By Haley Sawyer
and Ryan Stuart
Signal Staff Writers
When Golden Valley’s Johnathan Kaelin learned that he was going to play running back in the 2019 football season, he didn’t flinch. Rather, he headed straight to the weight room.
“To be a running back you have to be very strong, very strong and very physical and you’ve got to know what you’re doing,” Kaelin said. “I was just in the weight room a lot getting stronger. The coaches at the beginning of the year told me I was going to play running back a lot.”
Kaelin estimates he spent about two to three hours each day in the weight room to prepare for his new role. He also dedicated more time to film, studying different linebackers and how to best run against them.
His work paid off as he broke multiple Golden Valley records this season en route to winning the All-Foothill League Player of the Year Award and now, the All-SCV Offensive Player of the Year Award.
By the end of the 2019 season, Kaelin surpassed Earl Johnson’s 2011 record of 345 single-game rushing yards by running for 366 yards against Newbury Park. He also broke KJ Maduike’s 2016 single-season rushing touchdown record of 13 by scoring 18 times on the ground for the Grizzlies.
He rushed for a total of 1,254 yards in his senior campaign with the Grizzlies. Kaelin had his team in mind for every one of those yards.
“My bond is very good with my teammates,” he said. “If they ask for something, I have to do it. my teammates did what they had to do on the field to help me out and I did what I had to do to help them out.”
Kaelin also played through a nagging hamstring injury throughout the season. He regularly had it iced after practices and games and often could be seen stretching during games when he wasn’t on the field.
“When it came to game days, they told me to go out there and do what you can for the team and I had to just play through it,” he said.
Multiple NCAA Division 1 programs have shown interest in Kaelin, whose late grandfather played at USC, but he remains uncommitted. After the senior year that he had, he’s confident that he’ll find his place with a college team.
“If you’re really good, the colleges will come get you,” Kaelin said.
More: 2019 All-SCV football: defense and all-purpose
First Team Offense
Zach Johnson, Hart, Senior, QB
Johnson was the final in a long line of talented quarterbacks coached by the now-retired Mike Herrington. The second-year starter commanded the offense with confidence and maturity in his decision-making in every game and racked up yardage accordingly. He completed 221-of-371 passes for 2,788 yards and 27 touchdowns in his senior year with 13 interceptions and rushed for an additional 246 yards and four touchdowns on 109 carries on the ground. Johnson will continue his football career at the University of California, Berkeley.
Taden Littleford, Hart, Senior, RB
Littleford put in some serious work in the weight room this offseason as he prepared to take on starting running back duties for the Indians. He became a tough runner who was difficult for opposing defenses to bring down as he rushed for 1,316 yards and 16 touchdowns on 228 carries this season.
Jake Santos, Valencia, Senior, RB
As physical as he was quick, Santos navigated defenses effortlessly to gain yardage when the Vikings needed it. He picked up 544 yards and 11 touchdowns on 110 carries and excelled out of the backfield with an additional 244 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.
Ashton Thomas, Hart, Senior, WR
Thomas was fast and had moves. He was able to run, juke or sometimes even spin to get away from opponents as he doubled his receiving yards from last year, and then some. Thomas ended the season with 1,119 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns on 84 receptions.
Reno Sifuentes, Canyon, Senior, WR
Sifuentes was the Cowboys’ leading receiver this season as he picked up 871 receiving yards and scored nine touchdowns on 53 receptions.
Nick Kohl, West Ranch, Junior, WR
Kohl flourished in his first full season on varsity and became the Wildcats’ second-leading receiver in terms of receiving yards. On 44 receptions, he tallied 860 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Lendale Cervantes, Golden Valley, Senior, OL
Cervantes finished his second varsity season with the Grizzlies as a leader on the line. His blocking helped clear the way for running back Johnathan Kaelin, who had 1,254 total rushing yards this season.
Joseph Lahn, Golden Valley, Senior, OL
Lahn helped anchor an offensive line that helped Golden Valley pick up a total of 1,560 passing yards and 2,299 rushing yards this season.
Tyler Thompson, Hart, Senior, OL
Thompson was part of an offensive line that was one of the Indians’ best in recent history. His blocking helped quarterback Zach Johnson accumulate 2,788 passing yards and aided Hart’s running backs in getting 1,666 rushing yards.
