Video: Highlights of St. John Bosco quarterback DJ Uiagalelei
Clemson-bound QB has thrown 21 touchdowns, no interceptions.
The regular football season is more than half over, so the evidence and numbers are out there.
The key, of course, to any game or Player of the Year award is how one finishes. These 10 gents (in alphabetical order) have earned early consideration for the California Player of the Year. Here are the early contenders.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior has stepped in nicely and been the steadying force the Diablos needed to get off to a 6-0 start and No. 5 state ranking. He's thrown for 1,177 yards and 17 touchdowns, including six on eight completions last week in a 56-0 win over El Toro. He's best performance was going 12-of-13 for 220 yards and five touchdowns in a 63-7 win Sept. 20 over St. Mary's (Stockton). Clearly the first-year starter is getting better as the season progresses.
The 6-3, 230-pound senior is considered the best linebacker in the country and he's done nothing to disprove that with 75 tackles, 13 for loss, five sacks and four caused fumbles for the 22nd-ranked Highlanders (4-2). He's also been a good teammate and subbed in at fullback and rushed for three touchdowns.
The Washington-bound standout has been better than advertised, which hasn't been easy. The 6-3, 190-pound senior has almost 70 percent of his 197 passes for 2,140 yards and 30 touchdowns for the state's No. 13 team which is 6-0. Garbers threw for 491 yards and eight touchdowns in a season-opening win over Downey and really hasn't slowed down.
RB-DB-KR Shamar Garrett — De La Salle (Concord)
Numbers won't be able to quantify all that Garrett does for the Spartans, the state's third-ranked and No. 12 nationally. The 5-9, 185-pound senior is the team's top running back (650 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns total), a strong receiving threat, backup quarterback (he's thrown for a TD), best returner (he's returned a punt for a score), and best safety. De La Salle has won six straight since season-opening loss to national No. 9 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) when Garrett rushed for 190 yards on 17 carries.
As the Lancers continue to climb the rankings — No. 10 in the state with a 6-0 record — so does Henderson's reputation as a dominant two-way player. The rugged 6-2, 200-pound senior not only leads the team in rushing (549 yards, 13 carries), but he's the team's top tackler with 55 to go along with five sacks and an interception. He rushed 18 times for 267 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-35 win over Westlake (Westlake Village) on Sept. 27, but didn't carry the ball once last week in victory over Bishop Diego (Santa Barbara).
The 6-6, 235-pounder is headed for Oklahoma State for a reason. He makes plays. All game long. In six games (five victories), Illingworth has completed 105-of-146 passes (71 percent) for 2,058 yards and 27 touchdowns (two interceptions). He's also rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Perhaps the best all-around player on the list, the 5-11, 180-pound senior has been sensational on defense with four interceptions even though opposing quarterbacks try not to throw in his direction. The Ohio State-bound star was more active as a receiver last season when he had 54 catches for 1,210 yards and 19 touchdowns. This year his numbers are down to 16-230-3, but look for those to climb as the game's get bigger. La Habra is 4-2 and ranked 15th in the state.
The 6-1, 185-pound senior has been the model of consistency and efficiency for the state's No. 18 team that is 6-0. Silva has completed a remarkable 75 percent of his passes (86 of 114) for 1,325 yards and 19 touchdowns with a single interception. Some of his games: 16 of 19, 13 of 14, 10 of 13 and last week 22 of 26 for 298 yards and three touchdowns in a tough 41-20 win over previously ranked Buchanan (Clovis).
The highest rated quarterback in the country by 247Sports, the Clemson-bound third-year starter hasn't been perfect, completing 88 of 147. But he hasn't thrown a single interception either to go along with 21 touchdowns. Already blessed with NFL size and arm strength, the 6-5, 245-pound senior is throwing for nearly 300 yards per game while leading the nation's No. 2 team.
The leader in the clubhouse for this award, and probably the national honor, has been sensational all season for the nation's No. 1 team. He's been particularly effective in the biggest games that have been nationally televised. The 6-foot, 190-pound senior and Alabama commit has completed 138-of-191 passes for 1,978 yards and 23 touchdowns (three interceptions). He broke a school single-game record with 538 yards passing (he completed 31 of 37) and seven touchdowns in a 71-21 win at Centennial (Peoira, Ariz.) on Sept. 6. He followed up by accounting for 353 yards and rushing for four scores in a 34-18 win over St. Frances Academy (Baltimore) in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2. Two weeks later, in an ESPNU game at St. John's (Washington D.C.) he threw for 428 yards and five touchdowns in a 53-24 win.