Though just 10 San Francisco high schools field 11-man varsity football teams, the 2022 season was full of memories and images that showed why high school football is so heavily romanticized in American culture. From the much-awaited debut of permanent lights at St. Ignatius to a Nepali immigrant leading his school to its best season in a decade, the combination of setting and local politics make San Francisco football a truly unique experience, one that puts a one-of-a-kind spin on a tradition that exists in some form or another all around the country.
In conjunction with the calendar turning to 2023, The Standard is proud to unveil its 2022 All-City High School Football Team. Players were selected based on their on-field performance, as well as through recommendations from both their own coaches and opposing coaches.
QB James Mertz (Sr.), Washington
Despite multiple knee injuries, Mertz led the Eagles to an eight-win season, their best mark since 2011. His touch on deep balls made Washington’s offense as explosive as it’s been in decades, and his leadership was instrumental in making his senior class the standard-bearer for Washington football for years to come.
RB Dhiraj Gurung (Sr.), Washington
Gurung lived in Nepal until he was 12 and never played football until high school, but has blistering speed that makes him a lethal threat as both a rusher and a receiver out of the backfield. He also lined up at safety, and intercepted three passes in a rivalry win over Lowell to accompany his three-touchdown performance.
RB Kendric Sanders (Sr.), Sacred Heart Cathedral
Sanders ran for 793 yards in 11 games and had four 100-yard performances, including a 110-yard showing in the Bruce-Mahoney Game against St. Ignatius.
WR Moe Barnum (Jr.), St. Ignatius
Barnum developed as a deep threat for the Wildcats throughout his junior year. He burst onto the scene with a 105-yard performance in a Sept. 30 loss to St. Francis.
WR RL Miller (Sr.), Sacred Heart Cathedral
The Standard’s Player of the Year, Miller could have just as easily slotted in as a first-team linebacker, but is officially being recognized as a receiver, in part because assembling an All-City team requires sliding puzzle pieces around and in part because he caught eight touchdowns despite being matched up with top opponents every week.
TE Teddy McCarty (Sr.), Lowell
Though he never played football before his senior year, McCarty was a dominant force both at tight end and defensive end for the Cardinals. He recorded three sacks in a Senior Day victory over Galileo.
OL Santino Franco (Sr.), St. Ignatius
A three-year starter and two-year captain, Franco was also worthy of being a first-team defensive lineman, but like RL Miller, he’s being recognized on offense to help balance out the numbers on both sides of the ball. Franco was one of the more rambunctious and enthusiastic players on an otherwise quiet team.
OL Benny Hatch (Jr.), Sacred Heart Cathedral
It’s rare that an offensive lineman can turn heads with one play. Typically, the big men in the trenches are recognized for a year’s worth of work that goes unnoticed during games and is finally appreciated after coaches and scouts pore over film. Hatch, however, vaulted into the spotlight when he blocked a man for 30 yards during Kendric Sanders’ 67-yard touchdown run at Valley Christian.
OL James Lucey (Sr.), St. Ignatius
At just 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Lucey is often matched up with larger opponents, but his exceptional technique and consistency have earned him a spot on the roster at Division III Bowdoin College in Maine, a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) — essentially the D-III Ivy League.
OL Deion Solis (Sr.), Lincoln
Solis anchored an offensive line that was so dominant in the Division 7-A State Championship Game that Lincoln ran for 435 yards, an average of 12.8 per carry, and scored 54 points without attempting a single pass.
OL Losipini Tupou (So.), Riordan
Though Riordan struggled to a 1-6 mark in West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) play, Tupou’s contributions were recognized around the league. He was just one of three sophomores to make First-Team All-WCAL.
DL Melvin Horne (Sr.), Lincoln
Horne was one of the top defensive linemen in the Academic Athletic Association (AAA), with 12 of his 46 tackles going for a loss. The Mustangs allowed just 193 points on the season and yielded just 70 across their final nine games en route to their third state championship.
DL Nifae Tinofili Shul-Cassidy (Jr.), Balboa
In his second year as a starter, Tinofili Shul-Cassidy recorded nine tackles for loss, including six sacks, across six league games and two playoff games.
DL Zaheer Young (Jr.), Sacred Heart Cathedral
Young had big shoes to fill after SHC graduated Silas Bahlibi, and he filled them admirably. He played a key role in the Irish’s Bruce-Mahoney Game shutout, and the junior recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown against Burlingame.
DE Sam Dunn (Sr.), Washington
The nephew of legendary linebacker Bill Romanowski, Dunn’s finest game was on Oct. 22, when the Eagles shut out Balboa. He registered two sacks, a third tackle for loss and forced a fumble in the 22-0 victory.
EDGE Isiah Chala (Jr.), Riordan
Chala committed to Fresno State last month. When the Crusaders held Bellarmine to three points, he had eight tackles (six solo), including two for a loss. He also made one appearance at tight end against Mitty and promptly caught a 59-yard touchdown.
LB Diego Cristerna (Jr.), Lincoln
Both an emotional leader and a key cog in the Mustang defense at middle linebacker, Cristerna had 63 tackles, including 10 in an AAA Semifinal victory over Lowell. He also cleared the way for his teammates, both on offense and defense. Cristerna was constantly double-teamed, opening up tackling opportunities for the likes of Vincent Huang, and at fullback, he ran for six touchdowns and created holes for Jamelle Newman and Ricky Underwood.
