At approximately 10:15 p.m. this Friday, the football regular season will officially come to an end.

I’ve decided for this week’s Zo’s Gold Mines that it’s time to start thinking about who is a legitimate All-Area Most Valuable Player candidate for this area. I’ve included some household names and a few surprises.

Here are the players capable of ending the year with an All-Area nod in my opinion:

Toa Taua, Lompoc: Last year’s Lee Central Coast News All-Area MVP is a serious threat to win it again – judging by his 1,354 yards and 22 rushing touchdowns in nine games.

Leondre Coleman, Lompoc: He’s emerged as one of the top underclassmen in the area with his team-highs in tackles and sacks for a stacked Braves defense.

Dustin Gregg, Santa Ynez: He’s been everything the Pirates asked and much, much more. He’s thrown 35 touchdown passes compared to just three interceptions. Plus Gregg has shattered school records that were once held by Mike McCoy one year ago.

Gabe Prendergast, Santa Ynez: He’s still a mismatch and game changer at SYHS. Offensively, Prendergast still leads the team in all three major receiving categories (51 catches, 1,046 yards and 14 touchdowns). He’s also tops on the Pirates in interceptions with three.

Blake Truhitte, Santa Maria: I haven’t seen a Saints quarterback be this dynamic on the field since the days of Chuy Frausto from 2000-01. Truhitte has been a threat to combine for 300 yards throwing and rushing each game for a team currently chasing the Northern League crown.

Gerardo Zul, Santa Maria: The Saints’ pass rush has been a major strength this season and Zul is one of the reasons behind that energetic rush, with his 14 sacks. Oh, his sack totals are the 12th best mark in the state and the best number in the area according to Max Preps.

Dino Maldonado, St. Joseph: He had a rough outing against Lompoc, but there’s no disputing the kind of year Maldonado has had with 25 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. Maldonado also has five rushing touchdowns. He’s been one of the more improved players in North Santa Barbara County.

Jayden Vargas, St. Joseph: His 1,238 rushing yards and 15 combined touchdowns gets him on this watch list.

Simon Rodriguez, Nipomo: Once 0-4 to start the year, the outside linebacker Rodriguez has reinvigorated the Titans with his edge rushing and sideline-to-sideline pursuits, as NHS has won its last four of five games and now needs a victory on Friday to clinch another Northern League title.

Caleb Thomas, Righetti: Got to give someone in the trenches a nod, and the versatile Thomas – who bounces between defensive tackle, offensive tackle and tight end – has been a big cornerstone for an improved Warriors team.

Darin Miller, Orcutt Academy: The Spartans’ football program has only been in existence since 2012…and Miller will already be in the school’s record books for what he’s done in an OAHS uniform. The 8-man star has 34 combined touchdowns this season, including 23 rushing, for the Mt. Pinos League champion. 

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