Football: Players to watch in 2010

Posted by Staff Writer Eric Branch:
Since the prep football preview stories aren’t online just yet, I’m posting some here. I figured this was a good conversation starter.
I included 13 players on the list, but obviously left off some qualified candidates. Who would you have included that didn’t make the cut?

SAM ATOE, RB/LB, Maria Carrillo, Sr.
Fast. Physical. Remarkable instincts. Atoe is like the high-school equivalent of 49ers LB Patrick Willis, if Willis also flattened people while carrying the ball. For eight minutes and six seconds of enjoyment, type Atoe’s name in YouTube and watch his highlight tape. College coaches are doing just that. Atoe has been offered scholarships from Sacramento State and San Diego State and plenty more offers could be coming. ranks Atoe 90th in its preseason rankings of California’s top seniors.

BRIAN DWORKIN, RB, Rancho Cotate, Sr.
A 140-pound jitterbug as a sophomore, Dworkin (above) has filled out to about 175 this season. But he figures to be just as fun to watch. Not blessed with size, he compensates with speed, vision and ankle-breaking cutbacks. A three-year starter, he’s rushed for 2,551 yards and 30 TDs the past two seasons and has never missed a game.

The do-it-all dynamo played wide receiver, safety, returned kickoffs and punts and was the Gauchos’ punter as a junior. He led the team in tackles, ranked second in catches and threw a TD pass. Oh, almost forgot, his school-record 11 interceptions ranked fourth in the state.

MIKE PIERSON, QB, El Molino, Sr.
His stats from last year — 1,922 yards, 15 TDs and 18 INTs — won’t turn heads. But his talent does. Put simply, the athletic, cannon-armed Pierson is a joy to watch. Playing behind a sturdier offensive line, expect the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder to dramatically improve those numbers and begin attracting serious college interest.

NICK SHERRY, QB, Casa Grande, Sr.
Sherry was so good as a junior that he completed passes with his left hand without looking. Sherry’s two-point conversion pass against Montgomery — a desperate no-look number he tossed while being dragged to the ground — might have been the play of the year. But the 6-foot-5 Sherry, who has committed to Colorado, is also adept at more conventional passes. That would explain his 2,419 yards and 24 TDs as a junior.

WR Aaron Dhuyvetter, Ukiah, Sr.: His 808 receiving yards last year ranked seventh in North Coast Section.
WR Joe Douglass, El Molino, Sr.: Being recruited by the Ivy Leagues.
LB Garrett Guanella, Cardinal Newman, Sr.: A potential college prospect. Explains Newman coach Paul Cronin, “You can’t coach (6-foot-5).”
LB Caleb Jones-Sharpe, Montgomery, Sr.: Wanna have fun on Friday nights? Watch offenses try blocking this guy.
RB Yahya Muslim, Sonoma, Jr.: Dworkin won’t be back in 2011. But don’t worry. Muslim, equally as electrifying, will.
QB Poueu Peleti-Gore, Rancho Cotate, Sr.: Coach Ed Conroy calls him the best option QB in his two decades at the school.
FB Ethan Rosselli, Santa Rosa, Sr.: Was one of two non-seniors on all-Empire first-team offense in ‘09.
DE Mike Tuaua, Rancho Cotate, Sr.: Six-foot-2, 230-pounder is Cougars’ strongest player.