Best of the best, big & small: All-Region football teams honor 2021's top talent

James Burns


Large Schools

QB — Conner Stoddard, Downey: Named the Central California Athletic League’s MVP after leading the Knights to a rare win over Turlock and the league title, and amassing an impressive touchdown-to-interception ratio of 31-7.

East Union senior quarterback Luke Weaver set school passing records en route to all-Valley Oak League and Front Row All-Region honors. (Wayne Thallander)

QB — Luke Weaver, East Union: Guided the Lancers to a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth after throwing for a school record 3,173 yards and 31 touchdowns. With Weaver under center, the Lancers were the toughest out in the Valley Oak League.

RB — Aiden Taylor, Central Catholic: Ran away with the Regional Player of the Year award after rushing for 2,128 yards and a state-best 38 rushing TDs.

RB — Julian Lopez, Central Catholic: A perfect complement to Taylor, “Big Rig” Lopez rushed for 1,387 yards and 19 touchdowns, despite missing three games with an injury.

RB — Blake Nichelson, Manteca: The VOL’s Defensive Player of the Year was one of its best offensive players, too. The Power 5 prospect led the Sac-Joaquin Section in rushing (2,231) and the state in total touchdowns (44).

RB — Isaac Martinez, Davis: Anchored a historic season for the Western Athletic Conference champions with his all-around play. Offensively, he rushed for 1,078 yards and 17 TDs as the Spartans finished the regular season with a perfect record.

WR — Nolan Croasdale, Central Catholic: An all-VOL first team selection, Croasdale’s hands and speed were game-changers on both sides of the ball for the Raiders. He had 595 yards and seven TDs as sophomore Tyler Paul Wentworth's top target.

WR — Dylan Lee, East Union: An electric athlete, Lee earned all-VOL first team honors after finishing among the section’s best in receiving yards (1,350) and touchdowns (17). Like his quarterback, Lee's name has been etched in school lore.

WR — Javier Huizar, Patterson: Jacob Guevarra’s top target, the 6-foot Huizar finished with three 100-yard games, 812 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns for the Tigers, the Central California Conference champions.

OL — Justin Beglau, Manteca: The Buffaloes rushed for nearly 4,200 yards thanks in large part to the holes created by Beglau, a first-team all-VOL selection.

OL — Anthony Jimenez, Central Catholic: The 6-foot-6, 355-pound senior was named to the all-VOL first team after helping the Raiders rush for nearly 4,300 yards. 

OL — Marcus Simien, Patterson: The Central California Conference’s Lineman of the Year carved space for a team that racked up 5,248 yards and won 10 games.

OL — Jacob Guignard, Oakdale: The Mustangs are going to miss Guignard’s ability to block in the Wing-T offense. He was named to the all-VOL first team.

OL — Case Rudolph, Downey: Rudolph was Stoddard’s chief protector and the Central California Athletic League’s Outstanding Offensive Lineman of the Year. 

ATHLETE — Cruz Marines, Gregori: Earned CCAL Offensive Player of the Year honors after throwing for 1,762 yards and rushing for 1,030; accounted for 32 touchdowns.

Isaac Martinez rushed for more than 1,000 yards, guiding Davis to the region's only perfect regular season and a Western Athletic Conference title. (Samantha Schmidt)

DL — Jaylen Thao-Booth, Merced: Thao-Booth was a monster off the edge, and his prolific numbers confirmed his place among the region's very best: 133 tackles, 31 for a loss, and 16 sacks.

DL — Roman Foumai, Central Catholic: An imposing figure in the middle of the line, opposing teams had no answer for the 400-pound junior, an all-VOL first team selection and immovable object.

DL — Jericho Machado, Central Catholic: Four-year varsity player showed his leadership in the trenches, leading the Raiders with 8.5 sacks. Saved his best performances for the big games.

DL — Ashton Baucom, Turlock: The Central California Athletic League’s Defensive Lineman of the Year was also the triggerman in the Bulldogs’ offensive attack. 

LB — Richard Williams, Downey: The CCAL’s Defensive Player of the Year had 74 tackles, including 10 for a loss, and three sacks for the league champion Knights.

LB — Alijah Cota, Manteca: The Buffaloes’ top tackler, Cota recorded 62 stops from his middle linebacker position. The junior was named to the VOL’s first team.

LB — Romeo Eteaki, Central Catholic: Ranked among the Raiders’ leaders in tackles (51) and sacks (2.5) en route to an all-VOL first team selection. 

LB — Seth Scheidt, Merced: A first team all-CCC selection, Scheidt did it all for the Bears, a section finalist, racking up 79 tackles, as well as 2,448 yards and 27 TDs through the air.

Downey's David Jones had three interceptions in a historic win over Turlock, setting the pace in the Central California Athletic League. (Samantha Schmidt)

DB — David Jones, Downey: Ranked among the section’s leaders in interceptions with seven, including three in a pivotal CCAL win over Turlock.

DB — Jaelen Nichols, Central Catholic: Nichols, a three-star athlete, finished with four interceptions and 48 tackles for the Raiders, earning all-VOL first-team honors.

DB — Joey Stout, Pitman: The CCAL’s co-Outstanding Defensive Back/Linebacker of the Year was a load on both sides of the ball. He had 1,423 yards of total offense and 10 TDs for the Pride.

DB — Fayzon Allen, Downey: One of the region’s top tacklers from the secondary, Allen racked up 87 stops, two interceptions, three pass deflections and blocked one kick for the Knights.

