All-Bay Area News Group defensive team
Linebacker: Opeti Fangupo, 5-10, 230, junior
What he did: Junior of the year in the WCAL. Stood out on defense and also was a powerful blocker and runner as a fullback.
Defensive line: Joshua Pakola, 6-3, 230, junior
What he did: Four-star prospect; highest-rated South Bay/Pensinula player in the junior class by 247Sports.com. He is No. 15 overall in his class in California with 10 Pac-12 offers, as well as Georgia and Notre Dame.
Linebacker: Junior Fehoko, 6-4, 240, senior
What he did: Helped lead to regional and state championships, receiving first-team all-WCAL honors along the way.
HONORABLE MENTION DEFENSE
Defensive back: Lucas Andrighetto, senior
Utility: Maurice Wilmer, junior
All-Bay Area News Group offensive team
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Running back: Darrell Page, 5-10, 185, junior
What he did: The West Catholic Athletic League’s most valuable running back broke a 21-year-old season rushing record, finishing with a Central Coast Section-best 2,294 yards in 307 carries with 23 touchdowns as the Lancers won regional and state championships. Page, the nephew of former star Markee Lockett, ran for more than 200 yards in three games this season, including 228 in a 28-23 win over Manteca in a Northern California championship game, the contest that he broke Charles Tharp’s school rushing record that stood since 1996.
Offensive line: Tyler Manoa, 6-5, 294, senior
What he did: Four-star prospect who has narrowed his college offers to finalists Oregon, UCLA and Utah was WCAL’s offensive lineman of the year, helping propel to a state title.
HONORABLE MENTION OFFENSE
Quarterback: Reed Vettel, senior
WHO IS ELIGIBLE
Players eligible for the all-Bay Area News Group team come from leagues based predominantly in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The teams are chosen by the Bay Area News Group’s high school staff.
If there was any doubt that Page was ready to fill the void left in the St. Francis backfield on a full-time basis, he quashed those doubts early in his junior season, and then raced into the Lancers’ record book late in the year, leading the way for a team that slugged its way to a CIF championship.
“You never know for sure before the season, but we had a lot of confidence in him after seeing what he was capable of at the end his sophomore year,” said St. Francis coach Greg Calcagno. “He embraced the lead role. If you are a great running back, St. Francis is the place where you want to be. We’re going to give you the ball, and have you run downhill. He did a great job of that this year.”
The overall numbers themselves are staggering, as Page topped 2,300 yards and scored 23 touchdowns on the ground, but the games in which the biggest performances occurred demonstrated his knack for the big stage, and an ability to shine in front of the brightest lights.
Early in the season, it was a 183-yard, two-touchdown performance in a rout over Palma which signified that he was ready to dominate. It was at the mid-season point, however, where things really took off for Page and the Lancers. Having lost early in the league season to Valley Christian, St. Francis played with its back against the wall for most of the year. But they had Page to count on, and a physical offensive line to pave the way for the junior.
In a mid-October game against Mitty, Page wowed onlookers with his 248-yard, three-touchdown outing, as the Lancers rolled to a 42-21 victory. He nearly topped the 200-yard mark again the following week in a 35-0 win over Riordan, logging 197 yards on the ground. In fact, Page went over the 150-yard mark in five straight games down the stretch, a streak interrupted only by a limit on carries in the CCS Open II semifinals, when the Lancers routed Aragon and rested starters late in the game.
As impressive as his regular season was, it was the big games where Page made people around the region take notice of his ability. In the section title game against Serra, another heart-breaking one-point loss for the Lancers, the junior did everything in his power to win the game. He averaged over eight yards per carry, racking up 225 yards and scoring twice. That included a 71-yard touchdown run in the first half, plus runs of 55 and 34 yards later in the game, repeatedly gashing the Padre defense.
“He ran for over 100 yards in every game in the WCAL, which is saying something, but he really exploded early in that Serra game,” Calcagno said. “He had a lot of carries this season, but did a good job not taking big hits and kept his body fresh and ready to go late in the year.”
The following week, however, was Page’s crowning moment in the CIF NorCal 2-A regional final against Manteca. The Buffaloes’ defense saw Page run for 228 yards, breaking the St. Francis single-season record previously held by Charles Tharp, who topped the 2,000-yard mark back in 1996. Page galloped for touchdowns of 50 and 20 yards in the 28-23 win, with the latter serving as the eventual game-winning score.
To finish the season, the junior standout battled a toe injury to top the 100-yard mark in a state title game win over Grace Brethren. He didn’t score in the 22-13 victory, but had another signature run, busting through multiple would-be tacklers for a physical 26-yard run in the second quarter, one which set up a short score and gave the Lancers an eight-point margin at the time.
For all his tremendous, record-breaking performances, we are pleased to honor Darrell Page as our Prep2Prep Junior of the Year.
Other players considered include Serra’s Luke Bottari, Los Gatos’ Kyle Smith, Gilroy’s Joesph Barnes, and Menlo-Atherton’s Daniel Heimuli.