La Jolla’s Max Smith tops UT football awards list
With shortened schedules, there will be no official All-CIF teams for Season 1 sports.
But the Union-Tribune – writer John Maffei and freelance writers Terry Monahan and Jim Lindgren – decided to compile a list of winners with input from county coaches.
Player of the year
Max Smith, LB / RB, La Jolla, senior
Headed to the Naval Academy, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Smith ran 61 times for 364 yards and four touchdowns in five games. He also caught 15 passes for 159 yards and two scores and had 150 yards on kick returns.
It was on the defensive end that he shone, finishing with 22 tackles, a sack and a pair of tackles for the loss.
“And that’s our long snapper,” said La Jolla coach Tyler Roach. “We had a great team, a great senior class. And Max was our boss.
The Vikings finished 5-0, beating Helix in the last game of the season.
“We could have complained, but as a team we decided to make the most of what we had,” Smith said. “The team left nothing on the pitch. We wanted to show that La Jolla County could play. I think we did.
“Although he is an offensive force, Smith plans to focus on defense in the Navy.
“They recruited me as an athlete, but I’ve been playing on the defensive side of the ball my whole life,” he said. “This is where I am comfortable.”
Smith reports to the Naval Academy at the end of July. Like 75% of football rookies, he will spend a year at Naval Academy Prep School (NAPS) before joining the college football team.
He’s not sure where he’ll go, but he has an eye on the air force or the Marine Corps.
“I can’t wait to get to the academy,” Smith said. “This is my entire goal.”
Offensive player of the year
Aidan Sayin, QB, Carlsbad, Sr.
Headed to Penn, Sayin led the Lancers to a 5-0, completing 58 of 81 passes for 962 yards and 12 touchdowns – five of those touchdowns came in his last game. He did not throw an interception and made 71.6% of his throws.
Defensive player of the year
Malachi Williams, DB, Catholic Cathedral, Sr.
A free safety, the 6-foot, 200-pound Williams was key to a defense that only allowed the 5-0, No.1-ranked Dons 14 points.
Kicker of the year
Devin Bale, PK / WR, La Jolla, Sr.
Headed to northern Colorado, Bale led the county in scoring kicks with 39 points – 27 PAT and four field goals. What sets him apart is that he averaged 20.5 yards and had six touchdowns on 16 pass receptions.
Coach of the Year
Thadd MacNeal, Carlsbad
The Lancers fired just three starters from last year’s squad. But the team came together, finishing 5-0, edging their opponents 240-42.
Assistant Coach of the Year
John Montali, Catholic Cathedral, Defensive Coordinator
The Dons 5-0 have been loaded, and Montali has made the most of his group, allowing just 14 points – all in one game against Saint-Augustin – this season.
Most Inspirational Player
Manai Hazlett, RB, Del Norte, Sr.
He missed the 2019 season after being diagnosed with cancer. Given the green light to play this season, he had 19 carries for 140 yards against Rancho Bernardo in his first return game. The cancer returned, however, and he had 20 carries for 108 yards in his last game as a prep before returning to the hospital for treatment.
After winning six games in the past three seasons (one last season), Sweetwater – under new coach Ervin Hernandez – went 5-0 with a powerful running game.
Since his last 10-game winning season in 2003, Fallbrook has gone 40-131-2, been shut out 35 times, and was outnumbered 4,936-2,686. But Warriors coach Troy Everhart have gone 3-3 this. season and are about to turn things around.
Best Offensive Lineman
Dylan Smith, Carlsbad, Sr.
The 6-6, 295-pound Smith is a 3-star rookie interested in USC, UCLA, Colorado and Oregon.
In the discussion: Shawn Martinez (Helix), Troy Faulkner (Mission Hills), Trevor Cass (Ramona), Isaiah World (Lincoln), Louie Lauifi-Tufaga (Catholic cathedral), Tangi Pongia (Saint Augustine), Uriel Camacho (Sweetwater) ).
Justus McComb, Granite Hills, Sr.
He had a big year, completing 52 of 79 passes (65.8 percent) for 941 yards and 15 touchdowns with just two interceptions and rushed for 425 yards and seven touchdowns.
In the discussion: Dennis Andrew (Orange Glen), Justin Brown (Grossmont), Jackson Stratton (La Jolla), Gunnar Hensley (Mission Hills), Carson Taumoepeau (Mt. Carmel), Clash Orsborn (Mission Bay), Trevor Appelman (Mater Dei Catholic).
Superior wide receiver
Jalil Tucker, Lincoln, Jr.
