Cal-Hi Sports Insider Blog

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

Faulk Legacy To Inspire Class of 2020

California’s future generations of football stars have a rich array of idols to look up to for inspiration. In San Diego specifically, many amongst the current crop of talents at SDSU look towards Marshall Faulk, who played for the L.A. Rams franchise during its period spent as the St Louis Rams, at the latter end of an industrious NFL career.

As a product of SDSU, it comes as no surprise to see that memories of Faulk’s playing days show a man who valued integrity of spirit and intensity of deed, which in turn inspires the future generation of pros recently identified as the brightest new talents.

Few seasons in NCAA history have matched Faulk’s freshman campaign of 1991, during which he gained 1,429 yards rushing, with 21 rushing touchdowns of 23 total alongside a total of 140 points scored. There was no dreaded ‘slump’ either, with Faulk thereafter attaining 1,600 and 1,530 in his sophomore and junior years, respectively.

Faulk’s running abilities made him a projected high pick for the 1994 NFL draft, and it came as little surprise to see that the Indianapolis Colts made him the second pick overall. They were desperate for someone with the potential to not only make up the lack of yards that had been their undoing in 1993, but also a man who could create a long-term legacy.

Overall, Faulk’s contract was worth $22.3 million, and set to run until 2001. He proved to be worth every penny in his debut NFL season, getting impressively close to covering as many yards (1,282) as he did in his freshman year. He did much to restore some pride at the franchise, with the Colts getting a .500 season (8-8) and Faulk being named as the Offensive Rookie of the Year and becoming the first debutant to claim the Pro Bowl MVP award.

Present-day Rams value Faulk principles despite poor 2019

Flash forward more than 25 years from the end of Faulk’s illustrious college football years, and the L.A. Rams’ find themselves with a philosophy that is built around pace and chasing down every ball. It is this strength – as shown at flashpoints in the video below – that showed itself in the Rams’ 2018 run to the Super Bowl, and it remains vital towards the franchise keeping its American football betting odds for regional and divisional triumph encouragingly short.

2019 was a different story, with RB Todd Gurley, who was so crucial in 2018, finding it difficult to make up the necessary yards. As an accomplished starter, Gurley became a victim of his own success, and he figured prominently in the playbook of most opposition teams.

The 2020 campaign will be a different story with Gurley no longer around and with a different offensive coordinator, but successfully taking inspiration from Faulk’s achievements is more than just about emulating them. It is also about overcoming setbacks in the same way as the man many believe to be SDSU’s greatest product in football.

The rest is history

As there were for the Rams in 2019, so too were there setbacks and moments of doubt in Faulk’s own career. In his last season with the Indianapolis Colts, an injury forced by various circumstances into moving to the St. Louis Rams.

What happened next was a Missouri manifestation of ‘Cali’ team spirit, since named as the ‘Greatest Show on Turf.’ In 2000, Faulk became a Super Bowl winner, and the outright MVP of the NFL. Overall, Faulk’s NFL career is a classic story that can inspire anyone from college upwards to fight for every value they hold on the field.

So too is it a poignant example of promise unfulfilled, with many believing that the Rams’ franchise should have become as dominant in the 2000s as the Patriots were in the 2010s. This leaves the proverbial door open for Californians – whether native, or ‘adopted’ like Faulk – to impose themselves and create a legacy to match or even outstrip it.

Jalen Green goes for new NBA program

Former State Sophomore of the Year and perhaps the nation’s No. 1 player for the Class of 2020 who played as a freshman, sophomore and junior at San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno said no to the NCAA on Thursday and yes to new NBA G-League developmental program.
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Updated Softball State Records

Here are two updated state softball record categories (including all seasons through 2019). This is for the best season pitching records in California history plus longest team winning streaks.
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Top 5 List: Best Alumni Schools

It will come as little surprise to most that the state of California produces a significant amount of sporting talent but are there some high schools more renowned for providing the gateway to a career among the elite than others?
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More CIF Spirit of Sport Honorees

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. — Abbey Brown (Middletown High School) and Lingxiang Hu (San Francisco International High School) were named the recipients of the prestigious CIF Spirit of Sport Award for the 2019-20 winter sports season. The two statewide winners will receive an award, a patch, and a $1,000 scholarship.
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NEW Homepage

As a continuing effort to enhance user experience and provide a more dynamic entryway into all that we offer and will add in the future, the homepage has been redesigned.

The infrastructure of the site’s story pages will be the same, but here are some highlights of the new homepage:

1. Easier to navigate pages, links and drop down menus for all-state team archives, state rankings archives and state records.

