|Nick Koza for Sentinel Photo
MIGHTY CASEY: Long Beach Poly defensive end Jurrell Casey headlines three Poly selections on the 2007 All-Star team. Casey (134 tackles) was a major factor the Jackrabbits won their 17th Southern Section title with their best defense in a decade.
Coach of the Year: Calvin Bryant, Compton / Robert Garrett, Crenshaw—Originally this award was just going to Bryant for his amazing job at Compton this year. He led the Tarbabes to their best start in years (8-0) and had them in serious contention for the Moore League title until late in the season. But you have to look at what Garrett did at Crenshaw and be equally impressed. A team that was 1-4 to start the year recovered with a seven-game winning streak that includes a big win over Dorsey and playoff victories over Sylmar and Narbonne en route to the Coliseum League title and City semifinals.
Player of the Year: Milton Knox, Sr., Birmingham—The most accomplished four-year player in City history, Knox ended his stellar career with another huge season of 2,210 yards and 39 touchdowns on his way to becoming the City’s all time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns. The two-time City Player of the Year and four-time All-City selection takes his game to UCLA next year and you can bet this talented yet humble young man will find a way to keep shining on the next level.
Offensive Player of the Year: Donald Green, Sr., Compton—Green was one of the main reasons Compton had one of the most explosive offenses of the year. Armed with great speed and strength, he ended the year with 2,225 all-purpose yards and 21 touchdowns despite suffering broken ribs against Long Beach Poly that kept him out of their game against Lakewood and no doubt hampering him against Edison in the playoffs. But few players compare to what Green meant to this team and he was one of the best tailbacks I saw this year.
Defensive Player of the Year: Malik Jackson, Sr., Birmingham—The anchor of the one of the best defenses in the state this year, the Co-City Defensive Player of the Year was everywhere on the field for Patriots with 93 tackles, 12.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hurries. Just to keep it simple, Jackson was arguably the most intimidating presence on the greatest City defense in recent memory. If that doesn’t say it all about this Fresno State-bound product, nothing else does.
1st Team Offense QB: Darius Banks, Sr., Culver City—His numbers dropped this year but last year’s Player of the Year still threw for 3,030 yards, good for No. 8 in the state, along with 27 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. This gun-slinging, yet accurate quarterback is considering a few schools including Fresno State, Oregon and Kansas State.
RB: Johnathan Franklin, Sr., Dorsey—The kid they call “Jet Ski” lived up to his nickname as the speedy Franklin rushed for 1,732 yards—including four games with 200+ yards—and 12 TD’s this year while serving as an emotional leader for the Dons as they reached the City semis. Franklin will take his game to UCLA next year but few incoming freshmen will possess the maturity and wisdom that this young man has.
RB: Curtis McNeal, Sr., Venice—Last year’s Offensive Player of the Year still put up some great numbers in 2007 (1,884 all purpose yards—1,345 rushing—and 24 TD’s). He’s been the definition of heart for the Gondoliers during his career and he’ll take his toughness to USC next year.
WR: Kemonte Bateman, Sr., Crenshaw—An easy target for Cameron Hart to find, he had a knack for making the big play when the Cougars needed it. Blessed with great hands and a physical frame, Bateman will be remembered as one of the great Cougar receivers. Originally headed to UCLA, Bateman switched it up and will take his game to Arizona St. next year.
WR: Devon Flournoy, Jr. Birmingham—This speedster was another weapon for the City champs and not only did he rack up 858 receiving yards, his most impressive stat was his 22 yards per catch. Expect this talented kid with the high ceiling to blossom as the City’s top receiving threat next year.
OL: Xavier McFraser (Jr., Locke), Justin Edmond (Sr., Crenshaw), Jabari Coleman (Sr., Narbonne), Reuben Hassani (Sr., Venice)—All four of these teams made the playoffs and it’s no surprise that they have these All-City lineman leading the way for their explosive offenses.
TE: Erik Stewart, Sr., Dorsey—A great blocker for the Dorsey tailbacks this year, Stewart also was a reliable receiver with 22 catches for 404 yards and three touchdowns.
1st Team Defense DB: Rahim Moore, Sr., Dorsey—The No. 1 DB prospect in the state, Moore lived up to the pressure with five interceptions on the year while doing triple duty as a wide receiver and punt returner for the City semifinalists. He’s headed to UCLA and you can bet he’ll be an impact player the minute he takes his first practice
DB: Eric Hunter, Jr., Jordan—This All-City player had three interceptions on the year and will be one of the top returning defensive backs in the City next year.
DB: Vaughn Telemaque, Sr., Poly—Telemaque roamed the one of the best secondaries in the Southern Section and finished with 71 tackles, two sacks and eight interceptions—including three in the Pac-5 championship final against Crespi.
DB: Herman Davidson, Sr., Poly—The other half of Poly’s top secondary, Davidson was a terror as well with 71 tackles and six interceptions for the Pac-5 champions
LB: Marquis Simmons, Jr., Dominguez—The last from a family of great Simmons players, Marquis had 11 sacks on the year and was one of the most feared defenders in Southern California
LB: Hayes Pullard, So., Crenshaw—Pullard was only a sophomore this year but he stood out as an athletic presence for the Cougars defense in stopping the run and forcing turnovers in big games this year. Teammates spoke highly of him this year and it’ll be great watching him blossom over the next two years.
LB: Donovan Carter, Sr., Crenshaw—One of the easiest choices to make this year, Carter’s mixture of speed and power helped him get 119 tackles (74 solo), 5.5 sacks and an interception on the best City defense in years. He’s still on track to attend UCLA but he’s making visits to Washington and Arizona State next month.
DL: Marquis Jackson, Sr. Birmingham—The second Jackson twin to bookend the Birmingham defensive front four, Marquis was just as impressive as his twin brother Malik as he finished with 87 tackles, nine sacks, five deflected passes and 14 quarterback hurries. Like his brother, he shared the City Defensive Player of the Year award and he’s on track to attend Fresno State.
DL: Datone Jones, Sr., Compton—A man amongst boys, Jones was one of the keys for the Tarbabes’ excellent season. He finished the year with 91 tackles, seven sacks, nine quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries. Jones will play for UCLA next year.
DL: Jurrell Casey, Sr., Long Beach Poly—Casey was a beast as he was part of the first line of defense for arguably the best Poly defense in a decade. With 134 tackles (91 solo), seven sacks and two fumble recoveries (one for a TD), it’s no surprise that few teams could successfully run on the Pac-5 champion Jackrabbits.
DL: James Boyd, Jr., L.A. Jordan—Boyd was a standout for the Bulldogs this year as he racked up 72 tackles—including 21 against Dorsey, 11 sacks, six fumble recoveries and a blocked punt. The City’s Defensive Lineman of the Year will be one to watch next year.
Other underclassman to watch next year: Josh Moten (Jr. QB), Narbonne; Morgan Fennell (Jr., QB), Long Beach Poly; Noel Grigsby (Jr. WR), Crenshaw, Morrell Presley (Jr. TE,) Carson; Geno Hall (So., RB), Crenshaw; Kevin Ally (Jr., RB ) Dorsey; DJ Morgan (So., RB), Taft; Deshawn Beck (So., WR), L.A. Jordan.
(Stats courtesy of MaxPreps.com)