After nine games, one thing’s for certain about this high school football season.
The Bee’s Player of the Year list is not a short one. After the last game is played – the CIF State Championships next month – we will unveil Bee Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year and an All-Metro Player of the Year, which at this point is easier said than done.
The playoffs may well reshape the way the list looks now as totality of season success is paramount to this decision process, more so than individual statistics. We rely on coaches, personal observation, consultation with media friends and input from college recruiters, though our lists are never based on a player’s “star” ranking.
Here’s how the Player of the Year race stands, with candidates listed in order starting with the leading contender:
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Joe Ngata, Folsom: The driving force for the Sac-Joaquin Section’s No. 1 team has devastated opponents on reverses, bubble screens, the deep ball and on returns, and the junior has played well of late on defense.
“He’s the best player in the section, bar none,” said Folsom coach Kris Richardson.
Marco Baldacchino, Oak Ridge: Trojans coaches will argue that the top player has been the “Baldo Blur,” and the senior’s ability to shred defenses with his feet and arm has led to a No. 2 ranking and 9-0 start. A section title would speak volumes.
Kaiden Bennett, Folsom: The junior has passed for 2,275 yards and 31 touchdowns but his most devastating plays have been 70-yard scoring runs.
Spencer Webb, Christian Brothers: The Oregon commit is as dominant of a tight end as this area has seen. He has 33 receptions, 18 for touchdowns, and he blasts people on defense, too.
Gunnor Faulk, Christian Brothers: Fast, elusive and an effective passer, the senior has tossed 34 touchdowns and rushed for four more in piling up school-record numbers.
Isaah Crocker, Inderkum: The senior receiver, cornerback and return specialist received an Alabama scholarship offer because of his speed and ability to make plays. Crocker has caught 11 touchdowns, rushed for three and returned kickoffs and interceptions for scores for a 9-0 team.
Will Craig and Evan Tattersall, Granite Bay: The Cal-bound seniors work well as a tandem, Craig as a dominating lineman and Tattersall as a bruising running back and linebacker for a team that expects a championship run in Division II.
Isaiah Rutherford, Jesuit: A national recruit for his cornerback skills, the junior has peeled off the most runs of over 60 yards of anyone in town as a running back.
Blayden Brown, Rocklin: The senior is relentless as a running back and equally so when he pursues as a linebacker. Brown has at times been a one-man machine.
Marshaun Hunter, Del Campo: Offense, defense, special teams and leadership, the senior is all over the field scoring touchdowns, recording sacks and blocking kicks for a school that seeks its first 10-0 season since opening in 1963.
“Best player I’ve seen all season,” said retired area coach Max Miller, a section Hall of Famer.
Jamie Cousey, Sacramento: Impossible to block on the outside as a rush linebacker (ask Folsom), and a jet in the backfield as a running back, the senior is the engine for the best team in school history, and it opened in 1856.
Alvin Banks and Johnele Sanders, Cordova: These two make each other, and they make Cordova feared again, as a receiver-quarterback tandem.
A peek at some sheer-effort guys who are in the running for All-Metro honors:
Jason Gallagher and Laiatu Latu, Jesuit: They play on both sides of the ball, Gallagher as a fullback and linebacker, and Latu as a tight end/linebacker.
Justin Poerio, Oak Ridge: Perhaps the most versatile performer in the region as a receiver, defensive back, kicker and punter.
John Montgomery, Franklin: He is considered by coach Mike Johnson as the team’s “rock star” for his ability to turn games with his ferocity and leadership at linebacker.
George Spithorst, Elk Grove: He hammers away at tight end and at linebacker, refusing to go down meekly as he wills the Thundering Herd into the playoff picture.
James Sweet, Lincoln: How sweet it is to have a receiver who has caught 16 touchdowns and one who can run it, too, while averaging 210 yards of offense a game for an 8-1 team.