2. More prominent placement of our sign-in module both to attract potential new subscribers and for current subscribers. Everyone should also be reminded that there is a dashboard associated with each subscription in that module so anyone can manage their subscription from there. When it is time to drop, and we know from all of the years in high school sports that there will always be a percentage of folks who will drop out after their son or daughter graduates, we can handle those requests through email but folks can do it themselves.

3. Featured Articles module moved from the so-called right rail to a spot below our main story sliders.

4. Addition of Featured Links module. We have three to start, but will switch these out periodically and we will use it as an additional incentive for potential advertisers.

5. Bolder headlines for all modules on the homepage with more photos added to the modules (player rankings, state record book and more).

6. New photos (except one) selected for our left and right border areas. These are the shaded black-and-white photos that we’ll commit to switching out at least once per year. We were looking for a combination of a few familiar faces and kids displaying some raw emotion after they won section or state championships. We have done a social media promotion for the new homepage with a $50 prize for the first person who has correctly named 9 of the 10 schools associated with the new border photos plus 9 of the 10 individuals.

Thanks to those who have helped us along the way in getting to the point where our site is continuing to grow slowly but surely every week and every year since we had to start all over again in 2013 due to the elimination of the high school sports division at ESPN. We want to especially thank our site designer, James Kerti, for guiding us through the more technical aspects of the site’s operations, which in turn has helped the site to grow on many different levels.

For any questions about the site moving forward, email or call/text 209-608-1317

Top 5 List: State’s Worldwide Icons

The coronavirus pandemic might have thrown an almighty spanner in the works of sporting events but rather than speculate over what might be, here’s a change of pace and look at some of the biggest names to have emerged from California high schools. These are five men who’ve led the world — and one who changed baseball forever.

Two consecutive California Mr Basketball awards while with St Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda set up Kidd for a three-year stint with the University of California Golden Bears in college and then came a round one draft pick from the Dallas Mavericks – for whom he played for over two spells. All in all, Kidd spent 19 years as a player in the NBA pulling on four different jerseys and winning the championship in 2011 as well as playing in the All-Star game 10 times. Kidd was also part of the US squad that won Olympic gold in 2000 and 2008 and he now passes his experience on as assistant coach for the LA Lakers. Before that, Jason was head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks where he’s credited with helping develop the superstar skills of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Jackie Robinson is shown at Muir High School (Pasadena). Photo: Cal-Hi Sports archives.

Legend is a word that’s thrown around too freely these days but what actually makes someone worthy of the title? Reaching six World Series and winning one? Being named MVP and playing in six back to back All-Star games? Having your number retired? Being the first African-American to play and star in MLB? Being inducted into the Hall of Fame? Or perhaps it’s having an entire day named in your honor? Well, Robinson, who went to Pasadena’s John Muir high school, achieved it all during a 10-year career with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

DiMaggio has something unique compared to the others on this list – he decided against finishing high school at Galileo High (San Francisco) and opted for menial work instead, but he soon turned his hand to professional baseball.
His stint with the New York Yankees was interrupted by war but in a 13-year spell he proved an All-Star ever present, won nine World Series and was named the MLB betting MVP on three occasions. He also owns the proud record of a 56-game hitting streak.

The Granada Hills High School grad prior to heading to Stanford finished as runner up to Georgia running back Herschel Walker for the Heisman Trophy. It was Elway and not Walker, however, who was selected as the number one draft pick in 1983. The quarterback spent his entire career with the Denver Broncos winning back to back Super Bowls – in 1998 and 1999 – and was named the game’s MVP in the 1999 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Elway was a picture of consistency throughout his career and featured in the Pro Bowl on nine occasions and scooped up the MVP award in 1987.

Do sports stars come bigger than Tiger? We’re not convinced they do and he certainly can make an argument for the top spot on this list. Woods spent his formative years in Orange County and went to Western High School in Anaheim; although, to be fair, he was heading to the top long before then. After showing a lot of promise as a youngster, his first strides onto the pro scene were made back in 1996 where he was named Rookie of the PGA tour and by 2006, he had been named worldwide Athlete of the Year four times. Across his career he’s racked up an almighty list of titles including 41 European tours and a record equalling 82 PGA tour titles – not half bad for a man who has missed a lot of golf through injury.

There you have it, five names that came through California high schools before going on to become household names across the globe.

CIF UPDATE: Spring Sports

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. – Today the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Office and the 10 Section Commissioners held their annual scheduled spring meeting. The agenda included a discussion concerning the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 CIF spring sports season.

While the time may come when we have to cancel post-season events, today is not that day. In anticipation of further guidance and directives issued by federal, state and local government agencies regarding COVID-19, the CIF has not determined the future of spring sports events at this time and intends to reconvene with the 10 Section Commissioners on April 3 to revisit this issue. Pending that time, Sections will continue to confer with their local leadership and the State CIF will continue to monitor any directives and recommendations issued from the above entities.