LB Jerry Mixon Jr. (Sr.), Sacred Heart Cathedral
Few athletes have the strength to be able to make a game-changing play like Mixon can. In a Stanfel Cup victory over Riordan, he forced a turnover that helped put the game out of reach by stripping a Crusader ball carrier. Plays like this come once in a lifetime for most athletes, but for Mixon, a superhuman Oregon commit, they happened almost every week. He also ran for five touchdowns and threw for two, including one on a trick play to beat Sacred Heart Prep.
LB Jay Murphy (Sr.), Sacred Heart Cathedral
Murphy’s move to middle linebacker took the SHC defense to a new level. In his first game at the position, the Irish shut St. Ignatius out for the first time since 1987. On a team full of proud players, his love for the game and for his school stood out.
CB Zachary Jones, Riordan
The 5-foot-9 Jones showcased his elite speed as a receiver, defensive back and kick returner. He’s being honored as a first-team defensive back for his six interceptions, two of which came against Sacred Heart Cathedral.
CB Jamelle Newman (Sr.), Lincoln
Newman recorded a pick-six in a Bell Game shutout of rival Washington. He could have also been named as a first-team running back; he ran for 1,161 yards and 15 touchdowns and spent much of 2022 as Lincoln’s primary rushing option after Ricky Underwood broke his collarbone.
CB Javius Redding (Sr.), Riordan
Redding intercepted three passes for the Crusader defense. He plays as if he’s taller than his listed 6 feet thanks to his long arms, and he’s also a dynamic weapon on offense. He ran for 104 yards against Tamalpais and returned a kickoff 61 yards against St. Ignatius.
K Brian Coyle (Sr.), Sacred Heart Cathedral
Coyle made all 27 of his extra points for the Fightin’ Irish and converted both of his field goal attempts on the year, including a 35-yarder against St. Francis.
P Cooper Lucey (Sr.), St. Ignatius
Lucey, who raised over $1,200 to fight ALS in memory of his grandmother this season, set up SI’s first two scores in a Gil Haskell Trophy win over Riordan. His early punt pinned the Crusaders at the 2, and he later placed a kickoff in no-man’s land for teammate Gus Parker to recover.
KR Gus Parker (Sr.), St. Ignatius
Parker could have been recognized as a wide receiver or defensive back, but he’s being lauded on special teams for his pair of punt return touchdowns, including one in a season-opening romp of Palo Alto.
QB Soren Hummel (So.), St. Ignatius
RB Dontae Allen-Wilson (Jr.), Balboa
RB Jarious Hogan (So.), St. Ignatius
WR Taevon Mitchell (Sr.), Mitchell
WR Ayan Razzak (Sr.), Washington
TE Pierce St. Geme (Jr.), St. Ignatius
OL Navondre Ama (Jr.), Balboa
OL Ed Asiasi (Sr.), Lowell
OL John Mills (So.), St. Ignatius
OL Jordan Solofa-Fatu (Sr.), Sacred Heart Cathedral
OL Gabriel Tato (So.), Lincoln
DL Colin Mulkerrins (Sr.), St. Ignatius
DL Mikatoa Scanlan (Jr.), Riordan
DL Michael Zapata (Sr.), Balboa
EDGE Luke Leupold (Sr.), St. Ignatius
LB Santiago Alvarez (Sr.), Balboa
LB Vincent Huang (Sr.), Lincoln
LB Sui Gallegos-Hunkin (So.), St. Ignatius
LB Tommy Mayfield-Commer (Jr.), Washington
DB Xavier Solares (Sr.), Lincoln
DB Ricky Underwood (Sr.), Lincoln
DB Zion Wells (Sr.), Riordan
K Andre Petrill (Jr.), Lincoln
P Louis Sarat (Jr.), Balboa
KR Zaden Cato (Jr.), Mission
DL Frank Alanis (Sr.), Washington
WR/CB/KR Robby Alvarez (Jr.), Burton
RB Gavin Barry-Smith (Sr.), Lowell
WR Mikey Calonico (Sr.), Sacred Heart Cathedral
QB Nate Chynoweth (Jr.), Galileo
LB Hezekiah Davis (Sr.), Lincoln
OL/DL/P Selvin Gonzalez (Sr.), Lowell
LB Alex Hartigan (Sr.), St. Ignatius
OL Brody Hatch (Fr.), Sacred Heart Cathedral
WR/DB Tyrone Jackson (Jr.), Riordan
RB Cameron Jones (Jr.), St. Ignatius
WR Isaiah Keishk (Sr.), Sacred Heart Cathedral
OL Michael Langi (Fr.), Riordan
TE/DE Jaylen Lopez (Jr.), Lincoln
WR Felix Mamrikov (Sr.), Washington
DT Jordan McQueen (Sr.), Riordan
OL/DL Froylan Medina (Sr.), Balboa
QB Michael Mitchell Jr. (Fr.), Riordan
DB Atticus Moustakas (Jr.), St. Ignatius
QB Angelo Ornelas (So.), Lowell
WR Chase Recio (Jr.), Galileo
WR/DB Stevie Rivas (Sr.), Lowell
LB Jabari Ryan (Sr.), Sacred Heart Cathedral
WR/DB Nick Wong (Sr.), Balboa
LB Kevin Wright (So.), Lincoln
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]