By Ray Hamill — Former Del Norte standout OJ Calleja turned in an all-star performance in Saturday’s NorCal JC decider in football, but it was his high school rivals and an old teammate of his who walked away as champs.
Calleja, who starts at quarterback for College of the Siskiyous, threw for four touchdowns and ran in for another in an entertaining 52-51 loss to Shasta.
The Knights’ victory avenged an earlier loss to the Eagles in week one, a game in which Calleja threw a last-second Hail Mary TD pass for the win.
Shasta closed out the abbreviated spring season with a record of 3-1.
With the loss, Siskiyous dropped to 1-2 and will close out the season against Feather River, also 1-2, this Saturday, although neither team can catch the Knights.
Several former H-DNL players featured in the weekend decider.
Calleja, who helped Del Norte to a first-ever North Coast Section championship as a high school senior in 2019, completed 15-of-21 passes for 227 yards and the four TDs, with no interceptions.
He also ran for 27 yards and a TD on 12 carries.
The freshman has enjoyed a strong spring season so far and has quickly established himself as the Eagles No. 1 quarterback.
Through three games, Calleja has completed 39-of-72 passes for 548 yards and five TDs, with just one interception.
A couple of former Eureka players had a big game for the Knights.
Receiver Josiah Graham caught a 16-yard scoring pass for his first touchdown of the season, as Shasta rallied from an early 24-point deficit.
Antorious Bell also had a big say in the win, finishing with three tackles, including one for a 24-yard loss.
Graham finished the season with 10 catches for 146 yards.
Calleja’s former teammates Anthony Slayton and Nickolas Freeman each also were involved in the game.
Slayton, who plays linebacker for Shasta, finished with a couple of tackles, including one for a loss, while Freeman, who is enjoying a productive season at defensive back with Siskiyous, had four tackles.