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   Just like that we’re already at our first awards season. And, in addition to naming our Fall SportStars Athletes of the Year in...

   Just like that we’re already at our first awards season. And, in addition to naming our Fall SportStars Athletes of the Year in both the Sac-Joaquin and Bay Area regions, we’re excited to be revealing our 2nd Annual SportStars All-NorCal Football Team. For the first time, too, we’re putting the entire team in our print edition. 

   So this is a big deal. 

   Since this is likely the first time you’ll have seen our All-NorCal Team package, let me briefly explain our selection process. The team is determined by myself and the handful of writers who covered the most football for us over the course of the season. 

   Rather than take the tradition first- and second-team approach, we came up with the idea of selecting a 46-man roster (this year, we cheated and pushed it to 47). Every player chosen is considered an All-NorCal selection. Then for fun, we denote our starters on both sides of the ball.

   We feel extremely confident with our team (which you all can check out beginning with the offense on Page 20). But just as a warm-up we thought we’d share with you who are five toughest cuts were in rounding out the roster. It’s a tip of the cap to these players, who were heavily considered, and goes to show you just how good the talent was that was left off the list. 

   Here they are, listed alphabetically:

   MALIK BLACKBURN (Concord) — Running back is always a tough position to crack, as you’ll see with a few names below this one. Blackburn was heavily considered for a Utility position as well. He may have been the most talked about name who didn’t make the cut. His contribution to Concord’s offensive juggernaut was immense. He rushed for 1,863 yards and 28 TDs and caught 57 passes for 667 yards and eight more scores. His 230 points ranked third in NorCal and first in the Bay Area.

   JAX CARTER (Clayton Valley Charter-Concord) — Outside of star running back Miles Harrison, Carter was probably the next most valuable Ugly Eagle. He played on both sides the ball, providing 87 tackles at linebacker with an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery. He also played fullback and scored four TDs, but more importantly was the lead blocker on many of Harrison’s big runs.

   DAMARRIO HAMMONDS (Patterson) — The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder was the best Sac-Joaquin Section’s best receiver who didn’t play for Folsom. The Western Athletic Conference MVP caught 65 passes for 1,164 yards and 18 TDs. He was also considered one of the best defensive backs inside the 209 area code. 

   NAJEE HARRIS (Antioch) — If we had done NorCal Players of the Year by grade, Harris likely would’ve been a shoe-in for the sophomore class. His strong 2014 summer brought expectations, but nobody predicted his 2,263-yard season for the Panthers. He was the Bay Valley Athletic League MVP after posting 180 points and leading Antioch to seven wins.

   JUSTIN RICE (Central Catholic-Modesto) — Rice began the year thinking he was going to be a wide receiver for the Raiders. Then sophomore running back Montell Bland got injured and suddenly the junior was in the backfield as the lead tailback. Rice responded by rushing for 2,146 yards and 30 TDs. He also added three more TDs in the passing game for a Central Catholic team which won a third straight CIF Bowl Div. IV Bowl championship. 

   We hope you enjoy reading up on our selections and hope that you’ll share your own thoughts on what we got right and who we may have missed. Email us or tweet us at @SportStarsMag with the hashtag #AllNorCalFB

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