Cal-Hi Sports Insider Blog

Quick-hitting, behind-the-scenes news and notes from the staff, including previews of upcoming content and events.

NorCal Tip-Off Classic Recaps

Here’s the results and recap from the 15th Annual NorCal Tip-Off Classic at Dublin. Preseason NorCal No. 1 and state No. 3 Modesto Christian fell for the second consecutive night to No. 5 Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks. Will NorCal present a challenge to SoCal in the 2023 CIF open state title game?

Read more…

Local Lions All-Star FB Game To Return

The 47th annual Central California Lions All-Star Football Game was supposed to have been played on June 14, 2020 at Lincoln High School’s Alex G. Spanos Stadium. That game, along with all high school sports at that time, were canceled due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic several months earlier.

There also was no All-Star Game in 2021 or 2022 due to the lingering after-effects of the pandemic as high school scheduling wasn’t back to normal until the current 2022-23 school year.

Mariposa’s Cody Wichmann is one of several from the Lions Game to later play in the NFL. Photo: Mark Tennis.

With dollars still on hand from the canceled game from 2020 and with most of those who were serving on the Lions All-Star Football Game committee still committed to seeing the local event honoring outstanding graduated local high school players continue, it is with pleasure to announce that the Central California Lions All-Star Football Game is returning in 2023.

The all-star game, which now will be the 47th in the series, will be staged on Friday, June 24, 2023 at 7 p.m. and will be held at Wayne Schneider Stadium in Tracy. The game had been held at Tracy High’s venue from 2013 to 2018 before moving to Lincoln High in Stockton in 2019.

Coaches from the two teams also have been selected and they are already working on their rosters.

For the North, since he was supposed to be coaching the team in 2019, Edison of Stockton’s Booker Guyton was asked again and he has accepted again. The Vikings were coming off of a league championship team in 2019 and they are once again.

For the South, one of the co-head coaches will be retiring Oakdale High legend Trent Merzon. He had never been able to coach the South team before, and the Lions All-Star Football Game committee couldn’t be more thrilled that a person of his stature is going to be involved this time. Merzon coached the Mustangs to a record of 225-62-1 in 23 seasons. His winning percentage of 78.3 is one of the highest in Northern California history among coaches with 200 wins or more. Note: Lions All-Star committee member Wayne Schneider retired from Tracy with a 224-59-5 record (almost the same as Merzon with a 78.6 win percentage).

Merzon will be co-coaching with longtime friend Tim Garcia, the Modesto Bee’s 2021 Coach of the Year from Grace Davis of Modesto.

Guyton will be assisted by one of Edison’s two coordinators, former NFL wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins.

The North won the 2019 game 19-18 and snapped a six-game winless streak in the series. The North also leads in the overall series 25-19-1.

There will be changes to the format of the event. In order to concentrate on getting the game itself back up and running, there will be no all-star banquet and players will not be housed at a college dorm for the week leading into the game. The Lions All-Star Football Committee may look into reviving those unique qualities of the event at a later time.

The Lions All-Star Football Classic began in 1974 and was held at the University of Pacific’s Memorial Stadium until 2011. With that stadium at the time being prepared for its eventual demolition, the Lions game moved to Modesto Junior College for two years and for six years from 2013 to 2018 had been held at Tracy High’s Wayne Schneider Stadium.

The committee, headed by Elizabeth Gibbs Olson, would like to specifically thank head coach Jeremy Plaa from Downey High of Modesto for joining the committee and offering invaluable insights as a former coach in the game and a former player in the game.

High Schools Represented In
District 4A-1 of Lions International

North – Amador (Sutter Creek), Argonaut (Jackson), Bear Creek (Stockton), Bret Harte (Altaville), Brookside Christian (Stockton), Calaveras (San Andreas), East Union (Manteca), Edison (Stockton), Escalon, Franklin (Stockton), Jim Elliot Christian (Lodi), Kimball (Tracy), Lathrop, Lincoln (Stockton), Lodi, Manteca, McNair (Stockton), Merrill West (Tracy), Millennium (Tracy), Mountain House, Ripon, Ripon Christian, St. Mary’s (Stockton), Sierra (Manteca), Sonora, Stagg (Stockton), Summerville (Tuolomne), Tokay (Lodi), Tracy, Weston Ranch (Stockton).

