in the 110 high hurdles at 13.83 before a 13.78 mark was turned in.


While there has been the recent coaching change at the top of the program with Raul Lara taking over for Frank McManus and a number of high-level players have graduated, the same rule applies for the No. 1 ranking in California heading into the 2024 season since this current era of Mater Dei-St. John Bosco dominance began in 2016. The No. 1 team at the end of the previous year will start No. 1 the next season until the two play again.

It is also true that for the senior class of 2025, there are the fewest number of Mater Dei-Bosco players up near the top of national recruiting lists than in the past. The Monarchs, however, figure to be bolstered by transfers such as Chris Henry Jr., receiver from Ohio, Kodi Greene, an offensive lineman from Washington, and Dash Beierly, a quarterback from Chaparral of Temecula. Henry Jr. and Greene are two of the top Class of 2026 recruits in the nation. With the returnees they do have plus the transfers, MD is going to start out at the top of the state unless a bunch of players transfer out.

Six-foot-six, 270-pound offensive lineman Daniel Shipp gained scholarship offers after what he did during Corona Centennial’s showcase last week with other schools from the Corona-Norco Unified School District. Photo: Twitter.com.

Bosco also will have to start out No. 2, but like the Monarchs also will have new players that will need to step up as leading performers. There also doesn’t seem to be any incoming transfers like the ones who are at Mater Dei, but plenty of younger players that should keep head coach Jason Negro’s squad going at full strength.

Centennial of Corona only lost to Bosco by one point in the CIF Southern Section D1 semifinals and will have the leading senior QB in the state with Husan Longstreet returning. Head coach Matt Logan will have to replace all-state first team RB Cornell Hatcher, but in his career has always been able to hand the ball off to a talented running back.

The No. 4 and No. 5 preseason slots will also go to CIFSS teams, but will it be either Sierra Canyon or Mission Viejo? Both the Trailblazers (lost only game last season 42-14 to MD in the D1 semifinals) and Diablos (beat De La Salle in CIF D1-AA state final) have returning quarterbacks (MV had two last season) and top-ranked returnees in the skill positions, including RB Dane Dunn of Sierra Canyon and DB Dijon Lee of Mission Viejo.

Orange Lutheran, which had QB T.J. Lateef commit to Nebraska over the weekend, also figures to among the preseason top 10.

The NorCal outlook will be impacted by the heavy graduation losses that are going to hit Serra of San Mateo. Serra’s departing senior class essentially led the school to three straight NorCal Open Division titles. The Padres have been way too dominant to start out anywhere less than No. 1 in the CIF Central Coast Section no matter who has graduated and who is back at Archbishop Riordan, St. Francis and others.

There are three teams in NorCal, however, loaded with returnees that will have to start out higher than Serra — Folsom, De La Salle and Pittsburg. Folsom also has added transfer RB Carter Jackson from Granite Bay to go along junior to be QB Ryder Lyons (State Sophomore Player of the Year) and is playing Long Beach Poly and Serra to start the season. DLS isn’t playing Folsom this season so the possibility does exist for both teams to go unbeaten through their section playoffs and then see how the vote goes for the NorCal Open Division spot. Maybe it will finally be time to give Folsom a shot at it. Pitt is right there with top-notch returners on both offense and defense and like Serra will be looking to get a taste of the big-time by playing a game against St. John Bosco. The Pirates haven’t beaten De La Salle, of course, since 1991 and will always have to be ranked lower until they do.

Elsewhere around the state, Clovis North has the top returning cast in the CIF Central Section but is going to be haunted by its 41-0 loss to DLS in last year’s NorCal final, while Lincoln could be the pick in the CIF San Diego Section over defending Open Division champion Granite Hills based on the return of QB Akili Smith Jr. and many others.

Stay tuned as we continue to monitor other transfers that may come in and other updates as the early summer events are conducted.


Looking over all of the reaction to the hiring of former Long Beach Poly football head coach Raul Lara late last month at national powerhouse Mater Dei of Santa Ana revealed mostly positive reviews.

Mater Dei’s players should have no problem respecting new head coach Raul Lara if they know all of the NFL players he helped develop during his years at Long Beach Poly. Photo: @MDFootball / Twitter.com.

The school made the move after just one season in which the program was led by Frank McManus, who had been elevated from defensive backs coach following the 2022 season when the legendary Bruce Rollinson retired. Even though McManus directed the Monarchs to the CIF Southern Section D1 title and CIF Open Division state titles, there was a shutout loss to arch-rival St. John Bosco when those two played in the regular season (a result that was reversed in the section title game rematch) and there were rumblings based on newspaper reports that he didn’t do a good job with off-the-field responsibilities relating to alums, fund-raisers, media and interacting with other departments at the school. We wouldn’t know about most of that, but on the media part of it he was great with us.

Lara was a highly successful head coach at Long Beach Poly from 2001 to 2013 where he went 142-30 and his teams won five top divisional titles in the CIF Southern Section. The Jackrabbits beat the Monarchs in the CIFSS Pac-5 Division final in 2012, but they lost to Granite Bay in the CIF D1 state championship. Poly also lost to Grant of Sacramento in the CIF Open Division state title game in 2008. The most famous game that Lara coached in at Poly was in his first season (2001) when his team played and lost to De La Salle of Concord in the first-ever matchup of teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation. The Jackrabbits came back to win their third straight CIFSS title after that loss and fell in another rematch with De La Salle in 2002 in a game played at Cal.

Lara seemed to need a break from the Poly situation after 2013 and didn’t take another head coaching job until 2018 at Warren of Downey. He didn’t coach during the pandemic, but in 2021 he took the top spot at St. Anthony of Long Beach, which was led at the time with Michael Brennan as school president. Brennan became the school president at Mater Dei two years ago and now he has Lara leading the football program.

St. Anthony finished 9-3 last season and won the Del Rey League title, but lost to Del Rey League rival St. Pius X-St. Matthias in the CIFSS D8 playoffs. The Saints were 3-6 in 2022 and in 2021 they were 9-5 with an appearance in the CIFSS D10 championship.

Comparing anything at St. Anthony to Mater Dei is about as opposite as possible. The Long Beach Poly years of Lara’s career is where the comparisons are more realistic. He knows how to relate to young athletes and how to get talented athletes to excel. There were many future NFL players at Poly when he was there, including TE Marcedes Lewis, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR DeSean Jackson and DE Jurrell Casey. Winning five CIFSS top divisional titles also shows that Lara can win at the highest levels.

Those were the years, though, when Poly didn’t have to recruit transfers and bring in the top eighth graders from throughout Southern California. Mater Dei has to keep doing that otherwise it doesn’t matter who is sitting in the head coaching chair. Lara is not replacing Rollinson directly like McManus did, but it will be interesting to see what happens if the Monarchs are not winning state and national titles. How much pressure will there be to win those major titles? In a perfect world, a head coach should be measured on the metrics of how the players are developing as young men off the field just as much as a win-loss record. We think Coach Lara will be more than fine in that department.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle.

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  1. Kenneth Moore
    Posted May 13, 2024 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Kenneth Moore III won Sac-Joaquin section D1 200m championship as well as anchoring the sections top 4×1 relay team that is top 8 in the state.

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted May 13, 2024 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Sorry but didn’t have the time to go too deep into every event looking for more players/athletes. Sure there’s a few others could have been listed, too.

      • Kenneth Moore
        Posted May 13, 2024 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        Fair enough and no worries. I know this is a very tough article to write and try and get/track the dual sport guys in track and field. Appreciate what you do.

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