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2023 HMG-COMMUNITY NEWS FALL ALL-AREA TEAMS – Cerritos football, Norwalk girls volleyball teams had seasons for the ages

Cerritos High first-year head coach Demel Franklin celebrates with his team the school’s first CIF-Southern Section divisional title in the sport, a 19-13 overtime win over Yucca Valley High on Nov. 25. PHOTO BY LOREN KOPFF.

December 26, 2023

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on X

It was a season to remember for the Cerritos High football team, which defied all odds by capturing the CIF-Southern Section Division 12 championship and was two points away from playing for a state title. Artesia High and Gahr High also advanced to the playoffs, marking the first time that all three ABC Unified School District schools that have football programs went to the playoffs in the same season.

On the girls volleyball court, it was status quo for Cerritos, which won another 605 League title while Norwalk High had its best season in the history of the program and came close to getting to the semifinals for the first time ever. Here are the recipients of the 2023 HMG-Community News Fall All-Area Teams.

FOOTBALL

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE

QB-Santino Garcia (La Mirada High)

RB-Kalen Montgomery (Gahr High)

RB-Josh Park (Cerritos High)

WR-Ruben Castro (Cerritos High)

WR-Isaiah Jordan (Valley Christian High)

UTL-Charlie Lopez (Artesia High)

LT-Devion Stinson (Cerritos High)

LG-Luis Lopez (Cerritos High)

C-Chase Adams (Artesia High)

RG-William Petterson (Cerritos High) 

RT-Jonathan Martinez (Artesia High)

FIRST TEAM DEFENSE

DL-Damien Garcia (John Glenn High)

DL-Maximus Garcia (Artesia High)

DL-Myles Merchant (Gahr High)

DB-Gabe Gaudi (Cerritos High)

DB-Julius Padilla (Artesia High)

DB-Jacob Ramirez (John Glenn High)

DB-Jayce Shields (Valley Christian High)

LB-Chase Adams (Artesia High)

LB-Jeremiah Bagaygay (Cerritos High)

LB-Nathaniel Crawford (Cerritos High)

LB-Isaiah Portillo (Gahr High)

SECOND TEAM OFFENSE

QB-Justin Sagun (Cerritos High)

RB-Julius Padilla (Artesia High)

RB-Tuiono Tuifua (John Glenn High)

WR-Jacob Ramirez (John Glenn High)

WR-Isaiah Robbins (La Mirada High)

UTL-Markell Slaughter (Gahr High)

LT-Anthony Lemus (Norwalk High)

LG-Deangelo Tucker (Artesia High)

C-Jon Avendano (Cerritos High)

RG-Maximus Garcia (Artesia High)

RT-Chibudem Ozoagu (Cerritos High)

SECOND TEAM DEFENSE

DL-Marcus Jackson (John Glenn High)

DL-Marc Saldana (Gahr High)

DL-Zachary Stein (La Mirada High)

DB-Pablo Cruz (Artesia High)

DB-Kalen Montgomery (Gahr High)

DB-Eduardo Ordaz (Artesia High)

DB-Alfonso Vega (John Glenn High)

LB-Cole Hefner (Valley Christian High)

LB-Tyler Ky (Cerritos High)

LB-Jesse Lopez (Norwalk High)

LB-O.J. Romero (John Glenn High)

HONORABLE MENTION OFFENSE

QB-Luis Vergara (John Glenn High)

RB-Caleb Mitchell (Norwalk High)

RB-Ezra Mueller (Norwalk High)

WR-Jordan Lauago (La Mirada High)

WR-Ahkil Sampson (Artesia High)

UTL-Dikshanta Adhikari (Cerritos High)

LT-Zachary Stein (La Mirada High)

LG-Marc Saldana (Gahr High)

C-Jack Van Hofwegen (Valley Christian High)

RG-Tyler Hayes (Valley Christian High)

RT-Jonathan Mathai (Gahr High)

HONORABLE MENTION DEFENSE

DL-Johdan Escobar (John Glenn High)

DL-Moises Mendoza (Cerritos High)

DL-Calvin Thomas III (Gahr High)

DB-Austin Abrahams (Valley Christian High)

DB-Isaiah Jordan (Valley Christian High)

DB-Gregory Leon (La Mirada High)

DB-Gabriel Mariscal-Isleib (Gahr High)

LB-Bailey Crawford (Cerritos High)

LB-Gavin Dionne (La Mirada High)

LB-Nehemiah Levu (Artesia High)

LB-Andre Romo (John Glenn High)

Offensive Player of the Year-About 10 years ago or so, Gahr was known as a passing team but lately, the Gladiators have been successful on the ground and this past season, Kalen Montgomery showed why. The senior led the area with 1,339 rushing yards and scored 25 times. He scored at least one touchdown in each of Gahr’s 11 games, including all three in the season opener at Valley Christian in a 21-20 victory. Last season, Montgomery compiled 564 yards and scored half a dozen touchdowns.