South – Atwater, Beyer (Modesto), Big Valley Christian (Modesto), Buhach Colony (Atwater), Central Catholic (Modesto), Central Valley (Ceres), Ceres, Chowchilla, Delhi, Denair, Dos Palos, Downey (Modesto), El Capitan (Merced), Enochs (Modesto), Golden Valley (Merced), Grace Davis (Modesto), Gregori (Modesto), Gustine, Hilmar, Hughson, Johansen (Modesto), Le Grand, Livingston, Los Banos, Madera, Madera South, Mariposa County (Mariposa), Merced, Modesto, Modesto Christian, Oakdale, Orestimba (Newman), Pacheco (Los Banos), Patterson, Pitman (Turlock), Riverbank, Stone Ridge Christian (Merced), Turlock, Turlock Christian.

Regular Season State Stat Leaders

Jackson Harris of Berkeley (left) led the state for regular season TD catches. At right is regular season state receptions leader Cooper Hoch of Corona del Mar. Photos: & Mark Tennis (taken off of banner showing at football game).

These aren’t as simple as just looking at MaxPreps. This is due to several CIF sections around the state that don’t end the regular season on the same week as the others (mainly Central Coast, North Coast and Northern). In fact, San Francisco and Oakland still have one week to go but there are no players involved that would effect any of the lists. Plus, there are other players who didn’t play last week due to first-round playoff section byes.


Note: We hope you enjoy this free post on After the preseason, all weekly and final state rankings are available only to our Gold Club members. To check out getting a Gold Club membership to see all of those rankings plus all of our updated state football record lists, totally authentic historical features, recruiting player ratings and more, CLICK HERE.

After doing all of the subtraction on some players from the MaxPreps leaders (those that did have playoff games last week), here are the leaders in each of the categories in which state records are maintained (number of games played listed in parentheses):

Luke Baker of San Ramon Valley is shown during preseason practice. Photo: Chace Bryson / SportStars.

Most Yards Passing
3,465 – Tanner Wilson, Fresno Sunnyside (10) Soph.
3,372 – Anders Lundsberg, Anaheim Canyon (10)
3,295 – Marino Fragata, Sacramento Johnson (9) Jr.
3,123 – Myles Jackson, Long Beach Millikan (9) Jr.
2,998 – Anthony Mahaffey, Placentia El Dorado (10)
2,960 – Luke Baker, Danville San Ramon Valley (10) Jr.
2,924 – Cavin Ross, Lompoc (10)

Most Touchdown Passes
46 – Anders Lundsberg, Anaheim Canyon (10)
45 – Marino Fragata, Sacramento Johnson (9) Jr.
41 – Myles Jackson, Long Beach Millikan (9) Jr.
40 – Tanner Wilson, Fresno Sunnyside (10) Soph.
39 – Cavin Ross, Lompoc (10)

Most Yards Rushing
2,235 – Delon Thompson, Ventura St. Bonaventure (10)
2,170 – Eric Terrazes, Baldwin Park Sierra Vista (10)
2,164 – Andrew Camarillo, Orosi (10)

Most Touchdowns Scored
36 – Beau Bruins, Riverside Ramona (10)
32 – Aaron Ramirez, Thermal Coachella Valley (8) Soph.
32 – Blake Nichelson, Manteca (9)
31 – Arthur Draeger, Galt Liberty Ranch (10)
29 – Troy Leigber, Laguna Hills) 10)
29 – Delon Thompson, Ventura St. Bonaventure (10)
Notes: Aaron Ramirez played for Coachella Valley last week in CIFSS playoff loss, but stats not reported. He is shown with 32 TDs in eight regular season games and then didn’t play in team’s final two regular season games. Jasiah Bateman of Antelope also is on the MaxPreps list with 33 TDs, but that’s TD passes not TDs scored.