K — Anthony Wildenburg, Central Catholic: Produced one amazing kick after another for the Sac-Joaquin Section and Northern California champions, whether it was an extra point (65), field goal (five) or a booming touchback (78).

Escalon junior Ryker Peters, a hammer on both sides of the ball, will open the 2022 season as a favorite for All-Region player of the year after his strong finish last fall. (Samantha Schmidt)

Small Schools

QB — Julian Bucio, Le Grand: Guided the Bulldogs to a Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII banner, leading all small school quarterbacks in passing yards (2,488).

QB — Aaron Adams, Waterford: Region’s only player to eclipse 2,000 yards through the air and 1,000 yards on the ground; he also guided the Wildcats to a Southern League title.

RB — Ryker Peters, Escalon: Began the season in a platoon, but finished as a player of the year candidate. Peters, also the TVL’s top linebacker, rushed for 764 yards and eight TDs over the final six games.

RB — Angel Ramirez, Delhi: A problem on both sides of the ball, Ramirez was named the Southern League’s top offensive player after rushing for 1,244 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also had two interceptions and scored two defensive TDs.

RB  —  Carlos Baez, Livingston: One of the most dangerous teams in the Trans-Valley League, Baez, the TVL's top back, provided the Wolves with punch, rushing for 1,126 yards and 12 touchdowns.

WR — Javier Nusom, Waterford: Senior stretched the field for the Southern League champions, accumulating a small school-best 1,230 yards through the air and 18 touchdowns.

WR — Jayden Vargas, Orestimba: Another in a long line of electric route runners for the Warriors, Vargas racked up 987 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 22.4 yards per catch.

WR — Derek Taylor, Hilmar: A rising Division I prospect, Taylor, the TVL's top wide receiver, paced the Yellowjackets with 872 receiving yards, a 22.4 yards-per-catch average, and 14 touchdowns.

TE -— EJ Lewis, Escalon: The Trans-Valley League’s MVP was a top target, especially in the red zone, reeling in 29 passes for 413 yards and 10 touchdowns.

OL — Roger Alderman, Sonora: One of the section’s top prospects, the 6-foot-5 Alderman, a three-star with an offer from Fresno State, was named the Mother Lode League’s MVP.

OL — Tyler Sells, Sonora: Named to the all-Mother Lode League first team, Sells, a promising sophomore, pairs nicely with Alderman to give the Wildcats’ one of the top lines in 2022.

OL — Fermin Villegas, Le Grand: One of the Bulldogs’ breakout stars is also one of its biggest. The 6-foot-2 Villegas is regarded as one of the top lineman in school history. His accolades also include the Southern League award for top lineman.

OL — Nathan Chavez, Escalon: The Cougars’ tackle was the Trans-Valley League’s Outstanding Offensive Lineman.

OL — Tyler McMahan, Amador: One of the Mother Lode League’s top offensive linemen, McMahan will continue his career at one of the state’s top JUCOs, Modesto Junior College.

ATHLETE — Colby Eckhart, Argonaut: Rushed for more than 1,000 yards, and ranked among the section’s leaders in total offensive yards (1,876) and TDs (23), and had six interceptions.

Ripon senior Adam Barrera (2) was named the Trans-Valley League's top defensive back and joined teammate Ethan Day on the All-Region Small-School football team. (Samantha Schmidt)

DL — Ethan Day, Ripon: The Indians’ best defender led the way with 70 tackles, including seven for a loss, five sacks and five forced fumbles. He was responsible for one of the season's signature plays — a goal-line stand in a narrow win over Hilmar.

DL — Zach Brouwer, Ripon Christian: Named the Southern League’s defensive lineman of the year after recording 64 tackles, 12 for a loss, and two sacks.

DL — Ryan Lewis, Escalon: A unanimous all-TVL selection, Lewis, just a freshman, was second in the region in sacks, regardless of division, with nine, including two in the Northern California regional bowl.

DL — Robert Burciaga, Summerville: The Mother Lode League’s top defensive lineman helped guide the Bears to the postseason. 

LB — Kai Brazil, Orestimba: Promising junior ranked among the section’s leaders in total tackles (136) and tackles for a loss (15); also had 6.5 sacks for the Warriors.

LB — Broc John Perry, Hilmar: Led the Trans-Valley League in tackles with 146 stops, the fourth-best total in the section, and was instrumental in a stunning semifinal section win over Sonora.

LB — Beau Davis, Argonaut: The Mother Lode League’s top defender was also one of the section’s best stoppers. Playing defense for the first time since eighth grade, Davis, a senior, finished his season with 161 tackles, including 117 solo stops.

LB — Tyler Crockett, Mariposa: Crockett, the Southern League's top defender, specialized in flying to the football; led the section in tackles with 166 in 12 games.

DB — Tyler Medina, Escalon: The top ball-hawking defensive back in the small school region, Medina finished with seven interceptions, tied for the most in the region.

DB — Adam Barrera, Ripon: After transferring from Sierra, Barrera emerged as one of the top defensive backs in the region. He was named the TVL’s Defensive Back of Year.

DB — Jason Pimentel, Hilmar: Took over as QB and rescued Hilmar’s season; he was just as heroic on defense, creating eight turnovers (five interceptions, three fumbles).

DB — Owen Nash, Escalon: A two-way talent, Nash led the Cougars in receiving (887 yards, seven touchdowns) and carried his weight on defense, too, with three interceptions. 

K — Andre Alves, Hilmar: Converted 50 extra-point attempts and ranked second in the section in field goals with seven.