The CIF will continue to work with our schools and school districts with the health and well-being of student-athletes and school communities as our priority.

Additionally, the originally scheduled April 3, 2020, CIF Federated Council Meeting has been postponed and will be rescheduled no earlier than May 8, 2020 and will be held via teleconference.

Ron Nocetti
CIF Executive Director

Editor’s Note: The CIF spring state events include the CIF state track meet in Clovis, CIF state swimming (also in Clovis) plus CIF state golf (boys), Northern and Southern California boys volleyball and Northern and Southern California boys tennis. Most invitational type events in track and major tournaments in baseball & softball have been cancelled. The challenge for baseball and softball will be if the seasons can resume in roughly one month so that teams can play two to three weeks of league games before going to section playoffs. As of now, based on statements from Governor Gavin Newsom and others that doesn’t seem likely.

March Madness: SDSU Preview

Roosevelt High’s Matt Mitchell, currently starring at San Diego State, celebrates with teammates and friends after scoring 35 points in 2017 CIF SoCal D1 title game win over Corona Centennial. Photo: Mark Tennis.

With a pair of former California high school state champions serving in key starting roles, San Diego State has been one of the hottest stories this season in men’s college basketball. Can the Aztecs make a run in this year’s March Madness and get people fired up to include them in betting?

Regardless of what happens in the one-and-done format of the NCAA tournament, San Diego State has had a breakout season. The team’s present odds to win are not so great as Gonzaga or Kansas, but they continue to climb in the ranks according to SBS.

Head coach Brian Dutcher’s team completed its regular season on Saturday, Feb. 29, with an 83-76 road win at Nevada. The Aztecs had to come back from a 65-60 deficit in the second half, but broke the Wolf Pack’s 20-game Western Athletic Conference home court win streak and won on the road for the 13th straight time.

San Diego State’s only loss during a 28-1 season came at home (66-63) to a UNLV squad that the Aztecs defeated (71-67) in the first run-through of the WAC schedule. The team may have to beat UNLV again in the WAC tournament to secure one of four regional No. 1 seeds for the NCAA tourney. SDSU entered the WAC tourney ranked No. 5 in most national polls.

Strength of schedule is always a criticism of a team like the Aztecs coming from a mid-major conference and not being from one of the Power 5 conferences. The team’s biggest wins against opponents not from the WAC have been against Utah, Iowa and BYU.

Junior guard Malachi Flynn poured in a career-high 36 points to lead the win at Nevada and has been SDSU’s leading scorer (17.6 ppg) and ball distributor (148 assists). Flynn is from Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma, Wash.) and came to San Diego as a transfer after starting his collegiate career at Washington State.

Two of the team’s other leading players are from California high schools who enjoyed winning CIF state titles on back-to-back nights at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento in 2017.

The first was 6-foot-6 junior forward Matt Mitchell, who averaged 25.6 ppg at Roosevelt of Eastvale and led the Mustangs to the CIF Division I state championship. Mitchell is averaging 12.4 ppg for the Aztecs and is their second-leading rebounder.

The next night, Richard Schakel was one of the key contributors for Bishop Montgomery of Torrance when it won the CIF Open Division state crown. Schakel, a 6-foot-6 guard who has always been an outstanding perimeter shooter, is averaging 10.1 ppg.

SDSU’s leading rebounder and third-leading scorer is 6-foot-10 senior Yanni Wetzell. He’s come to San Diego by way of New Zealand.

Rounding out the starting lineup has been Long Beach Poly grad K.J. Feagin. The 6-foot-1 senior guard completed the regular season with an 8.7 per game scoring mark.

As one would expect from a school that counts two-time NBA MVP Kawhi Leonard (M.L. King, Riverside) as an alum, there are a lot of others on the Aztecs’ roster from California high schools. The list includes freshman Keshad Johnson (San Leandro), sophomore Adam Seiko (Chatsworth Sierra Canyon), sophomore Caleb Giordano (Temecula Great Oak) and freshman Jared Barnett (Los Angeles Westchester).

Boys/Girls BB: More Section Finals

Players from the Mater Dei (Santa Ana) girls basketball team celebrate after winning CIFSS Open Division title on Friday night in Long Beach. Photo: Scott Kurtz / KurtzPhoto.

This isn’t a recap of all of them, but several of Friday’s CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title games and the showdown between state No. 2 Mater Dei and No. 4 Windward (Los Angeles) for the CIF Southern Section Open Division girls championship were witnessed by Cal-Hi Sports editors. Boys state No. 4 Sheldon (Sacramento) was nearly knocked off by Capital Christian of Sacramento in what would have been a monumental upset. Mater Dei’s girls, meanwhile, won the 11th section title for head coach Kevin Kiernan.