Most Touchdown Catches
22 – Jackson Harris, Berkeley (10)
20 – Jeremiah Castillo, Spring Valley Mt. Miguel (10) Jr.
20 – Kayvon Monfared, Anaheim Canyon (10)
Note: Harris had 20 entering his final regular season game last week and caught two for the Yellowjackets in their 49-8 win over Irvington of Fremont. Castillo and Monfared were done the week before.

Most Receiving Yards
1,459 – Xavier Jordan, Los Angeles Cathedral (10) Jr.
1,427 – Jackson Harris, Berkeley (10)
1,313 – Tiger Bachmeier, Murrieta Murrieta Valley (10)

Most Receptions
86 – Cooper Hoch, Newport Beach Corona del Mar (10)
84 – Jeremiah Bernard, Modesto Christian (10) Jr.
83 – C.J. Jones, Fresno Sunnyside (10) Soph.
82 – Tiger Bachmeier, Murrieta Murrieta Valley (10)
80 – Drew Faulkner, Anaheim Western (9)
Notes: Hoch only had one catch in his team’s first playoff game in the CIFSS D3 bracket, but the good news for him is that Corona del Mar won and is still going. Bachmeier had 15 catches in his team’s 70-49 CIFSS D2 playoff loss to Bishop Amat and ended the season with 97.

Boys BB: 2022-23 Transfer Rundown

Here’s a quick-hitting list of transfers that will impact this year’s boys basketball state rankings. It’s been a hectic off-season and we offer a rundown of where some of California’s elite players ended up, including some who left the state, and some who just transferred as recently as the past week. Look for our preseason Cal-Hi Sports state rankings on November 11, as the basketball season should be about as normal as it was pre-COVID-19. The 2022-23 season officially begins November 14. The CIF state basketball championships are scheduled to take place March 10-11, 2023.  Read more…

Boys BB: Preseason FAB 50 Show

Our Managing Editor Ronnie Flores, who takes the lead on our boys basketball content as well, was an analyst and producer for the recently-released “Preseason FAB 50 Show” by The three plus-hour show broke down the boys basketball preseason FAB 50 National Team Rankings Flores produces each year (CLICK HERE to view rankings). This is the 36th consecutive season for the FAB 50, which started as the National Prep Poll by high school hall of fame journalist Doug Huff of West Virginia in 1987-88. Cal-Hi Sports Editor Mark Tennis combined forces with Huff to create the FAB 50 for the 1999-2000 season and the trio worked on it together until the conclusion of the 2011-2012 season.

The show’s other analyst was Texas scout Ani Umana and it was hosted by former San Diego State standout Chelsea Hopkins, who spent some time in the WNBA and currently plays professionally in Israel.

The California teams in the preseason FAB 50 this year were defending CIF open champ Corona Centennial at No. 9, North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake at No. 15, defending NorCal Open champ Modesto Christian at No. 27, Chatsworth Sierra Canyon at No. 32 and a third Mission League team, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, at No. 38.

Look for Flores’ Region-By-Region Top 20 Rankings (including the West Region) on November 9 and for our preseason state rankings by November 11. The 2022-23 season will be the 43rd consecutive season that Cal-Hi Sports/ will provide state rankings in boys hoops.

HR Leaders from Calif high schools

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees is shown at an event organized by the foundation he uses to that helps underprivileged kids. Photo:

Whether you want to put an asterisk by the ones who achieved their totals during those years when steroids clearly were being used is up to you. But now with yet another from California moving up in the MLB record books, here is a look at all of the players from California high schools who have hit 50 or more home runs in a single season.

