November 9, 2012
Guide to high school football playoffs: Players to watch

As we bound into the Sac-Joaquin Section football playoffs, we take a closer peek at some players who expect to make a difference.

We can't list them all, or we'd have something about the size of a Los Angeles phone book, but here's a sampling of some top achievers expecting to maintain the momentum ...


* Ngalu Tapa, Burbank, DT -
A terror in the trenches who cannot be blocked and has terrific pursuit; leads the state with 20 sacks.
* Zack Claiborne, Oak Ridge, DE -
Rush-end specialist is second in the state with 19 sacks; plays inspired for team and ill grandfather.
* Isaiah Pineiro, Placer, DB -
Has a NorCal-leading 9 interceptions for a 10-0 Hillmen team seeking a D-IV title and a bowl bid.
* Garrett Wallace, Sutter, DE -
Big-time talent for small-school 10-0 Huskies of North Section has 12.5 sacks; teams with LB Ryan Staas.
* Abnor Toma, Grant, LB -
Averaging 15.7 stops; missed early season with staph infection and has played ferociously since.
* Junior Jenkins, Highlands, LB -
Makes 14 tackles for Scots and seeks 3rd straight Section finals trip; teams with LB Elisha Allen.
* Nick Gordon, Oak Ridge, LB -
Unsung defensive stalwart averages 13.4 tackles; teams with Claiborne for fearsome 1-2 punch.
* Cameron Smith, Granite Bay, LB -
Sophomore tackling machine teams senior bruiser leader Beau Hershberger.
* Tanner Vallejo, Nevada Union, LB -
Has a ton of stops as a 3-year starter with hopes more; averaging 12 tackles.
* Isaiah Coleman, Rosemont, LB -
Plays in obscurity but introduces himself quick with 13 stops per; teams with LB Corey Santos.
* Jeff Camilli, Ponderosa, LB -
Called "The Vikings" for his hearty, thick beard; how about "Stopper" too? Makes 11.5 tackles per.
* Trayvon Henderson, Grant, S -
Rising recruit makes 11.3 stops per; compared to Shaq Thompson by his coaches with more tenacity.
* Quinton Kirk, Capital Christian, LB -
Captain Kirk makes 10.8 tackles per for 9-1 team seeking D-IV title; teams with DL Andrew Peterson.
* Eteuati Levi, Cosumnes Oaks, LB -
Coming on strong; makes 11.3 stops per for D-III hopeful Wolfpack; teams with fellow LB Ryan Lewis.
* Joey Banks, Franklin, LB -
Well on his way to setting school career tackling marks as a second-year starting junior; averaging 11 stops a game for 10-0 Wildcats.
* Tony Suverkropp, Placer, LB -
Nice to have trench friends such as Eddie Vanderdoes, yes, but TS a machine with 10 stops a game.
* Zander Mishler, Golden Sierra, LB -
Makes 11.8 stops a game for the section's smallest public school that seeks first section title.
* Keith Marcus, Burbank, S -
Hits like a train and runs like one, too; makes 9.4 tackles a game for the 10-0 Titans.
* Zach Winter, Bear River, LB -
Leading tackler with 10.1 stops a game for an 8-2 team that has a 14-7 loss at Placer; dark horse in D-IV.
* Leonard Skattebo, Rio Linda, LB -
Plays with fury and purpose with 9.1 stops a game; also a punishing fullback.
* Quenton Hagen, El Camino, LB -
Coaches rave about the junior's ability, tenacity and talent; averaging 9.1 stops a game.
* Chad Baptiste, Dixon, DB -
Has seven interceptions for a 9-1 Rams team sporting its best record in years with D-IV title hopes.
* Keenan Hunt, Rio Linda, DB -
Fast and opportunistic with six interceptions; also a wideout threat for 8-2 Knights.

A peek at some offensive playmakers who also play a ton on D

* D'Juan Bellaire, Center, RB/LB
Never mind his 5-foot-6, 165-pound frame. Good luck catching him. Cripples with speed, burst.
* Phillip Carter, Folsom, WR/DB
Has 10 TD catches as Bulldogs' next generation do-all breaker; cover corner, too; Bulldogs are 10-0.
* Sutter Choisser, Whitney, RB/DB
Has great name to match game, which includes a lot of breakaway plays and 21 touchdowns; team is 8-2
* Tony Ellison, Granite Bay, flyback
Next swift burner for D-I champion Grizzlies who are soaring at 7-3.
* Robert Frazier, Elk Grove, RB/DB
Hardest runner in the region with breakaway ability who averages 8.3 yards a carry; team is 9-1.
* Trayvon Henderson, Grant, WR/DB
Catches ball short, long, over the middle and hammers foes on D; also a superb punter.
* Tre Lampley, Franklin, WR/DB
Wildcats coach Mike Johnson says "I'm not shy using him." Takes runs, catches, throws for 10-0 team.
* Brandon Monroe, Del Oro, RB/LB
Runs like the wind since knee strain with cutback ability; can score on pick-6 plays, too; team is soaring.
* Justice Shelton-Mosley, Capital Christian, RB/DB
No justice that a kid can be this good this young. Rushed for 17 TDs, has 5 picks for 9-1 Cougars.
* Dre Terrell, Pleasant Grove, QB/DB
Fast, elusive, crafty as runner or passer; lockdown corner who returns punts; dangerous 6-4.
* Nate Van Dusen, Yuba City, RB/DB
Best runner in Honkers history? Has 21 TDs for YC's best outfit since famed 1987 group.
* Isaiah Williams, Burbank, RB
Compact & muscled, has ideal nickname of "TD" with 23, including gains of 80-plus for 10-0 team.
* Jalen Walker, Christian Brothers, WR/KR/PR
Fast on the outisde as a receiver with 7 TDs and a difference-maker on returns.
* Tyler Wintson, Antelope, WR/DB
Not the biggest man on the field, but generally the quickest and most elusive; gains first downs on handoffs, receptions and returns and is a lockdown corner.

- Joe Davidson
- On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD
- On radio Friday: ESPN1320 from 11-midnight with Mike Finnerty (linked to tomorrow)
- OnTV Friday: Fox 40's Final Quarter from 11-11:30 to size up opening night of Section football playoffs.
On Cable: with Mike Finnerty

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Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at or

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