Tristen Lachman, Valencia, Senior, OL
At 6-foot-1, 275 pounds, Lachman added size and strength to the Vikings’ line. With Lachman in the trenches, Valencia ended the season with 2,388 total passing yards and 1,087 rushing yards.
Logan DeShazer, Saugus, Senior, OL
DeShazer’s quickly gained experience in his first year on varsity, clearing paths for running backs Josh Bond and Julian Bornn on a nightly basis. The Centurions also accumulated 2,323 passing yards thanks to the line.
Ty Morrison, Valencia, Junior, K
Morrison’s arguably best moment this season came when he kicked a 27-yard field goal with 41 seconds left in a must-win game against Hart to preserve the Vikings’ undefeated Foothill League record. He went 35-for-40 when it came to PATs and made 6-of-12 field goals.
Second Team Offense
Walker Eget, West Ranch, Junior, QB
Eget had a historic season with the Wildcats as he helped lead them further into the playoffs than they had ever gone. He also broke several records this season, including his brother Weston’s passing touchdowns record (25) which was set last season with 40 touchdowns of his own.
To cap off an impressive season, Eget has been invited to the Under Armour All-American Camp. Participation in the camp will give him an opportunity to increase his recruiting exposure early on.
Reiger Burgin, West Ranch, Senior, RB
Burgin had an outstanding senior season and was one of three thousand-yard rushers in the Foothill League. He tallied 1,024 tick marks on 180 carries in 2019, including a season-long 69-yard carry. He tied for first in the Foothill League for rushing touchdowns (18) with Golden Valley’s Johnathan Kaelin. Burgin also scored one receiving touchdown and earned 93 receiving yards on 12 catches.
Nick Pham, Valencia, Senior, RB
Pham made himself a threat on the ground for the Vikings. He racked up the second-most rushing yards on the team with 305 and scored three touchdowns on the ground. Pham was present in the passing attack, as well. Through Valencia’s 11 games, he caught one touchdown pass with 74 receiving yards and 11 catches.
Colin Figueroa, Canyon, Junior WR
Figueroa was a prolific receiver for the Cowboys this year, collecting 760 yards on 52 catches this season. He also caught six touchdown passes. He ranks second in both categories for Canyon.
Zamondre Merriweather, Valencia, Sophomore, WR
Coming in as the only sophomore on the list, Merriweather led the Vikings in receiving touchdowns with five in the 2019 campaign. He also tallied 533 yards on 32 catches this season, placing him in second for the Vikings.
Ryan Tomaszewski, Hart, Junior, WR
Tomaszewski was Zach Johnson’s second-favorite target this season as he earned 486 ticks on 37 catches. Johnson connected with him twice in the end zone.
Tommy Adame, Hart, Senior, OL
Adame’s 6-foot-5, 310-pound frame added much appreciated size to Hart’s O-line as he towered over a majority of his teammates. His contributions to the unit helped Hart reach a 2,788-yard passing and 1,666-yard rushing season.
Vincent Casillas, Valencia, Junior, OL
Casillas was one of Valencia’s biggest players this season measuring 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 270 pounds. With his help, Valencia was able to rank second in the Foothill League for passing yards in 2019.
Tyler Ayers, Saugus, Senior, OL
Although he wasn’t one of the biggest players on the Centurions’ offensive line, Ayers was one of the strongest. Saugus fans could see Ayers putting defenders on their backs throughout all 10 games this season as he helped the Centurions to 2323 passing yards.
Daniel Morales, Golden Valley, Senior, OL
Standing at 6-foot-2 and 298 pounds, Morales helped clear the way for Johnathan Kaelin. The addition of Morales helped the Grizzlies lead the Foothill League in rushing yards with 2,299 yards.
Jordan Sioussat, Hart, Senior, OL
As the third Hart lineman to make the list, Sioussat is proof of an impressive unit that hails from Newhall. Standing at 6-foot-2, he was a key piece to Zach Johnson’s ability to lead the Indians to the second round of the CIF-SS Division 4 playoffs.
Richard Padilla Jr., West Ranch, Junior, K
Kicking for West Ranch’s high-powered offense, Padilla Jr. found himself logging a lot of time on the gridiron in 2019. He made 61 of his 69 attempted PATs and drilled three of his five attempted field goals this season. He even saved a kickoff return touchdown against the Wildcats with his one tackle.