Congratulations to Linden’s Aaron Judge for breaking the American League record and for easily hitting the most home runs in the MLB regular season. We followed Aaron when he was playing football, basketball and baseball at Linden from 2007 to 2010. He was all-state small schools in baseball in 2010 and was all-state grid-hoop as well. He was considered runner-up for D4 State Athlete of the Year. Who could have topped him? It was Robbie Rowland of Cloverdale, a first-round MLB draft pick coming out of high school and who averaged 30 ppg in basketball.

Scan down through this first list as well to check out all of those from California high schools this season in MLB who hit at least 25 homers in the regular season.


73 – Barry Bonds (Serra, San Mateo) SF Giants, 2001

70 – Mark McGwire (Damien, La Verne) St. Louis Cards, 1998

65 – Mark McGwire (Damien, La Verne) St. Louis Cards, 1999

62 – Aaron Judge (Linden) NY Yankees, 2022

59 – Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) Miami Marlins, 2017

58 – Mark McGwire (Damien, La Verne) St. Louis Cards, 1997

54 – Ralph Kiner (Alhambra) Pittsburg Pirates, 1949

52 – George Foster (Leuzinger, Lawndale) Cincy Reds, 1977

52 – Aaron Judge (Linden) NY Yankees, 2017

52 – Mark McGwire (Damien, La Verne) Oakland A’s, 1996

51 – Cecil Fielder (Nogales, La Puente) Det Tigers, 1990

51 – Ralph Kiner (Alhambra) Pittsburg Pirates, 1947

50 – Brady Anderson (Carlsbad) Baltimore Orioles, 1996

50 – Greg Vaughn (Kennedy, Sacramento) SD Padres, 1998

49 – Barry Bonds (Serra, San Mateo) SF Giants, 2000

49 – Shawn Green (Tustin) LA Dodgers, 2001

49 – Mark McGwire (Damien, La Verne) Oakland A’s, 1987

49 – Frank Robinson (McClymonds, Oakland) Balt Orioles, 1966

48 – Willie Stargell (Encinal, Alameda) Pittsburg Pirates, 1971


62 – Aaron Judge (Linden) New York Yankees

35 – Rowdy Tellez (Elk Grove) Milwaukee Brewers

31 – Giancarlo Stanton (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) New York Yankees

30 – Nolan Aranado (El Toro, Lake Forest) St. Louis Cardinals

30 – Rhys Hoskins (Jesuit, Carmichael) Philadelphia Phillies

27 – Matt Chapman (El Toro, Lake Forest) Toronto Blue Jays

26 – Marcus Semien (St. Mary’s, Berkeley) Texas Rangers

25 – Patrick Wisdom (Murrieta Valley, Murrieta) Chicago Cubs

Medium/Small School Teams of Week

In this salute to teams we have categorized as medium or small schools based on competitive equity, enrollment and other factors, it’s a new feature this season pointing the spotlight on two of them each week who just had impressive outings on the football field. Congrats to Charter Oak of Covina (medium) and Orland (small).
Read more…

WNBA Finals MVPs From California

Chelsea Gray of the Las Vegas Aces became just the fourth player from a California high school to be named WNBA Finals MVP on Sunday after the Aces won their first WNBA title with a 78-71 win over the Connecticut Sun.

And looking at history, Chelsea, who was the 2009 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year from St. Mary’s of Stockton, could be headed for more than one WNBA Finals MVP award in her career. That’s because the other three from the state before her all won it more than once — all-time greats Diana Taurasi from Don Lugo of Hills (twice), Lisa Leslie from Morningside of Inglewood (twice) and Cynthia Cooper from Locke of Los Angeles (four times).

The WNBA Finals began in 1997 and the first six MVPs were all won by Cooper and then Leslie.