A 4 star rookie with great speed and hands. He has received offers from Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State, Boston College, BYU, and USC.
In the discussion: Diego Solis (La Jolla), Nathan Acevedo (Grossmont), Malachi Keels (Orange Glen), Jared Forster (Santana), Matt Martin (Mission Hills), Rex Haynes (Catholic Cathedral).
Top running back
Lucky Sutton, Catholic Cathedral, Sr.
The catalyst for an attack that racked up 223 points, he ran nearly 1,000 yards, including 258 against Lincoln and 192 against St. Augustine. And he would have had more for the Dons 5-0, but several games ended with a stopwatch with Sutton on the sidelines.
In the discussion: Mario Villa (Sweetwater), Jason Oliveira (Patrick Henry), Major Givens (Steele Canyon), Christian Washington (Helix), Erik Hernandez (Castle Park), Cash Jones (Ramona), Mazlo Norwood (Carlsbad).
Best Defensive Lineman
Jaxson Moi, Catholic Cathedral, Jr.
A 6-4 stick and 260 pounds of dynamite, Moi is a 4-star rookie with 17 offerings, including Arizona, Cal and Boise State.
In discussion: Trey White (Eastlake), Ezra Christensen (Poway), Zach Burton (Granite Hills), Gracen Halton (St. Augustine), Finley O’Gorman (Steele Canyon), Thomas Marron (Mission Hills)
Jaiden Letua, Mission Hills, Jr.
His coach calls Letua “a hell of a special player.” He was the anchor of a defense that allowed only 41 points. He’s had a defensive TD in three straight games – two interceptions and one fumble.
In discussion: Willie Peterson (Serra), Tre Edwards (Mater Dei Catholic), Aidan Arguilla (Otay Ranch), Zack Schipper (Vista), Raymond Cruz (Chula Vista), Albert Vargas (Sweetwater), Harmon Savaiinaea (Cathedral Catholic) , Malcolm Williams (St. Augustine), Tyson Chavez (Mission Hills).
High defensive back
Darren Barkins, Catholic Mater Dei, Sr.
A driver who was timed at a quick 4.6 seconds into the 40-yard dash in a combine, Barkins is a cornerback at a standstill. 3-star rookie, he signed to play for Oregon.
In the discussion: Malosi Iuli (Bonita Vista), Dakota Landry (Mt. Carmel), Dee’Shon Swafford (Catholic cathedral), Cameron Dingman (Ramona).
Best All-Around Player
Vance Jefferson, Poway, WR / QB, Sr.
Receiving big players, Jefferson has also lined up as QB Wildcat for the Titans. On his last touch as a senior, he went 91 yards for a TD as a QB. A 3-star player, he is considered one of the best unsigned seniors in the country.
In the discussion: Stephen Britton (Santa Fe Christian), Jacob Laverdiere (Mont Miguel), Adrien Chargualaf (Steele Canyon), Marco Notarainni (Torrey Pines), Hamadi Sharif (Crawford), Skai Donnell (Mission Hills), Fernando Morales (Central ).
Teams to watch in 2021
The best teams in 2021 are the best teams that finished the shortened 2020 season.
1. Catholic Cathedral (5-0): County’s best defense sacks key players.
2. Carlsbad (5-0): Sophomore’s QB Julian Sayin replaces his brother.
3. Mission Hills (5-0): Quarterback Gunnar Hensley is set for a great senior season.
4. Lincoln (4-1): The senior high class is gone, but WR Jalil Tucker and QB Sam Cooper return.
5. La Jolla (5-0): It’s up to QB Jackson Stratton with the senior high class gone.
6. Eastlake (4-0): The coaching turmoil hasn’t derailed the Titans, who have a ton of players back.
7. Granite Hills (5-1): QB Justus McComb is gone, but there is a return of talent.
8. Ramona (5-0): The big, bad Bulldogs have a lot of comeback, and Team JV was undefeated.
9. Poway (5-0): Key QB players Dylan Curry and RB Luke Gonzalez were sophisticates, but Vance Jefferson is gone.
10. Saint Augustine (2-2): The Saints rebuild around Gracen Halton, Justin Stearns and Jake Bolin.
Do not sleep
Helix (2-4), Rancho Bernardo (4-1), Point Loma (0-1), Montgomery (4-1), Santa Fe Christian (5-1), Madison (2-3), Christian (3- 2), Torrey Pines (3-2), Oceanside (0-3), Sweetwater (5-0), Mater Dei Catholic (3-2), Castle Park (3-2), Fallbrook (3-3).