Video: Michigan commit Gaige Garcia highlights
See the Southern Columbia Area running back in action.
Halfway through the high school football season, there are some big-time performances happening in the small schools ranks.
Gaige Garcia and Julian Fleming of Southern Columbia Area (Catawissa, Pa.) have already set state marks with eyes on more Pennsylvania records. In addition, national rushing leader Jalen White of Dalevile (Ala.) also hails from a small school program and has already gained 2,406 yards this season.
MaxPreps picks a Small Schools All-American Team at the end of the season and selects a Player of the Year as part of the team. Halfway through the 2019 season, here are the leading candidates for Player of the Year.
The Small Schools category is open to schools that generally play in
enrollment divisions with less than 1,000 students. Some California
schools with under 1,000 students that play in competition-based playoff
divisions that mostly include large enrollment schools (such as Sierra
Canyon and Grace Brethren) are also included.
Small Schools high school football Player of the Year watch list
Josh Henderson, Grace Brethren (Simi Valley, Calif.)
A leader on offense and defense for Small Schools No. 2 Grace Brethren, he has rushed for 549 yards on 62 carries and is tied for the team lead in touchdowns with 13. On defense has 55 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks and one interception.Mekhi Hagens, Cardinal Ritter College Prep (St. Louis)
In leading Cardinal Ritter to a No. 1 ranking among all small schools teams, Hagens has been remarkably consistent. He has thrown for 300 or more yards five times and three touchdowns six times. He's thrown two interceptions and has rushed for four touchdowns in keeping Cardinal Ritter undefeated at 7-0.Thaddius Franklin, Chaminade-Madonna (Hollywood, Fla.)
A junior, Franklin had his best game of the season in a 41-7 win over Pahokee as he had 18 carries for 267 yards and two touchdowns. He's rushed for 1,019 yards on 129 carries with 10 touchdowns in leading Chaminade-Madonna to a 6-1 record.Jake Hemmelgarn, Coldwater (Ohio)
A versatile player, Hemmelgarn leads Coldwater in rushing and passing. He's gained 697 yards on 77 carries with 12 touchdowns and has completed 101-of-153 passes for 1,425 yards and 17 touchdowns against three interceptions as Coldwater is 7-0.Bret Beebe, Milford (Utah)
One of the leading receivers in the nation with 1,198 yards receiving on 67 catches with 16 touchdowns. He has high games of 268 yards, 198 yards and 165 yards and has caught at least two touchdown passes in seven games while helping Milford to an 8-1 mark.Gaige Garcia, Southern Columbia Area (Catawissa, Pa.)
The quarterback has been busy setting state scoring records this season, breaking the Pennsylvania mark for touchdowns in a career and rushing touchdowns in a career. He also has a shot at breaking the state career rushing record. Because Southern Columbia Area has won by huge scores, Garcia has barely carried the ball this season. He's carried just 62 times for 876 yards and 17 touchdowns.Julian Fleming, Southern Columbia Area (Catawissa, Pa.)
Likely the most coveted high school receiver in the country, Fleming has broken state career records for yardage and touchdowns this year. The Ohio State-bound pass catcher has 36 receptions for 743 yards and nine touchdowns for his 8-0 squad.Isaiah Bess, Shelby (N.C.)
The Golden Lions rank among the top 25 small schools in the nation and Bess has been a big reason why as he has thrown for 1,836 yards (87 of 161) with 25 touchdowns with four interceptions. He had 403 yards and six touchdowns in a 58-21 win over A.C. Reynolds and also threw five touchdowns in his last two games against R-S Central and Chase.EJ Kreutzmann, La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla, Calif.)
Kreutzmann is setting San Diego Section records en route to leading La Jolla Country Day to a 5-2 record. His 45-of-58 for 663 yards and seven touchdown effort against a Cardenas Federal Prep Mexico set a San Diego section single-game record for completions and yards. In completing 212 passes on 309 attempts for 2,890 yards and 30 touchdowns, Kreutzmann has completed 31, 33, 38 and 45 passes in a single game. Those totals give him four of the top 11 completion performances in section history.Jalen White, Daleville (Ala.)
Leads the nation in rushing yardage, according to the MaxPreps leaderboards, with 2,406 yards on just 160 carries. That's a 15-yard per carry average. He also has 32 touchdowns with at least four touchdowns in six of the eight games he's played. His best efforts, in leading Daleville to a 5-3 record, include 419 yards on just 18 carries with five touchdowns in a 50-35 win over Straughn and 373 yards on 11 carries with six touchdowns in a 68-29 win over Cottonwood.Benjamin Jackson, West Greene (Waynesburg, Pa.)
West Greene is 7-1 on the season in Pennsylvania Class A thanks to Jackson, who has 2,015 yards on 115 carries and 32 touchdowns. Jackson is the second-leading rusher in the nation behind White and is averaging 17.5 yards per carry. He has six games with at least four touchdowns and his best yardage effort is 366 yards on 22 carries in a 49-23 win over Monessen. However, the most amazing game might be the 219 yards on just five carries (43.8) and five touchdowns in a 55-0 win over Avella.