Video/Looking Ahead to 2018: Black Hat Football ranks The 209’s Top 15 QBs & A Trio With High Hopes

Filed in Uncategorized by on December 29, 2017

With the 2017 Starbucks/Black Hat Football All-209 Team selected, let’s take jump ahead to 2018. Who are the top returning QBs for next year? Since you asked, we’ve ranked them 1A through 14 – with lots of room for movement as we go forward: 

1A: Noah May, St. Mary’s Rams-Stockton, Soph – Had the tremendous debut to open his varsity career, and just as quickly saw his season shut down by a devastating shoulder injury/. Given the Rams’ willingness to throw the ball when they have a talented passer, May could be looking at two huge seasons.

1, Amier Bowen, Weston Ranch Cougars, Jr – 2,556 yards & 20 TDs, with 11 INTs and 59% completion; 629 yards & 6 TDs rushing … Unless you’ve got a top-tier passer taking snaps, we love a mobile QB who has the potential to break big plays with his arm or his legs. He was #2 in passing yards among the Section’s junior QBs.

2, Logan Fife, Tracy Bulldogs, Soph – 1,781 yards & 17 TDs, with 6 INTs and 55% completion; 455 yards & 5 TDs … Just a sophomore and he doesn’t play in a passing offense, but he’s 6 feet tall and plays baseball. Dual-purpose QB who plays multiple sports? Get that kid behind the center!

3, Bryce Peterson, Downey Knights-Modesto, Jr – 2,808 yards & 26 TDs, with 9 INTs and 63% completion; 450 yards & 9 TDs rushing … The pace of the game overtook him at times in 2017, and his season ended in Week 10 with an injury. He’s gotta kick the memory of an 8-0 start followed by 3 straight losses. Playing in a superior league will make Peterson a better QB – if Downey was still in the MMC, he’d be 5 or 6 on this list. He was #3 in passing yards among the Section’s junior QBs.

4, Davis Reya-Ruiz, Edison Vikings-Stockton, Soph — 2,548 yards & 28 TDs, with 5 INTs and 59% completion; 197 yards & 0 TDs … Ball security is critical at this position, and we love the 28/5 TD/INT ratio. Granted the competition is very soft, but he led Section’s sophomore QBs in passing yards & TDs. Love the size at 6 foot, 170 pounds … and he’s in a dream offense. Also love that we get two more years of him.

5, Rafael Lara, McNair Eagles-Stockton, Jr – 2,451 yards & 27 TDs, with 13 INTs and 49% completion; 624 yards & 10 TDs rushing … He’s just 5-foot-7, so he rarely throws from the pocket when there is pressure up front, but he’s developed into a mobile passer who can throw on the run. Needs to improve his decision-making when he’s under pressure – and throw it out of bounds, not into a group of players. He’s gonna top 3,000 yards and 35 TDs in 2018.

6, Ryan Kraft, Bret Harte Bullfrogs-Angels Camp, Jr – 1,467 yards & 17 TDs, with 8 INTs & 51% completion; 588 yards & 5 TDs rushing … we’d put him through a rigorous offseason program, then get him into every 7-on-7 competition we could find against Division 1 talent. A 3-sport star – no hoops next year, though – he reminds us of a still-maturing Logan Fife. Sure, he’d struggle the first half of the season with the faster pace, but we love the high ceiling for the second half of the season.

7, Dhameer Warren, Merced Bears, Jr – 1,505 yards & 14 TDs, with 15 INTs & 54% completion; 527 yards & 7 TDs rushing … We’ve been accused or driving the Dhameer Warren bandwagon – but we love the high ceiling with his ability to throw and run, though he needs to be more selective on some of those throws into traffic. His completion percentage is too low for a pass-only offense, but that’s why he always has the green light to audible into a QB run if he’s taking snaps for Black Hat Football.

8, Jake Gookin, Sonora Wildcats, Jr – We were thrilled by the two playoff performance – 410 yards offense & 6 TDs in 1 first-round in, 265 yards rushing & 5 TDs in semifinal loss — and could be a stat monster in 2018 with RB CJ Castleman returning in the backfield.

