The 2021 spring high school football season in California comes to an end this weekend with the final week of games being played in the LA City Section and Central Section. Every other Section in the state has already wrapped up their seasons. Santa Ana Mater Dei will finish the year as the No. 1 team in California following their 34-17 win over St. John Bosco earlier this month. But who was the state’s top player? Below are 10 Player of the Year candidates from across the state. The list is in alphabetical order.
Elijah Brown – Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) – 2024 Quarterback
Brown was exceptional as a freshman completing 74 of 107 passes for 973 yards and 15 TDs. Brown threw just one interception and led the Monarchs to a 5-0 season and Trinity League title.
Raesjon Davis – Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) – 2021 Linebacker
Davis is the one defensive player on the list. The USC signee was named the Trinity League Player of the Year. He was a stalwart piece of the Monarchs defense all spring.
Jaylen Henderson – Chaminade (West Hills, Calif.) – 2021 Quarterback
Henderson sat out Chaminade’s first game of the season and then played the last five. The difference with Henderson playing vs. not was night and day for the Eagles. Henderson led Chaminade to a 4-1 finish and share of the Mission League title thanks to running and passing for a total of 1,747 yards and 16 TDs.
Vance Jefferson – Poway – 2021 Wide Receiver
Jefferson was the most electrifying player in San Diego this spring. He scored a whopping 13 touchdowns in five games leading Poway to an undefeated season.
Malachi Nelson – Los Alamitos – 2023 Quarterback
Nelson had about as dominant a spring as possible. He completed 73% of his passes for 1,513 yards and 23 TDs. Los Alamitos went 6-0.
Emari Pait – Culver City – 2021 Wide Receiver
Pait led all receivers in California with 1,014 receiving yards. He also made two interceptions on defense. Culver City went 4-1 this spring.
Aidan Sayin – Carlsbad – 2021 Quarterback
Sayin was the top quarterback in San Diego. He completed 73% of his passes and threw 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. Carlsbad went 5-0 this spring.
Dijon Stanley – Granada Hills Charter – 2023 Running Back
It was challenging to pick a representative from the LA City Section because there are many deserving candidates, but Stanley topped the list for a few reasons. First, he has eye-popping stats. In a game against El Camino Real, Stanley had 12 carries for 307 yards and four TDs. He also scored a touchdown in a 28-16 defeat to Birmingham, the closest league game Birmingham has played since 2017. With Stanley leading the charge, Granada Hills has emerged as a top five team in the Section. He’s also stayed healthy and will finish the year having played all four games. Birmingham junior Arlis Boardingham is another name that deserves recognition as a Player of the Year candidate from the City Section, but Stanley has had such a strong spring so far, he gets the nod.
Tyler Tremain – Folsom – 2022 Quarterback
Tremain led all quarterbacks in California with 2,024 passing yards. He also threw 27 touchdowns to just four interceptions. Folsom was 5-0 this spring.
Nico Torrez – De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) – 2021 Running Back
Out of all the great players on De La Salle, Torrez stuck out as the one who had the best spring. He averaged 109.8 yards per game and finished the season with nine touchdowns. His most impressive mark? Torrez averaged 12.5 yards per carry.