High school football watchlist: Early contenders for Bay Area News Group players of the year

Given that half the regular season and the playoffs have yet to be played, a lot can change between now and state championship weekend in December.

It’s possible that someone could emerge from the middle of the pack to lead his team to a title.

It’s possible that someone sizzling now could cool when the calendar turns to October and November.

But since we’ve reached the midway point of the 11-week, 10-game regular season, we’ve put together an early list of candidates for Bay Area News Group players of the year.

Here they are:


William Augenstein, Branham, 6-3, 200, senior

Has led the Bruins to a 5-0 start, getting it done with his arm and legs. Has thrown for 817 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 688 yards and 13 TDs.

Luke Baker, San Ramon Valley, 5-11, 180, junior

Nowhere to be found on the all-Bay Area News Group’s preseason list. Has opened many eyes while leading SRV to a 4-0 start. Averaging 316.8 yards passing per game. Has thrown for 13 TDs.

Luke Duncan, Miramonte, 6-5, 195, senior

UCLA commit and preseason all-Bay Area News Group pick has not disappointed. Has thrown for 1,244 yards and 17 touchdowns while leading his team to a 4-1 start. In a 64-42 loss to Oakdale, threw for 438 yards and five TDs.

Robbie Mascheroni, Campolindo, 6-3, 185, senior

Has caught 29 passes for 607 yards and eight touchdowns to help Campolindo open the season with five victories in a row. Had eight receptions for 175 yards and two TDs against Monte Vista and seven catches for 116 yards and a TD against Aptos.

Jaden Rashada, Pittsburg, 6-5, 190, senior

Miami commit has the Pirates off to a 3-1 start, highlighted by a 360-yard, three-touchdown passing night in a victory over California and 296 yards and three touchdowns passing in a win over Nevada powerhouse Liberty. Only four interceptions came in a 23-15 loss to Folsom.

Devon Rivers, Heritage, 5-7, 170, senior

Fresno State commit rushed for 200-plus yards in each of his first four games, including 280 against Whitney and 270 against Vintage. Held to 81 yards in 19 carries in a loss at James Logan on Friday. Has rushed for 1,072 yards and 13 TDs for the 4-1 Patriots.

Wills Towers, Archbishop Mitty, 6-3, 210, senior

Not recognized on the all-Bay Area News Group preseason list. Has thrown for 813 yards and 11 touchdowns as the Monarchs have started the season with four consecutive victories. Threw three TD passes in a 32-21 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral last week to open West Catholic Athletic League play.


Cooper Flanagan, De La Salle, 6-6, 255, senior

Flanagan is more well-known for his offensive contributions as a Notre Dame-bound tight end but has also been a tenacious presence along the defensive line. Has 21 tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss while playing against some of the best competition in Northern California.

Jeramiah Lewis, Wilcox, 6-1, 200, junior

Middle linebacker leads the undefeated Chargers in tackles with 40, including 6.5 behind the line of scrimmage. As a sophomore last season, had 11 tackles (seven solo) when Wilcox beat Menlo for the CCS Division II title.

Jabari Mann, Serra, 6-0, 200, junior

Outside linebacker leads the Bay Area News Group’s top-ranked team in tackles with 26, including seven in a season-opening 17-12 win at Folsom and six the following week in a 24-21 win at De La Salle. Has scored two of Serra’s five rushing TDs.

Shay O’Kelly, Sacred Heart Prep, 6-2, 220, senior

Has been the linchpin for a defense that has yet to give up more than 13 points in a game this season. Averages 10 tackles per game. Has already doubled last year’s tackles for loss total with 10. Has also recovered three fumbles for a team that is 4-1.

Jae’Von Reels, Bellarmine, 6-1 270, senior

This versatile defensive lineman is comfortable playing both on the interior and setting the edge as an end. Reels has 5.0 sacks in four games, and nine of his 16 tackles are for a loss. Reels has also forced a fumble.

Malik Richardson, McClymonds, 6-2, 280, senior

McClymonds has a deep defensive line with standouts such as Gregory Kenny III and Rickari Campbell consistently making plays. Richardson is a cut above the rest. He leads undefeated Mack with 10 tackles for loss and five sacks.

Warren Smith, El Cerrito, 6-1, 175, senior

Washington State commit is a shutdown corner for one of the Bay Area’s top defenses. With his contributions, the Gauchos are allowing 6.4 points per game and are 5-0.

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