After five weeks of high school football we’re starting to get a clearer picture in the chase for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune Football player of the year. In no particular order, here are my top eight candidates. Of course, more could emerge when the games get bigger and the dust settles in the CIF playoffs.
Above: Gladstone quarterback Kevin Amezquita has been nearly perfect in leading the Gladiators to a 4-0 start.
Aaren Vaughns, Charter Oak, RB: The senior has been everything for the Chargers, but has settled in as their primary back, averaging 125 yards with seven touchdowns. He’s also caught 13 passes for 102 yards and had a highlight night against Los Alamitos, rushing for 277 yards and two touchdowns.
Koa Haynes, Bishop Amat, QB: Has done everything Amat coaches have asked him to do in compiling an undefeated 4-0-1 record. He’s completed 76 of 108 passes (70 percent) for 1,087 yards and 11 touchdowns while also rushing for 121 yards and three TDs. Not bad considering he’s done it against the area’s top challengers.
Kevin Amezquita, Gladstone, QB: Is having an incredible season leading the Gladiators to a perfect 4-0 start and is making them a serious threat to dethrone Azusa, the four-time Montview League champs. Amezquita is doing it with his feet and arms, leading his team in passing and rushing. He’s thrown for 481 yards and six touchdowns while also rushing for 506 yards and seven TDs.
Matt Simko, Chino Hills, QB: The Colony transfer has fit right in and performed well against a tough schedule, leading the area in passing with 1,454 yards with 13 TDs to go against just four interceptions. And he’s done it all against super competition.
Darren Andrews, Bishop Amat, WR/KR: The run and pass threat has been Amat’s most electrifying player. He has 15 receptions for 301 yards and three TDs. He has eight carries for 98 yards (12.3 average) and is averaging 35 yards on kick returns, including a TD.
Jake Payton, San Dimas, RB: The durable back has done it all for the Saints, rushing for 660 yards and an area leading 11 touchdowns. He’s been over 100 yards in every game, rushing for a season-best 166 yards and three touchdowns in their win over Bonita in the Smudge Pot.
Jordan Robinson, Ayala, RB: Arguably the area’s best all-around player, he’s been key in leading the Bulldogs’ resurgence from a team that was 3-7 last year to a perfect 4-0 start this season. Robinson is averaging 113 yards with 7 TDs and also has 11 receptions for 190 yards and 2 TDs.
Brandon Martinez, El Monte, QB: Despite his teams rough 2-2 start, Martinez has been the straw that stirs the drink for the Lions and can get himself back in the player of the year race by winning the Mission Valley League. He’s passed for 1,306 yards, 11 TDs while also rushing for 273 yards and 4 TDs.