Heading into the final week of the season, the Northern League and PAC 5 champions have all but been determined, and the major statistical leaders in each league are beginning to separate themselves as well.
In the race for the passing title in the Northern League it has come down to Mission Prep’s Bryce Fledderman and Templeton’s Jordan Bernal. Fledderman, who is leading a Royals team that would claim the Northern League if it can defeat Morro Bay on Friday, passed for 242 yards and four touchdowns in a win last week against Santa Maria. Fledderman has elevated his play since the league season began and now leads in passing yards with 1,779. Bernal has 1,633 yards passing on the season and is coming off a 296-yard, two-touchdown performance in a loss to Nipomo.
Barring another 19-yard game like the one he had last week in a win over Atascadero, Arroyo Grande quarterback Sawyer May should finish the regular season as the PAC 5’s top passer. May has 1,436 yards passing on the season, 306 yards ahead of San Luis Obispo’s Omeed Djassemi. May also has just one interception on the season in 133 pass attempts.
No one is catching up to the runaway train that is Paso Robles’ Christian Erickson for the PAC 5 rushing title. Erickson sat out one game this season and still has an incredible 1,347 rushing yards, 388 yards ahead of Atascadero’s Marc Martin. Erickson had his eighth 100-yard game in as many tries in a 30-0 win over Righetti on Friday. Martin carried the ball 32 times for 118 yards in a loss to Arroyo Grande. Martin did, however, take the PAC 5 scoring lead after rushing for a touchdown in the 24-10 loss. Martin has 78 points on the season (13 touchdowns), 10 points more than Arroyo Grande’s Bradley Mickey, who also scored on a 41-yard run in the game.
A strong performance by Nipomo running back Antonio Navarro in a win over Templeton wasn’t enough to pass Mission Prep running back Brayden Corona for the Northern League rushing lead, a lead he has held for most of the season. Corona had his fifth 100-yard game this year on Friday and leads all rushers with 937 yards. Navarro, who missed the first three games of the season because of a suspension, rushed for 137 yards against Templeton and has racked up 818 yards playing in three less games than Corona, an average of 117 yards per game. Corona also holds the touchdown lead in the Northern League with 10, one more than Bernal and Templeton running back Michael Capelli.
Templeton is out of the mix when it comes to a Northern League title, but when all is said and done, the Eagles could have the most prolific receiver in the league. Matteo D’alfonso, who is playing his first season of varsity football, leads all Northern League receivers with 544 yards. The 6-foot-4 wideout jumped ahead of two Mission Prep receivers with an 11-catch, 177-yard explosion against Nipomo. He also had two touchdowns in the game, giving him seven on the season. Keeping pace with D’alfonso was Royals receiver Patrick Miller, who had 137 yards and a touchdown against Santa Maria. Miller has 536 yards on 33 receptions.
On the defensive side, Arroyo Grande’s stellar linebacker Sam Ness maintained his PAC 5 lead in tackles with a 13-tackle game against Atascadero. Ness now has 112 total tackles on the season. In the Northern League, a couple of 5-foot-8 linebacker leading tacklers squared off Friday. Nipmo’s Terry Wambolt got the better of Templeton on the scoreboard, but Clint Howland notched 19 tackles in the win, six more than Wambolt. Howland now leads the league with 123 total tackles on the season to Wambolt’s 117.
Mission Prep’s Jacob Wright had two sacks against Santa Maria to push his total for the season to seven and is now tied for the Northern League lead in the category with Nipomo’s David Leon. Righetti’s pass-rushing tandem of Zach Burg (10) and Seth Ollice (8.5) tops the PAC 5.
Bradley Mickey’s interception at the end of the game against Atascadero pushed him to four on the season, tying him for the PAC 5 lead with teammate Benny Willkomm. Templeton’s Brandon Bracy and Santa Maria’s Janathon Ramos also have four on the season to lead the Northern League.