Co-Defensive Players of the Year-Cerritos allowed close to 300 points in the school record 15 games it played, but many times, a plethora of defensive players helped the Dons stay in a lot of games. Two of them are senior linebacker Jeremiah Bagaygay and junior linebacker Nathaniel Crawford. The former had 98 tackles and led the team with 12 tackles for losses and seven sacks. Crawford led the area with 129 tackles and had a pair of sacks. He was one of three players on the team with over 100 tackles.

Coach of the Year-A Hollywood script was written when Cerritos first-year head coach Demel Franklin did the improbable and guided the Dons to their first trip to the CIF-SS semifinals, their first divisional championship and had them come two points away from playing for a state title. The Dons went 9-6, but won seven of the last eight games, including a come from behind 19-13 overtime win against Yucca Valley High in the Division 12 championship game. Before this past season, the last time Cerritos won nine games was in 2001 when that team went 9-2 but lost in the first round of the playoffs.

The Norwalk High girls volleyball team won a school record 24 matches and advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division 7 quarterfinals. PHOTO BY LOREN KOPFF.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL FIRST TEAM

S-Chloe Cruz (Cerritos High)

OH-Alyssa Meraz (La Mirada High)

OH-Nicole Sales (Cerritos High)

OH-Kendall Nakano (Norwalk High)

MB-Samantha Munoz (Norwalk High)

MB-Mirei Sanchez (Norwalk High)

OPP-Zaidee Zepeda (Norwalk High)

DS-Gabriella Colombo (Cerritos High)

LIB-Margaret Norton (La Mirada High)

SECOND TEAM

S-Alyssa Dorado (Norwalk High)

OH-Tessa Dobmeier (Valley Christian High)

OH-Mariah Robinson (Gahr High)

OH-Leila Tolentino (Cerritos High)

MB-Isabella Dantzler (Cerritos High)

MB-Natalie Ojeisekhoba (La Mirada High)

OPP-Kyla Jones (Gahr High)

DS-Danna Higuera (Gahr High)

LIB-Jasmine Kastner (Cerritos High)

THIRD TEAM

S-Kiersten Mahan (La Mirada High)

OH-Rylee Asumbrado (Artesia High)

OH-Rachel Moyher (Whitney High)

OH-Cameron Warner (Valley Christian High)

MB-Chiugo Anyama (Whitney High)

MB-Abby McGuyre (Valley Christian High)

OPP-Rebecca Gooden (Artesia High)

DS-Ashley Castaneda (Norwalk High)

LIB-Devyn Masi (Valley Christian High)

HONORABLE MENTION

S-Cassandra Zoellers (Gahr High)

OH-D.J. Goze (Artesia High)

OH-Valeria Mejia (John Glenn High)

OH-Nevaeh Salinas (Whitney High)

MB-Zyon Aubrey (Gahr High)

MB-Kristy Galindo (John Glenn High)

OPP-Natalie Peter (La Mirada High)

DS-Madison Jimenez (Valley Christian High)

LIB-Emily Hernandez (Artesia High)

Player of the Year-Norwalk had a banner season and if the Lancers can get the same production, or better, from junior middle blocker Samantha Munoz, then the team will remain in good hands. Munoz led the Lancers with 189 kills and 55 blocks and was the team leader in kill percentage (45.5) and second in hitting percentage (.308). 

Coach of the Year-Norwalk girls volleyball hasn’t had much of a history, especially with 11 head coaches since 1998 and a dozen trips to the postseason in that time. but in her third season at the helm, former Norwalk star Paola Nava guided the Lancers to their best season in school history. Norwalk went 24-12, tied Mayfair High for the Mid-Cities League title and advanced to the Division 7 quarterfinals, the first time in school history the Lancers have gotten that far. The 24 victories are the most in the history of the program since the 2013 and 2015 teams won 16 matches.