RELATED: Sierra Canyon boys win CIFSS crown

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CIFSS Girls Open Division:
Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 77, Windward (Los Angeles) 65

The final score didn’t reflect the back-and-forth nature of this contest since Windward led at halftime (36-33) and the two teams were tied 54-54 early in the fourth quarter. Mater Dei just took over down the stretch as its full-court press created turnovers.

The Monarchs (30-2 and No. 2 in the state) likely will be the No. 2 seed for the upcoming CIF Southern California Open Division regional playoffs (unless current state No. 1 La Jolla Country Day were to get upset in its section final on Saturday night). Windward (25-5 and No. 4 in the state) along with perhaps four other CIFSS Open Division teams also will be in that bracket, which will be finalized and announced on Sunday.

It took a group effort for Mater Dei to get past Windward on a night when team’s most accomplished player, junior Brooke Demetre (the 2019 State Sophomore of the Year), had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Soleil Montrose connected on 4-of-4 on 3-pointers and led with 20 points. Caia Elisaldez, just a freshman, had 14 points and nine assists while Alyssa Durazo-Frescas chipped in with 16 points.

JuJu Watkins, the freshman sensation for the Wildcats stepping into the same role former Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year Charisma Osborne had in the program for the previous four years, had 22 points in the first half and had 26 heading into the fourth quarter, but facing the full-court press she only had two points after that.

Mater Dei head coach Kevin Kiernan won his 11th CIFSS title, but the Monarchs hadn’t won one since 2013 and for this one the state’s winningest coach ever was able to share it with his daughter, senior starter Camryn Kiernan.

Marcus Bagley played much of the second half in foul trouble but still led all scorers with 21 points. Photo: Mark Tennis.

Sac-Joaquin Sec D1 Boys:
Sheldon (Sacramento) 49, Capital Christian (Sacramento) 46

Other than mentioning that it was “just a flat game all around,” Sheldon head coach Joey Rollings stressed the positives after the state No. 4 Huskies (and viewed to be the only team in Northern California with much of a chance at being close to the top team from Southern California in the final game of the season) escaped a strong upset bid from the Cougars in their section title game played at the Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento.

Plagued by poor shooting — even just 13 of 27 on free throws — Sheldon (27-5) also had to overcome a poor start (five points in the first quarter). Capital Christian had the game tied and had the ball in the last two minutes of the game, but never got the lead after two free throws by Marcus Bagley (game-high 21 points) with 1:29 left. Dontrell Hewlett also canned a pair of free throws with 15 seconds left for a 48-44 lead, but two missed free throws on the front end of one-and-one situations in the last 6.9 seconds gave the Cougars a chance at a possible game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer. Sione Lose’s shot, however, fell far short.

Rollings’ squad captured its seventh section title and its second in a row and will now look to win a third straight CIF NorCal Open Division crown. It should be a top seed and first-round bye, but the coach stressed that none of that matters.

“Either way, we’re used to playing three games (in 10 days),” he said. “It’s going to be hard battles no matter what.”

Capital Christian (24-8) may be in the NorCal Open field as well after playing the Huskies so close. Head coach Matt Filer has a young group, though, (including sophomore Darrion Williams, who had 17 points on Friday), so being in the D1 bracket may make the most sense. The Cougars lost to Sheldon 88-68 earlier in the season and have other losses that make them not look like an Open team, but they also have a win in their second game over Salesian of Richmond.

Sac-Joaquin Sec D1 Girls:
St. Mary’s (Stockton) 56, Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 45

Amaya Oliver had 18 points with five rebounds and three assists as the Rams (23-4) won their eighth straight D1 section title, their 13th straight overall and 18th in 19 years under head coach Tom Gonsalves. Oak Ridge has often played a determined brand of basketball under head coach Steve White, who recently won his 600th game. The Trojans (23-8), who were led by Teagan Brown with 18 points, never could get to the point to really pressure the Rams after the teams were tied at the end of the first quarter and then it was a 16-6 edge for St. Mary’s in the second.

Freshman Nia Anderson was a standout for St. Mary’s with 10 points as she’s the one who seems to be having to step up the most after another freshman, Brooklyn Perry, went down with a knee injury. Sophomore Tai Sherman added 12 points and three steals.

Gonsalves is hoping for a No. 2 seed for the NorCal Open Division and proudly pointed out that his program is the only one in California that has been in every Open Division bracket for Northern California since the format was adopted in 2013.

We agree with the No. 2 spot for the state No. 8 Rams, but advised the coach not to be shocked if the CIF were to put Clovis West of Fresno in that spot. Clovis West still has to play its section final on Saturday night. A lot of girls basketball coaches in Northern California aren’t used to the Clovis schools even being in the north (they’ve been in the south before) but that has been the trend in other sports the last few years.

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

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