The start of the high school football season is practically here – eight more days until kickoff.
With that, the Shasta County Sports team would like to introduce the first installment of a series of the prep football Player Rankings for the 2018. In a countdown format, 50 players are ranked based on varsity experience and potential impact for the upcoming season until the preseason MVP is announced on the first day of the season (Aug. 24).
Coaches’ opinions, statistics, postseason accolades, video highlights and personal preference were made to compile this list.
The only teams included are in Shasta County – Anderson, Burney, Central Valley, Enterprise, Fall River, Foothill, Redding Christian, Shasta, U-Prep and West Valley. A reminder: just because a player plays in a lower division for a smaller school, doesn’t mean their impact is any less than a player from a large school.
Here’s a look at player Nos. 36-50:
50. Josaiah VanDenend (5-9, 160), RB/LB, Redding Christian, So.
A sophomore on a returning players list must mean he did something write. Try about at least 35 times – that’s how many tackles VanDenend finished his freshman season across eight games for the Lions. His season-high was nine stops – seven solo – in a 41-18 home win over Weed.
49. Cody Jorgensen (5-10, 150), WR/DB, Fall River, Sr.
Fall River put up nine wins last season thanks in part to its depth. One of those key players in the Bulldogs success was Jorgensen, who totaled 234 yards and four touchdowns as a rusher and receiver. He was also third on the team with 69 tackles to go with a sack and an interception on the season.
48. Robert Pixton (5-10, 150), NG/LB, Enterprise, Sr.
In nine games, Pixton managed to end the year sixth on the Hornets with 47 tackles. He added a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He recorded two nine-tackle performances last season, one against Woodland and the other against Pleasant Valley.
47. Sam Standifer (6-0, 190), RB/OL/DL, Redding Christian, Jr.
Standifer turned heads last season for the Lions as a sophomore and is one of the top 8-man players to keep an eye on in Shasta County this season for 8-man football. He had 19 tackles last year but has the size to make an impact any time he’s on the field.
46. Jacob Carmenita (5-8, 190), OL, Fall River, Sr.
An all-Shasta Cascade League selection a year ago, Carmenita’s versatility also allowed him to finish third on the Bulldogs with 84 rushing attempts which went for 311 yards and a pair of scores. He also added 37 tackles and a team-best five sacks.
45. Cole Able (5-9, 180), FB/LB, U-Prep, Jr.
As a sophomore, Able played in nine games for the playoff-bound Panthers. He did most of his damage on defense, finishing third on the team in tackles with 81 to go with a pair of interceptions. He played some offense as well, finishing with 141 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. He could be the next tackling machine at U-Prep.
44. Dagan Johnson Sanders, RB/DB, West Valley, Sr.
West Valley always has its “guy” that will get a lot of looks throughout the season. But what the Eagles are good at doing is finding complementary pieces around him to shoulder the load and keep the defense honest. Head coach Greg Grandell thinks Johnson could blossom this fall either as the z-back, or he could be a defense surprise after finishing last season with 11 tackles and an interception in nine games.
43. Matthew Darnell, WR/DB, Foothill, Sr.
Darnell is the leading returning tackle on a Cougars’ squad that went to the Northern Section Division II semifinals a year ago. He averaged 6.3 tackles per game and picked off a pass as a junior.
42. Will Flowers (5-10, 175), RB/MLB, Central Valley, Sr.
With Central Valley switching to the veer this fall, Flowers looks to benefit the most. The multiple options at ball carrier adds a little bit of deception and hesitation for the defense that could allow the small but stout back to bust through the line. Flowers will certainly be a difference maker for the Falcons on defense, lining up at middle linebacker.
41. Gerardo Villarruel (5-8, 145), RB/LB, Burney, Sr.
Villarruel was part of a one-two punch for the Raiders last season, rushing for at least 90 yards in three games, two of which were Raider victories. He finished with 496 yards on the ground and four scores, adding two more scores through the air. He could take over the reigns as the primary ball carrier this season.
40. Isaiah VanDenend (5-8, 150), QB/DB, Redding Christian, Sr.
VanDenend was a threat with the ball in his hands. He threw for 386 yards and six touchdowns and ran for another 397 yards and three scores. Should Austin Larson not play this year, head coach Gerald Piper will rely on the athleticism of Vandenend to take the Lions to a 8-man football championship.
39. Gabe Jurin (5-11, 200), C/DL, U-Prep, Sr.
Jurin is the only remaining all-league player left over from the Panthers’ playoff squad last season. At center, he blocked for an offense that averaged 245 rushing yards per game and 31 scores. He added 20 tackles, 1.5 sacks and forced a fumble, showing he’s prepared for a steady senior year with new coach Darren Trueblood in place.
38. Noah Cassel (6-1, 215), G/MLB, Burney, Sr.
There aren’t a whole lot of players who can say they’re entering their fourth season at the varsity level but Cassel is one of them. He’s only a year removed from racking up 130 tackles as a sophomore and video shows he can dominate at his level.
37. Briston Luschinski, OL/DL, Central Valley, Sr.
The Falcons may not have had a few rough seasons but players like Luschinski show their true worth to a team needing leadership and experience after a boatload of players graduated from last year’s team. CV head coach Jesse Rogers called Luschinski the “leader of the line” and will anchor the trenches from his right tackle position after starting six games last year.
36. Cade Petrie (6-2, 185), LB, Shasta, Sr.
With 50 players and a returning state runner-up in Shasta County, the Wolves were going to have some players on here. But Petrie has the size of a typical linebacker, especially in defensive coordinator Kirk Ramage’s scheme. Petrie had 22 tackles and a sack in a reserved role but expectations for a stellar senior campaign are there.
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