Here is the complete list:


2022 – Chelsea Gray, Stockton St. Mary’s (Las Vegas Aces)

2014 – Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo (Phoenix Mercury)

2009 – Diana Taurasi, Chino Don Lugo (Phoenix Mercury)

2002 – Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside (Los Angeles Sparks)

2001 – Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside (Los Angeles Sparks)

2000 – Cynthia Cooper, Los Angeles Locke (Houston Comets)

1999 – Cynthia Cooper, Los Angeles Locke (Houston Comets)

1998 – Cynthia Cooper, Los Angeles Locke (Houston Comets)

1997 – Cynthia Cooper, Los Angeles Locke (Houston Comets)

Medium/Small School Teams of Week

In this salute to teams we have categorized as medium or small schools based on competitive equity, enrollment and other factors, it’s a new feature this season pointing the spotlight on two of them each week who just had impressive outings on the football field. Congrats to Vanden of Fairfield (medium) & Liberty of Madera Ranchos (small).
Read more…

Cali Flavored WNBA Finals

Whether or not the supposed analysts, or the pundits, prognosticators and self-proclaimed experts, want to agree that California as a state produces some of the top high school girls’ basketball talent in the nation, one need only look at the rosters of the Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun, the two teams slugging it out this week in the Best-of-5 WNBA Finals.

The Aces have two starters from the Golden State, and both are two of my all-time favorites and Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year award winners, 2010 Ms. Basketball Chelsea Gray of St. Mary’s of Stockton, who went on to Duke, and 2013 honoree Kelsey Plum of La Jolla Country Day, who played in college at Washington.

Chelsea Gray of the Las Vegas Aces is shown with another of the Ms. Basketball State Players of the Year from St. Mary’s of Stockton, Jacki Gemelos, when Chelsea’s jersey number was retired by the school last January. Photo: Harold Abend / Cal-Hi Sports.

The player from California on the Sun roster is another one of my all-time favorites, reserve Dijonai Carrington of San Diego Horizon Christian, who played her college ball at Stanford and Baylor.

In looking through the rosters of the Aces and the Sun, there are no others from California who are involved in the WNBA Finals. The Aces do have an assistant coach, Natalie Nakase, who was a standout in the middle of the 2000s at Marina of Huntington Beach.

The biggest story of the WNBA playoffs is Gray, who is going for a second league title after winning in 2016 as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks. The four-time all-star was snubbed as an all-star selection this season but in the playoffs it seems whenever the Aces have needed a basket, Gray has provided a bucket.

In the series-clinching game four of the semifinals against the Seattle Storm, Gray pretty much put the team on her back down the stretch. She scored 15 of her team-high 31 points in the fourth quarter, including a three-pointer that gave the Aces the lead with a minute left. On the next possession, she drove to the free-throw line, pulled up and drained a fade away in the face of a defender to ice a 97-92 victory.

In the first game of the finals against the Sun, a 67-64 victory, Gary wasn’t team high, that was two-time league MVP A’ja Wilson with 24 points, but Chelsea was right behind her with 21 points and three assists.

Plum, who is in her fourth season in the WNBA, had a somewhat quiet outing in game one of the finals after finishing with six points, four rebounds and two assists, but a player many WNBA analysts feel is developing into one of the top guards in the league has had a solid playoffs after a very productive regular season.

Plum had 15 points and four assists in the series-clinching win over Seattle, and is averaging 17.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in the playoffs after going for 20.2 points, 5.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds during the regular season.

Carrington could have been a Ms. Basketball winner but after her high school sophomore season was almost totally wiped out by a knee injury, and a junior season in 2015 where she was a Ms. Basketball finalist in a year Katie Lou Samuelson of Mater Dei (Santa Ana) and current Los Angeles Sparks star was chosen, Carrington re-injured her knee and missed the last part of her 2016 senior season. She was still was a Ms. Basketball finalist in a year current New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu of Orinda Miramonte won the award. Despite missing over a season’s worth of games, Carrington finished her high school career with 2,061 points before moving on to play at Stanford and then Baylor.

Carrington comes off the bench for the Sun and in the game one loss to Las Vegas she didn’t score but in 10 minutes of action she had five rebounds and two assists.

Whether or not Carrington has something to say if Connecticut is going to come back in the series is a question mark, but if the Las Vegas Aces are going to win their first WNBA crown it’s highly likely California is going to make its mark in the form of Gray and Plum.

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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