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Football Player Rankings: Nos. 21-25

One week left. That’s it until the first kick offs of the 2018 season. Friday features scrimmages all over the Northern Section and Shasta County. If you head out to any of them, keep an eye out for some of the 30 players the Shasta County Sports crew has highlighted so far.

Anderson High kicker Brian Melendez made all 11 of his field goal attempts last year to earn a spot on the 2018 Player Rankings list. Photo by Mike Daly Photography

One week left. That’s it until the first kick offs of the 2018 season. Friday features scrimmages all over the Northern Section and Shasta County. If you head out to any of them, keep an eye out for some of the 30 players the Shasta County Sports crew has highlighted so far.

Have a look at the players Nos. 21-25 – ranked based on varsity experience and potential impact for the 2018 season, taking into consideration coaches input, stats, postseason awards and first-hand experience.

25. Nate Zambrana (5-11, 175), T/DT, West Valley, Sr.
The Zambrana name is not a stranger to player rankings as Nate’s older brother Zach was a beast for the Eagles when he came through The Pasture. Now, the kid who used to hang around the sidelines in a Junior Eagles jersey as the ball boy steps into the spotlight for his senior campaign. Nate is West Valley’s top lineman  in a run-favored offense.  West Valley ran for 205 yards per game last year and 28 touchdowns. Oh yeah, he also wears the same jersey as his older brother.

24. Aiden McFadden (5-11, 165), G/LB, U-Prep, Sr.
Is McFadden the next tackling machine for the Panthers? All-time leading tackler Dawson Gruhler graduated after a decorated prep career and is headed to Western Oregon University this fall and McFadden was right there alongside him. He finished with 115 total tackles – 49 solo – for an average of 10.5 stops per game. He added 1.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and two blocked field goals. A repeat performance in a tougher league (U-Prep is back in the Mid-Valley League with the likes of Trinity, Mount Shasta and East Nicolaus) will certainly give him a nod for a postseason accolade.

23. Brian Melendez (5-7, 140), ATH/K, Anderson, Jr.
Melendez burst on the North State scene as a sophomore by nailing 11 field goals in as many attempts. Let’s repeat that…he made all 11 of his field goal attemps, which ranked 10th in the state.  He made 41 of his 45 extra point attempts and ended the year with 74 points. A kicker can be a valuable weapon for any offense and can be the difference maker in a close game. Melendez’s experience should help the Cubs prevail in those instances. The last Northern Section kicker who hit double digits in a season was Brian McDonald of Lassen, who made 11 of 14 in 2012. The No. 2 to McDonald was Orland’s Aldrick Rosas, who kicked for the New York Giants in the NFL last season.

22. Jeffrey Kask (5-11, 65), RB/WR/OLB, Fall River, Sr.
When you look at Fall River, you can’t help to think how many weapons the Bulldogs have at their disposal. One is Jeffrey Kask, who quarterback Gavin Dobson is going to love having around him and another option than Bailey Small.  Kask carried the ball at least 13 times in five games last season and average 6.1 yards per tote to go with 13 touchdowns. On defense, he finished with 50 tackles, an interception and three fumble recoveries while earning all-Shasta Cascade League honors.

21. Cade Lambert (5-10, 176), RB/LB, West Valley, Jr.
Lambert played in 10 games as a sophomore last season and expects to be an impact player at linebacker for the Eagles. He finished last year with 26 tackles and a forced fumble while earning 20 rushing attempts for 63 yards and catching eight passes for another 98 yards and a touchdown. West Valley’s defenses are usually ferocious under the guidance of coordinator Ross Griffith and expect Lambert to be a key cog in that defensive machine.

Release Schedule for Player Rankings
Aug. 15 – Nos. 36-50
Aug. 15 – Nos. 26-35
Aug. 16 – Nos. 21-25
Aug. 17 – Nos. 16-20
Aug. 18 – Nos. 11-15
Aug. 19 – Nos. 6-10
Aug. 20 – No. 5, Bailey Small, Fall River
Aug. 21 – No. 4, Jayden Gordon, Foothill
Aug. 22 – No. 3, Leslie Cummings, Enterprise
Aug. 23 – No. 2, Bailey Sulzer, West Valley
Aug. 24 – No. 1, Parker Phillips, Anderson

T.J. is a national-award winning journalist passionate about local news and telling the story no one else knows about. He’s roamed sidelines, baselines and bleachers in the North State since 2010 and is a content producer from sunup to sundown. Sports are a hobby he shares with his wife Tracy where they’ve spent many dates around a field or court of some sort.

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