9, Giovanni Gonzalez, Chavez Titans-Stockton, Jr – 2,851 yards & 30 TDs, with 19 INTs … He doesn’t run and is most effective when he’s in the pocket, but is he a developing thrower or a product of a throw-first, throw-often system? He’s tall enough at 5-foot-11, but if he’s going to throw 19 INTs he also must average coser to 18 uards a completion – not the 14.7 yards he averaged last fall. He’s a high-risk QB due to INTs, so he needs to produce high rewards for a worthwhile investment.

10, Cameron Deville, Stagg Delta Kings-Stockton, Jr – 1,258 yards & 15 TDs, with 5 INTs and 48% completion … Surprisingly, the 6-footer is not a running threat (24 carries for minus 2 yards), but his passing stats are impressive for a 6-game season that included a playoff loss to mighty Central Catholic ( 15 of 42, 215 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs). If Deville can gain 40 yards or so on the ground each week, he jumps up to a Top 5 QB on this list.

11, Dalton Durosette, Ceres Bulldogs, Soph – 1,632 yards and 15 TDs, with 7 INTs and 56% completion; 310 yards & 1 TD … He’s a physical talent at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and plays baseball, and his family line is deep with athletic talent. Inconsistency was his burdem in 2017, not surprising for a developing QB on a struggling program. He could be a stat machine in the right offense.

12, Jacob Bettencourt, Orestimba Warriors-Newman, Jr – 2,170 yards & 28 TDs, with 7 INTs and 67% completion … Can’t get him any higher on this list because the lack of top competition means there are questions. Only 3 times in 11 games did he throw more than 20 passes in a game, but pushing that to 25 throws – combined with his 67 percent completion percentage – could turn a talented QB into a prolific one.

13, Colton Weidner, Mariposa Grizzlies – 2,242 yards & 16 TDs, with 14 INTs and 48% completion; 498 yards & 5 TDs – rushing … He’s our mystery man, playing deep in the foothills, impressing local folks with his size (6-1, 180) and his versatility – though his completion percentage needs to hit at least 55% in 2018. Those INTs are an issue, particularly since he threw INTs in 9 of his 11 games. We’d feel better if he threw 4 of them in one bad game.

14, Logan Stout, Lodi Flames, Soph – His offense took a hit when the Flames entered league play in the wickedly tough Tri-City Athletic League, but he ran for 535 yards and 6 TDs to provide some promise. He was sophomore thrown into the fray and played like it at times (40% completion, but his 19-yard per completion average makes him a high-reward risk).

Not sure what to do with the following … 

Kevin Reid, El Capitan Gauchos-Merced, Jr — His accuracy improved from his sophomore to junior seasons (from 58% in 2016 to 61 percent this season. but he needs to push up yards-per-completion closer to 15 yards a game, after barely cracking 10 yards this season … 17 TDs and 13 INTs in two seasons: Being QB for a new program is a recipe for struggling, due to lack of surrounding talent. Would love to see what Reid would do at Turlock High.

Grant Stevenson, Lincoln Trojans-Stockton, Jr — He’s got the physical proportions that would have a college coach dreaming — after a year of strength conditioning adds 20 pounds to his frame. The 6-foot-5, 185-pounder had a few opportunities in 2017. He could be prolific in the Trojans’ spread passing attack, though the ability to break a few runs (think of Ben Roethletisberger on the move) could elevate Stevenson into The 209’s top tier.

Joseph Espinosa, East Union Lancers-Manteca, Jr — He has the size at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, and he gets a chance to send the Lancers’ program scoring next season, thanks to the return of junior RB Raylen Carter. A role player this past fall (80 yards passing a game, 7 passing TDs in 11 games), though he did run for 357 yards & 8 TDs.











About the Author ()

Richard T. Estrada has been covering high school football in The 209 area code for more than 30 years and is the voice of authority on the game in California's Central Valley. He oversaw The Modesto Bee's high school sports coverage for a couple of decades, and also was a national award-winning business and agriculture writer. Black Hat Football not only covers the game, but emphasizes education and the need for The 209's student-athletes to prepare for college.

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