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OCVarsity Rankings: O.C.'s top specialists

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

With the start of the high school season quickly approaching, the Register has put together its lists of the top 10 players in the county at each position.

These lists are based on the observations of the Register’s reporters, the input of football coaches around the county and the amount of interest shown by college scouts.

Here is a look at the top special teams players going into the season. (For this category, kickers, punters, long snappers and return specialists are grouped together.)

1. Chase McGrath, Mater Dei, Kicker, Sr.

McGrath earned All-County second-team honors in 2015. He was perfect on 62 PATs, and he went 10 for 13 on field goals with a long of 45 yards. The senior was the champion of the West Coast Kicking Academy head-to-head competition. He has been offered by Army.

2. Ryan Stonehouse, Mater Dei, Punter, Sr.

Punting is in Stonehouse’s blood. His dad, Paul, punted for Stanford, and his uncle, John, punted for USC. The Monarchs senior is expected to continue the family line of punters to play in college. He starred as the top punter at the USC camp. Combined with McGrath, the Monarchs might have the best kicker-punter tandem in Southern California.

3. Asa Fuller, Servite, Kicker, Sr.

Fuller produced solid numbers last year, going 8 for 11 on field goals with a long conversion of 48 yards. He will look to improve his power on kickoffs, where he turned 10.9 percent of his attempts into touchbacks. He placed third in the Army All-American Camp in South Carolina.

4. Harrison Avila, Laguna Hills, Kicker/Punter, Sr.

Hawks coach Mike Maceranka considers Avila’s kickoffs an addition by subtraction. They reach the end zone routinely. Maceranka says Avila eliminates the return game, giving his team “one less big play to worry about.” The Hawks feel comfortable attempting field goals anywhere inside the opponent’s 30-yard line, and Avila is also a solid punter.

5. Kyle Petrucci, Corona del Mar, Long Snapper, Jr.

Petrucci is a 6-5, 235-pounder who can do it all as a long snapper. He zips the ball back to the punter in 0.75 seconds, and he has solid control of the rotation on his field-goal snaps. Brad Bohn, the Sea Kings’ special teams coach, lauds Petrucci’s ability to block and tackle down field, making him a complete long snapper.

6. Jeremiah Hawkins, Buena Park, Returner, Sr.

Buena Park is becoming a pipeline for the explosive returner. Last year, it was Elijah Bynum who averaged 38.7 yards per kickoff return, but Hawkins had the team’s longest return, 76 yards. Coyotes coach Anthony White raves that Hawkins brings the speed, burst, strength, agility and pure effort that coaches are looking for at the next level. White adds, “He has the ability to cut on a dime and regain full speed in just two steps.”

7. Dylan Brady, Santa Margarita, Kicker/Punter, Jr.

Brady is a raw talent - he was a soccer player prior to this season - who has been a major surprise for the Eagles, who had first-team All-County kicker Sam Loy (signed with Vanderbilt) a year ago. Brady is untested in game action, but in practice he has been hitting 56-yarders. Eagles coach Rich Fisher offers high praise, saying, “Without playing a game, he has the potential to be one of the best in the country.”

8. Max Meyers, Canyon, Kicker/Punter, Jr.

There should not be a stage too big for the Comanches junior. Meyers converted 10 of 14 field goals and added 40 PATs as Canyon won the CIF-SS Southern Division championship a season ago. He has added punting to his duties this season, and his hang time should limit the number of return opportunities.

9. Jack Montgomery, San Juan Hills, Kicker/Punter, Sr.

Montgomery was not asked to do much in terms of field goals last season since San Juan Hills’ high-octane offense finished most of its scoring drives with touchdowns. Stallions coach Aaron Flowers says his kicker can be useful in other ways, as the team is looking for him to produce touchbacks at an 80-percent clip. Montgomery is receiving interest from Ivy League schools.

10. Ryan Brosnan, Trabuco Hills, Kicker, Jr.

The Mustangs might have had the biggest leg in the county last year in Joel Velazquez (signed with Boise State), but they’ll trade power for accuracy this year. West Coast Kicking Academy guru Brad Bohn says Brosnan might have the most consistent leg in the county. “If you have a 40-yarder to win CIF, he’s the guy,” Bohn said. Brosnan also has a knack for onsides and pooch kicks.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Chase Berman (K), San Clemente, Jr.; Max Casper (K), Corona del Mar, Jr.; Anthony Cazales (K), Brethren Christian, Fr.; Clay Eggeman (K), Capistrano Valley, Sr.; Eric Fellenzer (K/P), Dana Hills, Jr.; Rand Keidel (K), Marina, Sr.; Alex Lipps (LS), Marina, Sr.; Nick Loveland (K), University, Sr.; Jason Macmonigle (K), Mission Viejo, Jr.; Alex Michaelsen (LS), Newport Harbor, Sr.; Brandon Reaves (Returner), San Clemente, Sr.; Joey Rizkallah (K).

Contact the writer: preps@ocregister.com

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OCVARSITY PRESEASON RANKINGS

TOP DEFENSIVE BACKS

TOP LINEBACKERS

TOP DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

TOP OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

TOP RECEIVERS & TIGHT ENDS

TOP RUNNING BACKS

TOP QUARTERBACKS

TOP SPECIALISTS


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