Tarek’s Takes: ‘Watch List’ for 2022 Daily News yearly high school football awards

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Tarek’s Takes is a weekly review of my high school football predictions from the week before. Where I was right and where I was wrong, and why.

I predicted the outcome of six Week 5 games and went 4-2, which included the right pick on the Game of the Week between West Ranch and Saugus. Ryan Staub threw five touchdowns …

Right picks: West Ranch over Saugus (43-6); Golden Valley over Hart (34-20); Oaks Christian over Loyola (34-7); Alemany over Lawndale (18-14)

Wrong picks: Thousand Oaks over Newbury Park (41-38, 2OT); Moorpark over Oak Park (34-27)

2022 pick record: 26-13 | Game of the Week: 2-3

Tarek’s Takes

We’re midway through the high school football season. Some teams have already started league play, others are ramping up to start league play this Friday night.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the names that should be on everyone’s radar for potential Daily News yearly awards, like Player of the Year.

Note: This is just a watch list. Names listed below are midseason candidates for yearly awards. Other players not listed may emerge to be candidates or even winners at the end of the year.

-Players are listed in alphabetical order (last name).


LB/RB – Chase Martin, Thousand Oaks, Sr.

Martin has been a leader on both sides of the ball, rushing for 448 yards and nine touchdowns and leading the team in tackles with 62 in five games.

QB – Ryan Staub, West Ranch, Sr.

Staub has thrown for 1,570 yards and 26 touchdowns with no interceptions and has the Wildcats unbeaten at 6-0.


RB – Rowan Heidt, Oak Park, Sr.

Heidt has racked up 568 yards rushing and six touchdowns this season. The hard-nosed tailback is averaging 113.6 yards per game.

RB – Brandon Johnson, Highland, Sr.

The Arizona commit has tallied 558 yards and eight touchdowns this season on just 70 carries.

WR/DB – Ajani Smith, Golden Valley, Sr.

Smith is an elite athlete that impacts both sides of the ball. He has 29 receptions for 455 yards and five touchdowns on offense. Defensively, he’s got 30 tackles and three interceptions through six games.

RB – Johnny Thompson, Oaks Christian, Sr.

Thompson, a highly-touted tailback, has 443 yards rushing with seven touchdowns this season.

RB – Paden White, Alemany, Jr.

Without a quarterback, Alemany is looking to its wildcat offense to lead the way. Paden White is averaging more than 100 yards per game on the ground.


LB – Isaiah Chisom, Chaminade, Sr.

Chisom is the team’s leading tackler with 38 and has six tackles for loss, including one sack. Chisom also had six pass deflections this season for the 5-0 Eagles.

DB – Marquise Gallegos, Chaminade, Jr.

Gallegos is the definition of a ballhawk. He’s second on the team in tackles with 34 as a safety and also has three interceptions this season.

LB – Aydehn Kingsberry, Highland, Sr.

Kingsberry has a team-high 36 tackles and 2.5 sacks with five hurries this season. The Bulldogs are rolling through the Golden League.

LB – Brady Van Bennekum, West Ranch, Sr.

Van Bennekum has a team-high 51 tackles along with three interceptions, two of which he’s returned for touchdowns this season. He also has two sacks.

LB – Xavier White, Sierra Canyon, Sr.

White not only leads the Trailblazers in tackles (47) but also has two sacks, which is tied for the most on the team with Stanford-bound lineman Cameron Brandt.


RB – Jeremiah Claiborne, Alemany, Sr.

If it’s not Paden White, it’s Jeremiah Claiborne running the ball out of the backfield from Alemany’s wildcat offense. Claiborne is to new to the area after transferring from Citrus Valley.

Dane Dunn, Sierra Canyon, So.

Dunn has burst onto the scene with 532 yards rushing and three touchdowns while starting running back Terrell Cooks has been battling injury.

WR/DB – Kory Hall, Cleveland, Jr.

Hall has an eye-popping nine touchdown receptions this season to go with 694 yards on just 19 catches. He’s the go-to playmaker for the Cavs.

QB – Brady Smigiel, Newbury Park, Fr.

Smigiel is likely to win the Daily News Freshman of the Year award. He’s thrown for 1,774 yards and 21 touchdowns in six games. He’s also rushed for five TDs.

RB/DB – Darrell Stanley, Granada Hills. So.

Stanley has emerged as one of the City Section’s top playmakers after totaling 509 yards rushing and nine touchdown this season.

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