Orange County football preview: Rating the top 10 specialists for 2022

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Dan Albano ranks the top 10 specialists in Orange County for the 2022 high school football season:


1. Mathias Brown, Sunny Hills, K/P: The senior returns after earning second-team All-County honors last season as a kicker. His offseason highlights include winning a kickoff competition with Chris Sailer Kicking.

2. Dieter Kelly, Orange Lutheran, K/P: The senior holds an offer from Army and the highest ranking among Orange County senior kickers by Chris Sailer Kicking. If he improved his accuracy, he could challenge Brown for the top spot.

3. Dylan Fingersh, Capistrano Valley, K/P: The accurate junior showed 50-yard range over the summer in training. That’s a significant improvement from last season when he went 8 for 9 on field-goal attempts with a long of 40 yards.

4. Edward Schultz, Mission Viejo, KR: Wide receiver Mikey Matthews could have made this list but if teams avoid him, watch out for the speedy Schultz, who is committed to Colorado. He returned four kickoffs for TDs for JSerra last season.

5. Jon Richardson, Newport Harbor, K: The returning starter ranks as Orange County’s top junior kicker according to Chris Sailer Kicking.

6. Michael Salgado-Medina, Mission Viejo, K: The Diablos’ tradition of strong kickers has a new name to follow in Salgado-Medina, a junior. His endorsements include Mission Viejo coach Chad Johnson, a former kicker at El Toro and Hofstra, and West Coast Kicking.

7. Rylan Vagana, Mater Dei, LS: The Monarchs’ 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior is one of the standouts with Rubio Long Snapping and a potential contributor at safety. That’s value.

8. Blake Califf, Villa Park, K/P: The senior kicker has impressed at offseason camps and in the classroom with a grade-point average close to 4.8.

9. Trent Middleton, Orange Lutheran, LS: The Lancers’ special teams look strong and this 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior long snapper is a big reason. The standout with Rubio Long Snapping was recently offered by UNLV.

10. Arjae Allen, Anaheim, KR/PR: The senior proved that he is an explosive special teams player by returning two kickoffs for TDs last season.

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